Maggie and I headed back to Tortola on January 19th. Our first stop was to Village Cay Marina to see our old boat Restless Spirit. She is tied to the mangroves amongst a fleet of doomed boats, many looked as though they had spent several months under the murky marina waters. It was definitely a mixed bag of emotions for both of us.
We were back to renew our residency and work permits – on the advice of our Broker five days before they ran out. Turns out, it wasn’t good advice! The Labour Department is SO far behind with everything, they are unable to process any paperwork in a timely fashion. The renewal form and additional paperwork that they are now requiring only needs to be stamped and yet somehow it takes longer than 9 weeks and we are still counting…
We have an extension with the Immigration Department until Feb 28th. If the Labour Department has not processed us within this time frame, we will be granted a further extension. This means having to travel back and forth to Tortola to get our passports stamped.
During our two weeks there, we visited Immigration twice – the second time we started queuing up at 6.30am to ensure we were in the front of the line for a ticket when they opened at 8.30am. After 6 hours of waiting we were granted an extension. We visited the Labour Department every other day to check to see if we had approval on our residency and permits. Once approved, it takes an additional two weeks to secure an appointment to pick up and pay for them. They were still processing them when we left.
I now have the pleasure of trying to call them on the telephone every day. The phone rings and rings and rings…. And yesterday after an hour of continually dialing, I FINALLY got hold of a Ms. Fox and she informed me she couldn’t find the application in the computer. Could I please call her back in 45 minutes when she has had a chance to check it out? It is beyond frustrating dealing with the local government, but I just smile and say “Of course, thank you very much. I appreciate your help”.
Once we were finished with the bureaucracy for the day, we had a lot of down time to catch up with our neighbors who still do not have electricity and yet exude smiles and strength. We are definitely blessed to have these wonderful people and their friendship in our lives.
We stayed with friends just outside Nanny Cay Marina, which meant we were a stone’s throw away from the pool! My mermaid Maggie had a blast swimming every single day. She enjoyed catching up with her old friends and I enjoyed hanging out with Brittany and Carol, meeting their friends, laughing at lot and savoring a cocktail or two. Nanny Cay Marina is similar to living in a bubble. They have everything you need – electricity, water, Wi-Fi, supermarket, laundry services, pool and beach bar, and you can almost feel as if nothing has changed, as if Irma never happened.
In the time we were gone, the Island has shown a lot of recovery. The prisoners are all back behind bars, the roads are clear of detritus (although still in a terrible state of disrepair) and very slowly the carnage of cars and boats are being cleared away by barges. There is still a lot of debris everywhere, buildings and houses without roofs and windows, schools being held in tents and only 60% have been restored with electricity. It is going to take years for the Island to recover and I pray the Government makes certain recovery decisions which will bring the cruise ships back to the port sooner than later.
It is so great to see boats on the horizon again! The bareboat industry is back in business, and the all inclusive term charters are doing well. Unfortunately, due to the lack of cruise ships and tourists, day sail charters are perilously slow.