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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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 272: Goodbye Earl!

Well, we survived our first hurricane in the BVI!  Here's a recap of our day...
Much of the island lost power in the early morning hours on Monday - long before Hurricane Earl hit Tortola and the rest of the BVI.  Our friend Adam came over around noon - conditions at his house on Todman Peak were deteriorating quickly.  It's interesting how drastically different the weather can be at various locations on this little island.
We enjoyed a nice lunch and watched a little bit of The Hangover, before finalizing our hurricane preparations.  That included removing all of the screens from the porch windows and closing the last of the hurricane shutters.
It wasn't until 1:45 p.m. that our power went out.  
Our house is situated on the south side of the island.  And as the hurricane swirled into the Caribbean Sea, the wind was blowing from west to east.  That's right to left looking at the Sir Francis Drake Channel from our porch, which is the view in this photo:
The rain followed in the same direction so we were able to sit on the porch and watch Earl move in without getting wet.  We mixed a few rum drinks and watched in awe as the waves got bigger and bigger and the storm intensified.  Adam got a call from the owner of his house to tell him some windows on the west side of his house were open.  This was puzzling because when Adam left his house, hurricane shutters were securely on the windows.  {Turns out, the shutters did blow off, but the windows were in tact and everything inside was just fine.  But what a scare!  There was absolutely nothing he could do about it at the time!}

This next photo was taken around 4:30 p.m. as visibility was getting worse.  We were amazed how much protection the house and the mountainside provided us.  You would think we'd be drenched sitting on the now-open air porch, but we didn't feel a drop...  
...not until much much later, that is.  We moved inside around 5:00 p.m. as we could sense a change in Earl's direction.  It didn't take long for the boys to seek out the guitars and play a little music.  I tried to record a few of their tunes but the sound of the wind dominates the audio. 
We took requests on Facebook and our friend Rodney suggested CCR's "Who'll Stop the Rain."  Nice choice!  We also want to thank our Facebook friends for giving us updates on the storm.  Not that the news was all that comforting as Earl grew to a Category 4...ha!
Around 7:00 p.m. I made black bean soup.  That's the great thing about having a gas stove - it works even when you don't have power!  We played dominoes, told stories and listened to the storm rattle the hurricane shutters.  Since the walls of our house are made of concrete, we left very secure.

From 8:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. the wind howled and the rain lashed the house relentlessly.  The porch was soaked and leaves were everywhere!  A few more rum drinks and we were ready to go to bed.  We received word that Earl had reached Puerto Rico and we were told that things would begin to quiet down.  We cracked the shutters to allow air to move through the house and tried to sleep...

Earl was fascinating, a bit scary, windy and wet all rolled into one!  As a musical tribute to Earl's exit, here's the Dixie Chick tune...you guessed it, "Goodbye Earl!"
Monday, August 30, 2010

Winds Are Picking Up

It's 10:30 a.m. on Day 271.  We just got back from Road Town where Michael had to close up Pusser's flagship store. 

Some of the ladies who work there came in to help as well.  In the case of flooding, we moved all of the items from the floor.  We also brought in items from the glass porch on the second story.  Apparently it is susceptible to leaks.  And in the worst case scenerio, the glass could break which would surely make the inventory decoration for the landscape below. 

Earl is now a Category 3 and it's expected to gain even more strength as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico...we are only 60 miles east of Puerto Rico, so if you see video on the news from there, you can imagine that's what we're experiencing too.

Before we left to come home and finish preparations here, I shot some video of the palm trees right outside of Pusser's in Road Town.  Not sure how strong these winds are, but it's clearly just the beginning.

We are back at the house and fortunately our power is on and we still have cable, which is a miracle!  Everyone else we've talked to has been without power all morning.  Ours has been intermittent, but I'll take it!  Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments on Facebook!  We appreciate all the prayers so very much!!!

Hurry Up and Wait...

It's 8:30 a.m. on Day 271.  Hurricane Earl is on his way. 

Five of our seven hurricane shutters are closed and locked down.  We're waiting to close the other two because it's going to get hot, especially when we lose power!  (So far so good; we even have cable this morning!)

