Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I've written several times about specific restaurants that HB and I have visited, but nothing about the restaurant culture on island in general. What kind of experience can someone expect when they go out to dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) on Tortola?

There are essentially three types of dining establishments on the island: those that cater to visitors and expats; those that cater to West Indians; and bars. Government prohibits franchises, so all restaurants are pretty much one-offs, except Pusser's, which is a locally owned chain.

Service pretty much everywhere is slow and rarely customer-oriented, which can be a big difference for someone from the US or Canada, but is not unlike service I've encountered in Europe. The exception to this rule on Tortola at least is the Sugar Mill. 

Bars provide pretty much the sort of bar food you would expect, with burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and the occasional roti or pate thrown in. West Indian restaurants, unsurprisingly, offer a variety of West Indian cuisine, like ox tail stew, curried goat, ginger wine chicken, and shrimp creole. Entrees at bars and West Indian restaurants generally start around $10 and go up from there, with large pizzas typically costing around $20.

In sharp contrast are the restaurants that cater to visitors and expats, which provide a pretty standard rotation of continental fare, with the occasional French or Asian fusion flair. Sky Bar is perhaps an exception to this, as they specialize in teppanyaki and sushi. A visit to one of these restaurants is usually accompanied by a fair bit of sticker shock on my part, as vegetarian and chicken dishes usually start around $20. While often the quality of food is not much different from what you'd find at an Applebee's for half the price, there are a few of these restaurants that offer a better overall value through higher food quality or better service.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Springtime has definitely arrived in the British Virgin Islands. There are all sorts of new flowers appearing around our house. Things I have been completely unable to identify.

The tree on the west side of our house is covered in pink-orange blossoms.

These little purple blossoms, each about the size of a dime, were barely visible through the grass across the street.

The vines of these tiny white blooms wrap around all the trees and shrubs along the roadside, and give off a scent that puts me in mind violently of lilac. If they were shrubs, instead of vines, I could definitely see their relationship, as they look like Japanese lilacs, although they smell much much better.

Finally, there is this:

They make me think of aliens - perhaps something from The Fifth Element? - with their central blossom cone, flowing petals and extremely long stamens.

Whatever they are, something must find them delicious, as they'd all been neatly eaten the day after I took these pictures.

Monday, March 28, 2011


While our guests were here last weekend, we decided it would be nice to go on a daysail. After researching the myriad of companies and destinations available, we ended up going to Norman Island with Aristocat.

We had originally wanted to sail with White Squall II, the only monohull daysail charter available in the BVI. HB and I had gone on a monohull sail in Key West, and appreciated the way that the monohull really felt like sailing - with the speed, and the leaning to one side - in comparison to a catamaran.

Unfortunately, White Squall II was going to the Baths on the day we wanted to sail, and we were really set on going to Norman Island, the location of the best snorkeling in the BVI.

We boarded Aristocat around 9:30am at Soper' Hole Marina in West End. An hour's sail found us at our first stop Norman Island. We were given brief instructions on where the best snorkeling was around the boat's mooring, and then set loose on the reef. The variety and size of fish was comparable to what HB and I saw in Trunk Bay, and the reef was complemented by extensive sea grass beds - great locations for seeing turtles. While we didn't see turtles, we did see a moray eel, about 6 feet in length, as well as hundreds of jellyfish. Thankfully, Aristocat's crew had told us about the jellyfish and explained that they were of a non-stinging variety. Otherwise, I would've been quite frightened, and quickly out of the water.

After about an hour at our first stop, the boat motored over to another mooring nearby in the Bight, where the crew prepared lunch. HB snorkeled a bit while one of our friends and I tried out the sea kayak, quickly learning how difficult it can be to paddle against the current. We did ok though, managing to get the steering and power down pretty well by the time we returned to the boat. When we got back, HB made me very jealous by telling me he had seen a sea turtle while snorkeling.

Lunch made and eaten, we headed to our third and final snorkeling stop, the Indians.

