Keeping Busy

Take a Pause

Well we did it! 21 straight days of a 24 hour curfew! Oddly enough it went a lot faster than we thought it would. Everyone used their time as a bit of a staycation. Even Tina got into the groove of a siesta after lunch. 

Our lockdown started with a five day “sampler”. To see if we could really handle it perhaps? Then they let us out to shop. Wow! That was a CRAZY experience. Seven hours in the blazing sun to get into Bucks Market! The entire territory had three days to shop before the first fourteen day complete lockdown. No leaving your property, no grocery deliveries, no going out for anything… period. Ian did have to get a pass a couple of times to attend to minor maintenance issues at Guavaberry, but the rest of us put our feet up. 

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Christine and Michelle decided it was a good time to start baking, and even better without being allowed to go out… they didn’t have to share! Focaccia, bread, chocolate cake, and Johnny cakes galore! 

 

Tina and Valerie kept busy in the office, an added bonus of living where you work! Michelle was available for remote tech assistance in between arts and crafts, baking and naps. 

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The two weeks were coasting steadily along and we were counting down the days until “release day”. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch! On Saturday night, less than 48 hours before we were supposed to get out… news struck of another Covid-19 case which quickly became the first Covid patient death in the territory. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the deceased. 

As the news broke, we knew there was no way we were going to be allowed out yet. And we were right… one more week added on so the government could trace the contacts of the patient. 

Amazingly the government vowed that no person in the BVI would go hungry, and they kept their word. They delivered hundreds of food packages to residents all across the BVI. We were also very lucky that they granted permission for grocery stores to take online orders for delivery. With the help of countless volunteers from the general public and well-known volunteer organisations (VISAR, VGROC, Rotary, and UniteBVI to name a few) everyone was able to get what they needed.

Now, online orders in “the real world” are pretty straight forward. Go on the website and view available products and information and prices. Well, not all stores in the BVI have that set up (yet). It was like a game of roulette sending in your orders: which store will have the best stock, which stores aren’t being bombarded by orders, which have the better prices, and which will have the most of your shopping list actually in stock. 

Turns out what one store didn’t have in stock, another did. It took Michelle four different stores to find the last pack of yeast on the island! The other problem with relying on someone else to do your shopping is the surprise of what you will actually receive. One bag of flour? NOPE! 2 five pound bags they thought Michelle needed! (Hence the hunt for a pack or two of yeast!). The best substitution though, that we will be laughing about for years, was in Christine’s delivery. She ordered raisins for Lennon, as they’re one of his favorite snacks. Seems pretty straight forward… you would think. Much to her surprise when she unpacked her delivery … no raisins! Well, not on their own anyway. She received Raisin Bran cereal instead! I guess Lennon will get his daily fiber intake for weeks to come! 

By the end of our three weeks we were scratching at the door like Pearl scratching to get inside during a thunder storm. We are still on limitations as to which businesses are allowed to open, but we did get the boys together at Granny’s. It was the most heart warming reunion you ever saw. Connor gave granny the longest hug he could, and then turned the focus on Lennon. All morning “Lennon! Lennon come!” Connor squealed with delight. By 11:00 Lennon was exhausted! 

 

We are still under curfew from 1 pm to 6 am daily, so we still get to have our afternoon naps. Hotels haven’t been approved to reopen yet, and even when we do, it’s going to be a hard sell since the beaches are all closed. For now, we are just going to focus on maintenance and busy work to pass the time. We miss our April regulars who would be here at this time, and it crushes our hearts to still be cancelling reservations for the summer. But c’est la vie! We can’t control the situation. We survived Irma, so we will survive this. At least this time the heaviest lifting we will have to do is a good book. 

What a month!

Well, to say the least, this has been one of the most mind boggling months. Going into March we were well aware of the potential effect that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) would have on reservations, but we didn’t expect a complete shutdown!