We are only experiencing rain and wind.  Overnight conditions were pretty still - almost too still.  Despite spending an afternoon at the Tamarind's pool bar yesterday and taking a melatonin to help us sleep last night, Michael and I were up every couple of hours, checking the weather reports and looking out across the channel.  Looks like Earl will be upgraded to a Category 3.  The folks over at Dear Miss Mermaid are updating the stats pretty regularly and adding photos from around the BVI too.

Here's the view from our porch this morning:

Since I snapped this photo with my iPhone just a few moments ago, the wind has picked up.  You can hear the waves crashing now, as a band of rain washes over us.

Oh and just in case you've forgotten what it normally looks like:

We're hearing that the worst of Hurricane Earl won't get to the BVI until this afternoon/evening.  We'll be ready!!! 

Michael is heading into Road Town to secure inventory at the warehouse and the store in Pusser's Pub. 

Thanks to everyone keeping us in your prayers!
Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let Me Upgrade Ya

Just this morning, the National Weather Service upgraded Earl to a Category 1 Hurricane. It is expected to gain strength over the next 24-48 hours as it approaches the Leeward Islands, then the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and beyond.

So what does that mean for us? Well, there is no such thing as an evacuation plan here.  I guess we could catch a flight and head for Florida but that requires a layover in San Juan.  Evacuating is not all that practical, especially for a hurricane that's not a five.

Yesterday, Michael and I checked all of our hurricane shutters.  They're on metal tracks, which required a little bit of WD-40 to get them working properly.  We will need to remove all of the screens from our porch, and bring in all of our patio furniture before closing up the house.

We've stocked up on candles, flashlights, batteries, non-perishables, water, rum, etc...

The one thing I'm dreading is a long power-outage and not because we'll be in the dark - I can handle the dark.  I'm not so sure how I'm going to handle living here with no fans.  For those of you who've visited us, you know how hot it can be when there isn't any wind and that's with fans running full speed.  We'll have neither and who knows for how long.  We've heard 8 hours is the longest time we've been without power after a hurricane...we'll see. 

I'll try and update OurBVIAdventure from my iPhone, that's if I have service!  We hear that service could be interrupted...

If you have any tips or suggestions for riding out a hurricane, we'd love to hear them!  It looks like we have some time to enjoy our Sunday, before the winds pick up and the preliminary thunderstorms reach us.  Keep us in your prayers!
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 266: Back on Island!

For the past 10 days, I've been "off island." I traveled to Florida to visit my parents and spend time with friends there.  What a vacation it was!  No weddings, parties or showers to attend.  The reason for the visit was just that - to visit!

It was hard to be away from Michael and Milly for that long, but at the same time it was nice to enjoy the comforts of home: air conditioning, mom's cooking, shopping at Target,  IKEA, and the like!

But now, I'm back!  Here are a few photos from the plane ride home...

It was a sunset flight.  I just loved looking at the clouds over Tortola.

Here's one of the final descent to Beef Island...notice that is water just before (and beyond) the runway!  It was such a smooth landing!  And all in all, a great day of flying.

Now, let's just hope that Tropical Storm Earl misses the BVI...not exactly the welcome home present I was expecting!  Ha!


Apologies if you checked Our BVI Adventure and found a bunch of gibberish. I was hacked or Blogger somehow posted someone else's blog entry on my blog. (I have since deleted it!) Sorry for the glitch! We will now resume our regularly scheduled posting...

I'm back on island and ready to bring you all that is happening in the BVI!
Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 255 (continued): Trash Talk

This time of year, a lot of our favorite restaurants and bars close down for hurricane season.  But before the proprietors and staff flee the island for a few months, they throw huge parties.  So far we've attended a "Drink the Bar Dry" party at Tamarind Club and then there was the parade party at BarFly/Dove...

Saturday's party at The Last Resort was the biggest by far.  Boat after boat after boat navigated its way from Trellis Bay to the dock at Bellamy Cay.  The "trailer trash" themed bash featured three local bands, plus the house band.  A huge crowd gathered on the lawn which was perfectly appointed with a clothes line, Fisher Price toys, lawn furniture, and a beer fridge.  Some of the partygoers dressed as Britney Spears, while others rocked the classic mullet; there were some pregnant brides too and trashy t-shirts.  You name it, it was there!