No shallow reef this. The reef around these rock outcropping extends to 40 feet at places, and is incredibly healthy, with a wide variety of coral, and plentiful fish. We spotted another moray, but the currents and waves kicked up by the wind quickly tired us, and we headed back to the boat after about half an hour. The day concluded with a leisurely sail back to West End along the coast of Tortola. Definitely one of the best days I've had in the BVI so far.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Earth Hour

Last night, at precisely 9:00, we had a power outage. I was actually in the bathroom at the time, and initially thought that the bathroom bulb had just given up the ghost, but when I emerged, it was to find the entire house in complete darkness.

I initially attributed the lack of energy to a standard power outage -- perhaps a transformer had blown, or a line had fallen. Power outages aren't exactly uncommon in the BVI, but when HB and I went out on the porch to ascertain the extent of this particular outage, we realized that the entire island was without power. Seeing the blackness spreading out in all directions, we also recognized that neither of us had heard a transformer pop, or any of the other sounds generally associated with a power outage. It had, in fact, happened in complete silence.

That's when I remembered that Earth Hour was being celebrated throughout the world on March 26th. In an effort to raise awareness regarding climate change, the organizers of Earth Hour request that everyone turn off all non-essential electrics at 8:30pm local time for one hour. This year, organizers were also asking that people extend Earth Hour for longer than one hour, in order to pay homage to the recent earthquake in Japan.

Our lights came back on at 10:30pm. Exactly ninety minutes after the whole island had been bathed in darkness, we all were returned to the electrical age. There was no announcement that the BVI would be participating in Earth Hour as a whole - no articles in the paper or anything like. And perhaps I am giving BVI Electric too much credit; after all, our outage didn't happen until 9:00, and Earth Hour was supposed to start at 8:30. But I like to think this was the territory's way of participating in this global event.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Low Tide

The tide has been very low lately, exposing the rocky bottom of the sea near the coastline.

The bare coral and rock reminds me a bit of photos I've seen of the Bay of Fundy at low tide. I know that tides are generally lower in the spring. Or at least, that was the case in Florida.

Shelling is best in late March and early April because of the low tides. I have a feeling that the recent perigee-syzygy moon is making for unusually low tides right now, though, even for spring.

The drastic difference can be noted in the following pictures, taken from roughly the same spot and around the same time of day, although the angles are a little different. The first was taken on the 14th of February

While this was taken on the 25th of March:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shipping cont.

A commenter asked: Why not get a PO Box in St. John?

We tried to get a PO box in St. Thomas and were told at the post office that we had to have a St. Thomas address to get a St. Thomas PO Box. This is definitely untrue, as we know others with USVI PO boxes. There are also Tortola-based services that will open a USVI PO box for you.

We may give it another try in St. John, but there's still a question of cost. Ferry ticket is $45 round trip, plus $5 departure tax for leaving the BVI, and we would have to pay duty unless we got a generous customs agent at the West End ferry terminal on our return. Still, many companies don't ship to the USVI either, although it would definitely open up our options.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


We've recently been experimenting with new ways of getting things to Tortola. My mom has been kind enough to forward our mail every three weeks or so to the BVI PO Box for HB's work, but the time lag combined with the cost has made this impractical. We also want to be able to order things online, like clothing, and have them actually make it to the BVI. The BVI post is not reliable enough for this, and many companies won't ship to the BVI anyway.

So we recently opened an account with Tortola Express. For an annual subscription fee of  $75, Tortola Express, working with Aeropost, provides you with a shipping address and P.O. Box in Miami, where you can have packages and mail sent. They then fly everything to the BVI twice a week, and send you an e-mail or text message to let you know when your items have arrived. Additional shipping charges apply based only on the weight of the items, rather than on quantity or size.

