by H. Vaz
Tortola Cottage and Hide-away
|As we parked the Jeep Wrangler I wondered if this parking space was even close to what was considered safe by code enforcement in the US. We had our heavy vehicle and heavy selves on a thick concrete slab with about half overhanging a large cliff. The benefit of our risk was obvious. It was georgous. Deep blue water faded into tourquise near the beach. There were darker spots in the water where fertile reef systems rested. It was almost like being an eagle gliding over pristine beaches. I say almost because there was no grace involved in us arriving at our parking spot.
It took winding narrow roads to get to the driveway. The driveway was so steep the Jeep puttered and spinned its wheels. The turns were so sharp to accomodate the grade that we made three or four point turns to make them. This was one time I was happy my husband was driving. I was constantly thinking, "no big deal if we don't meet anyone". But, of course, we did ALWAYS meet someone. And always on a sharp curve. They'd be speeding along as if they had no concern at all.
So, after a little breath holding we reached our parking lot in the sky. We were there to stay in a little orange cottage down it's waverly path. Inside it was basic. Kitchen, table, tiny bath, and bed with mosquito netting. But outside, past the table were double doors that lead to a wooded balcony painted to match to island colors. The balcony overhang the same mountainous incline as the driveway, but was hidden with wild foliage dotted with pink and yellow blossoms. The view overlooked the same magnificant water as the parking space, but with the added bonus of a direct view of nearby islands and sandbars.
We decided to leave our hillside isolation to experience some island flavor. It's a quick education on an areas culture. We were in the British Virgin Islands, but I don't remember too many things British about it, except the elderly tourists spilling out of the cruise ships at port in Road Town.
Tortola is truely Carribean in essence. Most natives are descendents of the slave trade. I'd say they are a little more guarded that other islands, but once a realtionship is established, your in. One night after walking around from restaurant to bar to bar...We decided to go past the tourist section of road town. This was mostly due to me seeing some drunk American guys (or boys) making sexual gestures at the native waitress. So we ditched the "tourist" scene.
We walked for a half-mile and saw there were many locals walking and hanging out in the area. We stopped a young man and asked him where was a good place to go and he immediately told us "the green truck". Within view was an old delivery van painted green with a large window cut out the side parked beside the church. From the condition, it was clear it didn't operate anymore. I really wasn't sure if I was up for the truck until I got close enough to smell the fried fish and chicken aroma coming out of the smoke. We went for it. One of each. A whole fried fish, and the whole thigh and drumstick deep fried without batter. Just it's natural skin fried crisp. They sold cold beer and rum and cokes for us to wash it down. Beside the truck was a plastic picnic table so we sat down with some other locals and enjoyed an unforgettable meal. It became evident that we stumbled upon a local favorite. Folks pulled up the curb, slapped on their flashers and got in line at the truck (or van, as I thought it was). There was a constant stream of locals. Each of them took a second look when they saw us, as we were obviously tourists. I felt proud to have found their green truck.
The next morning we were driving our rent-a-jeep around. As we came upon the round about where the church we expected to see the green truck where it was last night. But, somehow it wasn't there.