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Her World

A Donkey Serenade

March 12, 1989|JUDITH MORGAN | Morgan is a La Jolla free-lance writer. and

Where in the world would I rather be than where I am today?

In the British Virgin Islands, of course, docked at Trellis Bay off Tortola and listening to the bray of old Chocolate.

Chocolate is an amiable donkey who hangs around a dockside eatery called the Last Resort. When the piano music gets loud or the laughter is high, she sticks her head through an open window and joins in the fun.

I liked seeing her silly face across the room as I went through the buffet line with other yacht dwellers. It reminded me that I was someplace in the laid-back Caribbean and not in a hurried city. But the real treat was to hear Chocolate's song in the night as I rocked on my holiday boat.

The country sound underscored the fact that I was anchored off Tortola--just as surely as the rooster cry that rippled over the waters at dawn.

I smiled, peeked out a porthole at the pink-gold sky, then turned and went back to sleep.

Where would I rather be today?

A Tasty Hideaway

In the British Virgin Islands, of course, docked off Mosquito Island after a romantic dinner at the impossibly good hideaway called Drakes Anchorage.

We sat in the candlelight and listened to the slap of the sea against a rocky wall. We savored grilled swordfish in a Pernod sauce, after a crisp salad and zesty soup.

Half of us ordered desert; half of us didn't. But the full moon came up anyway and guided us back through the inky water and shadowy masts to the holiday boat that was home.

The next morning we went by dinghy to a snow-white beach that seemed to be at the perfect end of the world, an isolated cove where we snorkeled among shy angelfish and grinning surgeons.

We flung ourselves on the sands to dry and then wandered through the curly shells that washed up at our feet. The best find of our beachcombing was a round white coral the size of a fist. It was flecked with crimson.

We felt that we were the only people on earth--right up to the moment that we climbed a small hill and saw the roof of Drakes Anchorage, and its breezy cottages, less than a city block away.

Best Snorkeling

But where else?

The British Virgin Islands, of course, where the best snorkeling of the week was near Treasure Point at the tip of Norman Island.

We swam inside the caves, and I discovered a luminous emerald wall that seemed to be mossy shamrocks. Yet when I reached out with the tip of my fins they flinched and turned to purple. Some sort of tubular coral polyps, I was later told by a young native.

The garden reefs near the Norman Island bight are a-dazzle with indigo damsels, yellow snappers and stoplight parrotfish.

In these calm, translucent waters you can clearly see through 30 or 40 feet to the white-sand bottom. The day at Norman was one of the richest snorkeling experiences of my life.

I rank it up there with the summer day long years ago when I learned to relax and enjoy the world underwater, off the beach of Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda. That led to exploring the wonders of the Baths and the corals off Jost Van Dyke.

Which is, of course, in the British Virgin Islands.

And where in the world am I today, instead of where I'd like to be?

I won't tell, except to say that I am glad I had a flu shot or I know it would be worse.

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