We tested the whole system by ordering some sheets from Target, figuring we could probably get them cheaper that way, than paying the $80 minimum a queen-sized sheet set commands at a department store on island. We were wrong. After paying for shipping the sheets from Target to Miami, then from Miami to Tortola, plus the 20% duty imposed on import of household items (and the BVI also charges duty on shipping costs), we probably would have been better off buying sheets here.

Shipping costs for mail are less than for packaged goods, and the convenience of receiving our mail on a more regular basis makes it a worthwhile expense. But all the extra hassle and cost of using Tortola Express for online ordering means we'll be buying things here when possible, and only using Tortola Express for things we absolutely can't get here and have to have - like K-cups for our Keurig coffeemaker

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fresh Eyes

I completely forgot about posting here yesterday. We went on a daysail with our guests, and it didn't occur to me to write a post the night before and schedule it to post. That's the thing about having guests, it kind of turns your world a little topsy-turvy for a while.

But our guests leave today, and I am sad to see them go. It was wonderful to be able to see the BVI with fresh eyes for a while, since even after only seven months, I know there are things I've grown accustomed to that may still excite or be a bit of a shock for newcomers or visitors. I gained new appreciation for the vast natural beauty and beaches that are literally right outside my front door, while becoming painfully aware again of the high price of nearly everything on island.

Their visit also made me rather homesick, as one of the few things we will probably never be able to have here is family, or friends so long-standing as those who visited. While I slowly get back into the slow routine of our life here, I find myself longing for the companionship and comfort of the people who still make Colorado home.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Photo Rule

The last few days have seemed to prove to me that the most interesting things happen when you don't have a camera. As we were getting ready to go to the beach on Friday, I was trying to get the smaller, more beach-safe camera to work, but failing.

After a little while, I figured we were just going to Brewer's Bay, so there wouldn't be a whole lot to take pictures of, and I could do without the camera. We climbed into the car, and HB explicated the photo rule: "you know, if you go without a camera, there will be all sorts of amazing things that happen, but if you go with the camera, it will just be another regular day."

The minute we stepped, camera-less, onto the beach, we noticed the cows grazing on the beachside foliage, something I would love to have a photo of. We were also importuned by a stray dog who picked up a rock from the beach and brought it to us, dropping it at our feet and begging to play fetch.

We tossed the stone around for the dog, who we dubbed Roxie, for easily half an hour, occasionally losing it in the surf. Not only was I impressed by her willingness to carry this heavy stone in her mouth, but I was bemused by the fact that the only rock she would actually fetch was the original one she had picked up -- no other rock would do. But I don't have a single photo to remember this lovely experience.

Today, I am at work, and seeing a remarkable variety of fauna I've never seen on the grounds before: a plethora of tree snails near the laundry, enjoying the rain; a hermit crab making his way down the steps towards the sea. Of course I am without a camera. I left it at home in case HB wanted to use it during outings today with our visitors.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Poolside Dining

We have been honored over the last two days with our first guests on Tortola. Some friends of ours arrived on Thursday, and it's been a blast spending time with them and showing them the island. We went to Bananakeet happy hour last night, for the sunset and the live music.

Unfortunately, we had lingered over dinner just a little too long and arrived a few minutes late for the sunset.

But we still sat and enjoyed the views, watching the last bits of color drain from the sky and the silver moonlight fill it.

As we chatted and relaxed, we started noticing bats swooping around about ten yards in front of us, enjoying a feast of insects on the hillside. A few of them passed quite close, but we weren't very alarmed because the only ones we could see were fairly small - maybe six or seven inches wingtip to wingtip - until a cry from a woman behind us alerted us to the bat that was skimming the insects off the pool.

