A Man and a Woman on Vacation in the British Virgin Islands
03/02/95 6:55 am
THE GREAT ANAGADEAN BIKE TREK
Dan and Carrie, for whom we had fixed lobster dinner last week, graciously offered to loan us their 2 mountain bikes. We accepted, and yesterday morning we passed by their home in the Settlement to pick them up. Jonathan had been able to rent a bike from Tony, the taxi driver, although a rental price had not been set. This bothered the hell out of John. "I wonder how much they could charge for a cheap bike like this one?," he asked over and over to no one in particular.
Finally Kim answered, "Well, I hear that Anegada Reef Hotel rents theirs for $30 a day."
"Oh, no Tony couldn't charge that much for this piece of junk? Do ya think?"
It went on like this as we pedaled out of the Settlement in search of the road that would take us to the north shore. The road was sandy, slightly rutted, and really presented no problem for our bikes. Our first destination was Windlass Bight Bay. It came up much faster than we had originally thought while looking earlier at the map. We left our bikes next to the road and walked through the brush to the beach. It was breathtaking. There was almost no surf. The bay was flat calm, and the waves could be seen far off shore crashing on the reef.
Kim was the first one to take off her clothes and head into the water. John and I followed shortly after. As I entered the water I said to John, "This is where I got that great picture of a sea horse. I am hoping to get another."
Swimming out was not really what we did at all. The water was very shallow. I could see Kim way off in the distance; she was standing up with only her legs submerged just about to her thighs. Under the water it was mostly sea grass and a variety of weird plants, some looking like skinny black toadstools.
We never did make it out to the reef. After a half hour of swimming, we still had only made it about half way to the distant reef. Still we did paddle and kick and push ourselves a good distance off shore until we tired, and then we did the same to get back to shore.
Back on the beach Kim and I immediately ate half of all the food we brought. Earlier, when we had taken a water break along the road, I had offered John a slug of our water. He of course took 3. When we all sat down to eat, I saw the condition of the water he had brought. It was brackish and left a slick oily residue on the inside of his bottle. "What the hell kind of water did you bring?", I asked him.
"Oh, this is just some stuff I caught in my inflatable boat, during the last rain"
"Well it looks terrible."
"It doesn't taste too good either", he replied, "but Ive been drinking it all along. So I guess it wont kill me."
"What about all that good clean rain water, that I saw in your camp? What are you saving it for? Youve had 3 gallons for the last 3 weeks. Are you saving it to trade to the Indians, or what?"
He just shrugged, gave a little laugh, and asked if he could have a taste of ours. "Not on your life. I guess that slop won't kill you", I replied taking a big sip of water, and then giving a satisfying "Ahh."
We got back on our bikes and headed off to explore the next bay. The sand road was getting a little softer now. If you didnt keep up the power to the rear wheel it would stop you dead, and then you had to walk it through to the next firm spot. But again we made very good time, talking and laughing along the way. There was a small narrow track that lead to Bones Bight Bay. It had an even more spectacular view than Windlass. We sat on the beach and had another picnic, while "ooh"ing and "ahh"ing over the way the day was going so far. We hung out on the beach for a good long time, and then headed for our next destination.
Along the way we found a track going off in the direction of Flamingo Pond. It was no more than a salt flat with a shallow amount of reddish water in it. We were hoping to see a flamingo or two, but we were disappointed. Kim and I both, however, found a few of their feathers. They were half white and tipped with reddish orange. They seemed almost magical. I even found an itty bitty one to put in my Indian medicine pouch.
The next road we followed went out to Cow Wreck High Point. It was up hill all the way until we reached it's summit. At the top was a sand dune overlooking the bay below. We were a towering 25 feet above the rest of the totally flat island, and believe it or not, the view was actually quite lovely. Here the reef looked closer in. It also appeared that there were coral heads in close.
