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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Sunday, June 19, 2011

St. John & Beyond

On Sunday, we did what any good host and hostess would do...

We personally escorted our guests, Cristall and Will, to their next destination:  The Westin on St. John in the USVI.  The Harkins were blessed with magnificent weather during their stay.  We thoroughly enjoyed the ferry ride out of West End, as did this seagull that soared above the boat most of the way.
When we weren't ducking from the bird overhead, Michael and Cristall took turns posing at the top of the ferry...

The pool at the Westin was the perfect way to spend our Sunday.  We had lunch on the beach and recommend the fish tacos and Caribbean pulled pork sandwich to anyone heading there on vacation!
It was hard to say goodbye to Cristall and Will, but it was time for the two of them to explore St. John on their own...  So, it was back to Tortola for us, not before getting Mexican food at Margarita Phil's to take back to Tortola!  (We can't resist! We go there every time!)

Cristall and Will, we loved having you here!  You are welcome back anytime!

Signage Sunday: Bathroom Humor

This sign hanging in the restroom at the Jolly Roger always gets a laugh from our guests.  We took friends, Cristall and Will there on Friday night for lobster and you can thank Will for venturing back into the restroom for this shot! 
Saturday, June 18, 2011

Virgin Gorda Kind of Day

Saturday was a perfect day weather-wise for a trip to Virgin Gorda.  We caught the 10:30 ferry and headed to the fat island.  This was Cristall and Will's first time to experience the Baths and they did not disappoint.  

After the hike through the monoliths, grottos and pools, we reached the stunning Devil's Bay.  The turquoise water was sparkling especially bright on this Saturday.
Our next stop?  Little Dix Bay for lunch and an afternoon swim, make that an afternoon float. 
Here, Michael and I are doing our best to relax...
We highly recommend the Baths/Little Dix Bay itinerary for visitors looking for a great day on VG that combines the active hike and swim through the Baths, followed by the yummy lunch buffet at the resort and beach time. 
Friday, June 17, 2011

Jolly Good Time!

On Friday night, we took Cristall and Will to the Jolly Roger so they could enjoy the fresh Anegada Lobster for which the BVI is known.  They loved it!  Jolly Roger grills lobster during season and serves a yummy seafood pasta as well.  It is all delicious!

Our friends, Richard and Louise, met us there too.  And thanks to the strong breeze, we stayed cool on the deck.

Here's a photo of the six of us!
There was a live band on Friday night, so we just had to hit the dance floor!  I have to admit, my 5-month-pregnant-self felt a little funny out there bustin' a move...ha!
And lastly, here's a great shot of the boys.  (And no, they didn't color coordinate their Skittles-inspired shorts!)
Tomorrow we're off to Virgin Gorda!!!
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cristall & Will Arrive in the BVI!

Our friends from Atlanta caught a one-way flight to St. Thomas and hopped on the ferry to Tortola on Thursday!  While this wasn't Cristall and Will's first trip to the Caribbean it was their first visit to the BVI.

Their journey was so quick and easy, until it came time for me to pick them up.  I had thoroughly explained the process of hailing a cab from the St. Thomas airport, making sure they specified the correct ferry dock to their cab driver (Charlotte Amalie, if you're wondering) .  I also offered an in-depth explanation of the immigration and customs process once they arrived in the BVI and strongly advised that they make every attempt to sit near the exit of the boat, so they could be first in line...something our friends Ashley and Gordon learned the hard way after a 50 minute wait when they arrived here back in February.

Well, Cristall and Will followed my directions to perfection.  I, however, was too busy snapping photos of their ferry and got confused.  They must have slipped off of the boat without me noticing! 

I watched as all of the other passgengers disembarked, hoping to spot them. After everyone was off the boat, I called Michael to let him know that Cristall and Will hadn't made the ferry. I reread Will's email and he clearly wrote that they were on the 3:30 boat! So where were they? Why hadn't I seen them? I headed back to the car to wait for Michael.  Maybe there were two ferries and they were on the second boat...
Unbeknownst to me, Cristall and Will breezed through immigration and customs. But when they emerged, no one was there to greet them!

