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!

Adventurers

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 108: Michael's Parents and Grandparents Arrive!

One car, three planes, four passports, and thirteen hours later, Michael's mother, father, grandmother and grandfather arrived in the BVI!  This was Memaw and Pepaw's first time out of the country - a long overdue honeymoon...some 58 years overdue!

Because his parents had checked a cooler for us - it took them longer to get through customs.  Dennis said everyone was pretty suspicious of it and kept asking him, "What's in the cooler?"  Fortunately there were only about a dozen pair of flip-flops that I had accidentally left behind in the move.  Finally they emerged, cooler in tow! 

It was great to see them!  It had almost been four months since they bid us adieu...Not to dwell on the farewell, this is all about their exciting adventure that lies ahead in the next several days!

We didn't waste any time and headed straight for the Loose Mongoose at Trellis Bay.

We enjoyed the evening and snacked on some conch fritters...yum!
Their trip took an adventurous turn when we headed home...driving on the left side of the road was the least of their worries!  A truck carrying huge bags of what looked liked limestone had dropped some of its load in the middle of the street.  The dumpster below is driving in our lane to avoid the stopped truck.
What a ride home from the airport!!!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 107: Regatta Week

It's not unusual to see a fleet of sailboats pass through the Sir Francis Drake Channel, but this morning I was especially excited because it's Regatta Week!  I grabbed the camera, ran to the porch, removed one of the screens and zoomed in as far as I could to get the following shots:

The boats were moving really fast so I only had a small window of opportunity to work with...

Nanny Cay is one of the presenting sponsors of the BVI Regatta and they've got some great information about it on their website. Michael and I are hoping to make it over to Nanny Cay, where they've created what's called the Regatta Village on the beach.  There will be festivities all week long.  It should be a lot of fun. 

We've heard there may even be a chance to join a crew for a sail.  Now wouldn't that be fun?
Thursday, March 25, 2010

Exit Survey: Liz & Jeff

Thanks to Liz and Jeff for making it down for a weekend of fun in the sun!  We enjoyed your trip immensely and hope you make it back very soon. 

We've changed up some of the questions in this latest exit survey.  Hope you enjoy! 

Of the five Pusser's locations, which ones did you make it to on your visit? (Road Town Pub, Pusser's East, Pusser's at Soper's Hole, Marina Cay and Leverick Bay)

Answer(s):
Road Town Pub, Marina Cay and Pusser's East (in that order!)
{Liz & Jeff on Marina Cay.}
Favorite dining experience on the island?
Answer(s):
Jeff: The Last Resort (other than the "J" is for gay comment, but now that I'm typing this I realize the word gay starts with "G" - take that, Geoff!)
Liz: The Dove - I love the romantic, island, rustic vibe, the chandeliers (so unexpected) and the amazing food! How can you not fall in love with a place that serves grouper WITH a giant braised beef ravioli?!? YUM!
{The boys at The Last Resort}

What's the most bizarre thing you saw on the trip?
Answer(s):
Jeff: a dingy with wheels
Liz: Michael Beans
                                                       {Michael Beans, Marina Cay's pirate}

Charles Tobias, the owner of Pusser's, presented you with a limited edition bottle of rum. On what occasion, did he suggest you open the bottle and toast one another?
A) The 4th of July
B) Lord Nelson's Birthday
C) The birth of your first child
D) The night the aforementioned child is conceived
E) Whoops, we already opened the bottle of Pusser's!
Answer: Thanks to the Naked Lorna drinks at the Pub on Friday night, we're not quite sure what occasion Charles suggested (other than it clearly had something to do with our offspring) but we're going with C!
{Charles presenting Liz & Jeff with Pusser's rum}

This next one is for Jeff!
True or False: Driving on the left side of the road feels as weird as I thought it would.
Answer:  True! Driving on the left side of the road is not that bad, unless the car you're driving stalls going up an incline on a blind curve.
{Jeff behind the wheel}

What was your favorite drink of the trip?
Answer(s):
Jeff: Soggy Dollar's Painkiller (or anything with nutmeg...wink, wink)
Liz: To my surprise, Andre's frozen margarita!

