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.



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Friday, July 30, 2010

Festival Time in the BVI

What an exciting week to be in the BVI!  "Festival" is upon us!

This annual festival is the "premier cultural showcase" in the BVI, with an array of activities including the Freedom March and Emancipation Service. 

{A little history lesson: The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834 and now Emancipation Day is widely observed in the British West Indies during the first week of August.  This year the public holidays fall on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.}

The week leading up to Emancipation Day is full of excitement. In fact, we started noticing colorful flags flying high above the streets a few weeks ago! There has been a carnival atmosphere in the Festival Village with food and drink vendors, rides like the Tilt-a-whirl, and live music each night.
This year's festival village is named in honor of a long standing Festival committee member, Corrine Brewley.  {That's her photo on the sign!}  Brewley is best know throughout the Virgin Islands for her active participation in BVI culture and her show-stopping festival troops.  These troops march and perform in the parade to be held on Monday.
We hadn't been to the village yet, so when Lorna and Dr. Smith (Leader of the Opposition and former BVI Premier) asked us to join them on Friday night, we couldn't refuse!  It was International Reggae Night and we were excited to hear Gregory Isaacs.  Check out a local review of Friday night's performances and here's a quick :30 video I shot...

While we ended up going home before Isaacs took the stage, we had a great time with the Smith's.  Dr. Smith is running for re-election so there were many hands to shake!  I didn't take too many photos, but did grab this shot of one of the rides...
A full recap of the parade is coming soon...
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blogging Community

By way of Sugar Apple, I discovered an online community of bloggers, who also happen to be expatriates!  It's called expat-blog.com.  What a brilliant idea!
living in the British virgin islands
I sure wish Michael and I had known about this resource BEFORE we moved here!  That is one of the reasons for website, to connect people who are moving to another place to those expats who live there already.

One blog in particular, David in the BVI, is quite relevant, even though he moved away two years ago!  He captured his five months on Tortola with interesting posts about the culture, the best dive spots, etc...

OurBVIAdventure should appear on the site soon...
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 237: Cooper Island Beach Club & Resort

The Shands were so kind to pick me up at Trellis Bay on Tuesday afternoon, Day 237.  We went out for an afternoon of snorkeling and island hopping.  Our first stop was Cooper Island.

We were last here in March on the White Squall 2.  Michael, Travis and I snorkeled the reef at Cooper, but we did not go ashore.  I sure wish we had!  The Cooper Island Beach Club is amazing!!!  They recently remodeled the club and did a fantastic job.

I am obsessed with their furniture...the media cabinet specifically.  It is made with colorful wood, distressed from the weather and upcycled in this beautiful way.  The backs of the chairs at the bar also incorporate the same wood.  You can see the tops of the chairs in the background of the photo with the drink.
That drink is a "Santiago" by the way.  Ingredients include...rum, lime juice, Sprite and bitters.  It is very similar to the Naked Lorda, but instead of Sprite, Naked Lorna calls for club soda and Stevia.

The Shands invited us to their house on Great Camanoe for dinner, so we headed back to Tortola to fetch Michael at Hodges Creek Marina once he was finished with work.   Leslie and Shae took us over to Potato Bay, which is on the north side of Camanoe.  We think it gets its name from all of the potato shaped rocks that cover the beach.  There must be thousands and thousands of these perfectly rounded rocks in all shades of gray.  Walking on top of them requires the balance of a gymnast!

Potato Bay is extremely private and serene.  It is small, maybe about 50 yards long.  What I found so unique about this beach is how the rocks abruptly stop at the water's edge.  The surface under the water is soft white sand.  {We did not have our camera with us, but Michael snapped this one with his Blackberry...you can get an idea of just how rocky the shore was...}

We snorkeled for sand dollars and watched the sun set behind Guana island.  What a way to end the day!

Huge thanks to the Shands (the Orrells and the Jacksons) for sharing the night with us!  We had a wonderful time!  
Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 236: Da Tree Men Headline Full Moon Party!