We watched as a very large bat, maybe 2 feet in wingspan, circled the top of the pool over and over again, his wings looking white as the lights shone through the translucent membranes. After ten or twelve revolutions, he flew out back towards the ocean again, not giving much headroom to the diners sitting in his path. Over the course of the next twenty minutes, the same bat came back to enjoy his poolside dinner maybe five or six more times, each time coming closer and closer to the heads of the people eating and drinking. A particularly low pass made me ridiculously uncomfortable, as HB felt the air currents from the wings ruffle his hair, and so we made a hasty retreat, a single bat making a disappointed evening into a night to remember.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I hadn't really anticipated learning to think in different measurement systems when moving to the BVI. For some reason I just assumed that the Imperial system would be used for pretty much everything, as we are speaking of the British Virgin Islands, after all. Nonetheless, what is actually in place is something rather a hybrid of the English system and the metric system.

Gas is in gallons, but speedometers are generally in kilometers per hour, unless the vehicle in question is built to US specifications. Distances aren't really measured in miles or kilometers either one: time is a more useful metric, as two kilometers on the mountain roads take considerably longer than two kilometers of coastal driving. Unless the distances are over sea, and then certainly nautical miles are employed. Heights of things like mountains (elevations, really) are noted in meters, but the heights of people are definitely given in feet and inches. 

Similarly, people weigh in pounds, not kilograms or stone, and shipping prices are calculated by the pound. Many goods, though, are marked in kilograms, probably a result of being imported from the more metric-friendly South America.

It is a 12-hour clock here, not the 24-hour version common in Europe and military organizations the world over; perhaps since the BVI has no military of its own, it reckoned the 12 hour clock was sufficient.

I have come to the understanding that the US is the only place in the world that still employs Fahrenheit, which I believe is a far better system for relaying weather information, although its application to science and cooking may be limited. The BVI, of course, uses Celsius regardless.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Uncertain of the quality or cost of medical care we would encounter in the BVIs, HB and I made a point of going to the doctor and addressing all pending medical issues before we left the States. While HB has his annual physical and contemplated the possibility of knee surgery, I prioritized the ophthalmologist. I also had my annual physical in order to ensure I would be able to move with an adequate supply of birth control pills - enough to last until I could figure out how to resupply here.

Not sure where to begin, I called the clinic that my US insurance listed as "in network". I explained to the person that answered that I needed to renew my birth control prescription, but did not have a written prescription from my doctor. I was promptly transferred to the pharmacy where, after repeating my story, I was told to bring my current birth control pills in for the pharmacist to look at.

Upon following these instructions, the pharmacist informed me that she could order the same pills I was using from her supplier in the States for around $30 per month, or she could provide me with a generic version from Germany, which would be $5.75 for three months' supply. Making an easy economy-based decision, I walked out of the pharmacy with three months' supply of the generic version of my birth control pill, having never seen a doctor, or presented a written prescription. After all the day-to-day things that have been made more difficult by moving to the BVI (showering, using the internet), it was nice to finally have something simplified.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Go Go Go Stop

It is well into the afternoon and I just now remembered that, oh yeah, I have to write that blog thingy. I have been a bit spacey lately, probably because I'm a bit overwhelmed with everything going on in my life. I was given the compliment(?) of additional duties at work that have been taking me out of the office quite a bit more. I'm still trying to incorporate them into my day, and balance them with the duties I had before.

I've also taken a second job doing bookkeeping on a very limited part time basis, but as it's all internet-based, and we're still occasionally fighting with our home internet, the new job has proved to be more work logistically than I had originally thought.

Along with all this, HB and I are anticipating our first visitors on Thursday. While we are ridiculously excited and enthusiastic, we have also been looking at our house through the eyes of someone unaccustomed to life on Tortola, and realizing we have a lot of work to do. HB is off for Commonwealth Day today, and so thankfully is putting the finishing touches on the house, car and dog. Still, the dogs don't stop shedding and the anoles don't stop leaving droppings in the bathroom, so there will be continual cleanup until our friends arrive.

It's easy for me to get wrapped up in work and busyness and forget about the beautiful place that I live. Despite all the goings-on, HB and I still found time to go the beach yesterday for a late afternoon swim - a wonderful moment of pause after a busy workday.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tortola, Ho! Part 5a: Flying with Pets

Ready to go in July, we had been surprised by the need for a medical certificate for HB, but by early August we had his test results back, and although we were still waiting on permits for the dogs, we decided it was time for HB to depart. Getting a person and his baggage on a plane is not a big deal; getting the dogs from Punta Gorda to Tortola was a bit more involved.

