I am not sure how one gets to the point where you just know everything is going to be okay. Somehow, I not only know it will, I FEEL it will. I was fortunate enough to get back to my happy place twice this year, for nearly 3 months total. The British Virgin Islands. My first trip here was in 2008 with my husband.
I had always wanted to go, since I was in 6th grade and one of my besties at the time, Kay Adams, used to tell me stories of growing up on St. Croix, riding her horse ‘Lady Bug’ on the beaches there. Ever since those childhood days, I knew I would go. (I wish I knew where SHE IS today!)
People on the west coast go to Hawaii or Mexico. People on the east coast go to ‘The Islands,’ either the USVI, BVI, Bahamas, or somewhere south. In my adolescence, I did go to Hawaii several times on family trips. I always thought it was beautiful, and it is. The BVIs are the way I imagine Hawaii must have been at least 50 years ago. No one is in a hurry, no one cares what time it is, and if you go, the BVIs are the epitome of “island time.”
There is no such thing as being late, unless you need to catch a ferry to a neighboring island. The ’80-80-80′ rule applies here. Air temperature is always 80 degrees, water temperature is always 80 degrees, and the visibility underwater is always 80 feet. This, according to my daughter, is Where The Coconuts Grow!
It’s so true, as you can probably see from this photo of Long Bay.
This year my first grandchild came into this world. Peter Brig Pieschel was born in this amazing place. While healthcare in the islands is running the tortoise’s race, a bit slowly at best, my healthy little grandson arrived on his own time schedule, June 13, 2017. This year I went two times! The first time was to get ready for him, with a little fun on the side; and then I went again arriving the day after he was born, with even more fun on the side!
Summer in the Islands is excruciatingly sweltering with an abundance of mosquitoes and no-see-ums. When baby Brig was born though, I was there to help take care of my first grandchild, which was to say the least, an immense blessing. I look back when he was so tiny at 6 pounds 9 ounces. He’s nearly 16 pounds now at about 4 months.
Then hurricane Irma hit, a category-5 storm, which is now confirmed as the worst hurricane ever in the history of the Atlantic ocean. This storm devastated the British Virgin Islands and the kids’ boat/home. Jody and Brig flew home to me 2 days before the storm hit. Peter stayed to secure their boat and multiple other boats. After much praying for him and his own survival skills, Peter made it through the eye of a direct hit from Irma and so did their dog Betsy.
They are all safe in Washington now but have no home to go back to. My heart is in these beautiful islands, with the people who live there, expats and natives alike. Right now there is nothing to go back to, and these islands have been ravaged. While so many are trying to help with the faithful anticipation of rebuilding, I find myself wishing I could do more.
Taking care of their little family along with other family members, is a long way from direct help, but somehow I know I’ll go back soon. I also know I’ll be swimming in the still-clear waters of Tortola and maybe get a chance to spend some ‘Soggy Dollar'(s) in the islands. What they need now, in a country that is 83% tourism based in some form or another, is tourists!
Stacy and I in Long Bay, chatting,floating and enjoying!
Sweet tiny Brig.
Baby Brig with his Betsy…. I love this photo.
I know the kids were brave, especially Peter, but also Jody when she left that island with nothing but a backpack on her back and their baby strapped to her front. With tears in her eyes, she left her home, her island, and her husband, not knowing if she would see them again.
My heart aches for all they lost, and for all their friends have lost. After spending so much time with them, living there on Tortola, I have come to appreciate that tiny part of the world more than ever. I also know they have the fortitude to keep pushing on. After all, it’s their stamina that has kept them on that tiny island, at times, with all the adversity one could imagine, complications that come from thin air, and ridiculously beautiful weather, all without reticulating a gigantic hurricane into the mix.
As for faith. I have all the faith they will need. I KNOW they will be okay and in the end, I am CERTAIN something amazing is coming their way.
How you can help:
Go to www.youcaring.com/wherethecoconutsgrow to help Peter, Jody, Brig and Betsy.
To see how they survived Hurricane Irma, go to Jody’s blog, www.wherethecoconutsgrow.com – she also has some pretty amazing photos after the hurricane and multiple other links to help survivors of Irma and Maria in the USVI, BVI, Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and the wildfires in the US.
Baby Brig and his Daddy.
Can’t wait to return to my happy place!