{Andre, presenting us with our delicious frozen margaritas complete with a "cool" lemon!}

How would you best describe Michael's boating skills?
A) Expert
B) Good
C) Safe (He even encouraged use of life jackets when such activity is prohibited per BVI code annotated 49-6582)
D) Novice
E) Michael? You mean, Captain Drinky Pants???
Answer(s):
10:00 a.m. at the marina = B
12:00 p.m. arriving at Ivan's on Jost Van Dyke = C
4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. returning to Nanny Cay = E

{According to Liz & Jeff's timeline, that's Captain Drinky Pants in the green hat!}

When are you coming back to visit us again?
Answer:
How does next week look for you guys?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 98: Kickin' Back with Ivan with All My Friends Down in the Islands

That's a line from Kenny Chesney's song "Somewhere in the Sun" about the BVI.  And on Sunday, the lyrics were pretty literal for us.

We headed out on the water, destination: Jost Van Dyke.  We've rented this 24'' Conteder before, but it helped that Jeff was with us - he's an avid boater and has years of experience.

Our Irish friends {as they love for us to refer to them}, Felicity and Gerry joined us for this trip as well.
Along the way, we picked up our friends Adam and Matt.  They both live near Cane Garden Bay, so it was pretty convenient to meet them at the dock there.

The ride over to Jost Van Dyke, and more specifically White Bay takes about 30 minutes or so.  I scored the mooring and we swam to shore.  {Thanks to Catharyn for teaching me how to do this back in February!}

This is how the Soggy Dollar Bar got its name.  There aren't any docks at White Bay, so you either drop anchor or secure the boat to one of the bouys and swim in, which means your dollars get soggy!  Unfortunately this also means our non-water-proof camera stays on the boat.  So, no photos of all of the fantastic places at White Bay.  But here's a quick run-down....

We had lunch at Ivan's Stress Free Bar.  This is the famous dive where Kenny Chesney shot the video for his song, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem."


After a delicious lunch of fish sandwiches, we walked over to Soggy Dollar Bar for their signature painkillers made with Pusser's rum, then hit Jewel's Snack Shop and One Love.  Everyone had a great time! 
Not exactly sure what everyone was yelling at the camera, but thanks to Adam for taking the photo!
Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 96: Liz and Jeff arrive!

The first of the Pi's in the BVIs!!!  {Liz and I were Alpha Delta Pi's together at the University of Florida} All the way from Marlton, New Jersey, Liz and Jeff arrived on Friday afternoon!  That's me in the reflection on the right snapping their photo!

Within minutes of their arrival, I took Liz and Jeff to the nearby Loose Mongoose at Trellis Bay for their first taste of the Caribbean, and by taste I mean for a bushwhacker...It was a great start to an incredible trip!

You've got to see what they brought for Miss Milly...an easter basket, complete with bunny ears! 
We only let them rest for an hour or so before it was time to get ready for dinner, at where else?  The Dove!  It was a beautiful night! 

Dinner as always, was amazing and we had such fun catching up with Liz and Jeff!  (We last saw each other in October for the Florida-LSU game in New Orleans.)

We stopped in for a few drinks at the pub of course, so we could introduce them to Charles and Joanna.  {More on that meeting later!}

And our last stop for the night was the chicken truck!  Michael and I hadn't been here for months, but Jeff had read about it on the blog and just HAD to go! 
I think it lived up to the hype...
Thursday, March 18, 2010

Exit Survey: Whitney

Unfortunately, this exit survey is coming too soon!  Our time with Whitney just FLEW by!  {Believe me,  attempts were made on more than one occasion to get her to extend her trip...}

So, here we go!

Of the 5 Pusser's locations, which ones did you make it to during this visit?
Answer: Pussers’ Road Town Pub and Soper’s Hole

How likely are you to adopt "Good afternoooooooon" as your greeting to friends back in the states?
A) very likely
B) likely
C) maybe
D) unlikely
E) never in a million years
Answer: D) unlikely, but I've already used "ello-good-mauning"

How annoyed are you by Amelia and Michael's use of the phrase "back in the states"?
A) didn't notice it
B) not at all
C) slightly annoyed
D) very annoyed
E) more annoyed than they'll ever know
Answer: B) I only noticed it a few times; not annoying

True of False: By the end of your trip, you were used to seeing cars driving on the left side of the road.
Answer: Seeing them? Yes.  Pulling out into traffic in the left lane?  No.

