Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Dude, They're Catchin' A Few"

West End, Tortola

Went to Long Bay yesterday ( above ), hoping to find a beach to run. Too many rocks to navigate barefoot, but a beautiful flat beach. Stayed all afternoon, content to read and finish book # 2. I watched a couple of surfers at the east end of the beach looking toward the channel as the waves rolled in. A couple, with several empty Caribes and a surf board next to their beach towel greeted me as I walked by.
"How do you think they're doing out there," I asked, sure that my kids would think that was a lame question if they were here.
"Dude", the guy said, waving his beer as he talked. "They're catchin' a few."

Later on, at the Jolly Roger, I'd find out more about surfer dudes on Tortola.
"Surfin's all about the wind." The man speaking, Presidente beer in his hand, had a deep tan, grey, shoulder length curly hair that hadn't seen a comb for some time. "I've been surfin' here for four years" he added, his head bobbing for emphasis. Trying to get down to Nicauragua. Great waves there. That's where my buddy is. Came from Southern California. Been surfin' since I was 8."
Never did get his name, but he is painting, and, as it turns out, caretaking for Antonio. Found out which dogs to avoid, where to go swimming ( Brewer's Beach ), and that there was a pool for the Super Bowl tonight( I'm in. $500 pot. No idea if my #16 is even remotely close to lucky ).

The Jolly Roger, come to find out, is a local spot with great sunset views and a cook from Barbados who understands mango salsa.
Justin, a 28 year old with a shock of brown hair, bright blue eyes and not an ounce of fat on his 5'9" frame, actually born and raised on Tortola, had advice, too. " Get out on the water. The water hasn't changed but the island has. The people have. Just sail as much as you can. The developers are taking all the land and the politicians are takin' all the money."

Turns out, Justin and Natalie, his wife have moved to Phialdelphia to be near Children's Hospital. Their son, almost 2 now, nearly died of an extremely autoimmune disorder that makes him vulnerable to all bacterial infections. CHOP saved the infant's life, but his dependence on medical care forced them to move to Conchohocken and Justin is now working for a building contractor on the Main Line.

Just two stories but a little off my usual radar screen. I can't say I'd like to live on an island for 28 years or be an aging surfer on my way to meet the Sandanistas. But it does remind me that not everyone is searching for success in the good ol' American way.

After two more weeks here, I may become one of them.

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