It wasn't until Michael showed up 10 minutes later that he spotted the lost tourists standing at the other end of the parking lot.  I felt so horrible!!!  The good thing is, this rocky start to their vacation was not indicative of how their BVI adventure would go!  Barfly, Smuggler's Cove, Jolly Roger, The Baths, Little Dix Bay, St. John...we packed it in over the long weekend! 
Saturday, June 11, 2011

My BVI Birthday

Turning 32 was a lot easier thanks to the love and top-secret planning by Michael and dear friends, Richard and Louise.  Michael threw me off by taking me to the Peter Island Ferry Dock on Tortola.  (This is where he took me last year...)  While waiting on the dock, Michael snapped this side photo of me...this is what 22 weeks pregnant looks like I guess!

But the Peter Island ferry never came.  Instead, our friends Richard and Louise pulled up in their boat, Lady Sol!  What a fun surprise!  Off we went for Cooper Island; here's the crew!
Before we enjoyed a yummy lunch at Cooper Island's Beach Bar & Restaurant, they had me open my birthday presents.  I was completely blown away...Louise and Richard gave me the most beautiful teardrop earrings (see below).  They're made of the Caribbean semi-precious stone, larimar.  Gorgeous! 

And if you notice what I'm holding in my hands, an iPad2!  Michael teamed up with my parents and in-laws to surprise me with it!  He had me completely fooled...  He had been keeping me out of the guest bedroom all week, even closing the curtains so I couldn't see in the room from the porch.  Since he led me to believe the gift was large in physical scale, I didn't think there was any way he'd be able to transport it to Cooper Island.  He's so sneaky!!!

After lunch we enjoyed a nice swim and snorkel off of Cooper Island.  Louise and Richard then dropped us off at Peter Island to spend the rest of the evening.  It was a perfect birthday!  So grateful to have such loving family and friends!!!
Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Ferry: Scrubbed

Scrub Island's brand new ferry - that Caty, Matt and I had just ridden days before - ended up on the rocks yesterday. 

Our friend Vanessa shared this photo on Marina Cay's Facebook page.  (You should like Marina Cay on FB, if you haven't already, by the way!)

I remember thinking that our ferry captain cut it a little close to these rocks on our most recent journey, but figured they knew what they were doing...  Makes me nervous to think about it.  I found this story about the incident on BVI News.  Thank goodness the injuries to the passengers and captain on board were only minor. 

Cistern's Full Clark!

After a week full of rain, I sure am ready to see the sunshine! 

While they were pockets of sunshine, the BVI was pretty much a soggy mess all week long.  Don't believe me?  See what the guys over at On-St John did to "capture" the story...

As far as the cistern is concerned, we're pretty confident we have enough rain water to hold us over for awhile.  There was a concern earlier in the week over a "ribbit" sound we heard echoing from the corner of the living room, where the lid to the cistern is.  We looked inside but didn't see anything.  Maybe he hopped out on his own???  Let's hope! 
Friday, May 20, 2011

Our Baby Adventure!

We have some exciting news to share with Our BVI Adventure readers...  Michael and I are expecting a baby! My due date is October 20th, which we just had to write in the sand in true BVI fashion. 

I have a wonderful doctor here on the island.  A lot of people have asked me about the level of care available here, and so far my prenatal care has been more than adequate.  However, for the birth of the baby, my doctor has advised me that we should go to either the primary labor and delivery hospital in San Juan or a hospital in the United States, if insurance allows.  Michael was disappointed; he thought we could do a water birth at Smuggler's Cove.  (Kidding!)  More seriously, there is a large community of expat women on Tortola who've followed a similar track with their pregnancies, which I find especially comforting.

Michael and I couldn't be more excited.  We're thrilled, actually!  We were able to share the news in person with my sister when she visited a few months ago.  She was shocked, but extremely receptive to becoming an aunt.  She will be the world's greatest, no doubt!  We told the other family members via Skype, which was also a lot of fun!

I hope this news explains my sporadic blogging over the last few months.  Now that I'm through the first trimester, I am returning to my regular posting schedule (if you can even call it that!)  While this blog will remain a blog about our BVI adventures, I can't promise that a few baby adventure posts won't creep in.  Just rest assured that I won't be posting any baby bump photos that resemble this one!  :)
Sunday, May 15, 2011

Small World Gets Even Smaller

Unfortunately the rain during Caty and Matt's visit kept us off the beach for a few days, but that's the perfect reason to head to St. John for a little retail therapy.  Who needs sunny skies when you've got boutiques that take American Express?  :)  We also stopped in the local pub, St. John's Brewers - a must if you like hoppy beers and flavors like mango and coriander mixed with citrus. 

