A Travellerspoint blog

PUERTO RICO!

Shopping, sight-seeing & an awesome kayak adventure

We were literally counting down the days until Puerto Rico. At last, a place for Ash to shop and lots of adventures available to satisfy Tash. It did not disappoint!
TASHLEY IN PUERTO RICO

TASHLEY IN PUERTO RICO

Leaving Tortola was not the easiest task. When going through security, we had not paid departure tax (yep, they charge that here…ridiculous) so had to leave the queue, pay and rejoin. Tash was reprimanded as she went over the yellow line and it is strictly single file. After finally getting through security, we were told we were both subject to a “random” baggage check so we had to wait 30 minutes while they opened our suitcases and searched. At this stage, everyone was boarding so we quickly joined the queue but in typical BVI style, still waited. Whilst waiting, Ash was subject to another search on her hand luggage. Turns out the security guard recognized her from Bomba Shack! We finally walked along the tarmac to enter the plane. Loving our camera, we tried to take a photo and got reprimanded again. We were quite relieved to get on the plane and in the air. It was an amazing flight flying over all of the islands and upon flying over Puerto Rico, we realized how big the place actually is. The flight is only 30minutes so an ideal getaway.
Got into Puerto Rico (or PR as it is commonly referred to) and as we were leaving baggage collection, we saw our long lost red and yellow friend, McDonalds. This was our first stop, before even leaving the airport. YUM!
MCDS - FINALLY

MCDS - FINALLY

A quick shuttle ride to the rental car and we were on our way. Driving on the wrong side of the road (i.e. the right) turned out to be a slight challenge initially and we both had incidents where we were driving happily on the left side of the road for a while. Thank goodness we got a GPS as the roads are not the easiest to navigate, especially when the signs are in Spanish. And after not having proper roads, never mind highways here in Tola, it was a slight change. We saw lots of great sights and shops along our way and our second stop before even reaching the hotel was one of our (especially Tash’s ) favourite stores in PR – Walgreens, a big discount pharmacy…ah the Dischem of PR. Spent a good while in here stocking up on all the good things that do not find their way to Tortola.
We finally got to the hotel round 10pm. Amazing entrance hall which turned out to be a bit deceiving but the location was great. Had a quick shower and change and went exploring. Had a great dinner which made us realize how expensive Tortola is. Nice cocktails and walked around checking out a few of the other local spots.

OUT FOR A DINNER DATE

OUT FOR A DINNER DATE


MOJITOS

MOJITOS

On Saturday morning, we walked around Condado (where we stayed) in pursuit of a breakfast spot. We settled on Dunkin Donuts – we know why Americans are so big but a chocolate donut was a great start to the day!

DUNKIN DONUTS

DUNKIN DONUTS


DUNKIN DONUTS

DUNKIN DONUTS

We then went to explore the infamous Old San Juan. Our first stop was Fort Cristobal which was built by the Spanish to protect Puerto Rico from the Americans and Brits. Puerto Rico was a central harbor from the North and the South, and was therefore a much desired territory as it was the gateway to the carribean. It was built over 150 years and this made us realize the olden days must have been boring with the men fighting or building forts and no women! We saw all of their hidden hideouts and tunnels and went into the dungeon where the Captain of a Spanish ship was kept until being executed and he had drawn some ships on the walls – Tash said she would have drawn pretty flowers instead. It was a great sight and learning some history and seeing the historic sights are definitely more interesting when it is surrounded by a beautiful blue sea.

TASH AND A SOLDIER

TASH AND A SOLDIER


ASH IN SPIRAL STAIRCASE

ASH IN SPIRAL STAIRCASE

We then went into Old San Juan and after searching everywhere for parking, we went and got a much needed drink in the coolest glasses. We walked around the town and acted like real tourists going into every souvenir shop – it is a really pretty place. Went back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool and then it was off to Las Americas – the biggest shopping mall in the Caribbean.

OLD SAN JUAN

OLD SAN JUAN


TASHLEY WITH OUR COOL CUPS

TASHLEY WITH OUR COOL CUPS

Las Americas – wow! It truly was massive and having not had shops in 2011, we made the most of it. Ash was truly in heaven but Tash did surprisingly well. After 4 hours, many shopping bags and an underwater camera later, it was time to head away from the shop mecca. Shopping truly tired us out so Saturday night was a chilled one, spent enjoying some dinner and drinks.

We decided to be a bit healthier on Sunday and not go to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. We found this quaint little place that made delicious food (eggs, sausage, bacon and pancakes) and was reasonably priced. Plus the Spanish waiter was really cute so that’s always an added bonus!

After that it was time to hit the beach in one of our new bikinis. Our new underwater camera had its first outing and kept us entertained for hours! It’s so much fun to be able to take photos in the water, will definitely be using that on future boat trips. The beach was quite crowded and noisy but really beautiful and the weather was perfect. We got stopped by the cops on the way to the beach which got our hearts racing but when we told them we don’t speak Spanish they just waived us through.