It was an extremely hot night, with no breeze to cool us.  Mother Nature must have been sick of the complaining, so she sent a huge rain storm to cool us off.  The rain came just at A Type of Toad was starting, so everyone rushed to the stage seeking cover on the deck.  There were so many people jumping up and down, at one point we heard cracking sounds of wood and could feel the deck giving way underneath us.  Somehow it stabilized...   

What a way to say good-bye to one of our favorite places, at least for a few months...The Last Resort will reopen in October.  But as bvimusic.com reminds us, a party this crazy and this fun may just be 364 days away, when they do it again next year!

Day 255: A Still Saturday

We woke up to a very still Sir Francis Drake Channel this morning...this was the view when I woke up around seven o'clock:

Those ripples are from a ferry on its way to Virgin Gorda.

Things on the north side of the island were just as quiet.  We went to Smuggler's Cove and there wasn't a wave in sight!

That's Jost Van Dyke off in the distance.  It was a perfect day to float in the water and drink a Carib!

We have a big night tonight, as it is the closing party for The Last Resort.  There is a "trailer trash" theme, but I don't think Michael and I are going to dress up.  The friends we're going with aren't either.  Promise to take plenty of photos though!  Should be a good time...
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 253 continued: BVI Lunch

Most days, I have lunch at home.  And if Michael is working from Charles' home office, he is able to pop over and join me.  But when he's at the office in town, he is usually left to fend for himself.

Just to give you a little insight into where that can lead him, here is an email exchange between us today:

Me:     Have you had lunch?
MD:    Yep.  Curry and goat.  And a salad.

Me:     Huh?  Where did you get GOAT?
MD:    The chicken truck.

Me:     Was it really goat? 
MD:    Yes.  And I liked it.

I looked it up and apparently curry and goat is a popular Caribbean dish, though I haven't seen it on any menus (other than apparently the one at the chicken truck, which is an actual truck if you were wondering.)
There are quite a few goats on the island...

So, there you have it.  Curry and goat from a chicken truck.  This is our life!
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Day 253: Mail Maladies

We've had our share of problems with the mail service in the BVI.  Because there are no home address (or business addresses for that matter) all is handled with P.O. Boxes.
And when it comes to sending a piece of mail, I've yet to figure out how much postage is required so

I'll usually put two First Class Stamps on letters.  Sometimes it takes months for a teeny tiny thank-you note to reach its final destination in the states.  Are they sending this mail by boat???  I'm starting to get paranoid that not all mail I've sent has been delivered! 

So back to receiving mail, we do not have our own P.O. Box but use Pusser's instead.  So, every couple of days Michael will check the stack of mail in the office and see if we have anything.
On Day 253, he found this in the stack!  Notice the blue stamp at the bottom of the envelope.
MISSENT TO INDIA!?!  I wonder how that happened!  And to Courtney, who so graciously sent us a thank-you note for the items we donated to the Brian Henry Golf Tournament, it finally got here!  A good month and a half after you put it in the mail!  Ha!
So, if you haven't received a thank-you note from me, and you think you are deserving of one, be patient!  It'll get there...after a stop in India or somewhere else lovely.
Maybe we should all start using cocodot - it's a social media site where you can create notes, invitations, birthday cards, and send them electronically to friends and family (for a fee of course!)  They even have a Lilly Pulitzer collection...check out this one with gators!
Sincerely Yours...

SIDE NOTE:  Courtney has rescheduled her trip to the BVI and I couldn't be more excited.  You may remember, she postponed her trip earlier in the year because of her husband Brian's accident.  Cannot wait to have her here for a few days in November!
Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 250: A wedding!

Today is a special day for our friends Felicity and Gerry.  They were married in their home country of Ireland.  While they are thousands of miles from the BVI, their nuptials made the local paper!

