Welcome! Tally ho!

Our B.V.I. Adventure is designed to give our family, friends and any other interested followers a look into the life of two expatriates making their way on the island of Tortola. Tortola is the largest island in the British Virgin Islands.

So, why did we move 2,000 miles away from our home in Knoxville, Tennessee? Michael accepted a position as the director of retail and international sales for a Caribbean clothing brand.

Cheers!

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 18: New Year's Eve

Our New Years Eve plans included a trip to Marina Cay, the 8-acre island that Pusser's owns. 



The restaurant was packed.  We had a wonderful dinner and a few Marina Cay champagnes.  Michael's tie if you're wondering is from Pusser's.  They don't have bowties yet...you know that will be changing under Michael's leadership!  ;) 

The winds were very strong on New Years Eve, which meant the ferry operator responsible for taking guests to and from Marina Cay had to be very careful.  When it was time to leave Marina Cay and head back to Tortola, there were quite a few people waiting on the dock, including this group from New York:


We ended up getting off of the 11:15 p.m. ferry so this group could travel together and waited for the 11:45 p.m. ferry.  It turned out to be a great move.

As the clock struck midnight, we were en route watching the fireworks on the water!  It was fantastic, but that was just the beginning of our night...

New Years Eve - also referred to as Old Years Night - coincided with a full moon this year.  This fact is of particular importance in the BVI because the Full Moon Parties are notorious here.  Trellis Bay has the biggest party on the island. 

The signature of any Trellis Bay full moon party is a large metal sphere set ablaze on the water.  There are several of them actually and with the high winds embers were everywhere. 



These fireballs are incredible, aren't they!?!  There was a rowdy crowd gathered on this New Years Eve.  As I've heard Michael describe it since then, "It was probably the most unstable environment I've been in for a long time."  I'm sure my mom appreciates this description.  Just take a look at this hilarious photo:


Who knows what Adam was yelling!  I'm telling you - the winds were so strong! That's the strap of my camera on the right side of the photo.  We did have a great time, but I'm not sure if we'll be up for the next full moon party on January 30.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 17: Time to Say Goodbye

After a wonderful Christmas holiday in the Caribbean, it was time to bid farewell to my family.

We dropped them off at the airport on Wednesday morning.  Unfortunately, some of the volcanic activity on the nearby island of Montserrat caused their American Eagle flight to be cancelled. 



They were put on an 6-seater to Puerto Rico and my mom sat in the cockpit with the pilot!  {There's no photo of this because they put all of the carry on luggage in the back which meant my dad had no access to his camera.} 

While they eventually made it through San Juan and onto Miami, they all missed their connecting flights home.  American Eagle was able to get them on later flights though, so no one had to sleep in the airport.
Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 15: Boxing Day

Monday was a national holiday, called Boxing Day.  We had heard of it before, but we weren't sure what it was all about since it is not recognized in the U.S.  No famous boxers of English decent were coming to mind...
                                              
No seriously...here's a little history lesson.  It may help you win final Jeopary one night.


Celebrated the day after Christmas, Boxing Day is a day when people present gifts, bonuses, donations or items to others, often those less fortunate. For centuries, a Christmas box was an earthenware box used to collect donations, either as tips at a business or as donations for the poor. People would drop coins into the Christmas boxes all year.  Then the day after Christmas, the box would be broken open and the contents would be distributed among employees or given to charitable causes.
We've heard some conflicting reports from locals about the history of this holiday.  Other says that in feudal times, the lords of the land would gather useful items and gifts together to distribute among the serfs to use the following year. As each family received a box of goods, such as grain, tools and clothing, the tradition of Boxing Day emerged.
Boxing Day is celebrated in Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as many British commonwealths, like the BVI.  Oh, and when Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the holiday is recognized on the following Monday. We weren't sure if this holiday was like President's Day in the U.S. so Michael tried going into the office, but it was closed.  So, our Boxing Day became Beach Day.

We hadn't been to Cane Garden Bay yet, so we decided to try it out.  It is the most commercial beach on the island. 