I grabbed my camera, stuffed it into my trunks, and headed out to the first dark blue patch just 100 yards from shore. It turned out to be nothing but a shallow grassy knoll filled with strange soft corals and dozens of bright pink conch shells. The next patch was another 100 yards ahead. Jonathan, who by now had joined me said that he thought the next patch was hard coral. It wasnt. It was simply another high grassy spot, this time filled with some kind of 6 inch diameter purple puff balls, ripe and looking ready to explode their seeds all over the ocean. So out to the next patch we went. John had on his "cut-off" fins, so he easily out distanced me, as I was only swimming. At the next patch there was hard coral, with a healthy amount of fish life surrounding it. The fish were much more plentiful and slightly larger than we usually see back in front of our camp. Still the water was murky, and the coral was, at this point still rather uninteresting. John had by now almost made it out to the reef, and was shouting that I should join him as it was quite beautiful. I looked at the distance to him, and then I looked off to the beach and decided I had had enough, so I headed for the beach. It took much longer than I had anticipated to get back to the beach. I had to keep reminding myself what an excellent swimmer I was, and that this should present no problem. In the end it really didnt, but when I thought of how tired I was becoming, and how far we still had to ride our bikes, I was sorry that I had been so over-zealous. Back on shore, Kim and I took the opportunity, with Jonathan still being gone, to eat the rest of the goodies that we brought. Especially the brownie that we had bought at Dotsys Bakery. It sure hit the spot.
When John came back in, he filled us with stories of just how great the reef had been. It was like it was 10 years ago in front of our camp, he said. And then, for about the 100th time, he told us how great his cut off fins were. He had been talking about these ridiculous fins that he had cut-off, so, he said, they would fit inside his small knapsack, ever since he arrived. I of course had not brought my fins on the bike trip because of space and weight limitations. Now, as much as I hated to admit it, he was right. He had made it easily out to the reef and I had stopped short.
I finished the last of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as John opened up a cheap can of tuna fish some tourist had given him. It looked terrible, but he ate it with gusto. This location was our unanimous choice for the best beach on the island, and we talked about coming back in a few years and setting up our camps on this beach.
All too soon we headed off, back down the road. It was the hottest part of the day, . About the time that we got to West End the sandy road got much softer, and we had a lot less energy to put into pedaling. We pushed on till we got to West End Point. The water was flat calm and there was no reef off shore. There was also no shade to hide under. So we sat dazed for a while, and then headed off again. From here on, the road was, in addition to softer, also filled with tiny moguls, or washboards, which pounded at our already sore butts. Now it became like an endurance race to see if we could just make it to Palmetto Point, the restaurant that Dan and Carrie were working at. We walked and half rode until we finally made it. The restaurant was gorgeous. It was owned by an old friend of ours, Wilfred. We were surprised that he greeted us not very warmly at all. And with a scowl on his face, he just asked if we knew what had become of Crazy Mike, another camper. I told him I had never heard of him before. Dan was not at this restaurant, but at another one also owned by Wilfred, further up the beach. We paid our bill and headed on. By now my neck was killing me from leaning over the handlebars for so long. I tried to walk it but it was too long. In the end I had to get on the bike again and pedal down to our next stop.
Dan was at this other restaurant of Wilfreds. It had no food, and no one else but Dan was there, and he was just pretending to be busy by sweeping off the dock, in case Wilfred showed up. We told him we were finished with our Great Anegadean Bike Trek and asked him to call us a taxi on the CB, as we would love to ride back to our camp. He said it would take about an hour so we left the bikes there and walked up the beach to the Anegada Reef Motel.
This is the "hot spot" of the whole island. Lowell, a local man and Susan, his British wife(girlfriend) started it many years ago. Through the years it has become "the" spot for yachters. It had changed considerably in the 9 years since we were last here. It now sported a gift shop, and a few extra rooms. The place looked spiffier, and there were at least 10 times as many boats anchored off shore. It has a beach bar which has always been one of my favorite places to hang out. I have never been much of a bar type person, but this one is different. There are always so many weird types of people hanging around, each with a unique life story.
We all had a beer, and just soaked up the atmosphere. Susan was there, but Lowell was not. I congratulated her on their continued success, and she just replied that they were working much harder. They now had 22 employees. Now, she continued, they had a boat anchored out in the harbor, which they had bought a good long while ago, and they we're so busy they had yet to sail it. I told her I was sorry for her, and that they really should try to relax and enjoy all this money that they were now making, but she told us with a scowl that it was mostly Lowell's doing.