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Ryan!  We can't wait to see you back in the BVI so we toast the newlyweds!
Sunday, August 8, 2010

Signage Sunday: Art of the Underlined Word

I cannot take credit for this week's Signage Sunday...it was submitted to Our BVI Adventure by our friend Alastair.  He found this sign in the men's restroom in Village Cay Marina.

{For the full effect:  notice which word is underlined.}

First of all, why is a sign like this needed?  What are men throwing in the urinals these days?  Secondly, why not underline the word "absolutely" or "nothing"???   
Friday, August 6, 2010

Pop Sensation from Tortola

Shawty's like a melody in my head 
That I can't keep out
Got me singin' like

Na na na na everyday
It's like my iPod stuck on replay, replay-ay-ay-ay (2x)

Okay, so you know the song, right???  {If not, click here for a quick listen!}  Well, apparently the 22 year-old pop sensation, Iyaz, is from Tortola here in the BVI!!!  His song "Replay" hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 which led him to Chicago for a chat on Oprah's couch in May...the ultimate definition of "success" in my book!

His album dropped in June and you can't go anywhere here locally and not hear his music.  Okay, so onto my recent discovery of his YouTube video for the song "Solo."  This video was shot here on the island and if you've visited us it is a "must-see."  There are so many places we recognize, Carrot Bay, Cane Garden Bay, etc...  The song is pretty catchy too if you don't already know it!

Iyaz is currently on tour with Justin Beiber, so he may be coming to a town near you!  Ha!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 245: Sir Francis LAKE

The Sir Francis Drake Channel looked more like the Sir Francis Lake on Wednesday.  It was an overcast day, which added to the eeriness of it all.  There was absolutely no wind.  All was still. 

And when things are still around here, that also means they're hot!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 244: Back on Cooper

Tuesday was another holiday here in the BVI, so Michael and I headed to Cooper Island for the afternoon.  They don't have a ferry service, but a few dive boats go there regularly, so we caught a ride out of Hodges Marina. 
I just love it over there...I blogged about my first experience at the club just last week when I went with the Shands.  We were only there for a drink, so we were excited to try out the menu.

I had the grilled mahi sandwich.  It was huge!  We should have shared it...  (And those little yellow pieces you see in the top left corner are apart of the game, Scrabble Apple.  Similar to Bananagrams...but better!) 

We had a great day...the remodeled bar and deck is just lovely.  We also went snorkeling and relaxed on the beach.  We're thinking the next time we get the boat from Nanny Cay we'll have to head over there before making stops at Pirate's Bight and Willie T's.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 243: Jumbies Everywhere!

The Grand Parade is a huge event, held in Road Town on Emancipation Day each year.  Hundreds of people plan, build, choreograph, sew, practice and much much more in advance of this parade. Judges are perched high on a platform in the center of town to score each group's performance. 

Our favorite spots in Road Town were opening early to accommodate parade-watchers...so after getting some work done in the morning, we headed to Pusser's for starters. 

One of the funny things about the parade is its start time.  According to all official Festival schedules and bulletins, the Grand Parade starts at 11:00 a.m.  Apparently, the parade has never started on time, which has led Barfly and Le Cabanon to take bets on the actual start time - winner take all.  We entered both raffles, guessing the parade would start at 2:28 p.m. in one pool and 2:05 p.m. in the other.  (That's more than three hours after it's supposed to begin!)

While we waited, we enjoyed the delicious gourmet burgers at Barfly.  This was their special menu for the parade:
The parade passed by Barfly at 1:43 p.m. and it took 33 minutes for it to reach Le Cabanon, which is only 100 yards away.  To say it moves slowly is an understatement, but it was totally worth the wait!  Doing the math, the parade passed by Le Cabanon at 2:06 p.m.!  We were just one minute away from winning!!!

Regardless, it was a lot of fun and as you can see from the photos, it was a lively, colorful parade, complete with jumbies walking on stilts, many of them 12 - 20 feet off the ground! 

If you're not familiar with jumbies, or moko jumbies, they are apart of the culture here; enslaved West Africans brought the tradition with them to the Caribbean centuries ago.  I am amazed by this lively and lofty art form!  I found myself holding my breath as the jumbies floated by.  It is amazing how they move! 

What a day!