Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Immigration Update

The National Democratic Party won the elections in November, and as was anticipated, there have been several changes to the immigration and work permit policy since the new government took office on the 1st of January. 

The first major change announced was the removal of long-term Labour Commissioner Oleanvine Maynard, and her replacement by Janice Rymer. There is also discussion that Chief Immigration Officer Dennis Jennings may be replaced as well. 

The expectation is that Ms. Rymer will help institute a more belonger-focused Department of Labour, and be less likely to grant special permissions to foreigners, an expectation being reinforced by the series of "town hall" meetings on labour that Deputy Premier Kendrick Pickering has been holding in the new year. As noted in the statement, Dr. Pickering intends to address four major issues at these town hall meetings, including the change in personnel, but most importantly for potential new immigrants, "reviewing the policy for granting of new work permits"

I have heard rumors that there has been a moratorium imposed on granting of any new work permits until the town hall meetings are complete, but I am unable to find any news or government source to back that up. Nonetheless, there has been a decided slowing in the work permit process, as evidenced by the three months it took to process my renewal permit (as opposed to the customary six weeks). 

If you're trying to move to the BVI, keep in good contact with your potential employer about the work permit situation. BVINews.com is a pretty decent, up-to-date resource for government happenings as well. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012


In the BVI, Poinsettias are not just for Christmas.

The temperate climate in the BVI means poinsettias can be grown as perennials in your garden. To get the brightest red leaves though still takes a bit of enterprise, as the poinsettias need a full 12 hours of darkness for the green leaves to change to red.

Whoever owns this lovely example on the Cane Garden Bay Road seems to be doing quite a good job.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sunset Surf

On a day that started like this

How great to be able to end it like this

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dying to Get Here

I wouldn't have thought about today's morbid topic except it recently came to my notice as a result of working in a hotel, where we handle a wide variety of guest requests. Sometimes, having visited a place often, or lived in a place for a while, you might develop a special affinity for it. Here's a complete how-to on making the BVI your final resting place.

In order for human remains to be buried or scattered within the BVI, whether on land or sea, a permit must be sought from the Ministry of Health and Human Services. It's a pretty simple, two-page form, that asks for basic contact information for the person making the request (i.e. the executor) and birth and death information for the deceased.

The one application also serves to request permission to import the remains to the Territory, should the currently be located outside it, and to request permission for a tomb or underground vault to be built. The second page of the application requires details of which items the applicant is specifically seeking, along with details of how/when/where the import of the remains and the interment are to take place.

If the remains are to be interred, information is needed on the location of burial, including the registration, block and parcel numbers of the piece of land. For those wishing to be buried on private land, as in the photo above, you must have permission in writing from the land owners. All people wishing to be buried on land in the BVI must also have a permit to bury from the Registrar's office -- necessary so that no one goes digging you up in the future.

Applications must be accompanied by a death certificate, and a certificate of cremation where applicable. By statute, cremated remains may only be scattered at sea, five miles south of Norman Island or Peter Island, unless special permission is granted by the Ministry of Health.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Close Crop

For the Tortolan homeowner who is just too busy to tend to the lawn herself, there's always hired help.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sunday Brunch

Since trying their mojito happy hour last winter, we've long been fans of the location of the Clubhouse at Frenchman's, and our visit last Sunday only reconfirmed what a beautiful spot they have, with a view to the South-East over the Sir Francis Drake Channel, and wonderfully manicured grounds surrounding the restaurant.

The location alone is almost enough reason to return to the Clubhouse, but we had an unfortunate experience at dinner over the summer, so it took a lot of convincing for me to get HB to return for Sunday brunch. Only the multiple reports from many different quarters of the deliciousness of the brunch food prevailed on HB to give the Clubhouse another try. I think both of us were happy he relented, as not only did the service at brunch show an improvement over dinner, but so did the food.

Frenchman's offers a three-course prix fixe brunch menu, including one "libation" and coffee, for $24 per person. Even if the food were mediocre, it would be a pretty good deal, but as it stands, this is probably one of the best restaurant values on Tortola.

First courses range from house-made duck liver pate to a New York style bagel with dill and salmon cream cheese, while second courses offer a wider variety of both sweet and savory options. My Belgian waffle was nearly transcendent, it was so light and fluffy and creamy. I seriously have never had such a delicious waffle, nor known that they could even approach such deliciousness.