The delicious Mexican Food at Margarita Phil's and the great finds at St. John Editions however weren't the highlight of this day...

Michael ran into a fraternity brother from his days at the University of Tennessee!  Shane and his girlfriend Anna, who live in Nashville, were staying on St. John for a fun-filled week of limin' and scuba diving. 

 What a small world!  These guys hadn't seen eachother in at least four years!
Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rockin' Out on JVD

On Saturday we hopped on a boat from King Charters and headed for Jost van Dyke.  Matt and Caty hadn't been to the bubbly pool before, so we knew that had to be our first stop.  One of the cool features of the bubbly pool is the man-made rock formations placed all around the pool.  Check out this gravity defying feature! 

The waves were huge as they crashed over the rocks and filled the pool with bubbles that would make your finest bottle of Veuve Clicquot jealous.  Matt posed for this action shot, just before be swept away.  Take a deep breath!

The water was refreshing and once again, the bubbly pool did not disappoint
Fun fun!  After a nice lunch at Foxy's Taboo we headed for Soggy Dollar Bar on White Bay.
Friday, May 13, 2011

Caty and Matt Arrive!

We were so excited to welcome back Catharyn and Matt for their second visit!  (Technically, this is their third BVI adventure, since they honeymooned here months before we moved to Tortola!)  They were happy to be back, and if you're wondering about what's in Matt's right hand...

Caty and Matt brought us a radiator for our car!  Yep, we bought it online and shipped it to their house in Tennessee.  They packed it up and checked it as a piece of luggage!  It was definitely the quickest and most cost effective way to get the needed car part to the BVI.  :)  They simply declared it on their customs form.  Thanks y'all!

We have a lot on tap for their trip, including a trip to Jost van Dyke!  First stop, the bubbly pool! 
Sunday, May 1, 2011

Signage Sunday: Rodent Dessert, Anyone?

We were having a nice lunch at Le Grand Cafe the other day and my eyes kept being drawn to the mirrored display on the wall, where the desserts were listed...not necessarily because I have a sweet tooth, but rather the misspelling of one particular chocolate treat.

Do you see it?  Here's a closer look:

There it is!  Chocolate mouse cake...  Better than red velvet rat cake I suppose.  :) 
Sunday, April 17, 2011

Da Tree Men No More...

We had a "last supper" of sorts on Sunday night.  (I hate these - they don't get any easier!)  This time we were saying good-by to Da Tree Men's lead singer, Adam.  He's moving back to Miami.

Adam was the first friend we made on Tortola.  I remember that hot December night when Michael and I arrived on Tortola.  We dropped our things off at the house and went into town for dinner.  Adam, who Michael had met at work during his first two weeks down here, texted and invited us to meet for a drink.

It's funny to think back on that night...  We knew so little about eachother, but the commonality was this: We had just left all things familiar and found ourselves navigating this island none of us knew all that much about!     

Adam started Da Tree Men and definitely left his mark on the music scene in the BVI with the creation of bvimusic.com and the dozen or so songs about the BVI.  It's amazing how far they've come since their first paid gig at The Elm.  In just a few short months, they ended up playing for Sir Richard Branson on his private island!  With Adam's departure, the band is no more...

Well, I suppose there's still hope for some sort of reunion tour. 

Do you have a favorite Da Tree Men song?  Mine is a tie...Virgin Gorda and Bushwhacker.  Of course, who can forget Cane Garden Bay and Jost van Dyke?

Cheers Adam!  All the best in your post-BVI adventures!
Thursday, April 7, 2011

Marina Cay & a Water Shortage

As we arrived in London and headed for Oxford, my parents woke up to a beautiful day in the BVI.  Even though they hit the town the night before, with dinner at BarFly and the sounds of Da Tree Men (minus Michael) at The Elm in Cane Garden Bay, they were no worse for the wear and headed for a day on Marina Cay.  And a beautiful one it was!

