By Alexander Britell and Guy Britton
JOST VAN DYKE — A little more than a year ago, the leisure boats and charter yachts pulled away from Jost Van Dyke on an afternoon not unlike this one, sipping their last painkillers, their last Firewater, savoring their last conch fritters for what would be a very long goodbye.
“Adios to Jost,” wrote the Virgin Islands’ most famous musical ambassador, Kenny Chesney, in “It’s That Time of Day,” singing years ago of the late afternoon departure ritual on White Bay.
But this was not a goodbye.
Because now, after months of struggle, grief, rebuild and recovery, Jost Van Dyke is back again.
The hills are green, the turquoise shimmering, the trees rising. The white of White Bay is just as blindingly bright.
And, yes, the dollars are soggy again.
Thursday marks one year since the savage storm bent the British Virgin Islands, but this chain of infinitely strong islands did not break.
The BVI is making its own comeback, a story that is perhaps nowhere more visible than here on Jost Van Dyke, the little green island that is the Mecca of sailors and beach lovers the world over.
We were here just over a year ago, too, downing painkillers, bobbing in the White Bay blue, listening to Kenny.
This week, a year after the storm, we came back, doing precisely the same thing on a gorgeous afternoon in White Bay. Even if you squinted you could swear there had been no hurricane here.
Because the purity of the Jost Van Dyke experience, the simple, wonderful things that make up a trip to this corner of the British Virgin Islands, remain, as spectacular as ever.
And it’s as easy as ever to get to, whether you’re traveling on the shiny, comfortable New Horizon (above), or a sailing charter.
And on Wednesday, even on one of the slowest days during any season, the place was packed.
The only glaring evidence today is the array of planks holding up freshly-planted palm trees, each donated by Soggy lovers who wanted to contribute to the place they love so much.
“The comeback of of Soggy Dollar and Jost Van Dyke shows the resilience of the human spirit,” Soggy Dollar owner Jerry O’Connell told Caribbean Journal. “We have brought back a magical place that we will be able to share with the world once again.”
Over in Great Harbour, the story is the same: Foxy’s is serving its firewater, its impressive compound standing tall again.
“We’re still here and we aren’t going anywhere,” Foxy told Caribbean Journal.
The most lovable little island in the British Virgin Islands is here again, ready for its rum-seeking pilgrims, a symbol of the BVI’s renaissance, a symbol of the renaissance taking place a year later across the Caribbean, on all of the islands who fought a menacing, violent tempest and won.
Because it was never adios.