It’s a big commitment to get to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands from Jamaica but 24 hours later I finally landed at Terrence B Lettersome International, on my own and ready for some quiet time. Whilst I’m stood waiting at the Avis desk, a man approaches and asks where I’m coming from. I say Jamaica. With the biggest smile, he high fives me and launches into Patois. Suddenly, I’ve got my very own Jamaican welcome party. BVI is a bit of a culture shock for me, I’m used to life on the rock, living it loud – Kingston style, which is a world away from life on other islands. I’ve come to realise that no two Caribbean islands are the same – BVI especially feels like going back in time; it’s sleepy, romantic, tropical, ever so peaceful, relaxed and perfect for a meditation retreat. It’s a place where everyone hitch-hikes and crime is virtually non existent and did I mention it’s so quiet? I mean, really quiet. Weirdly, it also feels strangely familiar, as I sit eating lunch in a restaurant in Road Town, I’m surrounded by young Brits, smartly dressed on their lunch-breaks chatting away. The sound of their accents incongruous with the lush green islands dotted around the sea, the palm trees and the bright colourful buildings. I suddenly realise the green fields of home are thousands of miles away.
The experience of driving on the left, like back home, but in a left-hand drive American import tells you much about BVI’s recent history. A British overseas territory that’s closer to the US mainland and surrounded by the US virgin islands can’t helped but be influenced. I pay for my lunch in US dollars and am reminded that in Cayman (another recently visited Caribbean island), at least they have the Queen’s head on their money. Later, I go for a solitary walk on a deserted beach and take in the 180 degree view of white sands and crystal blue sea dotted with lush emerald green islands. My husband would love it here I think, as I draw a love heart in the sand for no one in particular to see. As the sun dips beneath the horizon, I wonder just how close to paradise I actually am.