Da Tree Men headlined their first Full Moon Party at the infamous Bomba's Shack on Monday night.
A great crowd turned out to sip mushroom tea, bask in the light of the full moon and listen to Da Tree Men.  A shout out to new friends, Jim and his wife Cynthia, Lisa-Marie, Kimmy, and the LSU gang!  It was great meeting y'all!

The guys were excited at the end of the night when Bomba himself presented them with a check, complete with palm tree clip art in the top left corner.  This may seem like an insignificant detail to most, but if and when the guys get paid, it's usually cash and not all that "official."  So this was different and nice...at least that was the feeling at 1:30 in the morning when we felt the need to snap this photo!  Ha!
What I love most about this photo is the simplicity of the address for Bomba's Shack!  That's how it is all over the island.  No house numbers, no zip codes, just bays, hills and coves...
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 234: 40 Years and Counting...

The Soggy Dollar Bar celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday with a huge party!  If you're not familiar with the Soggy Dollar Bar, it's the most popular "sunny place for shady people" on the island of Jost van Dyke.  It is famous for the Painkiller drink, invented there in 1970! 

We chartered a 38 foot Beneteau out of Soper's Hole with some friends, old and new.  Our captain, Paul was great!  He put Michael and other members of our group to work, tacking and jibing our way to White Bay!  It was our first official "sail" to Jost.  Usually we take the Contender, a 26 foot power boat, from Nanny Cay.  It is a completely different experience, one that I highly recommend!!! 
We couldn't believe how many boats were there!  At one point I counted 50 or more and it was only one o'clock in the afternoon!
The Shands brought their boat, a Power Cat named "Camanoe Catillac," and met us there for a few Painkillers in the afternoon sun.  We even swam back out to their boat for some snacks, including curry deviled eggs {need that recipe Ginger!} and fresh tomatoes from Mississippi!  A few back flips off of the boat later, we found ourselves swimming back to the beach to round up our crew...and a motley crew it was!  Thanks to Captain Paul for putting up with us!!!   

Oh and here's a quick video I shot during the middle of the party...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 233: No Ordinary Friday Night

The Shands are back in town!  Road Town that is!  You may remember, we first met the Shands back in February, on Day 56 to be exact.  {They live in Mississippi, have a hosue on Great Camanoe...I went to school with one of their son-in-laws...}  Well, they're back in the islands and we met up with them on Friday at where else?  But Pusser's Pub!

That is Leslie on the left, one of Ginger and Rodney's three beautiful daughters.  I was so happy to finally meet her!  We've been Facebook friends for months now!  Leslie's husband, Shae, Michael and Rodney posed for a photo too!

We had such a great time!  Everyone was drinking Naked Lorna's when Lorna appeared!  Charles had one more drink the Shands needed to try...  After finding out that Ginger and Rodney enjoy martinis, he had Andre shake up a lychee martini!  



There is a new video magazine making its debut here in the British Virgin Islands this month.  It is very well done, if I do say so myself!

I've emailed back and forth with the publisher, "Island" Jim Kelley a few times.  He also has a BVI video sharing site where I've posted Da Tree Men's performance of their Jost Van Dyke song.  By the way, that song is gaining some traction online!  My YouTube post has more than 350 views.  It has also been embedded on several sites like bvimusic.com, onlinebvi.net, and countless Facebook pages!

The band is working on some other songs that Adam wrote.  I can't wait to hear Bushwacker and Bomba.  Da Tree Men had a rehearsal last night as they're playing the Full Moon Party at Bomba Shack next week!  Very exciting!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 231: The Last Of Bonnie

This is what Bonnie means to meteoroligists...
To us it means this:
Yeah, that brown body of water?  That's my lane.  This photo was taken just one hill away from where we live.  Since our house is so open, we've been running around closing shutters and the sliding glass doors each and every time one of these heavy bands of rain rolls through... 

On the positive side, the rain cools things down which makes it more tolerable.  That's cold comfort to all the visitors, including Whitney, who were hoping for sunny skies and crystal blue waters. 
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 230: Happy Early Birthday Whitney!