Little did my parents know what awaited them back at the house...an empty cistern.  Thus began their true BVI adventure!  Our neighbors Jonathan and Danielle had lived through their own water scare a few months prior and were able to assist.

The next day, a water truck found its way up Kingston Hill and its hose found its way through our house and into the cistern.  Ten thousand gallons of water and $650 later, the cistern was full...but that doesn't necessarily mean the water was flowing!  At least not yet.

Because the pump had continued to run until the discovery of the empty cistern, there had been some damage to the pipes.  What to do now?  My oh-so-resourceful parents remembered that our friend Tony who lives in our old house just down the hill is not only handy, but has experience with the mechanics of pumps and such.  Within a few hours, Tony had the water running at Gecko Manor II! 

He was most definitely the hero of this BVI adventure! 
Wednesday, April 6, 2011

St. Thomas

My parents accompanied us to St. Thomas on Wednesday.  After a quick lunch, we parted ways and headed for the airport to catch our flight to JFK and then onto LHR. 

My parents stayed for an afternoon of sightseeing.  Here they are along the waterfront:

They were even able to snap a photo of our airplane as we headed north!

My Parent's Arrive!

My parent's arrived on Monday afternoon!  They'll be here for 10 days.  They're actually going to be house-sitting and looking after Milly while Michael and I travel to England!  Our friends Louise and Richard are getting married! 

We've been telling people for months that we're going to London for a "special wedding in April" and you wouldn't believe the looks we get from people who think we mean the ROYAL wedding!  We think Louise and Richard are right up there with Kate and Prince William! 

It turns out we'll miss the royal wedding by two weeks, but we're hoping to see the preparations!

So, if you'll bear with us, Our BVI Adventure will be Our UK Adventure for the next week!  We'll be sure to post what my parents have been up to as well...  This will be their first time navigating the island of Tortola on their own!

Off to St. Thomas to catch our flight! 
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Noisy Neighbors

The other day while I was working from home, I heard the cries of goats.  Milly, our miniature schnauzer, went crazy!  She was barking non-stop which caused the goats to run up our hill! 

A few were seperated from the pack and when I walked out my front door, I found them lurking on our patio!  Not sure who was more startled!

Just another BVI day!  And after our nearly sleepless night a few months ago, we were glad to have the goats appear in the daylight!
Thursday, March 17, 2011


On Whitney's final afternoon in the BVI, we went down to Cane Garden Bay to soak up a little sun.  Little did we know, we would see our first ever shark!!!  Fishermen were drawing attention from cruise ship tourists as they were bringing in their catch for the day.
It was an ideal BVI photo opp, until we heard the words "Shark! Shark!" Sure enough, a small Caribbean reef shark was caught in the fishermens' net! 

I've been swimming and snorkeling at beaches all along Tortola's north side and I've never seen a shark...  But sure enough, that's exactly what these fishermen had found!

Here's a better look:

Saturday, March 12, 2011


During our boating trip we spotted the most amazing yacht!  Other than the Russian-owned "A", this boat may  be the largest one we've seen in the BVI.

Just off of Norman Island, Cakewalk, measuring more than 280 feet, caught our attention.  We looked it up online and it's the largest yacht built in the US in the last thirty years.  It can accommodate 14 guests comfortably with seven cabins and six different decks.

Check out this close up shot of "the garage" (I think it's called a bay on a yacht, but looked like one decked out garage to us!)  The crew was getting ready to take some of Cakewalk's passengers to shore via this smaller boat. 

I also read that Cakewalk has a large library on board complete with fireplace and grand piano, plus a jacuzzi tub, and helicopter pad.  WOW!  It must have been here in the BVI for the Superyacht Regatta and Rendevous.

JVD, SDB, and the WT

We wasted no time and headed out on the boat on Saturday.  Our neighbors and new friends, Jonathan and Danielle had company visiting as well, so we had a nice big group.  It was a day of acronyms...

Our first stop was JVD (Jost van Dyke) and the bubbly pool.  You may remember our first trip here was just a few weeks ago with Ashley and Gordon.  And we thought the pool was "bubbly" then???  Well, that was nothing!  Check out this photo:

The waves were enormous as they came crashing through the rocks and filling the pool with bubbles.  The area where we'd previously been able to hold on as the water rushed over us was unrecognizable.  The waves just kept on coming. 

