TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands — When our travel agent booked our bed and breakfast many months ago, its name had no particular meaning to us. We were looking for a room near a warm beach, sunshine, and perhaps, a friendly innkeeper who could initiate us into some interesting surroundings for a couple of vacation days. Who cared about its name?
By the time we arrived here, however, the name of our B&B had taken on a whole new meaning. Our accommodation is called:
Well, actually it’s called Icis Villas, spelled with a “c” — but when you telephone the desk without seeing the different spelling, you hear that chilling word: “Isis.” You might hang up in fear and disgust before inquiring about lodging.
Not to worry. Don’t hang up. Icis has been thriving here on this beautiful island many thousands of miles from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq or Yemen for 15 years under the ownership and guidance of one gentle lady named Icis Malone.
“The property has been in the family for many years,” Malone explained, “and it has nothing to do with the Arab world or Muslims. She said the fertile land here on the north shore of the capital island of the BVI was originally a sugar plantation. Nearby it was a rum distillery which now can be seen as a crumbling ancient building in the nearby woods here along Brewer’s Bay. Under Malone’s guidance and with the help of family members, the inn now has 20 rooms and a swimming pool with a little walking bridge over its center. Flowers bloom everywhere, and with a two-minute walk from the front door, guests can be on beautiful Brewer’s Bay Beach, renowned for good snorkeling as well as swimming in the warm waters of the Caribbean.
O.k., we were held hostage here at Icis. . . by the captivating mood of an island full of smiling people who live on “island time” and seem to enjoy their bit of paradise every minute of every day. “How do you like our island?” everybody asks, as if wondering why it took us so long to come to Icis.
“My mother named me Icis after the Greek goddess,” Malone explained. While her mother spelled the name with a “c,” the name of the goddess who was first worshipped in ancient Egyptian religions and later throughout the Roman Empire was actually spelled with an “s.” Isis the goddess was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, and is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.
Isis the goddess was not a radical Muslim nor is Icis Malone, but the latter looks as though she is a good mother and wife as well as a fine innkeeper. So far, she says, no one has connected her name or her inn with the Arab world or Muslim fanatics, and when we visited, the place was filled with happy guests strolling the grounds and enjoying breakfast at the inn’s restaurant.
“We have nothing to do with ISIS,” Malone smiled as she poured us another cup of morning coffee.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and for $250 enjoy a quiet night on one of the loveliest coves in the Caribbean.