Earlier in the month guest started asking about what the situation was like in the real world, and preparing themselves for their trips home at the end of the month. Within days the cancellations started. One here and there, and then upwards of ten per day. We won’t lie, it stings! Every time the caller ID showed an overseas number we cringed. 

Soon the guests in house decided it was time to get back home before things really heated up. We helped them to get flights rearranged and bid adieu to everyone. Staring at the blank reservation board we weren’t sure what we would do with ourselves. We thought we could request deposits for winter reservations, but quickly remembered that the USA is closing up as quickly as the BVI. Without an end date on site for the global situation we just have to keep our fingers crossed that the cancellations don’t push past the summer.

Fast forward a few more days, the BVI government officially closed the borders first to just non residents and non work permit holders, then a few days later they closed the borders for EVERYONE! Drastic? Yes. The right move? Most certainly. So we figured with that move we would just keep going as normal. Think again! Close the schools. What?! We swear you could hear the entire community cry out in fear… what are we to do without school? Thankfully Connor and Lennon’s daddies were gung-ho to go full on stay at home dad mode. Both Christine and Michelle take after Tina and tend to work too much. 

Well, things seemed to then be smoothing out. The kids were taken care of, we dug up work for everyone to do. Got some deep cleaning done. Then they hit us again! Curfew? What, are we sixteen? Okay, cool we can reminisce on our teenage years and play along. Wait, what? TWENTY FOUR hour curfew?! Starting in TWO days? Didn’t see that one coming! 

After a wide range of emotions from confused, to dumbfounded, to angry, to terrified of being forced to put our feet up, we eventually got to the point of acceptance and understanding. They say it’s only for five days, and other countries have been through much longer. So we stocked up with as much food as we would need …. side note… even the grocery stores are closed, you aren’t allowed to even take out the trash to the nearest bin, and dog walks are to be brief. Not even allowed to go to the beach. Now we all just sit and wait. 

As of March 30th the BVI has three confirmed Coronavirus cases (all imported) and we are waiting on some other results to come back. We are keeping our fingers crossed they come back negative and they will release us from our cages. Until then, have no other choice but to relax. 

 

We do deserve a bit of downtime anyway. We have been busy finishing Gardenia! Yes, just in time to have no one coming in for at least a month. Ugh, there’s the stinging feeling again. 

Lime is taking this week to cure the concrete footings for the deck. So really not wasting time there we guess. We are itchy for the deck to be complete so they can finally build the stairs. Then there is no keeping Tina out! Look out guys! 

We know you must have read all of that above and wondered, but where are the pictures? Sorry! Been a blur of a month as we are sure it must be for many of you too. We just didn’t get out around the property as much as we usually do, and now since we are housebound, and very law abiding citizens, we can’t run and take any! 😦 

Instead, enjoy a little collage of randomness 🙂 

What a LOVEly month!

February is the month of chocolates, flowers and love songs, but for us we prefer the music of tile cutting and sweet scent of sawdust.

Plum and lime have tiles being laid and patio foundations being formed. Soon, very soon, there will actually be stairs!

What does have stairs? Gardenia! Gardenia also has a front door, windows, tiles, bathroom, kitchen, patio, air conditioner and lights! That’s right ladies and gentleman… it’s DONE! At least the construction anyway. Just a few finishing touches to add in… furniture, blinds, dishes and utensils. We have to order a few bits of artwork still, but that won’t stop us from renting it if we need to! It’s so exciting to be one step closer to completion of phase 2!

Tina’s house is also progressing quite well. Windows and sliding doors are in! The wood for the inside of the ceiling has been taken offsite to get a coat of stain, pool plans have started to get drawn up, and the shingles are nearly on all four sections of the roof. The next step will be laying tiles… and if they aren’t careful they will find Tina “glamping” in her house one of these days. Her bed is here and she can get pretty creative on a bbq I’m sure.

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February has also seen the return of many, many familiar faces. We were basically full all month which was amazing! Thank you to everyone who returned and all the new guests we got to welcome to Guavaberry. We still have a few more weeks until it starts to quiet down and we can take a breath. We will need the little break as there are some BIG changes coming this summer… stay tuned!

