Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Goodbye (Scoop) Fountain Hills

UPDATE (May 2016): If you're looking for me in the BVIs, you won't find me. I've moved back to St. Kitts. Feel free to follow me at St. Kitts Happens.


After what seemed like endless preparation, the move to the British Virgin Islands has finally come to pass. Some things had to be done last minute, which resulted in much angst and more unexpected outlays of money, but overall all it's a small price to pay to move and live where and how we want to live.

No, the boys are not in captivity.
Michael arrived late Thursday night...with a bum back. He has a history of muscle spasms and had tweaked it at work. Well, let's see - we have 3 rolling suitcases and 2 bags of cats. Could I carry them all? I was hoping I didn't have to find out.
As planned, I had most of everything taken care so we could enjoy our final days in Arizona with friends. Friday evening we had a fun pool party...

...and Saturday - we took apart the king-sized bed, I dragged down all the pieces, including the king-sized mattress (by myself), to the garage and then helped someone get their free bed into their flatbed. I also did a final dump of the remaining items to Goodwill. Michael got a haircut. Then we fit in a trip to the movies to see Jurassic World since there are no theaters where we're headed. The movie was good, but Michael had two more back spasms (the people behind him probably thought he was having seizures as I impassively sat next to him - he didn't want to leave), so immediately after the movie, I took him first to the ER to get some advice, and then to a clinic where it wouldn't cost a fortune to get care.

That led to a trip to the pharmacy and much needed pill popping (Michael, not me, although I did think about sneaking one of the valium-like ones). That helped a bit, so we met up with our friend and ride to the airport to watch the July 4th festivities at the park (the parachutists happened, but not this particular guy; the fireworks photo is from Dennis E. Wilson).

You can't say we didn't go out without a bang!

Once the festivities were over, it was time to get back to the apartment, grab our bags, stuff the cats in their carriers, and head for the airport. Goodbye to another friend. Whaa.

No turning back now! The flight was at 1am on Sunday, so we didn't think there would be a lot of people there, but we got behind not 1 but 2 families with a dozen suitcases each. Really?!

We had no issues with the agent questioning our cat carrier sizes, but we did have the expected insanity at security. They waived me through holding both Puffin & Van Gogh, but when I got to the other side, they asked me to wait, still holding them as they found the bomb swiping stuff. Um - I have 2 scared, squirming cats - could you hurry it up? About 4 minutes later, I had them back in their cocoon. Before I could even zip them in, Michael was coming through with an unhappy Jack & Zura. I grabbed one of them, and this time the TSA agent told us to just put them back in the carrier right away. Why, thank you.

There. Two things I had been dreading were already behind us. Even though the flight from Phoenix to Miami was pretty full, we managed to have an empty seat next to us, so spread out. All was uneventful until the plane started its descent. We went to put a cat carrier back down on the floor and noticed it was lighter than it should have been. Zura was out. Well, she had to be onboard, right? I was surprised no one had spotted her, but Michael saw her in the aisle, called her to come, and she came running back. No problem.

The cats were doing fantastic. No meowing and even coming out of the carriers to eat and stretch a bit.

The flight to St. Thomas was on time and uneventful. The tiny STT airport was a zoo though. Absolute insanity. Eons later when we got our bags and then maneuvered around the people standing around with theirs, we went to grab a cab. When the cab drivers found out we had cats, they told us law now required we take our own cab instead of sharing, so we ended up having to dole out $55 to go 10 minutes up the street. Hrmph.

Oh well, we were going to make it to our 2:45pm ferry to Tortola with about 20 minutes to spare. Except that they cancelled that ferry. The one and only one was going at 4:30pm. Crap. We tried to find a quiet spot so we could take the cats out and see if they'd go to the bathroom. We had a small cardboard box and some litter, but they weren't having it (and one ended up having a poo accident in the carrier. We took the towel out, no problem). We also spent the wait time trying to get a hold of the agriculture vet I and my AZ vet had been in constant contact with over the past months. Nothing.

Goodbye, Tortola
The hour-long ferry ride was a little rough but over before we could get sick, and then we were going through customs. It took a long time since there were many of us on that only ferry, but the officials were friendly (feeling badly that Michael & I hadn't seen each other in over 3 months) and got us through (despite my expired approval; they granted me a 2-week stay to get it resolved). Half the people I asked had no idea who the Ag vet was, others kept pointing to various places, but we never saw him or got a hold of him. We weren't sure what to do, but customs told us to just get on the next/last ferry to Virgin Gorda. Ok, then. So at 7:15, we started our last lap (outside because of "cats"). Hallelujah!

