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Published: April 1st 2016
Friday 11th March, 2016. Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
M had arranged to meet her friend Donna at the The Watering Hole Bar in Road Town which is just at the end of the pier and around the corner from Donna's bank. Donna was already there so we had a coffee and a catch up. Donna told us that there was a great beach on the north side of the West End of the island called Long Bay. She offered to drive us over as it was on her way back to work (the office being in West End). We dropped by her place on the way to look for some lost papers (which she didn't find). Her pad is lovely with great views over the Carrot Bay. The ride across the island was very interesting. It is very undulating with sharp hairpin bends. Donna dropped us outside 1748 Bar which is a high end resort on Long Bay. As D was closing the passenger door he found a wad of papers - luckily the ones Donna was looking for. Donna pointed out another bar on the other side of the car park and told us that,
now the missing papers had been found, she would try to get the afternoon off if she could, otherwise she would arrange a taxi to collect us and take us back to the ship whenever we wanted.
Long Bay is an attractive mile-long stretch of white sand beach that spreads west of Apple Bay. It is home to a top-end resort and clutch of rental villas which line its eastern portion (which is where we had been dropped off). We decided to walk along the beach towards the western end which is slightly less developed. Normally the swimming here is excellent, but today the red flags were flying. We walked along the beach and rested awhile on two secluded sunbeds outside an empty villa. We sat for about half an hour watching the pelicans diving into the sea for their dinner. We continued on to the far end of the beach where we found a ramshakle beach bar called Nature Boy's Shack. This shack had been constructed from bits of wood, old crates and palm throngs. The seats were sawn off tree trunks. D queued behind an American and his little boy for ages before securing two
beers. Turns out that Nature Boy thought that D was the American's dad and not a separate customer. When the Americans had gone we chatted to Nature Boy (real name Winston) for a while. He told us about the treacherous currents here and said that even though he is a strong swimmer he wouldn't venture in the water if the red flags were flying. We had a second drink and settled ourselves on the tree trunk chairs when the phone rang. It was Donna - she had got the afternoon off work - Yeah!!
We arranged to meet at the car park where Donna had dropped us off earlier. She was going to be at least half an hour so we strolled back towards the east end of the beach. When she arrived Donna asked us if we still wanted to try some local food, we said "absolutely". She took us to Industrious Seaside Bar where we had fried fish and Johnny cake. M is not a great fish eater but D filleted it for her and she smothered it in hot pepper sauce which made it taste OK.
After lunch we drove to
the Bomba Shack, an infamous surfers bar, which is located in Cappoons Bay (part of Apple Bay). This is reputed to be the best known bar on Tortola. From the outside it looks like nothing - a pig pen made of drift wood and corrugated iron. According to the Lonely Planet Guide it started as a surfer's bar in the 1970's and "is nothing more than a nailed-together collection of beach flotsam and jetsam covered with grafiti scrawled by decades of party animals or painted by the West Indian owner Bomba Callwood himself". One of the signs dares any females to get naked for Bomba and win a T-Shirt. Apparently plenty of girls take Bomba up on his offer as the ceilings (well what there are of them) are strung with hundreds of bras and knickers. We read that the big attraction here is the full-moon party that occurs once a month. Along with a BBQ and live Reggae music, Bomba serves free psychoactive mushroom tea or "'shroom tea". Apparently many people come away with the impression that they had just been to the "best party ever" while others remember their experience at the Bomba Shack with horror and regret
at the poor choices made under the influence of Rum Punch and Magic Mushroom tea. The psilocybin mushrooms grow wild on Tortola. There are dozens of species of psilocybin or 'magic mushrooms' growing wild on the island and you allowed to use them but not sell them. The effects of their ingestion resemble a short LSD trip, producing significant physical, visual and perceptual changes. The primary feature of these mushrooms is that they bruise blue when handled. Tortola's shrooms can give you anything from a mild high to a wall-melting, commode hugging bad trip. We DIDN'T try any. We had a couple of beers and then had a go at playing ring & hook game where you had to swing a ring on a string and land it on a hook on the wall. Donna was really good at it.
Time was getting on and Donna needed to collect Coral from school so she drove us back to Road Town and dropped us off. We said our goodbyes and thanked Donna for a really great day (shame we didn't get to see Coral). We bumped into June and Brendan and had a quick chat before returning to
Once on the ship we sat on the deck with Mike, Di, Chris and Nigel. M has been friends with Mike since the world cruise in 2008. While on deck M's eyes started to play up - stinging and weeping. M's eyes got worse as the evening progressed and June gave her some eyedrops and Sylvia took her up to her cabin for some Optrex - all to no avail. We gave the shows a miss and went back to the cabin so M could rest her eyes.
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