We worked with an IPATA (Independent Pet and Animal Transport Association) certified company, the Transpetters, to help us coordinate the flights. Although it was a bit costly, I'm really glad we worked with them, as they helped us navigate all the details of moving dogs by plane.

There are really three options for flying with dogs: 1) take them as carry-on luggage; 2) take them as checked luggage; 3) ship them as cargo. Only dogs that can fit in a carrier that in turn fits under the seat in front of you may be taken as carry-on luggage, so this was not an option for Flash and Roscoe. In order to take dogs as checked luggage, an owner or handler must be on the flight the dogs are on. As we were booking dog flights and my flight with only a few weeks' notice,the Transpetters recommended we ship the dogs as cargo, in order to not have to try to coordinate flights for both of us.

Additionally, most airlines will not allow pets to fly as checked luggage or as cargo when the forecast temperature for the departure or arrival airport is higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Additional restrictions are applied to specific breeds, like pugs or certain long-haired dogs. Since we were moving in mid-August from Florida to the Caribbean, this created a major problem. We were less than a week from our scheduled departure date when the airline the Transpetters had been working with told us they couldn't transport Roscoe and Flash because of these restrictions.

Scrambling at the last minute, the Transpetters were able to find new flights for the dogs, but they would have to spend the night in Atlanta. In the wake of recent news coverage of dogs being lost or dying while being transported by commercial airlines, this twist made HB and me very nervous. After several long conversations with the Transpetters, and weighing all possible options, including driving the dogs to Atlanta myself, we decided the easiest thing for the dogs would be the overnight stay at airline HQ, so on August 17, I said goodbye to Roscoe and Flash and crossed my fingers that I would see them in St. Thomas the next day.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The most reliable way to identify a West Indian woman, in contrast to a woman from another part of the world, is by her choice of leisure footwear.

For the West Indian woman, there is only one type of shoe to wear during leisure time, and it is the type modeled in the photo to the left: a thin-soled, thong sandal with a t-strap connected to an ankle strap.

Within this type, there is room for infinite variation. The example above has beads along the t-strap and silver faux-reptile skin on the remaining straps. Some are simple black or brown leather numbers. HB reported that a coworker of his recently wore a version with neon pink leather straps, and pink feathers adorning the t-strap. Whatever embellishments or decoration they may contain, though, the shape is the same.

Watching the feet of passersby in Road Town will instantly reveal to you the women that hail from the Caribbean. Flip-flops and other types of sandals are for Europeans, or Americans. Ask anyone wearing the t-strap sandal pictured where she was born, and it will inevitably be the name of an island - St. Lucia, Dominica, Barbados.

I have to admit that the feet in these sandals generally look lovely. They seem to be the perfect thing to show off a recent pedicure. For comfort, though, I'll take my thick-soled Reef flip-flops any day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Food Prices

In the past, I've alluded to how the BVI has much higher grocery prices than the United States, largely because nearly everything is imported, even new-world and tropical produce that could easily be grown on island, like bell peppers, tomatoes, and mangoes. Before moving, HB and I had expected our grocery budget to increase by about 20-30%, as we were prepared for the fact that cost of living was going to be higher in Road Town than in Punta Gorda. In point of fact, our grocery budget has increased by about 50-60%.