This is the next morning, but you get the idea.
About 45 minutes later, we were on the island we'd call home, wondering where our ride was. Our friends, and the two responsible for us even being here (alerting us to the job opportunity), had gotten a delayed text from us, so thought they should wait 20 minutes. Noooo! By now, the cats were eerily quiet and lethargic. They'd been cooped up from 9:30 Saturday night to 8:30 Sunday night (- 3 hour time difference). Way too long without drinking (they didn't want any), going potty (mostly), and after being constantly inundated with stimuli. After quick hugs, we raced to the new apartment and let the cats out of the bag. The cats were so happy to be out, there was absolutely no fear. They were even somewhat friendly with our pals.

It was dark out, so I didn't get to see the view, but I was excited to have a morning surprise. Here it is. Ta Daaaa.

Definitely worth all the drama over the past several months to get here. It's not over, I have to do more immigration stuff and the apartment wasn't quite ready for us, but the worst is past. I emailed the Ag vet but never heard from him again, so I guess he's done. Which means that I didn't have to do all those shots and certifications that literally cost me thousands of dollars and were the main reason I was 3 months behind Michael (if anyone had asked about the cats later, I could have just said I'd taken them in feral from the island). No comment.

So here's a tour of our new place. We're in a small one-bedroom apartment (that used to be 2 even smaller ones) in a house that's split up into several units. We're in a resort, although the company that ran it has reportedly pulled out, so I'm not sure what's going on with it. We will have the occasional vacationers next to us, so aren't quite sure how that's going to work out (I've already enjoyed cigarette smoke blown around the deck corner and into my face, and they've been calling to the kitties).

Here's the bedroom with a requisite bathroom. The washer will also be in here.

We've got a nice kitchen with every appliance we could have wanted. It also has a nice view. There is also a bathroom off this room.

Then there's a nice sized living room with view.

Both the living room and bedroom access a long deck overlooking some smaller islands, with Tortola in the distance. So far, we've a had a fantastic breeze all day & night. I haven't found it overly humid (yet).

The deck will be screened in soon, which will keep the mosquitos (and hopefully no-see-ums) out and the cats in. That said, I spent two days using the leashes to train everyone to stay on our deck, so everyone's doing pretty well (when I'm out there). Now if we can just stop the resident human kids (here on weekends) from chasing and cornering our fur-babies, all while squealing (the kids, not the cats), the cats will probably think the place is perfect.


Now for the outside. We overlook the unused tennis court, a restaurant that's been closed since we got here but opened today for dinner (I guess we'll see how loud it gets), and a pretty pool I've yet to see anyone in.

There's a nice path to take you around.

The pool has no way to sit around it or anything, so you're in the pool or you're not at the pool.

The seating area below it has incredibly uncomfortable-looking chairs - with or without cushions.

This is the office with a jacuzzi or pond that looks unused and a bocce ball court that looks even more abandoned.

Just across the street are sugar mill ruins, which are supposed to look abandoned, with picnic tables to enjoy.

Even better is Mountain Trunk Beach requiring just 3-5 minutes of walking (uphill back, sorry).

That's it. Time for some refreshments. Michael & I walked to Hog Heaven. It was a looong, winding, hilly walk but felt good after traveling the whole day prior (sort of). If you come visit, we promise we won't make you walk it.

Yep, we're back in the islands.

Wet t-shirt contest!

Ah, beverages.

It was very windy, which felt awesome and dried us right off.

And the views. Below is Moskito Island (that's how the owner spells it). When we had Jacumba, we took the narrow cut through here to shave off some time and then anchored off what was then a, quiet unoccupied island. Now it has Michael working on it some days.

Here are the other islands, including Necker, Michael's other place of business.

Tuesday, we were invited out for pizza night ($10) at Jumbies in Leverick Bay, near where bachelor Michael had been living. A real beach bar...with a beach. The best part was that we didn't have to walk there (which would have taken all night). We have access to a free car for a month. How lucky is that?

I'm not going to lie, I don't feel the same draw or connection to Virgin Gorda that I had from the moment I set foot on St. Kitts, but I am happy to be back in the Caribbean. I'm also glad that Michael's found another job he likes and that allows him to continue to grow his career. I'll be tying up some loose ends and moving my next book, a follow up to A Sail of Two Idiots, past the outline stage. Life is good right now. I'm going to enjoy it for all it's worth.

For those of you wondering if I'll be writing another blog, I don't have any plans for that right now. I have, however, created an Instagram account to post a few photos and am always on Facebook (Note: I don't "Friend" strangers on Facebook, but you're always welcome to private message me, reach me via the Instagram account, or email me via this blog's contact page). Thanks for following everyone, and thanks to Fountain Hills for giving us a place to call home and regroup.