From there we walked back to Wilfred's, where we were going to get the taxi. Dan and Wilfred were now on the dock cleaning up the lobster that they were going to serve for tonights dinner. At first Wilfred seemed only just a little happier to see us. Then he recognized Jonathan. "I thought your name was Mike. Now I remember you. You're the guy who used to camp on the beach a lot of years ago. You had all the problems with the wife. Right?"
John said, "Ya see, she wouldn't fuck me. ya know? So we divorced, and I "fucked" her. I got the 2 houses, and she's been paying me alimony all these years. I did all right. Ya know? Ya know what I mean?"
At this Wilfred started to belly laugh, just like he used to when we had all loved him so much before. John had found his mark and just kept at him with one outrageous story after another, till at one point I thought Wilfred was going to wet himself.
Finally, Tony's son came by to pick us up. We were all grateful for the reprieve of sitting on a nice soft seat, instead of the hard and tortorous bike seats. On the way home Jonathan made our usually placid driver giggle out loud with even more stories. This time, antics about hitting cows and opening up fast food restaurants with the "road kill" menus...he was definitely on a roll! It was then that I realized that this legend, known to the locals as Crazy Jonathan, was a character that the whole island would remember for at least another 10 years.
Back at camp Kim and I fixed a light rum punch. We talked about how much fun our bike tour had been. We even made plans to maybe bring down our own bikes next time. Butts sore, pleasantly sunburned, and legs aching. we bid good-bye to another "adventure in paradise".
My Boyfriend's Back, doo lang doo lang
After our morning coffee routine, I went out for my last meditation and dance in my prayer circle. I was flushed with a sense of complete gratitude for this and all the other time I have had there. The centering of my focus, the search for my 'song', the time for time just for this sort of thing will certainly nourish my work and direction as we gradually work our way back to TX and settle back into the routine that has allowed for this kind of vacation for us.
I went into the sea with thoughts of my barracuda and swam for a while before he came along. I questioned my need to identify him as masculine and tried as he disappeared from view to think of this being as a feminine presence..NOT!...he is a masculine presence of the highest order. His quiet power and aggression are characters that exude from his appearance whether it is being demonstrated or not. I could hear the guys on the other side of the shoals and saw their snorkels and was glad to swim towards them.
As I emerged from the shoals, I was greeted by 'boyfriend' who presented himself clearly and closely but left just as smoothly once we had acknowledged each others presence. I headed along the edge of the reef without further contact and then across the white sand as I recognized that without my fins, there was not point or possibility of my joining the guys. I went a ways toward a coral head and found a telon and as I came up, once again HE was with me, squarely in front of me so that making a right turn toward shore seemed like the good idea of the moment. I kept trying all the while to keep my heartspace open so that fear wouldn't cloud what I was doing. As I turned, a double telon was on the ocean floor to my right and so I went down to get it. Again, as I surfaced, he was there, remaining to my left and directing both of us to shore.
I continued with his suggested route recognizing that stubborn efforts to challenge him with plans to move past him, might be less than appropriate or wise. He dropped behind me so that I could not see him without really twisting, and I did, several times, as he and a small jack maintained this position. He finally came along side me and as I continued to head for the shore, he eventually turned back and left completely. It had seemed that I was again having to cut the swim short long before the 1/4mi I like to go, but as I came out, I was clear up to the mast and in the company of the first round of snorkeling drop offs from the hotel side of the island. This companion of mine never seems to want to join anyone else and I want to consider the attention a gift...so it is.
Tonite I will go to the well to wash for the trip back to Tortola tomorrow morning. There is packing to do, but no compulsion to do it...Dave and his girlfriend are waiting in Brewer's Bay, anxious to share some time with us. We will have only a week there which we are both glad for...more would be too much after the tranquillity and complete control over our time that we have had here in Anegada. I may walk to Caps for a burger and hopes of finding my bathing suit top there where I mistakenly left it yesterday...I'll see when Peter returns to camp and we figure out the best course for today's heat time. For now, I will gather the treasures from my garden and wrap them to prevent breaking. My grandmother has given me so many beautiful treasures this time.
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Thanks, Kim and Peter (about the authors)