Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Virgin Gorda, May 2007

We are in the process of exploring the Caribbean, one island at a time. Since there are 7,000 islands, this might take a while. So far, we've done Mexico, St. John (U.S.Virgin Islands), St. Barts (French West Indies) and, most recently, Virgin Gorda (British Virgin Islands). On all our most recent trips we have done rental villas instead of hotels. We like the privacy and being able to shop locally and cook our own meals. We do go out to eat occasionally, but we do save a lot of money buying our own food. Plus it supports the local economy and we can rub elbows with the native people. We don't rush around to all the sights. We do one or two a day and come "home" and float in the pool or read.

Virgin Gorda is part of the British Virgin Islands. We flew into San Juan and took Air Sunshine (otherwise known as "Air Sometimes") to the island.

Our car rental and villa rental agents were waiting for us at the tiny airport and we were on our way to Open Deck, one of the Mahoe Bay Villas. We were driving on the "wrong" side of the road and the first time is always the most stressful, but Georg did great and we arrived at the villa in about 15 minutes. The rental agent showed us around and by 6:00 we were in the pool watching the sun go down.

Before the trip I had ordered a beginning supply of food to be delivered to the villa so that we wouldn't have to rush out for dinner, breakfast and lunch staples the first day. The villa had a huge gas grill and we barbequed steaks and baked potatoes for our first dinner on the island. We ate on the covered terrace next to the pool.

The next morning we had our first look at Mahoe Bay and the gorgeous white sand beach.

We wasted no time getting to the reason we came here in the first place: The Baths. They are an unusual geologic formation located on the southern end of the island which show evidence of the island's volcanic origins. Huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea. If you go early enough in the morning you have the entire place to yourself. Finding our way through the caves and grottoes in total silence was a spiritual experience as though the Lord himself had designed this monument to his awesome power.

One morning we drove out to Coppermine Point, where in the 1800's Cornish miners extracted ore and shipped it back to Wales. Rich veins of copper and other minerals are evident throughout the rocks on the point. This is a British National Park and it is against the law to take anything away from the site.

We began having problems with one of our cameras and decided we should take it to Tortola. There is a ferry that leaves from Spanish Town every few hours. Just as we arrived, the ferry had just left and we could see it in the distance. There were some guys on the dock, who, seeing us, ran toward the end of the dock shouting and waving their arms, to no avail. All we could do is head back to the car to try to kill a few hours and wait for the next one. No sooner had we loaded up the car and were ready to pull out, the guy from the dock came running up to our car saying we should hurry, the ferry was coming back for us. Where else in the world would that happen?!! As we boarded we did notice some not very happy looks from the other passengers.

Road Town on Tortola was filled with many shops that cater to tourists and Pussers, which is famous for it's rum.

Back at the villa, we noticed a profusion of fruit trees and decided to help ourselves to some fresh papaya for our breakfast the next morning. We found a long pole, probably placed there for that very purpose, and proceeded to knock down a couple of papaya from a very tall tree.

Virgin Gorda, like many of the Caribbean islands, is overrun with goats. They run in small herds alongside the road, balancing precariously on ledges with steep dropoffs. Other wildlife consisted mainly of lizards and gekkos and this very beautiful grasshopper, who planted him/herself permanently on our dining table outside.

One of our dining excusions took us to Little Dix Bay, founded by Lawrence Rockefeller and one of the most expensive resorts in the Caribbean. The setting was exquisite, but we wouldn't have traded it for our own little piece of paradise at Open Deck. Even though we weren't guests of the resort we were treated extremely well. We were seated at a front table with a view of the breathtaking bay ringed with perfect palms. Lunch was delicious. Really pricey, but delicious..


Sunday came, a week had gone by so quickly: we had lost track of time and it was time to return to reality. Yet we were ready to go home and get back to work. When we got to the Northwest counter at the San Juan airport, on the spur of the moment, I asked if they needed anyone to volunteer their seats. Yes, they did need our seats. So, it looked like we were going to spend one more night on vacation. Northwest put us up at the San Juan Towers for the night and paid for our dinner. In exchange they gave us vouchers for a free flight anywhere in the U.S., Mexico or Caribbean. The next morning, back at the Delta counter (this time it was Delta, because Northwest had booked us on their flight into Detroit), the scene repeated itself. Unbelievably, they were overbooked again. Georg and I looked at each other and volunteered again. Once again, they took our seats and we found ourselves with a second set of vouchers for $400 each toward a future flight and lunch vouchers. We were starting to feel like Tom Hanks in "The Terminal." We decided to splurge on a day pass for the Delta lounge and made ourselves at home for the next five hours. The lounge had an internet connection, TV, comfortable couches and all the drinks and refreshments we wanted. When it came time for our next flight we offered our seats again, but this time they weren't needed and we were finally on our way home.

Now, with two free tickets in hand, the question is, where do we go next? We already have plans to go to Vieques, Puerto Rico with our close friends in August. I am considering St. Kitts, Grenada, Guadeloupe as possibilities. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful world the Lord created. This photo is of the sunrise from our hotel window in San Juan.