Our next stop was SGB (Soggy Dollar Bar) in the always beautiful White Bay.  The painkillers were delicious, but if painkillers aren't your thing, you need to try a raspberry therapy!  Jsut ask "the Oldtimer" for one of these specialities; he's sure to help you out!  The raspberry therapy is Whitney's favorite drink here. 

{From left, that's Whitney, Michael, yours truly, Rachel, Danielle and Jonathan}

Our last stop of the day?  The WT (Willy T's).  Whitney snapped this photo of the jumpers as we arrived at the infamous floating bar. 

We packed a lot into one day, but a fun BVI day it was! 
Friday, March 11, 2011

Whitney's Arrival!

Still leading the pack with "most visits to the BVI," my sister Whitney made her way to Tortola on Friday for her Spring Break.

In addition to the traditional arrival shot, we snapped a photo of her airplane as it made its descent onto the runway. 
Since she's an old pro, she navigated her way through immigration and customs in no time!
Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Satirical Look at Water in the BVI

Living on an island like Tortola means that water is an issue...  And by water, I mean the crystal clear stuff that likely flows freely from your nickel finish Kohler faucet, or that the warm soothing stream that sprays from your showerhead. 

As I've blogged about before, there are essentially two sources of water:  1) town water provided by the Communications and Works Ministry via the Baugher's Bay desalination plant (pictured below) and 2) cistern water. 

At our new house, we have the latter which means we are at the mercy of mother nature.  If she rains, our cistern fills up and we have water.  If it doesn't rain, we are at risk of using every last drop of our 10,000 gallon tank, which is stored underneath the house.   

But not all residents have cisterns; most Road Town residents are completely reliant on the town water, which can be even more frustrating than a couple of weeks with no rain.  Town water service is often disrupted for one reason or another.   

One local columnist for the BVI Beacon took a closer look at the critical issue and what's being dubbed a "modern-day miracle."  This is a must-read, especially if you like satire...
Sunday, March 6, 2011

Exit Survey: Shane & Kaley

Of the five Pusser's locations, which ones did you visit on your trip? (Soper's Hole, Marina Cay, Charlie T's Lobster House, Leverick Bay, Road Town Pub)
Answer(s): Charlie T's Lobster House for delicious lobster & Road Town Pub for our first Roti
True or False. Driving on the left side of the road feels as weird as I thought it would.
Answer(s): Per Shane (as the driver & a man), false. But as the passenger...my eyes were peeled for him to cross over to the right side out of habit.  However - in his defense, the stayed left throughout the trip!
Shane not only drove in the BVI, but he drove without either me or Michael in the car, offering friendly reminders about the roundabouts and speed bumps.  He and Kaley made their way to the grocery store to get the ingredients for a delicious dinner that they prepared for us! 

What was the most bizarre thing you saw on Tortola?
Answer(s): The two hen gang bangs that we were fortunate enough to witness or Charlie Sheen's interview on the Today show...um, WINNER!
Can't believe this guy below didn't make the list for "most bizarre."  HA!

Favorite dining experience on the island?
Answer: They were all wonderful, but if I had to pick just one?  Barfly...a pork tostada, calamari, olive & mussel spread under the stars!  Couldn't be beat!

Which "island drink" will you be craving next week when it's a rainy 52 degrees back in Knoxville?
Answer: And as you predicted, it was 51 degrees and raining today and am definitely craving a Bushwhacker!

Which Da Tree Men original song was your favorite?
a) Bomba Punch
b) Cane Garden Bay
c) Jost van Dyke: Tropical Paradise
d) Bushwhacker
e) Virgin Gorda
Answer(s): Couldn't come to a joint decision on this one...Kaley's favorite is Cane Garden Bay, and Shane's is Bushwhacker.

What surprised you most about life in the BVI?
Answer(s): Most coveted position on the island: Ms. Delta Petroleum!  The grocery store chicken counts: 4 breasts / over 20,000 frozen wings available for purchase.  And of course the tree growing out of Michael's car!
It was great having Kaley and Shane here.  One of our most pleasurable experiences was a late afternoon SUP in Brewer's Bay.  Even though it was their first time trying stand-up paddle boarding, Kaley and Shane did great!  They never fell, not even once!