Tuesday, February 16, 2016

St. Martin --> British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Day 40

I slept on a boat!  I mean I actually slept, on a boat, and I didn't get sick!  It's a miracle.  Maybe I'm turning the corner with this whole motion sickness thing.  I've been on so many tiny planes and ferries and now a sailboat, and I haven't gotten that sick yet!  I mean, I've felt sick, but I haven't thrown up.  So, progress.

I woke up several times in the night.  It's not quiet sleeping on a boat.  And it started pouring rain and got windy, so I woke up to that and some rocking...but I slept in until my alarm went off at 8:30, which was later than I thought I would sleep in, especially considering how bright it was.  The sun was right in my eyes when I woke up.  I don't know how I was still sleeping.

Laura and I got up and threw the same clothes on we had last night, and basically just left the boat.  Didn't spend too much time on it.  We took the dinghy back to the dock, and then drove back to Olivier's house.  That's where all my stuff was, and it's just easier to get ready there.  The shower on the boat is outside, and I didn't want to use there water and stuff.

I grabbed some croissants for us down at the bakery below his flat, we had breakfast, I showered, unpacked, repacked - the same routine.  Charged my phone, checked my emails...and then Laura drove me back to the airport.  I had an 11:30 flight to Beef Island in the British Virgin Islands to catch.

It rained on the drive there, and when the rain stopped, there was absolutely the most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen.  EVER.  It was a full, bright rainbow just above the water and boats, and then another smaller, fainter rainbow up above it!  I think I took at least 20 pictures of it.  I just love rainbows!

We got to the airport in perfect time - an hour early.  I'm over all the sitting at airport time.  Two hours is too long for these airports.  I don't care if it is technically an "international" flight.  I can make it through security and immigration and everything in no time.  And I did, just fine.

I was at my gate at 11:15...and no plane and no update.  Freaking LIAT!  They're always late.  Laura and Rinaldo laughed when I told them I was on a LIAT flight today.  And Jenifer (couch surfing host in BVI) said they joke that LIAT stands for "Leave Island Any Time." They're cheap, but man, they're awful...

It gave me time to update the blog, but the wifi all around here hasn't been strong enough to upload any pictures.  And I'm not publishing a post with no pictures! I've been keeping up with all the writing though for the most part.

We finally took off around 12:30 -- only an hour late, which is pretty good considering some of the other delays I've had with them.

There was one American-looking girl, also in ratty jean shorts like me, who was at the boarding gate. We exchanged smiles but I didn't talk to her.  She boarded the plane right behind me, and low and behold, her seat was right next to mine!  Which was weird considering the flight wasn't full, but I was happy she was the one I had to sit by!

Brandy Banman, from Winnipeg Canada, but living in Mallorca (like Rinaldo!) and is a boat hand traveling around and working on boats/yachts!  She just quit / got fired over the weekend so was heading to BVI to stay with a friend.  Such a cool girl -- she's been all over the world scuba diving and working/living on boats!  She told me all kind of cool things to do on the islands and where the best dive spots are in the world (western Australia, not Great Barrier Reef...and Micronesia is best place in the world!)  So anyways, we chatted the whole time and I got her number.  Hopefully we can hang out before I leave these islands!

So we landed late, and she rushed me to the front of the line for Immigration because she said they are "slow as F" here.  And she was right.  Goodness, they took forever.  She was really getting questioned.  And the lady finally got up and left her standing there and took her passport.  And then I saw them both leave and they took her in to an Immigration office!  HA - that can't be good.  They questioned me, too, but I went to a guy and just flirted with him and got right through.  I didn't have an onward ticket OR the address for where I was staying.  He thought about it for awhile and was like, "You really don't know when you're leaving the island?"  "You have no idea where you're staying?"  But he was a young guy and it was so easy to make him laugh -- so I got through with a stamp.  Brandy, however, didn't have such good luck with the old lady she went to.  They kept her passport until she buys an onward ticket and then she can come back and get it from the airport when she has proof she is leaving!  That's crazy!

My luck, however, ran out when I tried to rent a car.  Every single rental car was booked!  They were all so helpful and nice and called all kind of places, but no luck.  Busy season!  The Avis guy even connected me to his wifi because the airport wifi sucked.  So I messaged Jenifer, and hopped in a taxi with an old couple from up-state New York to head in to Road Town - the main town on the island.  They were so nice and are travelers, too.  They thought I was a little crazy for doing what I do on my own, but enjoyed some of my stories. And they told me all about St. John (where I"m going next) and where to do and what bars I had to go to.  They've been going there for 20 years!  I was happy to meet them and get some good advice!

