Tortola, British Virgin Islands – Meanwhile back on the isle of Tortola, on Cappoons Bay, while waiting for the magic to take effect, I sat with Bomba in his shack and watched as he drew in the last of the Cuban stogie. Yes, the caterpillar tokin’ on a hookah. Blue-gray smoke swirled round Bomba’s fat head as he seemed every bit pleased with our trade – and in a trippy laid-back British West Indian lilt, Bomba offered me another cup of his cherished mushroom tea.
Inclined, I felt to accept the master tea maker’s generosity, but, then again, no. The sun had scorched the time away and all at once I felt to bid the Shack a hasty adieu.
Turbo lead the Gonzonistas down the side of a mountain to a precipice where a perfect paradise appeared. A mile-long stretch of sugary soft white sand beach with enormous coconut palms that swayed like hula girls at a luau. Having spotted the Emerald City, like Dorothy, I ran the rest of the way.
Where the foot of the lush green mountain met the white sand beach, under an open-air thatched-roof, a shoeless middle-aged couple were preparing to tie the knot. They did not seem too concerned that a towering black man in aviator hat and goggles was traveling alongside a rapidly panting white woman chompin’ on the nub of a cigar who was being followed by a toothless Nashville musician with four rusty strings on an old beat-up guitar followed by a professional whiner whose shtick was to mumble and moan around every unfamiliar turn. Nothing but an awkward pack of nonconformists tripping downhill, fighting back the briars and brambles. Dirty turistas unintentionally converging on a man and woman’s special moment.
Given a choice, a person in their right mind would likely not choose to travel with the sort, though it really matters not following a night in the light of the moon and a cup of tea. However, these “sorts” make for good trade if one happens to stumble upon an unforgiving jungle experiment. There are times I scratch my head in wonder, why, why after driving over that komodo dragon’s underground den, caving it in, swallowing Turbo’s off-road tour jeep to the hilt with the force aboard [Part One], instead of struggling down the side of a steep mountain why Turbo did not suggest we simply follow the yellow brick road, I do not understand. Not as adventurous I suppose.
What were the bride and groom to do but invite the forest misfits to bear witness to their union? Into the eyes of the bride, at closer study, the invitation seemed merely extended as a safety precaution. Her day, in a moment, had unpredictably turned weird, and they were outnumbered.
The starched white linen cloaked table flaunted a three-tiered pineapple cake and a magnum of Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon White Gold Champagne, iced down in a sweating crystal decanter. Parched, immediately I spotted the chilled vessel and hoped the vows were quick ones.
The shade and sea breeze were most welcomed, but the couple standing together acted oddly lonely. A case of the wedding day jitters perhaps, however, they weren’t convincing me that they wanted to tie themselves to one another. Huh, the audacity of this unfamiliar couple using my crew as an excuse to bust up the ceremony. But that wasn’t the case.
The bride asked Turbo to walk and give her away. I stood confused by the tea and bleeding from the sticker bushes.
Over yellow and white frangipani pedals, down the aisle the offbeat couple strolled arm in arm. A tear trickled down the face of the glistening hulk. The syrupy moment was sweet, interrupted only by Cujo clanging on his old guitar, spitting and slurring a reggae version of We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About.
Bearing witness to the shenanigans, the groom looked a tad uneasy. I too thought Turbo and the bride were at any minute going to run. Inserted here * it would have made a much more entertaining story and more champagne for the rest of us.
I-Dos were spoken and the Gonzonistas made a beeline for the wedding cake and the couple’s celebratory champagne. We danced and twirled in the sand by the side of the turquoise sea – all except for Elbows T. Mumbler that is. It was a memorable occasion with no pink chiffon.
Minus a few annoying people there is no better escape on the planet than the British Virgin Islands. They are perfection and for decades my sanctuary. In part, two of my books have been written in these islands: “Pirate Night Before Christmas” and “Damn the Carnations Full Speed Ahead.”
If ever on a full moon you find yourself in Tortola, you don’t have to drink of the tea but likely you will hear these words and may even mumble them yourself . . . “Rhum is the answer, but, what was the question?”