There are several restaurants located here along with the vendors who primarily sell to cruise ship passengers.  We had lunch at Myatt's. This was the view from our table. 



Happy Boxing Day!
Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 13: Dinner at Peg Leg's



With a name like Peg Leg's, this restaurant should be a dive.  But as you can see, it's anything but.  We were pleasantly surprised to find a charming third place.

Peg Leg's is on Nanny Cay {prounounced "cay" - imagine that!}.  There's a large marina there, along with some condominiums, a few offices and shops.  After a long day at the Baths, we were famished.  These two raved about the fish and chips. 



We'll definitely be coming back.  Oh, and it may have to be during the daytime.  The restaurant is on the beach and there's a pool.  The best part?  Nanny Cay is pet friendly, so we can bring Milly with us! 










Day 13: The Baths

This has to be one of my favorite experiences thus far in the British Virgin Islands.  The Baths are located on the island of Virgin Gorda.  Experiencing them is one part rock climbing and one part swimming. 



The Baths is comprised of natural rock formations made from volcanic eruptions.  These boulders {official term: batholiths} are magnificent.  Here is one of my favorite shots taken inside one of the caves, looking out to sea.



I was so proud of my parents.  They are in their mid-sixties and they trusted us enough to lead them through the Baths to reach our final destination: Devil's Cove.  It's spectacular!

 

To reward ourselves for reaching Devil's Cove and making our way back, we enjoyed a cold Carib while soaking up some sun.


It was a full day!  The ferry ride to Virgin Gorda is $30 round trip, and when the taxi drops you off at the Baths, the BVI Parks Department collects a $3 fee.  Not a bad price for the experience of a lifetime! 
Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Night: Marina Cay

For Christmas dinner, we headed east to Marina Cay {pronounced "key"} an 8-acre island owned by Pusser's.  Getting there is easy with ferry service that runs on the hour.  Notice I didn't use the word glamourous...that's the ferry boat on the right. 





Marina Cay has a very special story...the island was first settled by a pair of newlyweds in 1937.  Robb and Rodie White bough Marina Cay for $60.00 back then.  With nothing but the land and sea, they built a cottage that still stands today.  Because Robb could not dig a hole large enough to hold the cistern for water, he built it above ground.  Through many struggles, they managed to complete their task. 

World War II and an uncooperative BVI government brought their dream to a disappointing end.  Robb left the island in 1940 and upon his return from war, he and Rodie parted ways, never to return to Marina Cay. 
Based on their time on Marina Cay, Robb wrote a novel, "Two on the Isle".  Their original home serves as a reading lounge for the hotel and villa guests.

Our time on Marina Cay was just lovely.  First stop was the infamous red telephone booth.  Here are my parents posing for the camera.

They actually have a web cam positioned on the phone booth at all times and it snaps a photo every 30 seconds I believe. 

So, when you come visit you can stand by the booth, and then tell family and friends to look you up at a certain date and time.  Pretty neat!

Dinner at Pusser's was great.  I went with the blackened mahi. 

The signature drink on Marina Cay is the Marina Cay champagne.  It's champagned served on the rocks with a swirl of mango juice, garnished with an orange slice and cherry!  Mmmmmmm...very refreshing!

Here are some more photos from our time on Marina Cay.

                             
That's the Pusser's store across the way. 

                              
That's us at the bar.  And here's the view of the sunset...
                             

Christmas Day: Pink & Green



As you can plainly see, we went with pink and green for this year's Christmas wrapping.  It was not intended.  Unfortunately, the holiday wrapping paper selection on the island leaves much to be desired.  We went to several "department stores" and "malls" {using these terms very loosely} and found nothing quite fitting for our first BVI Christmas.  So, we got creative with hot pink and some small green ornaments.

The big story of Christmas 2009 was the weather.  Overnight, while visions of sugar plums danced in our heads, hurricane force winds swirled outside.  We awoke to a loud clap of thunder and a bright white flash. Since the house is open, with only screens on the porch separating us from the elements, we saw every bolt and felt every roll of thunder.  The storm lasted for several hours, but somehow Santa's sleigh made it to Tortola!