Since Whitney and I won't be able to be together for her birthday next month, I surprised her with a trip to the Spa at Peter Island on Day 230!  It was her last full day in the BVI and the weather was holding up...

So, we enjoyed lunch on the veranda and pedicures in the afternoon!

The chef surprised Whitney with a cold piece of key lime pie, complete with a special message in chocolate!
We had plenty of pool time too...
All in all, it was a wonderfully relaxing day.  One we both needed after the weeks we'd each had!
Monday, July 19, 2010

We're back!

What a week and a half "back in the states!"  Let's do this by the numbers...

16 flights
4 states (5 if you count Maryland for our layover in Baltimore)
2 weddings
Countless memories!

I went ahead of Michael to spend some time with my mom.  She drove down to Orlando so we could go shopping and enjoy little luxuries like air-conditioning, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks!  

Next stop was Waynesville, North Carolina by way of the Asheville Regional Airport.  Our friends Parrish and Jonathan had a destination wedding in this adorable mountain town, peppered with lush green golf courses with picturesque backdrops of the Great Smoky Mountains.  We had an absolute blast!!!  Thanks to Ashley and Gordon for being our traveling companions!
Michael's brother, Matt was kind enough to pick us up in North Carolina and take us to Knoxville, where our friends and family were gathered in Market Square.  This was our first time back in 8+ months!  I was able to go into work and see all of my colleagues.  We even went to lunch together at Aubrey's, our favorite lunch spot. 
Michael and I also spent some valuable time with our two beautiful nieces, Avery and Gracen.  They are the sweetest things alive!!!

As we visited our way through Knoxville, my sister Whitney made her way to the BVI.  She was so kind to take care of Milly while we continued our US adventure!  We left our car at the airport for her.  While she had been to the BVI for two previous visits, she had never driven...that was probably the toughest part for her!  {We'll find out in her exit survey - coming soon!}

Our last stop was Cleveland, Ohio for our friend Richard's wedding.  Neither of us had been to Cleveland before and we were pleasantly surprised!  We left out of Nashville, on the same flight as our friends Kevin and Lauren who visited the BVI last month!  We had an absolute blast!

An alternate title for this post could easily be "Collage Crazy" because apparently, that is what I am!  I have just started to organize my photos with Flickr and use Picture2Life to create these collages...still figuring it out.

Congrats to Parrish & Jonathan and Anne & Richard!  Thanks to all of our family and friends who made our visit so special.  We hope to see you again soon, whether it's here in the BVI or stateside.  Love to you all!

Off to find out what Tropical Storm Bonnie has in store...
Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Off Island"

This is the term we're using to describe our week back in the states...we'll be "off island." 

Michael and I have two weddings to attend, the first of which is in North Carolina.  It will be wonderful to be in the Great Smoky Mountains and enjoy some cooler temperatures.  The second wedding is in Cleveland, Ohio.  I've never been to Cleveland...not sure what to expect. 

We're also going to do indulge in some retail therapy, and most important of all: spend some much needed time with family and friends in Knoxville!!!

The only sad part about a week and a half "off island" is leaving this little thing behind:

She came with Michael to drop me off at the airport.  {While I headed over to Orlando on Wednesday, his flight is on Thursday.} 

We are so lucky to have a wonderful neighbor to take care of Milly for us while we're away.  My sister will be traveling to the BVI next week, so she'll be with her for a few days before we return. 

So, if you'll bear with us, our next few posts will be focused on "Our US Adventure!"
Sunday, July 4, 2010

Jost van Dyke THE SONG

Da Tree Men performed an original at The Elm on Sunday night.  Adam, the lead singer of the band, has been writing songs about the British Virgin Islands for the past several months, and I was anxious to hear one of them.

The title is "Jost van Dyke" and for those of you who've been there, you will most definitely relate to the lyrics!  That means you, Caty, Matt, Liz, Jeff, Gerry, Felicity, Whitney, mom, dad, JMac, McRee, KK, Lauren, Brian and Beth!!!  :)

So, without further ado, here it is!

