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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Monday, February 27, 2012

Must See Video

An incredible videographer recently posted this video from his sailing adventure in the BVI.  It's been circulating on Facebook for the past few weeks and I thought I'd share it here.

The underwater shots are incredible - a must see!

I think it captures what the "Hi Mary" video doesn't.  
Saturday, February 25, 2012

BVI SUP Series

Michael and I participated in the latest BVI SUP Series on Saturday.  We started with a 1.5 mile paddle from Trellis Bay to the beautiful Long Bay Beach on Beef Island.  If you've flown into the BVI airport, you know the area well.  We were "ducking" as the planes landed on the runway!

The downwinder from Trellis Bay wasn't a race, rather "just for fun."  And fun it was!  The sun was shining, making the blue water sparkle.

Later in the day, organizers held an individual race for adults, and then for children.  The big race of the day was a corporate relay.  Eight teams of five competed in a double elimination tournament.  Two teams faced off at a time.

The teams sent one paddler at a time to complete the water course, before having the competitors run the beach course before tagging the next competitor.  Here's Michael finishing his leg of the race...

Anna Drake got in the action later in the day.  And no worries Mom, never at any time was she on a paddle board!  :)  {We heed your warnings!}

Oh, and here's the obligatory "baby legs" photo.  This one might be my favorite!

Michael's team came in second place.  Congrats to Latitude 18 for the win.

Here's Anna Drake standing on top of Michael's "prize."  ;)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Get Out the Vote

The BVI Beacon is running a beach photo contest on its Facebook page and while I haven't entered a photo, I thought I'd share the link here.  

There are some absolutely beautiful pics.  If you have one from your travels to the BVI, you can upload it to the Beacon's wall, and they'll add it to the contest album.   

These are my two favorites at the moment...  "Best Friends" by Jim Kelly a.k.a. Island Jim:

And this untitled photo by Dan O'Connor, taken on his first trip to Smuggler's Cove.
To vote, just "like" the photo in the Beach Photo Contest Album.  You can vote for as many photos as you'd like, but soon the Beacon will narrow it down to the top ten and a second round of voting will commence.  Prizes include a night's stay at the Bitter End Yacht Club.  Not bad!

Now, who's ready to take a dip?  I am!!!  
Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Secret is Out

No longer is Smuggler's Cove a quiet little beach, filled mostly with locals.  Packed with rental cars and taxis, the sandy clearing in the sea grape trees looked more like an official parking lot on Sunday, despite the removal of the official "Smuggler's Cove" sign on the dirt road leading to the beach.  My guess is that those who live in Belmont Estates above the cove may have taken it down in hopes of returning this beach to its calm escape...

New beach bars have popped up, but we are still loyal to Stephen's.  {Remember?  He was the star of our anniversary giveaway!}

Even though lounge chairs were hard to come by, we had a great time splashing in the water.  It was so  warm and Anna Drake loved it!

And we couldn't resist taking another underwater shot of Anna Drake's sweet little baby legs!
The water at Smugs is some of the most beautiful in all of the BVI, don't you agree?
Friday, February 17, 2012

Tortola Express

While Tortola's (relatively) shiny and new supermarket, Riteway, offers a wide selection of items from the US and the UK, there are a few things it doesn't carry, at least not regularly:  Pampers, for starters.  They have Huggies, but no Pampers.  

When you see that they have stock of Hint of Lime Tostito's, you better buy two bags...maybe three!  And good luck if you want an everything bagel!  I haven't seen one since we've been back.

As for coffee, we have to import our Keurig K-cups.  The Keurig craze has yet to hit the BVI.  There are a few ways to get these coveted items to the island...  The first option is to send a box to stateside friends who are coming to visit and kindly ask them to pack the items in their suitcases.

More often than not, however, we shop online and send the items to Tortola Express in Miami.  From there, the items are flown to Tortola and for a fee that includes both the freight cost and duties, you can pick them up at their office in Road Town.