Tonight we are headed to Marina Cay, an 8-acre island owned by Pusser's. 
Thursday, December 24, 2009

Peter Island Resort

For dinner last night, we took a ferry to Peter Island Resort which is just across the channel from Tortola.



Also on the ferry, an all girls choir from a local church.  They were performing on the island that night.  We enjoyed their warm up on the ride over very very much!!






Peter Island is a private island owned by a family in Michigan.  There are 50 rooms on the island and two restaurants.  We ate dinner at Dead Man's Bar & Grill.  It may have been the best meal I've had in the B.V.I. so far!




We will definitely be taking any guests who come to visit us over to Peter Island for dinner.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

If you can't go left, go right. If you go right, you can't go wrong.

I'm not sure that applies here in the BVI, because if you go right, you might hit an on-coming car!

Driving on the left hand side of the road isn't as hard as I thought it would be.  It's definitely intimidating at first, but I caught on pretty quickly.  What's still taking some getting used to are the steep inclines at every turn.  Take our driveway, for instance.  Here it is!  Notice how you can only see the top of that tree?  That's because the driveway drops off to the road below.




Once you're precariously stopped at the bottom of the driveway, you have to pull out onto another steep road.  If you turn right, you're crossing a lane of oncoming traffic and headed down the hill.  It's much steeper than it appears in this photo.  If you're turning left, you're headed around a blind curve.



So, why drive on the left side of the road???  We have to go WAY back in history to understand...

Some historians, such as C. Northcote Parkinson, believed that ancient travellers on horseback generally rode on the left side of the road. As more people are right-handed, a horseman would thus be able to hold the reins with his left hand and keep his right hand free—to offer in friendship to passing riders or to defend himself with a sword, if necessary.


The first legal reference in Britain to an order for traffic to remain on the left was in 1756 with regard to London Bridge. The Highway Act 1773 contained a recommendation that horse traffic should remain on the left and this is enshrined in the Highway Act 1835.


In the late 1700s, the shift from left to right that took place in countries such as the United States was based on teamsters' use of large freight wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. The wagons had no driver’s seat, so a postilion sat on the left rear horse and held his whip in his right hand. Seated on the left, the driver preferred that other wagons pass him on the left so that he could be sure to keep clear of the wheels of oncoming wagons. He did that by driving on the right side of the road.


Countries that became part of the British Empire adopted the British keep-left rule, although many have since changed. {Source material: Wikipedia}

The British Virgin Islands was not among those that made the switch.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 9: Smuggler's Cove {again!}

Tuesday was spent on the beach at Smuggler's Cove.  The water is so clear and the waves were not too big and not too small.  Whitney snapped a few photos.  Check them out:



There was one boat anchored in Smuggler's cove.  They just dropped an anchor and were able to swim to shore or take a Zodiac like the one on the right of the photo below.



We had a great day and definitely got a great start on a tan.  Oh, and if you're wondering Whitney's nail polish is OPI's "Candles on my cake."
Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 8: Sunset on Long Bay Beach

For my family's first outing, we headed to The Moorings.  If you're not familiar, The Moorings is a chartered yacht company.  They have a boutique hotel and restaurant in Road Town here on Tortola.  We had a lovely lunch at Charlies restaurant.  {I don't think that lady on the left was all that thrilled with being in our photo, do you?}



Here's my mom, Kay at the table.



Our food was sooooo good.  Thanks to Caty for the recommendation.  She and Matt spent one night here before renting one of the Catamarans on their honeymoon a few months ago.

Later in the day, we took Milly to Long Bay Beach and went for a sunset swim.  Check out this beautiful photo:


Tomorrow we're headed to Smuggler's Cove.  Our goal is to be there by lunch and stay all afternoon.
Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 7: Sand, Surf and Family!

Before the big arrival, Michael and I did some more scouting of the beaches on Tortola so there wouldn't be any surprises when we brought visitors along.

Our first stop was Josiah's Bay on the north side of the island. It is a surfer's paradise. Some of the waves had to be 9 or 10 feet high, easy.