PR BEACH

PR BEACH


UNDERWATER BLISS

UNDERWATER BLISS


UNDERWATER FUN

UNDERWATER FUN


After a quick snack and a mini shop in Walgreens (that place is more addictive then Dischem!) it was time to get ready for the highlight of our trip – a kayak tour to the bio bay. The bio bay is about 1 hour and 40 minutes from where we were staying, in a place called Fajardo. Luckily we opted for the option that included transport there as we definitely would have got lost and missed the tour! Las Croabas Lagoon in Fajardo has 500,000 to 700,000 of bioluminescent dinoflagellates ( a plankton) per gallon, so when you wave your hand through the water you trigger so many of them that your hand lights up with a thousand tiny stars. The plankton light up when they are touched! Imagine a lagoon full of liquid starshine! It really is an amazing experience! We were briefed by our Spanish guides on what to expect and how to maneuver the kayak (most of which we didn’t understand due to their accents, which led to us going in circles later!). Then it was time to get onto the water.

TRAINING FOR THE KAYAK PADDLE

TRAINING FOR THE KAYAK PADDLE


ASH

ASH


TASH

TASH

We kayaked through the red mangroves which have grown overhead to form a sort of tunnel. It’s really pretty, the roots provide good shelter for spawning fish so apparently fish come from all over to lay eggs there. The path through the mangroves is quite narrow so you have to be careful not to paddle into the trees! We managed to get through fairly unscathed. Once we got through the mangroves we were in a big lagoon where we anchored all the kayaks together while the guides gave us the low down on how a bio bay is formed (again, a lot of this went over our heads due to their accents, but it was really interesting). Then the sun went down and the magic began! The water really lights up and illuminates whatever is in the water – feet, hands, paddles. If you splash water onto the boat or your skin it looks like you have diamonds on your skin! And you can see a zooming streak of light as fish swim close to the surface – really, really amazing! It was a gorgeous, clear night so we could see lots of stars. We asked the guide if we could swim (you are technically not supposed to swim in the water), and he said you’re not supposed to but that accidents do happen! So he told us to wait at the back and when everyone had gone up ahead we “tipped” our kayak and got to swim for a bit! We were nicknamed the “crazy kayak” after that and had to pretend we really did fall in! The kayak back was in pure darkness, the only light you can see is the small blinking light on the back of the kayak in front of you, an incredible experience! After a trip home that seemed to last forever we got ice-cream for dinner which we ate in bed and then passed out!

TASHLEY ON THE KAYAK

TASHLEY ON THE KAYAK


MANGROVES

MANGROVES


KAYAK ADVENTURE

KAYAK ADVENTURE

Sunday saw us less than impressed with our choice of restaurant for breakfast; food took forever and was cold when it arrived. Afterwards we fetched Fred (a French-Canadian who had been visiting Tortola and had a 8 hour layover in Puerto Rico on his way home) from the airport and he joined us on part two of our tour of Old San Juan (think at times he wished he was at the airport as we went into about 14 souvenir shops). We started at the other fort - Castillo San Felipe del Morro which took over 350 years to build. It has a graveyard next to it which provided some great pictures as the sea is in the background. It is really daunting to think about how these forts were built – seems easier to just let everyone dock their ships there!

GRAVEYARD

GRAVEYARD


FORT CASTILLE DEL MORRO

FORT CASTILLE DEL MORRO


TASHLEY

TASHLEY


FORT CASTILLE DEL MORRO

FORT CASTILLE DEL MORRO


FRED AND ASH

FRED AND ASH


FORT CASTILLE DEL MORRO

FORT CASTILLE DEL MORRO


TASHLEY

TASHLEY

After lunch and a cocktail at this really cool restaurant - Senor Frog, it was back to the airport and back to Tortola.
OUR SENOR FROG HATS

OUR SENOR FROG HATS


SENOR FROG

SENOR FROG

Puerto Rico was an awesome experience and it was so nice to travel on proper roads and have proper shops!! Will definitely be going back there!