To give a more specific idea on the price of groceries, here are the prices of some common items from my most recent shopping trip:

Ground beef (unknown lean/fat ratio - estimate 80/20) - $5.85 per lb
Salmon filet, 12 oz - $16.89
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (original) - $3.05
Tostitos tortilla chips - $4.10
Kellogg's corn flakes (18 oz) - $7.25
Tropicana orange juice (64oz) - $7.09
MacArthur 2% Milk (1/2 gal) - $6.35
Yellow onions - $1.09 per lb
Green bell peppers - $2.75 per lb
Bananas - $0.89 per lb
Sliced Bread (Holsum brand white) - $4.09
Pedigree Dog Food (20 lb) - $23.59 (I know I paid $9.99 for this at Wal-mart)

Knowing where to buy which items can definitely save money over the long run.
I tend to shop almost exclusively at Riteway because I've always been a one-stop shopper, regardless of money saving opportunities, and Riteway has the best overall selection of any store in town. Plus, with their wholesale warehouse right next door, I can find better deals on things I buy in quantity.
Bobby's definitely offers some deals, especially on refrigerated items it seems, and usually has a good selection of produce.
I generally avoid OneMart because they tend to have the highest prices, especially on non-grocery items, and I rarely find what I'm looking for there anyway, but since they have a location in Huntum's Ghut, it's a convenient stop for last-minute items on the way home.
Supa Valu's location in town is pretty small, but they have excellent deals on frozen meat and seafood, along with good selection, so it's a good place to try if you're looking for protein variety.
I have yet to visit Ample Hamper because I have no idea where it is, but I hear that it's good for specialty products that you mightn't be able to find elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cruz Bay Color

A quick post today as work is awfully busy. A few photos from wandering around Cruz Bay, St. John:

Still fascinated by shutters and shutter stops in the islands.

OK, so that one is actually from the ferry dock at West End on Tortola, before leaving for St. John, but colorful nonetheless.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Virgin Islands National Park

Covering around 60% of the landmass of St. John, together with much of the surrounding coastal waters, is Virgin Islands National Park, which seeks to preserve the coral reefs and tropical forests found in this part of the world. After checking out the visitor center, HB and I explored a small corner of it, taking the trail from Cruz Bay to Caneel Bay on Friday.

I was struck by how young the forest seemed; few trees were more than a foot in diameter. HB, who had actually paid attention at the visitor center, explained that the forest on St. John is all second-growth, since most of the island was leveled for sugar cane plantations during the 18th century.

Being second growth forest, much of the flora is non-native, imported from elsewhere in the 18th and 19th centuries. If I've properly identified it, this gumbo limbo tree is actually native to these parts. In the Florida Keys, the gumbo limbo is referred to as the "tourist tree" since its peeling red bark calls to mind the peeling red skin of tourists who spend too much time in the sun.

The trail we took was maybe a mile in length, but there was plenty to keep us interested. We saw a wild mongoose, but he was too fast for my slow camera reflexes. Mongeese were brought to the US Virgin Islands to keep the rat population in check, but as with elsewhere, feasted on the local bird population instead. The creepy-crawly pictured above was about as big around as my index finger, and seemed to be finding a new home in the hole on this tree.

The variety of fungi on the larger trees in the forest made me hungry. Wonder if any of them were edible and delicious?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Evening Ferry

For me, the most enjoyable part of our trip to St. John on Friday was the ferry ride back -- not because I was eager to put an end to the day, but because the ride itself was so relaxing and enjoyable. The ferry boat is fairly open air, with a completely open upper deck, and a roofed lower deck with window cut-outs, allowing passengers to enjoy the sea breeze.

I found myself fascinated with the view out the back of the boat. The interplay of water, light, and cloud kept me taking photos for the entire 40-minute ride.

The ride was made more magical by the frigate bird that followed our progress, sailing in the wind wake just about the bow of the boat.

Finally, as we pulled into the ferry dock at West End on Tortola, we saw this magnificent yacht, seemingly of another era, with vintage details like a Cunard-style smokestack, and plenty of wood trim.

It was a perfect end to an imperfect, but lovely, day.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Don't Make Plans

HB and I relearned a valuable lesson about life in the BVI yesterday - the best-laid plans are guaranteed to go awry.