Climbing Up, Growing up and Dressing Up

It was only a matter of time before the guys had to tell Tina where the ladders we to get into Plum and Lime. They finally let us in! They have made great progress despite the delay with the windows.

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Speaking of windows… they are finally here!

Tina and Michelle had to be called up to the construction sites to determine where the decks should go. Of course, while they were there they added a few special touches… back decks! The guest bedrooms at both houses will each have a private deck. Perfect for escaping the afternoon sun, or having a little quiet time.

The windows and kitchen for Tina’s house have also arrived. The crew on her house are plodding along. The inside walls are plastered and they are nearly finished plastering the outside too. Shingles are going on, tiles are on site. Bathroom vanities are the latest task. Trying to match tiles, doors and vanities when nothing is stored in the same spot isn’t easy… but we are up for the challenge.

While we were out measuring for said vanities, Tina decided to peak at her roof. The Forman told Tina that she should just go right up onto the scaffolding for a better view… but I don’t think he actually thought she would! He obviously didn’t know he was talking to!

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From up ladders and scaffolding, we also took some time out to dress up. Tina was invited to the grand opening of Little Dix Bay… and Michelle was the lucky one to go as her guest. There was a lovely turnout for the evening. They had opening speeches and ribbon cutting before welcoming everyone to explore the property. The gardens are amazing ! Thankfully the iconic banyan tree at the entrance is still there too. Hors deurves were plentiful, champagne was flowing… though Tina and Michelle opted for juice , and the desserts were lovely. They even ran into Lydia, who worked at Guavaberry for 12 years in the housekeeping department. It was so nice to see her again!

January is also a special birthday month. Connor turned 2 and Lennon Turned 1! No idea where the time has gone. Connor is now going to nursery full days, and is patiently waiting for Lennon to start walking so he can join him. Perhaps Lennon knows the deal and is just pretending not to know how to walk yet…. because he sure can work those two feet to get some goldfish.

 

Connors birthday party was held at the beach and Lennon’s was supposed to be too, but we had a massive ground sea that day so plans got washed out. Didn’t think it was a wise idea to have toddlers on the beach when the waves were coming past the trees! It was quite the show to watch though.

Within the next few weeks we are hoping to finish up Gardenia. Haven’t been in that one for a while despite there being stairs. What fun are stairs anyway?! We are ladders pros now. from what we hear all that is really left to on that one is pop the windows in, so stay tuned for a grand reveal!

Merry Christmas!

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through Spring Bay
Tourists were waking to the sounds of a new day
The coolers were packed in the Jimny with ease
Waiting to enjoy the tropical sun and breeze

The contractors were nestled around the bar with a beer,
They finally have a break before installing windows next year;
With Tina in her floral dress and the housekeepers in their skirts,
They joyously settle into the season’s works.
When out on the beach there arose such a sight,
We sprang from our desks to see all the guests merry and bright.

Back at our desks thing are going to plan,
Yet Tina still has to wait til 5 o’clock for her Diet Coke and Cruzan.
Valerie is keeping everything neat,
While Michelle watches for guests to meet and greet.

Over at the window we see a ginger flash,
Ian and his magic plunger are headed up the hill in a dash.
The sun on his face turns him beet red,
But it gives him a lustre to complement the hair on his head.

Ricky’s truck is packed full of fresh linen bags,
Like Santa’s sleigh nicely packed by our lovely ladies wielding their magic rags.
But there is no time to dilly dally, there is still work to be done.
Tina runs a tight ship, amongst all the fun.

Now Beulah! Now Agnes! Now Junie and Netta!
On Tricia! On Sonia! On Emily and Brenda!
Sweep off the porches and place fresh flowers!
Getting these houses ready will take all their magical powers!

Pearl and Roxy are making their daily rounds,
With all the guest back, treats off the barbecue abound!

