2010-07-02 / Travel

In Search of a Slave Trader

By Warner M. Montgomery Warner@TheColumbiaStar.com
After lunch, Linda and took a self–guided walking tour of Road Town. I wanted to take a tour of the HMS Prison, but the 18th century white stone and concrete building was closed. It was interesting that on either side of the prison was a church.

The Supreme Court and Legislative Council building in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands The Supreme Court and Legislative Council building in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands St. George’s Anglican Church, rebuilt in 1819 after a hurricane, proclaimed to have a copy of the 1834 BVI Emancipation Proclamation inside, but it was under renovation and the interior had been removed. The Methodist Church, rebuilt in 1924, was of simple West Indian style. Behind the chapel was a school and a cemetery that wrapped around the prison.

Government House, on a high hill overlooking the waterfront, is supposed to be the residence of the BVI royal governor, Her Majesty’s representative. It is an impressive, large white structure surrounded by palm trees and large poinsettias. However, it was being renovated and could not be visited.

Linda stands in front of a typical brightly– painted West Indian house in Tortola. Linda stands in front of a typical brightly– painted West Indian house in Tortola. We passed a large government high school where several white mothers were waiting to pick up their uniformed children. The students, most of whom were black, filed casually out of the schoolyard and began the walk home. The students were well–dressed, orderly, and relatively quiet.

In front of the columned Supreme Court and Legislative Council building were busts to the first native members of the BVI legislature. From 1871 to 1856, the islands were part of the Federation of the Leeward Islands. BVI became a separate colony in 1956, and in 1967 a new constitution gave the islands a ministerial system of government. Even though BVI is now a crown colony, it is largely self–governing with tourism and offshore banking the major industries.

As we made our way back along Main Street, Linda ducked in and out of shops trying to find something to buy. Luckily, she failed.

We stopped at a delightful coffee shop for milkshakes and conversation with the Guyanese owner. Guyana was once British Guiana on the northeastern coast of South America. Citizens of the British Commonwealth (remnants of the British Empire) are generally free to move within the many nations of the Commonwealth. This wo-man and her husband moved to Tortola because of lack of opportunity in Guyana. She said her next move would be to Canada if they couldn’t make it in BVI. Her husband is in insurance.

A glance at the clock on the wall and I knew it was time to head back to the ship. It was 4:30 and if we didn’t make the gangplank by 5 o’clock, we’d have to swim home.

I found Tortola to be a friendly, pleasant, inexpensive, and comfortable Caribbean island. No rush, no hassle. There is much to do if one is so inclined: tropical mountain hiking, safari bus rides across the island, scuba and snorkeling, and, of course, sailing. Once I gather my Lightburn information, maybe I’ll rent a cottage on the hill above Road Town and write my great slave–trading

opus, The Captain and The

Qu een.

I’ll let you know when it’s published.

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