In the middle of the Caribbean lies a tiny 850 acre island resort called Guana which is part of the British Virgin Islands. It is a magical place. That is where I met My Beloved Brit a little over 15 years ago.
The view from the top of Guana Island
I was working in Washington DC, and after two of the worst snow storms in ages, I decided I had had enough. There were piles of snow everywhere. The roads were impassable. And the quote from our mayor in the local newspaper was “The Lord givith, and the Lord taketh away”. So much for expecting the snowplows to rescue us. It was time to leave town for awhile. I found a book called the 100 Best Resorts of the Caribbean and started hunting for an escape.
About half way through the book, I found an intriguing review of a small private resort located on a tiny island right off Tortolla in the British Virgin Islands. Guana. The resort description sounded very British (always a plus) and very tropical (an absolute must at the moment) and I was ready for an experience that seemed like summer camp for adults with gourmet food.
At that time, there was a maximum of about 30 guests on the island at any one time, a scattering of tiny cottages overlooking the blue seas, shrimp colored flamingos in the pond and lots of staff. Little did I know the staff was the key.
I packed my bags and was picked up at the Tortolla airport by one of the island’s welcoming boatmen, who placed my luggage on a small boat at a nearby dock and took off across the water.
I was traveling alone. I often did. I never found going on holiday by myself at all intimidating. I loved the freedom of it. And this was special.
At the dock I was greeted by the manager, was given an hibiscus flower to place in my hair, and my bags were wisked away to the room while I registered. (Of course my first reaction was not to let them out of my site for a minute–my New York background coming through–but one sip of punch and they could have taken them anywhere)
The door to my cottage
I was in heaven. The resort, which has a fascinating history of Quaker settlers and American ex-pats, consisted of the main stone house where cocktails and dinner were served, and the most spectacular beaches ever. And scattered over the high hillside were the most beautiful little whitewashed cottages glistening in the sun. One of them was mine.
I quickly unpacked and ran down the “mountain” path to the beach. It was time for some serious relaxation.
I had the entire beach to myself, so I picked a lounge chair, placed my sunhat on my head and took out a book. After a few minutes I went over to the small hut under the palm trees where there were cold drinks for the guest’s convenience, and sat in the shade to cool off.
Within minutes this handsome man rode up in a golf cart along the sandy road. He had the Guana staff shirt on, but I had not seen him before. I would have remembered. I had my favorite coral colored bikini on which I am sure had nothing to do with him being so friendly. It was part of the welcome package. He got a cold drink and started “chatting me up”, a curious British term that means throwing a few lines at a girl. The accent, as I may have mentioned somewhere before, hooked me immediately, but it was the sense of fun and the stories that really held my interest.
After exchanging the basic information he was off . He was the chief engineer of the island, which not only meant making the drinking water from sea water, and chasing the donkeys off the tennis courts, but also being very welcoming to guests. After working for a bank in London for most of his adult life, this is where he ended up, to my great luck. And of course the fact that he was stuck on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere didn’t dissuade him from thinking that I was a goddess.
Later that evening, i saw him again at the cocktail reception in the main house before dinner, and realized that this was a man who I could talk to for a very long time, accent or not. He must have felt the same about me.
Guana Island at sunset
I suspected after four fabulous days on the British side of paradise, that I would never see him again once I left. But within a few days of my returning home to the frigid regions up north, I got a phone call from a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. The rest as they say, is history.
We would come back to the Caribbean to live and spend lots more time in the BVI, and we would be back on Guana, but it could never possibly be as magical as that first winter visit.