Best restaurant experience on the island?
Answer: The Last Resort
{The food was amazing - we both had the blackened mahi, but the view wasn't bad either.  Check him, I mean check it out...}


How many times did you get your hair wet in the ocean?
A) Every time I took a dip
B) Every other swim
C) Once when I went snorkeling
D) None, not even when I swam to Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke
Answer:   C) I tried to avoid this, but had to give in for snorkeling at Smuggler’s Cove
{This is where we dropped anchor off of White Bay on Jost Van Dyke}

What was your favorite song performed by Adam and/or Pier?
Answer(s):   Hmm…by Pier, “She’s Royal”.  By Adam, it's hard to say.  There were so many good ones!  Maybe “Livin’ on 'Tola Time"?  {That's a twist on the classic, Livin' on Tulsa Time}
{Pier, Adam and Michael - at Adam's house for dinner and a jam session.}

What was the strangest thing you saw on the island?
Answer:   Perhaps the multiple cows running alongside and toward our car?


What is your favorite memory of your time in the BVI?
Answer(s):   It is hard to say, but it is a tie between the fun night eating/dancing at The Last Resort and the day on the boat when we went to Jost Van Dyke.

{Our friend Jerry sang The Beatles' "Get Back" with the band with Michael on the drums.}


{Then it was time for Dance Party USA}

Day 95: No Rest for the Weary

Gecko Manor is the place to be!  We sent Whitney off on day 95 and started prepping for our next guests to arrive on day 96!

Preparations always include a trip (or two) to the grocery store.  Many of you have asked about that experience and I thought I'd share a little bit more about it. 

While it's far from Publix, "where shopping is a pleasure," I've gotten the hang of it.  I usually stop at Riteway first, then One Mart.  These competing stores are both on the way home from Road Town and if there's something I can't find at the first one, I can usually find it at the second one.  With the exception of meats and seafood, I can get the essentials - and who knew an environmentally friendly mosquito swatter would make its way into my shopping cart and be considered an essential?  Well around here, it is!    


Now, I mentioned that I prefer to buy my meats and seafood somewhere else.  That somewhere else is Sailor's Ketch, which is east of where we live.  Sailor's Ketch is a supplier for many of the restaurants on Tortola and the surrounding islands.  They sell boneless, skinless chicken breasts in addition to a wide assortment of seafood and they are delicious!   

There are only a few things that these stores lack: grits, celery salt (go figure) and crushed red pepper, but they make up for it with a wide selection of gourmet cheeses and wine.  For those non-Tennessee residents out there, wine in the grocery store may not be a big deal, but that's prohibited in the Volunteer state!  The BVI grocery stores even have an aisle dedicated to liquor.

I sure do miss my Fresh Market.  Maybe I'll put some Purcell or Bach on the iPod and try shopping that way next time!        
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 92: Susan & Wade Makes 8

Whitney's dear friends, Susan and Wade, who live outside of Nashville just happened to be on a family vacation in St. John the same week she was here!  We can see St. John from our house, so we just had to meet up! 

Susan and Wade have two little girls.  While the older one, Sally was perfectly content to stay at the resort on St. John and hang with her cousins, little Ruby is too small and needed to come along.  So on day 92, they headed for Tortola. Wade's step-sister, Andi and her husband Chris came too, along with Wade's aunt, Mary Lynn. 

Whitney and I met them at the dock to pick them up.  Thank goodness for the third row of seats in the car!  We packed 'em in like sardines...including the baby, the car seat, and the stroller!  Our first stop was just over Zion Hill at the Nature Boy Beach Bar on Long Bay Beach.  Coincidentally, Andi and Chris had honeymooned at Long Bay Beach Resort 17 years ago!  They were excited to be back after all these years.  Check out some of our photos from the beach...it was a gorgeous day!

We were there so early, we had to call the bartender!  You can see his cell phone is painted on the front of the bar for exactly that purpose.  Only in the BVI!

This next one is one of my favorite shots...

And check out little Ruby - what a gem?!?  (Oh, and that's a leaf she's holding!)

The group really wanted to see Pusser's and do a little shopping to support the home team, so we headed to nearby Soper's Hole.  We enjoyed a great lunch there and went back over Zion Hill to snorkel at Smuggler's Cove.  