I tried to snap a photo of a surfer in action.  There were a dozen or so of them.  I caught this one right after he bailed.  See the tip of his surfboard?



The beach itself was really wide.  We went for a walk and got some good sun.



The waves were so powerful we couldn't really swim like we had done at Smuggler's Cove the previous day.  Same for Lambert Beach, where we went next.  Surfers were loving it though.  It was just one big wave after another.  Our time at Lambert was limited because my family was set to arrive at 6:00 p.m.

Here's a photo of the airport on Beef Island, which is the main airport for Tortola.


My mom, dad and Whitney all arrived on the same flight even though they had originated in different cities. 


Whitney was tasked with getting Milly to Tortola. She was unable to travel with us last week because not all of her records were ready. By Friday, her paperwork was finalized and she was cleared to come to the B.V.I. {If anyone is going to go through the process of importing a dog to another country, I'd be happy to hold your hand through the process! It can be very intimidating and laborious.} It was a wonderful reunion!! 


Road Town Pub on Friday Nights

For years, the owner of Pusser's, Charles Tobias, has been posting up at the Road Town Pub on Friday nights.  There are several Pusser's restaurants and bars in the B.V.I. but this one is considered the flagship.

Michael and I were looking forward to this event all week - we were ready to blow off some steam that's for sure!

We arrived around seven o'clock and Charles was already in full force, making friends with the tourists.  He gave this crew from Annapolis two bottles of Pusser's rum as a thank you for their patronage. 


Charles encouraged them to go to the Pusser's in Annapolis too.  That's one of two U.S. restaurant locations.

Santa also stopped by on this Friday night...That's Adam on the right.  He just moved to the BVI a week before us.  He is the new graphic designer for Pusser's.


A fun time was had by all...not sure what we'll do this coming Friday since it's Christmas.  I think the plan might include taking the family to Marina Cay.  Marina Cay is an 8-acre island that Pusser's owns.  It's where the famous red telephone booth is, pictured above.  Have you tried to make a Naked Lorna yet? 
Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 6: Smuggler's Cove

After a long night at Pusser's on Friday night...we took a lazy approach to Saturday.  We went to a late breakfast then napped back at the house and watching Christmas movies.

Once four o'clock rolled around though, we were ready to see and do.  We weren't sure what that entailed, but we knew we didn't want this Saturday to escape us completely.

A quick call to our friend Adam and we had directions to Smuggler's cove, which is located on the Northwest end of Tortola.  While it was a "long" drive and the last half of it on gravel roads, it was completely worth it. 

Check out some of our photos:










I could spend every Saturday here...oh wait, I can...don't hate us!  Like they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  Come on down!  Have you booked your flight? 
Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 5: Unpacking

After the mess that was customs yesterday, we woke up this morning with our own things...including the Keurig single cup brew.  Coffee has never tasted soooooo good!

We still have quite a bit of unpacking to do, but we'll get there.  We started with the office and the living room.  I'm so happy with the way the living room has turned out.  What do you think?


My mother-in-law and I made the monogrammed pillow.  Our inspiration was Leontine Linens in New Orleans.  I made the other pillows from a mix of Pottery Barn fabrics and napkins from Home Goods.  

I still have a ways to go with the office.  Will post photos of it soon...Nothing beats the incredible views from this place.  The entire back of the house is windows.  Check it out:

Michael is back in the office today, so it's pretty quiet around here.  I have plenty of work to get done, so I'm fine with it.  This afternoon however, we will head down to Pusser's at Road Town.  {You can see us there if you click on the webcams.}  Apparently, Charles, the owner of Pusser's, posts up there every Friday afternoon.  This ritual is quite legendary; even tourists hear about it and show up hoping to meet Charles and drink grog with the old man. 
 
My family comes in on Sunday, and with them they will be bringing Milly!  I can't wait to see her!!!  I wonder what she will think of our BVI adventure...
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 4: Progress

So after our meltdown yesterday, we have made significant progress.  Day 4 has been all about progress.  Remember our list?