The views on the way to Road Town were fantastic.  Another gorgeous island.  And the taxi dropped me off right where Jenifer told him to.  She was upstairs waiting on the balcony for me.  This tiny little Philipino girl who makes me look like a giant when I'm next to her!  Seriously, she comes up to about my shoulders!

She left work to help me find a rental car.  She said she has Philipino friends who rent cars, and sure enough, they had one I can pick up tomorrow morning!  She took me grocery shopping at a nice market, and I loaded up on fruits and veggies.  So happy to have some good foods again.  I ate out a lot in St. Martin, Anguilla, and Saba, so I'm ready for some healthy food again. And she has a blender! Maybe I will actually make a green smoothie for breakfast.  (Maybe.)

After groceries, we went to the cruise ship port, where they were having the grand opening of the Tortola Pier Park.  There were flags and music and most of the shops were open and had sales.  It was fun to walk around and see it all, but it was pretty touristy.  I mean, it's the first and last place all of the tourists will see on the island.

There was a Disney cruise ship in port, and man, it looked fantastic.  Disneyland / Disneyworld are still two of the most fun places I've been.  It's impossible to not be happy there, and apparently it's impossible to not be happy on one of their cruises, too.  Everyone was just beaming and looked so happy.  I've talked to a few people who have been on them before and it sounds amazing.  There was practically an amusement park on the top of the boat!  Some day, if I have kids, I am taking them on that cruise!!

Jenifer still had some work to do, and I always have research and blog updating to do on the internet when I have down time, so I went wither her back to her office.  She is an accountant, too!  It was so fun to sit down at her little desk and see balance sheets and statements.  I felt like I was back at my office, and oddly enough, I liked it!  I hate to say it, but I do miss a little bit of structure in my life.  Like something to do every day, already lined up.  Not to say I don't love traveling!  But doing it for the rest of my life is not what I would want.  I just need to find a good balance.  Work a few months, travel a few months.  Is that possible?? ;)

We stayed there around an hour while she finished up, and I caught up with some people on wifi.  (Brandy, girl from airport, my mom, my sister, some friends....) Then we went back down to the Pier Park to see if anything else was going on.  I guess it was like an exciting thing for locals here.  They spent a lot of money on the place.

But there was still nothing.  I mean there was some sort of ceremony going on, but they were all just talking.  So we walked around and I decided to try on a cute skirt I saw when we were there earlier.  It was $40 and I thought too expensive, but it was calling my name.  So I tried it on and was hooked.  Had to have it.  It's my color and so different!  It kind of wraps up and around and is short in the front and long on one side.


I now own it. I wore it out of the store, and the funniest thing happened.  I had my old ratty jean shorts up on the counter when I was checking out and asked them to put them in a bag (instead of the skirt I had on) and some girl came up and asked me where I found the jean shorts.  She wanted them!  HA!  I told her I brought them from home and didn't just purchase them - but it was so funny!  They're just an old pair of jeans I cut off before I left, and I wear them about every other day down here!  But they're certainly not nice!

We finally went out for dinner in Road Town.  We actually went to her gym/club place where she plays tennis, called Tortola Sports Club.  We had some entertainment for dinner - some people playing tennis - and the food was so so good!  I had a quinoa spinach salad for an appetizer and then grilled mahi mahi for dinner.  I needed some healthy food finally!

And during our conversations at dinner I was talking about planning and my next location, and Jenifer smiled and said, "Well you can stay here with me as long as you want!"  That's what you always hope to hear.  She is so kind and has completely opened her home to me.

She knows so many people around here.  Well, all the Philipinos anyways.  We ran in to several at the Pier Park and there was a radiologist - the only one on the island, I guess - who was eating by himself at the Sports Club, so she invited him to come sit with us.  He was very interesting to talk to - he's been a lot of places in the US and internationally!

After dinner, we went out to her apartment in West End (name of town but also at the west end of the island).  It was about a 20 minute drive along a road that followed the coast.  I wonder if people die there driving off the road?  I mean the ocean is literally RIGHT there, and the mountain is on the other side.  It was dark, but I bet it's scary during the day!  Anyways, she has a nice, spacious apartment, and thankfully it's on the bottom floor.  I'm over carrying my suitcase up stairs.  I have a sofa couch for the night, with sheets and pillows - and a clean towel.  Bottled water, wifi, a fan...and nail polish!

She had a bag laying out on the table when I got there and I just had to ask if I could use it.  My toenails are in what might be the worst shape they've ever been in.  Well, my feet in general, but my toenails - yikes.  Five weeks of sun and sand and no nail polish is bad news.

So off with the old and ... not on with the new, haha.  I was just too tired to deal with it tonight so maybe tomorrow I will have painted toenails again.  But for now -- just bed.  At 9pm!  I hope Jenifer wasn't expecting an exciting night owl...because I like my sleep! ;)

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