We had to make one last stop at the infamous Bomba Shack!  This is where they serve Bomba punch, complete with finely chopped rum-soaked mushrooms.  {Not of the psychadelic kind, not to worry - they only bring those out for the Full Moon Parties!  Ha!}

 We packed a lot in day 92, considering we had to get the crew back to the ferry by 3:45!
Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 89: Whitney's Arrival!

My sister, Whitney arrived for a long weekend on Day 89.  It was soooooooooo great to see her and have her here again.  {You may remember she was here with my parents over Christmas.}

We've learned so much about the BVI in the three months since she was here last; we're going to try and not do too many repeats from her previous trip.  So, we're starting off with a night at The Dove and {drum roll} a stop at Pusser's Road Town Pub to meet Charles!

{We were playing around with the settings on my camera, so my apologies for the lack of a flash!}


The night took an unexpected turn when Adam suggested we head to the Bat Cave...I think these next few photos pretty much sum it up!




{A quick shout-out to my mom who sent me a new wardrobe in Whitney's suitcase!  As we've discussed in previous posts, the shopping here leaves much to be desired.  So, through out the next several posts, you will see me wearing some new dresses and accessories, all courtesy of my mom and sister!  Thanks ladies!!!}
Thursday, March 11, 2010

Exit Survey: Travis

Just like we did for Caty & Matt, we gave Travis an exit survey upon his return home from the BVI.  Here are his answers to our probing questions...

Of the 5 Pusser's locations, which ones did you make it to during your visit?
Answer: Marina Cay, Pusser’s East, Pusser’s Road Town Pub

{The Friday night crew!}

How likely are you to adopt "Good afternoooooooon" as your greeting to friends back in the states?
A) very likely
B) likely
C) maybe
D) unlikely
E) never in a million years
Answer: D) Unlikely—If I were to adopt anything it would be “Ello good mauning!” but I can’t perfect the accent and it’s just not the same without the accent.
How annoyed are you by Amelia and Michael's use of the phrase "back in the states"?
A) didn't notice it
B) not at all
C) slightly annoyed
D) very annoyed
E) more annoyed than they'll ever know
Answer: Somewhere between C) and D)...more than slightly but less than very.  I never got adjusted to the time difference either because they always reported the time as a “back home” reference:
“What time is it?"
"It’s 3:30 back home."
"So, it’s 4:30 here?"
"Yes.”
Arrrrr!  I also noticed the use of “expat.”  "Oh, he’s an expat...” or “She’s an expat like us...”

Best restaurant experience on the island?
Answer: Pusser’s East—the grouper was out of this world. Of course, Cappricio’s was great too! And the Daniels CafĂ© was really good and offered up the friendliest service on the island!
True of False: By the end of your trip, you were used to seeing cars driving on the left side of the road.
Answer: False. It completely freaked me out but I trusted that the “expats” knew what they were doing and I prayed that I was never in a situation that required me to drive. The roundabouts completely scared me. And what’s up with the roundabout that has stop lights?!?
How many wild chickens and/or roosters did you see while on Tortola?
Answer(s):
3,739 chickens
427 goats
83 lizards
7 horses
6 pirates
2 cows (Actually it was the same cow but I saw it twice)
2 snakes (Amelia only saw 1)
1 donkey (I actually only heard the donkey).
Honestly, my goal for the week was to keep an accurate count but I very quickly determined that I was in over my head. There were a LOT of chickens and goats.

{Don't believe him?  Here's proof!}

What was the strangest thing you saw on the island?
Answer:  I’ve never been to a place where the national pasttime is hitch hiking. That was odd and a bit scary. Oh, and the roundabout with stop lights was a bit odd too. I just don’t understand that concept.

What is your favorite memory of your time in the BVI?
Answer:  Taking the White Squall II to the Baths and to Cooper Island snorkeling. What an amazing way to experience the BVI! Oh, and Michael “MacGruber” Daniels swimming with 15 foot long Great White Sharks and Orca whales to repair our ferry so we could escape Marina Cay. Thanks MacGruber!!

Approximately how many cruise ships did you see pass Gecko Manor during your stay?
Answer:  Probably around 12 or 13. I never knew there were so many cruise lines!

