When I think about it, three months is really such a short time. It’s really no surprise that my mind is just blown by all the experiences we’ve had. And even more daunting to think about are the many adventures ahead of us. Roughly ninety days, but to me, it feels like so much longer! Here are some of the things we’ve been up to.
We’ve been really enjoying ourselves and soaking this way of life in. As I’ve written about before, we did a LOT of research before moving here. We knew we would never make it if we came in blind. We had many expectations, one being this was going to be real life and all the things that go with REAL life – up’s, down’s, topsy turvy. Just in paradise, with a view, and added island challenges. These expectations are fulfilled daily with instances like our Jeep having some issues and is in the shop for the second time, a friend had an accident and we spent an evening in the ER getting stitches, our pets have had injuries and illnesses, we (all the islands) lost power one day for over 8 hours during a crazy storm.
A typical week day for us goes something like: I take him to work, and pick him up in the evenings. During the day I take care of the house/chores/stuff, catch up with friends back stateside. We run errands, go to the chiropractor, come home and make dinner, catch up with each other and maybe watch a little tv before heading to bed. On Monday nights we have taco night down at the beach. The Hideaway is nestled in clusters of palm trees just off the beach. The floor is mostly just sand, brightly colored paint peels off the railings and walls from being weathered by the sea and the seating is picnic tables or patio tables and chairs sprinkled in. A couple of pool tables hang out in the back flanked by a couch and book shelves with books waiting to be picked up and read at the side of the ocean. You pick a table, and sit with the first few friends you run into and as the night progresses, more friends arrive, gather and go. The tacos are always good, but never the same twice. The bartender pours heavy, the drinks are cold and the breeze makes it a perfect spot. On Friday nights, we go to our favorite restaurant, Thirteen, and sit in the lounge or bar, and enjoy the best pizza on island. Thirteen is in an unexpected little building. The long L shaped bar is positioned up front and wrapped in a metal, geometric patterned, screen over the open windows letting the wind spill through. Just beyond the bar is a cozy little lounge with a couple of high top tables and a living room like seating area, various little tables a glow with candles and clever throw pillows tossed around. The main dining room sits just behind the lounge with an open wall that faces north over the silvery blue ocean at dusk. The ambiance here is warm and inviting, the groovy ladies who run the show have become island family and the food is phenomenal. Much like taco night, there is a rotation of friends throughout the evening. These have become our rituals every week.
On the weekends, we go all out. After getting all the ‘adulting’ out of the way during the week, we are all ready to explore, relax and enjoy all the gifts of island living. A few weeks ago, we all decided to go explore more of STJ. Our island crew overloaded one of our SUV’s and hopped on the car barge/ferry. After we stopped at a local market to stock up on snacks and lunch, Sean sitting in the ‘trunk’ with all our gear, we were on our way around the winding roads and lush hills to Salt Pond Bay. We hiked for about 15 min weighed down with our gear and coolers, but we saw red hermit crabs, some really cool ruins and believe me, it was worth it. Salt Pond Bay had blazing hot white sand, calm, crystal blue water, tide pools and the snorkeling was fabulous.
Speaking of beautiful beaches, I finally made it to Jost Van Dyke and White Bay. Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you about the greatest day ever. Our friends, S2 and R2 invited us to join them and a few other friends on a lovely boat, CrewZenII, and spend the day visiting other islands in the BVI’s. This would be their last Caribbean boat adventure…for ‘awhile’, as they are heading back to the States. First stop was Sopper’s Hole Marina in Tortola for customs check in and stamp. This was a charming marina lined by rows of buildings painted in bright colors, contrasting shutters and roof tops, all decorated by white balconies and gingerbread trims. Tortola seems to me, to be gigantic. The lush green mountains just loom majestically over you as you come into port.