Most recently, I picked up some of Anna Drake's baby items that we ordered from Amazon.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the rose on top of the smaller box...  Let's just say the clerk at the desk has a "thang" for this baby momma.  :)

We were anxious to get Anna Drake's new bathtub.  Here she is trying it out that very night!

A reader recently asked a question about where we shop for other items, like clothing and home goods.  A post on that is in the works!

Frogs and Lizards and Scorpions, Oh My!

It's been much like the Wizard of Oz around our house lately.  Picture this...

I'm confronted by a different creepy or crawly creature each time I'm go in or out of the front door it seems.  Not surprisingly, I let out a cry for help as if I'm the cowardly lion asking Dorothy (in this case, played by Michael - sorry babe) to come help me find the courage to cope.

On Tuesday it was a massive frog hanging out above our front door.  I hope it wasn't the poisonous kind!  The next morning it was a scorpion that dropped onto Michael's shoulder as he left the house to walk Milly.  Apparently, he had a friend; I stumbled across him on Thursday as I went to slip on my flip flops.  Throw in the dozen or more lizards we see through out the day hanging out on our porch and we have it all here at Gecko Manor II.  Yikes!  
Thursday, February 16, 2012


One of the best things about living on Tortola is getting off of Tortola.  Let me explain...

"Getting off the rock" is a common expression around here and it may mean catching a flight to San Juan or a ferry to St. Thomas, or more simply a boat bound for nowhere.

In our case, our boat was bound for Scrub Island on Sunday.  This was Anna Drake's first time testing out her new life jacket.  While it may look too big for her, there's a pretty smart system of belts and buckles that makes this jacket fit quite snugly around her teeny little body.

Even though Scrub Island is just a 10-minute boat ride from Tortola, it provides just enough of a change of scenery so we can appreciate this place to the fullest.  There is plenty of shade at Scrub Island with all of the umbrellas standing tall over the comfy lounge chairs.  We just had to take Anna Drake in the pool for a dip between her naps, so she could show of her swimsuit.  (Thanks Allison!  It fits her perfectly!)  

The staff at Scrub is very attentive.  And may I recommend the crab cake and avocado sandwich for lunch?  It's big enough to share, for sure!

After lunch, I got back on a stand-up paddle board for the first time in nearly a year.  I had given it up while I was pregnant for fear of falling.  Michael sat with Anna Drake underneath a sea grape tree and snapped some photos.

Conditions for paddle boarding were ideal... There was hardly any wind and the current that runs between Scrub Island and Great Camino wasn't too swift, making for an easy paddle.  I was able to SUP right next to a HUGE yacht that we had the pleasure of watching dock at Scrub Island.  

We just had to google it!  The Argyll is 153 feet long and requires a crew of 10.  That's the same number of guests it sleeps as well.  It's funny because as we walked about the resort we could hear other guests whispering about the yacht and speculating who was on it.  (Apparently, rental runs approximately $150,000/week.) We never saw any of the guests, just the crew...  The yacht dwarfed the 24' center console power boat we took back to Tortola that afternoon.  Can you tell Anna Drake had a great time?  (This was her on the car ride home...)
Now, what to do next weekend???  
Monday, February 13, 2012

Baby legs

This photo pretty much sums up our weekend...

We spent much of it in the water.  Anna Drake is resting in her infant float, complete with sun shade, in the Nanny Cay baby pool.
Friday, February 10, 2012

Down on the Farm

On Friday afternoon, Michael and I took Anna Drake to the BVI's annual Farmer's Week.  It was such a cool, breezy afternoon.
Farmer's Week is held on the grounds of the Agriculture Department each February.  It gives local farmers a chance to share their crops with the community and even engage in some friendly competition!