Buy a car: CHECK!  We bought a used Mitsibushi Montero SUV.  We will probably buy a newer version of the same car next week, when the financing is in place.  Michael likes it because he says it's fratty.  Can't you just hear him?  I guess it's true what they say...You can take the boy out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the boy! 

Get a phone: CHECK!  Not only did I get a phone, I got an iphone!  That's right, one of the local cell phone providers has a deal with Apple and sells UNlocked iphones that can be used on their network.  Not bad, huh?  I'm loving it so far. 




Michael has his work cell phone - both plans are unlimited calling and texting to the U.S.  SO, here are our numbers!

Michael 1(284)542-4777
Amelia  1(284)499-0550

Retrieve our belongings from Customs:  CHECK!  This was a tricky one...we had to go to the Port Authority and sign in.  They sent us to the Customs office.  Two agents then escorted us to a warehouse where we searched for our box of things.  After a 10 minute search, we found it.  Here it is! 

{Michael's "smile" cracks me up.  He was very dismayed by my attempt to document this process with our camera.  He thought for sure that the agents would confiscate the camera and escort us out of the warehouse.  What an imagination he has...no seriously, he was right to be concerned.  We don't know the laws around here.}

Anyway, so finding the box of goods was only the first step.  Because the box was so large and full of other small boxes, it was determined that the Customs agents would have to follow us to our home and watch us unpack the boxes to make sure they contained what we said they contained.  {We had provided them an itemized list a few weeks ago.}   Oh, and a shout out to Alyson and Catharyn back in Knoxville for helping me pack all of this stuff!  The fruits of our labor gals!

We were scheduled for a 2pm delivery...but the delivery never came.  I was sitting here waiting for the truck, prepared to help unpack, etc...Michael ended up having to go back down to the port.  One of the Customs agents had a son with a truck.  {You know where this is going.}  We fired the original movers and waited for this woman's son to come and put our big box in the bed of his F250.  That's right.  We strapped a 1,300 lbs box full of our belongings to a truck and started praying.

Our house is only a mile away from the port, however the hills are so steep and a regular car feels like it's going to tip over and roll down the side of the mountain into the Sir Francis Drake Channel.  The truck made it though and we were able to unload our things easily.  PHEW!   
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 3: Meltdown

So, we had a few things on our "to-do" list today, none of which have a check beside them.


Buy a car - While we found one that we plan on purchasing, it won't be available to us until tomorrow.  Things just move so slowly here.  We want to buy one car with cash, and then do a traditional car loan for the other one through our bank.  That process takes 7 days!  Can you believe that??? 

Get a cell phone - Nope!  Because I don't have a BVI ID, I was turned away.  I still haven't had any success unlocking my Samsung Omnia, so I was looking at buying a new phone anyway.  We'll try again another day...

Retrieve our belongings from Customs - Not so fast.  I can't even explain this one.  Our crate, weighing 1,300 lbs has been sitting at the Port Authority since Sunday!  Since Pusser's handled the shipping, the documents needed at Customs went to Pusser's, instead of us.  Without those documents it's impossible to get our things.

After a frustrating day of hearing "no" at every turn and feeling quite defeated, Michael and I decided to do something fun.  We drove over to Long Bay Beach just before the sun set.  It was near the airport, which is where we needed to return our rental car.  The water is a beautiful blue/teal color.  We jumped right in!


Once we had our relaxing swim, we felt brave enough to tackle the grocery store.  It was Customer Appreciation Day {no joke!} and they had live music in the parking lot.  Think funk wedding band with a Caribbean flair and songs like "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Baby".  I cannot make this stuff up!!!

We ended the day with a Pusser's specialty drink called the Naked Lorna {named for the Premier's wife}.  Note: Do not google this drink for fear of what your search will yield.  Here are the ingredients:

On the rocks...
2 parts Pusser's rum
2 parts club soda
2 squirts of lime juice
1 packet of Splenda
Stir and then float Angostura bitters on top

Cheers!
For other Pusser's rum drinks, check out these recipes.