Posted by Tashley 06:18 Comments (1)

Cocktails at the Governor’s house, Sports day

and another boattrip (but no willy T this time)

BVI is a British territory so the crown appoints a governor to oversee the island. He lives in a typical (gorgeous) English style house which we got to inspect on Friday night. There was an HIV/Aids fundraiser and after finding out Deloitte would pay our tickets and there was an open bar and snacks we decided it was definitely worth a visit. So we got all dolled up and arrived 2 hours late and were right on time (we are slowly adjusting to BVI time!).
TASHLEY

TASHLEY


There were quite a few people from work and we chilled with them while making the most of the friendly barmen. There was an auction to raise funds but seeing as we do not have thousands of dollars spare we avoided bidding on anything except who was fetching the next round.
AUCTIONEER ASH

AUCTIONEER ASH


We rubbed shoulders with BVI celebs – Miss Teen BVI and her runner-up and of course forced them to pose for us!
US AND MISS TEEN BVI

US AND MISS TEEN BVI


After posing for some pics with the royal family we headed off the The Grand again where we spent the rest of the night.
TASH AND THE QUEEN

TASH AND THE QUEEN


PRINCE PHILIP AND ASH

PRINCE PHILIP AND ASH

Saturday was our Sports day on the beach, which we organized. Slightly different to the ones we have organised back home having only 40 people attend and a buget 1% of our JHB one, but good fun nevertheless.
OUR LOCATION

OUR LOCATION


Such an amazing setting but getting everything onto the beach was quite a mission. What we didn’t realize when deciding on the venue was that the car park is very far from the beach and we therefore had to drag all the cases of drinks, the massive braai and all the food quite a distance. And we had no one besides our Partner, Mark, to help us. He was luckily a good sport and helped us with the heavy lifting but we are still quite stiff from the manual labour!
HARD LABOUR

HARD LABOUR


SETTING UP

SETTING UP


Anyway we started the day off with a braai which broke half way through cooking (very annoying as we had carried the silly thing so far) but luckily the guys made a plan and we just had a very low braai. We had split everyone into teams and given each team a colour to dress up to – which most people did which was cool.
BRIGHT COLOURS

BRIGHT COLOURS


We had 4 teams and played Volleyball and then soccer on the beach. Our team’s colour was pink and we did kind of play like girls, losing all volleyball matches.
SETTING UP VOLLEYBALL

SETTING UP VOLLEYBALL


VOLLEYBALL

VOLLEYBALL


We made up for it in the soccer where we reached the final which was drawn, even after a penalty shootout.
SOCCER

SOCCER


TEAM PINK

TEAM PINK


After clearing up (this time luckily with lots of people to help), we got a take-away pizza and chilled on the couch for the rest of the evening while our bodies complained about what they’d been put through!
PARTICIPANTS

PARTICIPANTS

Sunday was another boat trip (we had won it from winning the triathlon), so it was a group of us from work. We spent the day on white bay at soggy dollar. We were both so tired from the day before that much of it was spent sleeping in these awesome hammocks they have but we did spend some time in the water. There was a really big sting ray swimming around us when we were all chilling in the shallow part of the sea, it was amazing to see it so close.

And that was our weekend…. Tune in next week for tales of Puerto Rico – we’re off there on Friday for the long weekend – we can’t wait (especially Ash since she can finally shop)!

Posted by Tashley 10:14 Comments (0)

Life without a GPS

In Joburg whenever we went somewhere new we simply typed the address into our GPS and went on our way.
Getting to new places in Tortola is a little more complex thanks to the lack of street names. We had a good laugh at some of the directions we received so we thought we'd put a couple on our blog:

DIRECTIONS TO GUYP'S HOUSE:

From Cane Garden Bay:

-Turn right at Rudy’s (the Heineken bar)
-Drive until you hit first speed bump
-Turn left before 2nd speed bump, driveway going UP (there is a house for rent sign at the bottom). Don’t go down as it is elevator hill to Nanny Cay (OOPS -we landed up going down this hill as we had left directions at home!!)
-First house to the left, with a yellow jeep wrangler and a barking dog.

From Road Town
-Turn left at Rudy’s (the Heineken bar)
-Drive until you hit first speed bump
-Turn left before 2nd speed bump, driveway going UP
-First house to the left, with a yellow jeep wrangler and a barking dog.

Do you need a picture for the directions?

DIRECTIONS TO JAMES' HOUSE:
Head up the hill from yours, turn left at the tight turn to brewers bay. Follow all the way along luck hill until the road splits again. Take the right fork down the hill to the right (as if heading to the beach). The road turns from asphalt to concrete and widens out a bit. The road gets steep and has a few tight turns (right, left, right, left). After those four turns, it straightens out a bit. Start slowing down straight away and just before you reach the first lamppost on that straight-ish bit of road, there’s a tight turning on the left onto a dirt track heading downhill. It’s pretty obscure, and has nothing really to mark it. Follow that dirt road all the way to the very end. It’s mostly dirt, with bits of concrete on a few of the bends. There’s only one other building on the dirt road, which has a turning off to the left when you get to the third patch of concrete. Ignore that left turn and just keep going straight.

AND THEN THE DIRECTIONS WE SEND PEOPLE TO GET TO OUR PLACE:
On Joe’s hill coming from town, go past Rudy’s towards Cane
At the Brewers/Cane split, go down towards CGB beach
You will pass a green dumpster and orange cones
We are the next driveway on your right (the second one after you turn down the hill)
There is a broken road mirror thing just before our driveway
You will see the Pink Palace as you go up the driveway

SURPRISINGLY WE HAVEN'T BEEN LOST VERY OFTEN!! STREET NAMES ARE OVERRATED!!