I loved exploring the tent where the prize fruits and vegetables were on display.  (We were dying to try the first place homemade ginger beer!)
Here's Anna Drake on top of the winning pumpkin!
We also showed her the bunnies, ducks, goats, pigs and cows.
I think she had fun, don't you?
We may have to go back tomorrow when more vendors will be selling their fresh fruits and vegetables.  I talked Michael out of an impulse buy of sugar cane...  What would we do with it???  I might have to search for some recipes that call for it.
Monday, February 6, 2012

There's Something About Mary

If you want to know what it is, you'll have to watch this new video by the BVI Tourist Board.

I'm interested to know what people who've visited here think of this promotional video.  Is it an accurate representation of the islands?  I'm also interested to know what people who haven't been here think... Does it lure you in?  

It definitely portrays the BVI as a friendly place, but it doesn't necessarily show off the islands from the water, which is one of the most beautiful ways to see this place.  There are a few beach scenes, but I'm not sure those video sequences capture the essence of the BVI.

The video is well shot and edited.  Although, I had to watch it twice because at the end, when the voiceover lady says, "Just one of nature's little secrets you WILL discover in the British Virgin Islands."  I swear, I thought she said, "just one of nature's little secrets you WON'T discover in the British Virgin Islands."  The emphasis on the word "will" threw me off a bit!  Big difference in the meaning!  Ha!

New Newbie

Local publishing company, aLookingGlass, has just released the second edition of BVI Newbie.  You may remember the first edition of this fantastic publication came out about a year after we had moved here...
We still found it very helpful, so we had to pick up the 2012 edition to see what new information it holds.  I caught our own little newbie reading it before falling asleep the other day...

One new feature in the 2012 publication is the pull out map in the back.  And I love this graphically driven section on what you can expect to find on the roads here:

I have come across ALL of these "vehicles" and hazards at one time or another.  Even Sir Richard Branson's controversial lemurs made the Newbie guide!

The publication also addresses something I know I get questioned about all the time - the cost of groceries!

This list is pretty accurate.  Last night Michael went to the grocery store to get a few items I forgot on our last shopping trip and sure enough the bottle of wine ($7.00) was one of the least expensive items.  It was less than the milk he bought, and cheaper than the detergent!
Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday's Sunset

One of the things I missed most about the BVI was the beautiful sunset here...  This is the view from our balcony.

It was so quiet in the channel when Michael snapped this photo on Saturday.  I'm not sure where all of the boats disappeared to!  As I'm writing this, I can count at least a dozen boats in this same space.

The best views are from the west end of the island, where you can see the water swallow the sun.  We are determined to witness the sunset from Bananakeet one day.  It is a restaurant perched on the western tip of Tortola.  I can't believe we've never been!
Thursday, February 2, 2012

My "British" Husband

So, we've been back in the BVI for what - all of two weeks?  And already, my Tennessee-born-and-bred husband is speaking British English.  While he may not have the accent down, he is throwing around their colloquialisms as if he's is William and Harry's brother from another mother.

In addition to describing everything as "brilliant" and "gorgeous," he is swapping out some common words for their British-English counterparts.  Some real-life examples:

"You can go ahead to the car, I'm going to hit the loo before we head home."

"Our mozzie screens let in a nice breeze, so we don't need the aircon."

"Jonny and I are getting the internet sorted; looks like all we need is a new router."
(ROUTER = ROUTER, but Michael is saying "roo-ter" like rooster, without the s!)

"We need to see what types of nappies Rite Way is stocking..."

I'm sure there are more, but since I speak American English exclusively I am at a loss for other examples!  Ha!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

BVI Baby Boom

Michael and I are really fortunate to have returned to the island of Tortola in the middle of a baby boom!  Babies are everywhere!  There are so many other expats with new babies around the same age as Anna Drake, who just turned three months old!

A friend of mine told me about a play group organized by some expat women.  Anna Drake and I have been twice so far.  Here she is trying out one of their bumbo seats:

There were dozens of babies and toddlers there! 

It was really great to be able to talk with other moms, some new like me and others more experienced.  I have a feeling we will soon become "regulars" at play group, especially as Anna Drake becomes more playful herself!