We had decided to use HB's day off to take a day trip to St. John, giving us the opportunity to get off island and try some new things. On Wednesday, we discussed how we would take the ferry in the morning, rent a vehicle, hike in the Virgin Islands National Park, check out some of the beaches, and spend the afternoon limin' at one or two of the restaurants in Cruz Bay.

We awoke on Friday to beautiful weather in Tortola, and made our way to West End Ferry dock for the 9:15 ferry to St. John. At 10:15, we finally boarded the ferry, which was only operating on one engine, and therefore slowly. As we approached St. John, we noticed gray clouds moving in. High season being in full swing meant there was nary a jeep available for rental, so we took a brief hike in the park, carrying all our snorkel gear that we had planned on leaving in the rental car.

The skies opened just at the end of our hike, and we were forced to shelter from the rain in a phone booth at Caneel Bay Resort. Once the rain let up, the skies cleared a bit so we took a taxi to Trunk Bay Beach. By the time we changed and stowed our stuff in the lockers, the clouds had returned. We snorkeled and swam for about 45 minutes, but the water was chilly (about 77 degrees) from the rain earlier in the day, and with no sun to warm me, I wasn't able to stay in much longer than that.

As we finished changing back into our street clothes, the downpour started again. I wanted to wait it out to take pictures of the beach, but after twenty minutes we gave up and went to get a taxi. Perhaps the worst part of the day was waiting 45 minutes for the taxi driver to decide he had enough fares to actually make the trip into town. A typical taxi can hold up to 18 people, and our driver didn't want to depart until he had at least 12. Even when HB offered to pay him extra to take just the two of us, the driver insisted on waiting.

Despite everything that seemed to go wrong, HB and I still had a pleasant trip, made better by the fact that the sun finally came out around 3:00, and the excellent margaritas we enjoyed before returning to Tortola. Still, I am certain in my belief that had we headed to St. John with no expectations and no plans, everything would have proceeded swimmingly.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sleeping Sound(ly)

When I wrote this post back in November about waking up in the BVI, I never imagined a night on Tortola without the constant noise of the Bo Peep frogs. But in the intervening months, as the nights have gotten cooler, and drier, the frog noise has nearly stopped. On the rare nights that it is rainy but not windy, I do still hear a few croaks from the hardier souls, but overall, the nights have been much quieter lately.

The mornings, on the other hand, have been a bit louder, as two or three roosters have moved into our neighborhood, which formerly housed none. The continual crowing of the roosters was initially hard to ignore. The alarm clock would sound needlessly in the mornings, as HB and I would already have been awake for an hour, tossing and turning, unsuccessfully willing the roosters to be quiet.

After a few months of perpetual cock calls, though, I find it is becoming easier and easier to sleep through their morning revelry, and it's been several days now that I've slept soundly until the alarm went off. I am surprised to discover that six months in the BVI has cured me of the light sleeping that has plagued me for the last six years.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Red Rock Restaurant

When we were looking for a place to watch the football games back in September, I read somewhere that Red Rock Restaurant and Bar was a good option. A glance at the menu on the website though made us reconsider the likelihood of its nature as a sports bar. The menu did, though, pique our interest in dining there.

So last Friday, as an end to our day together, HB and I headed to East End to check it out. The location of the Red Rock, waterfront on Penn's Landing, overlooking Fat Hogs' Bay is hard to beat. Even though the restaurant looks south, the colors of the sunset on the water, clouds and mangrove made for impressive views that almost make it as good as Bananakeet for sunset dining.

Our fresh lobster ravioli appetizer was good, well-presented with excellent light Italian flavors, although the lobster itself was a little overwhelmed by the basil. My Veal Escalope was a pleasing, upscale version of jager schnitzel, but HB's Crispy Seared Mango Prawn was one of the best entrees I've had on island.

The only downside to the Red Rock for us is its location in East End, about a 20 minute drive from the house over roads we aren't familiar with. Despite this, I'm sure HB and I will be eating at Red Rock again.

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