Sunday, July 17, 2016

This Caribbean Life: A Walk on Tortola, British Virgin Islands

 The Saturday Evening Blog Post. This Caribbean Life: A Walk on Tortola

The wind stops blowing about halfway up the ridge, and even the palm fronds have the good sense to stop moving. But not me; I am going to get to the top of that hill no matter what, because that's what I do--I walk. (How are you supposed to see anything if you just sit?)

I clear the crest of the hill and Soper's Hole reveals itself, a dazzle of blue in the bright sun. My water is gone by now, so I just pant and sweat and start down the other side of the hill, making sure to avoid the loose gravel slicking the dirt track someone had the audacity to call a road. A dozen driveways break off from the road on the way down, a dozen dirt tracks cutting across the pitch to homes obscured by the lush vegetation. A dilapidated truck comes by, kicking up dust that hangs like a cloud in the air, and I wait in the shade of a massive bread fruit tree until the light breeze disperses it. The driver stops and asks me if I want a ride, but I let him know I'm out for a walk. He acknowledges this with a crinkle of his dark brow and a moment's hesitation. "You're sure?"

I nod.

He squints at me and starts off, staring at me in the rear view mirror to make sure I don't drop on the spot. He negotiates a switchback and is lost to view, but I can hear the throaty purr of his motor complaining about the steepness of the pitch.
At the bottom the winds kicks up, blowing in from the Caribbean Sea. A smattering of catamarans are anchored in the bay, bobbing up and down in the gentle swell. Pelicans circle overhead, riding the currents of warm air swirling up to the heavens. A rooster crows, and another responds, voicing his displeasure at the others arrogance and propinquity to his turf. I turn off the main road onto the spur that runs over the isthmus of land between Tortola and Frenchman's Cay, disturbing a covey of Common Ground Doves, which explodes into the air with squeaking wings.
Soper's Hole is nestled on the only the crack of flat land on Frenchman's Cay, overlooking a shallow bay of turquoise water, upon which floats an armada of small boats in various stages of disrepair. In contrast is the marina another couple of hundred meters down the road, filled with yachts, fishing boats, and sailing vessels of every size and shape imaginable, all glistening white in the bright sunshine. The fetid odor of low tide floats on the wind, and salt coats my lips. Good thing D' Best Cup is only another couple of hundred yards away.
My shirt, hat and shorts are all dark with sweat as I walk through the pink French Doors to the cafe. There's a line, so I find a small table under a banana tree outside in the veranda, and wait for it to clear. A pair of hens passes the time with me, pecking at the dirt. When the counter has emptied I shuffle over and order the same thing I order every time, a large latte, a glass of water, and two bananas.

"A hot latte?"

I nod.

"You're sure?"

I nod again, and return to my table. A pack of Australians just off a sailing charter has claimed the table next to me, and I eavesdrop on their misadventures as I wait for my beverages. It seems that they ran out of beer somewhere between Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, and had to make an emergency stop to refuel. (#AustralianProblems) My latte arrives amid a chorus of 'No worries' and 'Come on Mate.' It's ten o'clock in the morning and I haven't had a cup of coffee since yesterday, so nothing gets in the way of me enjoying the hell out of that latte--not the temperature, not the humidity, not even the sound of Donald Trump's voice blaring over the television set in the lobby.

In nothing flat I've finished it, drained the glass of water, and consumed the bananas. I don my hat, slip my pack over my shoulders, and head out the door, ready for the trip back and another day of... This Caribbean Life.

Cheers, peter

Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at