Saturday, April 23, 2011

Official Holidays

Back in October, HB wrote about all the special holidays we celebrate in the BVI. However, since he hadn't actually experienced a holiday here, he wasn't able to write about what you might expect should you find yourself in the BVI on an official holiday.

The primary thing you will note about an official holiday is that pretty much everything is closed. Offices, shops, restaurants, some grocery stores. Now you may be used to stores and offices being closed on major holidays, like Christmas, but this applies to ALL official holidays. When we celebrated H. Lavity Stoutt's birthday and Commonwealth Day in March (the BVI equivalents of Martin Luther King Day and President's Day, respectively), pretty much everything was closed.

The exceptions to the closures are what you might expect. Some restaurants will be open for dinner. The restaurants and maybe one or two shops closest to the cruise ship terminal will be open if there are ships in. They will only stay open until the cruise ships leave. The large Riteway and OneMart in Pasea Estate are open shorter hours (Riteway is usually 9am-7pm).

You will also note, should you be unfortunate enough to arrive in the BVI on an official holiday, that the streets are very quiet. If, as HB and I often seem to do, you elect to take a drive on an official holiday, the only other people you will see are expats and cruise ship passengers. On the other hand, should you wish to go to the beach, you will immediately realize where the vast majority of the population has opted to spend their holiday. Brewer's Bay usually has about 10 people using its lovely sandy beaches, but on holidays, that number is more like 100.

The last thing to note about your BVI official holiday experience is in relation to Good Friday. Not only do all the above rules apply to Good Friday, but there is an additional rule in effect on this official holiday as well: alcohol may not be purchased in the territory before 6pm on Good Friday. It cannot be served at bars. It cannot be sold at grocery stores.

I feel strident sympathy for the passengers of the two cruise ships that arrived in Tortola yesterday, on Good Friday. They're on holiday, they get off in the port, and everything's closed. No shopping available to them, many of the shore excursions are not operating, as it's a holiday. They try to go to the beach and at least enjoy the sun, but the beaches are crowded. And they can't even get a drink.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, all those poor cruise ship passengers! Sure glad it wasn't aa holiday when I was there!!!!


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