I expected the "libation" included in the prix fixe menu to reflect the weak pour we experienced at happy hour, but, happily, the opposite was true. Similarly, the coffee was Grade A Blue Mountain, freshly brewed in a French press -- by far the best cup of coffee I've ever had. I would almost say you should go for this reason alone, but unfortunately, when we ordered a second cup, it seemed more like Folgers grounds than the Blue Mountain we were expecting.

Dessert did not quite live up to the standard of the rest of the meal, with somewhat uninspired choices (key lime pie or passion fruit cake). The cake was a little dry, but ultimately, I was too stuffed from the rest of my meal to properly enjoy dessert anyway.

If you happen to be on Tortola on a Sunday, brunch at Frenchman's is highly recommended.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Thank you, readers, for sticking with me the last few weeks while I've taken my time deciding what to do with this blog.

I started Basset's View of the Islands intending to provide information on moving to the British Virgin Islands -- information I had looked desperately for before my move, and couldn't find anywhere. I've had several of you comment and e-mail me saying that this website has been exactly that: assistance in planning a move to the BVI.

But I think Basset's View has grown to more than that. Early on, it became a way to communicate my experiences to my friends and family back home. A way to say "Hi, I'm all right" when phone calls are pretty costly. Somewhere along the way, I got distracted by the idea that all or most of my entries should have photographs, and trying to take enough photos to sustain five entries a week became more of a chore than a joy. I also managed to let an initially broad focus become too narrow, and to think I was somehow straying from the purpose of the blog.

I've realized only recently, that the biggest role this blog plays in my life is as a journal of my time here. HB and I love looking back at the entries, and remembering the horrible time we had with the ticks, or the great dinner we had at Red Rock. The nearly month-long pseudo-break I've taken from Basset's View has made me realize how much I enjoy writing the entries, and how I miss it when I don't do it.

Having taken a moment to step back and re-evaluate my purpose in writing, and to re-consider the reader I'm writing for, I know now that I don't really want to change what I'm doing. I want to continue to document my time in the BVI, and to share my experiences with my friends and family. The only real change I'm going to make is to focus less on photography, and more on getting a post up five times a week.

Daily posts on Basset's View of the Islands will resume on Tuesday, the 25th of January. I'll still be here. Maybe you'll join me.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Club Med 2

Let's say you have $10,000 to spend on a 7-day, all-inclusive vacation. Assuming you're okay with sharing your vacation with 300 other moneyed French and Italians, you could do a lot worse than the Club Med 2, which has been making its way around the BVI for the last few months.

On Monday morning, it cruised past our deck, sails up, transiting between Jost van Dyke and Virgin Gorda.

Picturesque and monstrous, compared to the "tiny" 40-footer behind it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pelican Season

Although brown pelicans call the BVI home year-round, there is a definite sharp increase in the pelican population in winter. Starting around mid-November, the beaches and bays become crowded with pelicans pursuing the running fry.

As I drove through Carrot Bay this morning, there were a large number enjoying the mild surf and views of Jost van Dyke. The 25 or so pictured above are just a small sampling of the congregated seabirds.

Trying to capture their synchronized diving is perhaps a fool's errand. I could have spent all morning sitting on the seawall watching their antics.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cotton Balls

There is a spindly little plant struggling for a hold in the sandy soil of the Windy Hill hillside that, from the flowers, I could almost think is a cotton plant. From a quick google image search, the leaf shape seems accurate, so perhaps it is cotton.

My quick snap while driving doesn't provide a clear image of the flowers, which are definitely fuzzy little balls, like cotton bolls.

Although plantations in the Virgin Islands were primarily sugar cane, there are records that indicate that more arid, sandy soil was planted in cotton instead, in order to maximize profits, so perhaps this little bush is a remnant of a previous era

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Little Lamb

Sometimes driving and taking pictures doesn't mix. I was trying to get a photo of the tiny lamb, but the traffic behind me had other ideas. I thought about cropping and 'shopping, but in the end, I think this provides a pretty nice perspective on Tortola, and on my theoretical "creative process".

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Prime Real Estate

Since moving to our new place, HB and I have often joked that our car has the best views on island.

From its nightly resting place, our overlooks the Atlantic, in the direction of Anegada.

Jost van Dyke keeps the left window happy.

And Cane Garden Bay is the vista from the rear.

With 270 degree views of the BVI, perhaps our car's real estate isn't such a joking matter.

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