Thursday, September 9, 2010

Directionally Challenged

Being new to the BVI, HB and I often find ourselves having to ask directions to new stores and locales. Getting directions is complicated by a variety of factors, including a lack of addresses, a lack of street names, a lack of knowledge of street names, and the general foolhardiness of trying to use cardinal directions.

The complexity of both giving and receiving directions in the BVI is perhaps best illustrated by the example of the DVD Rental Store.

One of HB's co-workers, let's call him Bruce, had been enthusing to HB about the DVD Rental Store since HB arrived on Tortola about a month ago but it wasn't until last week that HB asked Bruce for directions to the DVD Rental Store. Here is what Bruce said:

"So, you know where the First Bank is? Well, if you start at the First Bank, and then walk towards the water, you'll see the Mill Mall, and it's in there."

Enthusiastic, HB thanked Bruce for the directions, and we drove to First Bank. We walked toward the water, and we found the Mill Mall! We spent close to 20 minutes scouring the Mill Mall - a shopping strip containing 10 or so stores - and found no DVD Rental Store. We went back to First Bank, and wandered in all directions, covering all the territory within about a block and a half of First Bank. No DVD Rental Store.

Confused and frustrated, we headed home.

On Sunday, HB's boss, let's call him Mr. Smith, took us for a day trip to Virgin Gorda. On the way back, we got onto the subject of the DVD Rental Store, and how we had been unable to find it earlier in the week. Mr. Smith gave us the following directions:

"So, you know where the First Bank is? And there's a blue building behind it? It's one of the biggest buildings in town. About five stories and painted blue? Between the First Bank and First Caribbean Bank? Well, the DVD Rental Store is in there."

We did not arrive back in Tortola until late on Sunday night, so we did not attempt to find the DVD Rental Store in the blue building, but agreed we would try again on Monday. When I picked HB up from work on Monday, I was prepared to drive to the blue building, but HB had news. He had spoken to another co-worker, and the co-worker had given him the following directions:

"No! It's not in the blue building. Look, you have to go to the roundabout, and then follow Waterfront Drive. It'll be on your left, about halfway between the roundabout and the traffic light on Waterfront Drive."

Now, these sounded authentic. Not only did they use a street name, they also referred to two of the most venerable landmarks in Road Town - the roundabout and the traffic light.

One of two traffic lights in Road Town, "the traffic light" is at Waterfront Drive & Wickham's Cay I, and should not be confused with "the other traffic light" at Botanic Station and Waterfront Drive.

We set off again, carefully scanning the shops on the left-hand side of Waterfront Drive, but had not seen a DVD Rental Store by the time we arrived at the traffic light. We parked in the lot for First Caribbean Bank, and decided to explore on foot.

After walking for a few minutes, we entered the Palm Grove Shopping Center, which is at the corner of Waterfront Drive & Wickham's Cay I. Right at the traffic light. It even says "Palm Grove Shopping Center" on the side of the building.

We started exploring the Palm Grove Shopping Center, and finally, we found it:

At least no one had spoiled our fun by telling us the name of the actual store. They left us to discover that all on our own.

For those living on Tortola: Big Baller DVD Rentals can be found in the Palm Grove Shopping Center, located on the corner of Waterfront Drive & Wickham's Cay I, at the traffic light.


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