Posted by Tashley 12:03 Archived in British Virgin Islands Comments (0)

Bomba Full Moon Party and Curry Night

On Friday, it was full moon so making the most of the fact that we did not have to work the next day, we planned a night at the infamous Bomba Shack for their even more infamous Full Moon party. The evening started off with dinner at Spaghetti Junction and a stop off at The Grand for some nice food and drinks before heading to Bomba.
THE GRAND

THE GRAND


HUNTER AND GUYP

HUNTER AND GUYP


CLAIRE, TASH AND ASH AT THE GRAND

CLAIRE, TASH AND ASH AT THE GRAND

Bomba is effectively a seaside shack with graffiti writing everywhere and underwear hanging from the roof!
BOMBA SHACK

BOMBA SHACK


BOMBA - CLASSY DECORATIONS

BOMBA - CLASSY DECORATIONS


CORPORATE BRANDING

CORPORATE BRANDING


TASHLEY AT THE BOMBA BAR

TASHLEY AT THE BOMBA BAR


They also sell mushroom tea but two sips were enough for us – not sure how people drink that! On full moon days, they have a larger area towards the back where there is a live band to enjoy and a variety of different people to meet. After having one too many glasses of bomba punch (as lethal as painkillers), it was time to head home.
BOMBA CREW

BOMBA CREW

Saturday was spent sleeping followed by some cocktails and lounging on lilos in the Long Bay pool bar and Jacuzzi. We then got ready for our Indian themed Curry Night at Mark Chapman’s house – the managing partner here in the BVI. Having come over with a limited wardrobe, Indian was not an easy dress-up task for us. We ended up borrowing some shirts from a friend who wore them to an Indian evening…well, we didn’t really look too Indian!
DELOITTE 'YOUNGSTERS'

DELOITTE 'YOUNGSTERS'


The food was great and the Chapmans went to a lot of effort decorating their home with Indian photos and trinkets. Needless to say, we did not win best dressed but a good evening nevertheless.
Mmmmm.... DELICIOUS

Mmmmm.... DELICIOUS

Posted by Tashley 05:24 Comments (1)

Triathlon - BVI style

plus ball hockey, long bay and..... you guessed it - another boattrip

TEAM DELOITTE

TEAM DELOITTE

On Saturday morning I woke up at 6am and wondered dragged myself out of bed while Ash slept in (have probably never been more jealous of her!). But it was for a good cause: sport - a triathlon to be precise. For the past month or so i've been going down to the beach after work and doing some swimming in preparation for this. Its really amazing training in the sea with sea guls, fishies and gorgeous sunsets - really beats training in an indoor pool at gym - although sometimes i start imagining sharks and crabs attacking me while I swim but that just makes me swim faster! Anyway, Deloitte had entered 3 teams into the triathlon and i landed up swimming for all 3 (only had to swim once, your time gets counted for all 3 teams). The swim wasn't too far - twice round a course marked by bouys - about 600m. I was proudly sporting my Deloitte polka dot speedo and landed up finishing first in the swim. One of our teams won the corporate event which is awesome. We got a really big trophy as well as a coolerbox and a day trip on a boat (Ash and I just can't avoid them!). It was a really great way to start the weekend.

GEORGE AND CHRIS FINISHING THEIR RUN

GEORGE AND CHRIS FINISHING THEIR RUN


DANY ON THE RUN

DANY ON THE RUN


TASH AND AURELIE

TASH AND AURELIE


DARA, TASH, DANY AND OUR TROPHY

DARA, TASH, DANY AND OUR TROPHY

We spent the rest of the day chilling on Long Bay beach, which was nice and relaxing after such an early start. We were joined by George, Hunter, GuyP and the cutest dog ever - his name is Jager and he is a coconut retriever (the BVI version of a pavement special). He is a very spoilt dog and is allergic to almost everything - his dad wont even let us feed him chips, therefore he loves us much more!

On Saturday evening we went to watch ball hockey (Canadian sport, like ice hockey but played on land). Its a pretty cool sport - nice and rough! On Sunday we broke our vow of giving boattrips a rest for a while and went on a cat with the hockey guys. We went and snorkelled at the Indians, which is a beautiful spot, full of fish. It has these two underwater caves that you can swim through. However they proved to be quite dangerous and after one of the Canadians cut his head and shoulder on a rock we decided to give them a skip! And then Willy T again..... we know, we're predictable, what can we say!! but tune in next week and find out how Bomba Shack full moon party and curry night turn out!

Posted by Tashley 11:55 Archived in British Virgin Islands Comments (1)

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