{This one is of the Royal Caribbean variety!}

Of the following, which best describes your feelings toward the island's most popular snack, the fried plantain?
A) take them
B) leave them
C) what's that? I thought it was a banana
Answer: A) Take them!!! Take them!!! Take them!!! Especially the cinnamon sugar plantain! (To all future guests of Gecko Manor: you should definitely request the cinnamon sugar plantain.)

{We went a little overboard and made six different varieties of plaintains.}

What's your BVI billing rate and how much does Michael owe you for the photo shoot? ;)
Answer: My BVI billing rate is $250/hour and I stayed a week so that’s 156 hours...zero, zero, carry the three....WOW! What a great week!!!

Thanks for playing Travis!!!  It was great having you here. You are welcome back any time - although, I'm not sure Pusser's can afford you!  Ha!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Other BVI Bloggers

There is a great blogging community here in the BVI and thanks to some friends who've been so kind to share their links with me, I'm sharing them with you!

Miss Mermaid has been blogging her BVI adventure for 10+ years!  The Shands introduced us to her blog, titled Dear Miss Mermaid.  She gives some of the most accurate weather reports and helps make sense of these crazy trade winds.  She is also a published author; her book is Hurricanes and Hangovers.  {Need to get my hands on a copy!}  Miss Mermaid actually has another blog, appropriately named Dear Miss Mermaid...the OTHER blog.

I haven't met Miss Mermaid in person, but we've been at many of the same places at the same time.  Take for instance the most recent Full Moon Party at Trellis.  According to her blog, she was there and so were we!

Our friend, Adam found this lovely blog:  Sugar Apple, Posts from the Caribbean by Abigail Blake. She met her husband while on vacation here at none other than nickel beer night at Pusser's Pub in Road Town!  That was 16 years ago!  Sugar Apple is a beautiful blog about Caribbean life and cooking.  The way she explores the island through food is inspiring and she's selfless, sharing her recipes with her readers!  I will most definitely be trying some of them soon.  Abigail can be a bit snarky too, which I love.  Check out this post titled What Not To Wear...I completely agree with her assessment of the tacky tourist varieties.  In fact, Michael and I have been snapping some photos of the most egregious "cruising" outfits that we've seen come off of the ships.  A post about these unforunate clothing choices is coming soon...

Oh, and there's a blog with a name that's pretty close to the name of our blog here.  It's MyBVIAdventure.blogspot.com!  It chronicles the 30-day stay of a young lady who participated in an internship with Sail Caribbean Divers.  She was here last March, so there haven't been any news posts since, but she has some beautiful underwater photos.   

In other blogging notes, I should have Travis's exit survey up shortly...
Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 81 continued: On the ropes

After our afternoon photo session, we headed up to the Happy Arrr Bar on top of Marina Cay where Michael Beans entertains the crowd each afternoon with his harmonica, guitar and witty pirate songs.  It's one heck of a parrrrrrty!     
Once the sun set and the party died down a bit, we headed to the dock to catch the ferry back to Tortola.  Little did we know, the fun was just beginning... 

As the boat pulled up, we could tell something was wrong.  The captain informed us that the rope at the back of the ferry was stuck in the propellor.  A few phone calls were made, but as the minutes passed it became clear that help was not on its way. 


Enter the hero of this tale:  Michael! 

Like MacGyver or MacGruber {if you're more familiar with the SNL parody}, Michael announced his plan of action.  All he needed was a bathing suit, flash light, steak knife, mouthwash and a paper clip. 

He bought a bathing suit at the Pusser's Company Store. Thank goodness it was still open! And armed with a steak knife courtesy of a nearby charter boat, he jumped in the water.


As you can see from the photo, it was very dark.  The water here is probably 15 feet deep.  Another boat gave us a few flashlights to shine on the water so Michael could see exactly where he need to cut the rope to clear it from the prop.

{That's me lying down on the dock, flashlights in hand.}
 
It took Michael eight or nine trips under the water before he emerged with the freed rope in hand!  Sharon, you should know, he was extremely cautious.  By this time a crowd had gathered, many of whom were relying on the ferry to take them back to Tortola as well. 

Everyone was so grateful.  One group from Boston even presented him with a can of Pringles to show their thanks!
 
I'm sure by this time next week, after the story has been told and retold, there will be sharks circling underneath the boat and Michael will have used that paper clip and mouthwash somehow.  No matter how this story is embellished, in my mind, nothing can top what actually happened.  I'm so very proud of him!