I got drunk as a skunk last night at a bar on Jost van Dyke
Which bar I can't tell you by its name
Played with Reuben Chinnery, you were sitting next to me
Felt the sun and played the ring toss game
I've got to get myself back there again

Tropical paradise so nice - yeah yeah, take my advice
You have got to get yourself to Jost van Dyke

They've got a drink to kill your pain while the breezes cool your brain
Get out there and you'll see what I mean
In this world of broken dreams where things are not what they seem
Take one trip out there and you'll see what I mean

Tropical paradise so nice - yeah yeah, take my advice
You have got to get yourself to Jost van Dyke

Take a plane, take a boat, maybe build a raft and float
Click your heels three times and just pretend you're there
In this world of broken dreams where things are not what they seem
Take one trip out there and you'll see what I mean

Tropical paradise so nice - yeah yeah, take my advice
You have got to get yourself to Jost van Dyke
You have got to get yourself to Jost van Dyke
You have got to get yourself to Jost van Dyke

The song is catchy isn't it?  I just love it!!!  As I listen to it over and over again, a slideshow of all the good times we've had there plays in my head.  Maybe once the song is recorded - which is the intent - I'll have to make such a slideshow set to Jost van Dyke! 

Signage Sunday: "Classy"

There are a few things that crack me up about this week's Signage Sunday.  For starters, the construction of this "sign."  It's essentially a t-shirt stretched out over a piece of plywood, covered in plastic. 

The name of the company also gives me pause.  mmBEKAA  Is this someone's actual name?  Surely, this doesn't refer to the Bekaa Valley region in the Middle East...  Maybe BEKAA is an acronym?  And if it is, does it taste really yummy, which would explain the preceeding "mm"s?

"Sew Classy San Diego."  {Dad, that's another Anchorman reference...}
Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 212: View from a Hammock

Hope everyone is having a wonderful 4th of July weekend!
Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 211: BVIMusic.com

Our friend, Adam - the lead singer of Da Tree Men - has launched a website dedicated to live music in the British Virgin Islands.  It is www.bvimusic.com.

You have to check it out!  While it's a work is progress and new bands and venues will be added regularly, there's plenty to see, read, and soon enough, to hear!

Adam has been writing songs about the BVI over the last several months and if we're lucky, Da Tree Men will perform one of them on Sunday night at The Elm.  I'll make sure to take a video of that performance!
Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 210: Emile's Cantina

It's no secret that Michael and I love Mexican food and it's been one of the major things we've missed since moving to the BVI.  It was our first stop when we went to Ft. Lauderdale a few months ago, but now, 210 days in to our BVI adventure...we've found a fix!  Two of them actually.

One of our favorite restaurants, Barfly (which is connected to The Dove) has Mexican night on Tuesday nights.  So far we've been twice and loved it both times. Their pork tacos are to die for!!!  For our Knoxville friends, they rival the pork tacos at La Costa, back when Greg was the owner and they smoked the pork themselves.

The more "traditional" Mexican restaurant is Emile's Cantina in East End.  This outdoor restaurant is situated just off the main road, with a deck for patio seating and a small bar.  While they're known for their pizzas {Go figure!} Emile's Cantina is in fact a Mexican restaurant.

We had two cold cervezas, okay, maybe four!

And we enjoyed the spicy shrimp tacos and chicken chimichanga very much!  So much so in fact that we forgot to take a picture before it was too late!

Oh, and I must share this little antecdote...

You know how most Mexican restaurants serve complimentary chips and salsa?  Well, we knew better than to think that would be the case at Emile's.  But since nachos were on the menu, we asked if we could get some chips and salsa.  The chips were delicious...made right there in the kitchen and served warm, but we had to laugh when the bill came.  It looked something like this:

Presidentes 4 @ $3.00
Shrimp Tacos $15.95
Chimichangas $13.95
Chips & Salsa $8.00

Yep, $8.00 for chips and salsa!  In a weird way it makes sense, because there are days when we're at the grocery store and notice that a bag of Ruffles is $7.99.    

Hard to believe, in a little more than a week we'll be in Knoxville on Market Square enjoying Soccer Taco with friends!  Salud!