Living in a tourist destination means that we are all walking information kiosks in one form or another. If you spend a lot of time walking around Road Town, you’ll often meet visitors asking for directions somewhere. Work on a boat? People want to know about pirates and their treasure. Serve food at a restaurant? They want to hear about local dishes.
Personally, I get to field a lot of questions via the emails to our sister publication, the BVI Welcome magazine. Generally, these are folks who have found the magazine’s website and are trying to think through the logistics of an upcoming trip: Is it possible to catch a ferry after a certain hour? Who gives good island tours? Is there a way to get from St. Thomas directly to my hotel? What is the best beach for ______? I like hearing from these folks and try my best to assist them, and they’re always appreciative.
Some people seem to lose their common sense when they come on vacation, asking questions that will get a laugh before they get an answer. I’ve heard of folks aboard a yacht asking the captain how far above sea level they were (captain looked over the side and said, “about three feet”). I’ve heard of others asking where the beach is while standing at a beach bar, and, my personal favorite, there was a visitor who wanted to know the best way experience the water under the island… because he thought it floated atop the water like a really big buoy. Thank goodness people on vacation have a good sense of humor and can laugh at themselves.
Of course, as in most encounters with new people, the first thing I will get asked if it’s going to be a substantial conversation is where I’m from. Once people learn that I was not born a daughter of the soil but have adopted the BVI as my home, the nature of the questions quickly changes from a tone of idle curiosity to something far more specific. They want to know how I got here and, although it’s sometimes phrased differently, how they can move here too. Since a grand total of zero of these people are recent journalism school graduates, alas, they can’t follow my path.
It honestly feels strange to be the subject of that laser-focus of envy, but, I always think, who can blame them for wanting to move to paradise?
This column first appeared in the Limin Times in August 2018.