After getting those passport stamps, we headed out to a little islet formation called ‘The Indians’. When you see the formation from a distance, the rocks look similar to an Indian head dress. The snorkeling here was stunning. After jumping into sapphire blue, open ocean we didn’t even have to swim close to the Indians before seeing an entirely new world. There were so many kinds of fish, so many colors that just seemed unreal and coral in all shapes, sizes and colors. We saw squid too. We swam in a circle around the rocks, explored the different sights and some even swam through a cave about 10 feet deep. All that swimming in the wild ocean will make you HUNGRY, so we climbed back into the boat and headed to Cooper Island.
Cooper Island is quaint and the little resort there was so cute. We ate lunch, chatted and explored the shops for a few minutes. The sun was so hot that day. S2 and I had to play hopscotch down the path as our shoes were on the boat, and the boards were so hot they scorched our feet. We rewarded our survival of the hottest sidewalk ever with a giant salted caramel macaroon that sparkled.
Next stop was the Willy T at Norman Island. Basically it’s a double decker, pirate-y-ish, boat aka, floating bar. The back of the boat has platforms for you to ‘walk the plank’ or basically fling yourself off into the purely clear, turquoise water below. I had reservations about this, safety, fear of heights…but I climbed up, walked straight to the back of the boat and sailed off without a second thought, and then repeated this off the top level. It was incredibly fun. We all jumped and then quickly headed back out to sea for our last stop.
I don’t think anything could have made me happier as I sat with my legs swung over the side of the boat, sun on my face, with the wind through my hair and Jost Van Dyke on my horizon. I’ve dreamed of going to Jost Van Dyke for the longest time, to my extreme delight it did not disappoint. As we glided across the water to anchor, I could hardly contain my excitement and launched myself off of the boat and into the prettiest water I’ve seen so far. The white sand beach is dotted with little beach bars that you can wander in and out of, the most famous I suppose is The Soggy Dollar. We tried several of their ‘original’ painkiller cocktails, and yes they actually are the best I’ve had…and I may have tried quite a few these last few months. We sat in the sun and enjoyed each others company, saw a TV celebrity and we might have even joined a yacht party for a few stolen moments. I stepped away solo for just a minute to savor the moment and give gratitude for yet another dream/goal met. On the way back to STT, we stopped again, just in the open water and we all jumped in one last time, just because. This day was perfection.
I guess it’s fair to say that there is never a dull moment here. These past months have been full of adventure, growth and evolving. A lot of letting go too, and it feels good. We have had a lot of ‘firsts’. Our first visitor, one of my most favorite people on the planet traveled down and stayed with us for several days. I took her to all the favorite spots, we ate lots of mango and other good food, spent time just being quiet on an empty beach and laughed. So much laughter and reconnecting. She was so good for my soul.
We went on our first hike. We hit a trail that wound through a forest of mangrove trees and up a hill strewn with majestic palms, saw a ton of lizards and one small brown snake. We climbed all the way up, some of it was pretty steep, and then back down and cooled off at the nearby beach. Later that same day, we went to STJ and hiked again to a gorgeous little beach with a few amazing people. We let time slip away on that beach and later while snorkeling we saw a couple of stingrays, and that was my first time to snorkel with one.
Sadly, we’ve also had our first good bye. Usually, I am the one leaving friends and moving somewhere new so the sadness that came with this first ‘moving off island exit’ surprised me. S2 and R2 have headed home for ‘awhile’ and we enjoyed sharing time with them over the last couple of weeks. S2 was an inspiration to me by sharing their island stories on her blog, Islanders from Iowa. They both welcomed us here with open arms, taught us everything they knew about Island living and became cherished friends. Although I feel the vacancy left behind everyday, I’m forever grateful for them and looking forward to future adventures with them…soon-ish.
Time continues to drift on by just a little slower here, but still in the blink of an eye. I continue to be just as enchanted with this environment now as I was the first time I was here. We are blessed and surrounded by amazing people we consider family. I can’t see myself anywhere else right now, which is new to me, and I feel like I can simply just be. I’m looking forward to many more adventures, more guests and more incredible life lessons.
Love and happiness.