This year we are thankful the hurricanes passed us by,
And a busy season ahead is a welcome surprise!
We will greet everyone with a smile and a hug,
Thank you to all who gave us your love.
It’s now time to get back to work behind the scene,
Merry Christmas to all, and don’t forget your sunscreen!

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Happy Thanksgiving !

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. We are so thankful for all of your continued support.

We are busy little bees down here. Our first taste of tourist season is in full gear now with lots of families in house. Some are even in their fourth generation visiting Guavaberry. It’s so fun to see the little kiddos playing just like Christine and Michelle used to play when they were small. Connor and Lennon are really getting the hang of it.

While everyone is at the beach, elsewhere construction is still in full swing. We are trying to get as much done as we can without windows. Shingles are going on, gutters are being hung, and I believe tiles are even being prepared to lay. Hard to really know what’s going on on the inside… ladders are not in this year’s job description for the office ladies… thank goodness! Once they have stairs going up to Plum and Lime we will give you a full update.

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This coming winter you will see a few new faces in the housekeeping department. We had two ladies resign for personal reasons, so we have had to do some quick hiring. We will miss Lydia and Elsa Maria, but we wish them all the best in their next endeavors. We have already welcomed Ithea to our Guavaberry family. She comes with a wealth of experience, having worked at Valley Trunk for 30 years! We will be welcoming two more as soon as their work permits are approved. They are both from Santo Domingo so hopefully Connor and Lennon can pick up some Spanish when they start “helping out” around the property when they are a little older.

This past weekend we got to enjoy the BVI Food Fete’s “Taste of Virgin Gorda”. This is an annual event held every November. If you haven’t come down for it, you must! Amazing food, great music, a great mix of people from near and far. They had 16 chefs from the BVI, Puerto Rico and the USA. Each chef prepared a tasting plate and you got to try them ALL! Now, we all have pretty hefty appetites but even we had to tap out after about 12. Sooo muuuuch foooood! Ok, so maybe we made a couple of extra stops at the Little Dix Bay Pastry table, but she did have three selections of tarts to choose from. We are extra excited now for Little Dix Bay to open just so we can have more of those tarts!

(Photo credit BVI Food Fete)

As our luck would have it, this pastry chef’s husband is a hairstylist, and he is now working at ‘Ello Hair Studio… which just happens to be David’s (Lennon’s dad) salon. So, perhaps we might be invited to a potluck or something at Christine and David’s house. They bring the pastry chef, we’ll bring forks… sounds like a good deal to me!

Raise the roof(s)!

Those nasty “h” things have steered clear of Virgin Gorda this month thank goodness! The clear weather has allowed us to make great progress on Plum and Lime. BOTH houses are up! Princess Quarters’ guys are working at super speeds. Kind of like our little construction super heroes. Think they would wear capes for Halloween? It’s pretty spectacular to see what a difference a month makes.

Windows are still scheduled to ship in December so we are doing as much as possible now to be ready for their arrival. Obviously we can’t just tarp up the gaping holes and just complete everything so we literally just pop in the windows and hand over keys to our guests, but it would be pretty cool if we could!

Tina’s house has a roof on, and water shield. I’m sure the crew working there is happy to finally have some shade. It has been blisteringly hot over the last few months, and we are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of the “Christmas winds” to cool things down a bit.

Tina and Michelle are taking a quick run to Puerto Rico to try and find some tiles for the bathrooms at Tina’s house. Well, that’s the excuse they used anyway. Really… they are going to indulge in some delicious Puerto Rican food (mofongo, yum!) and frozen cocktails by the hotel pool.

The past few weeks we had the pleasure of Lennon’s company at the office a couple of times per week. He loves to visit with granny and auntie… mainly because he gets to eat banana. The one food his mommy doesn’t allow in the house. Christine can’t stand them! But never fear… Granny and Auntie are here!! He is also a big fan of Connor’s play pen. So many new and exciting things in there!

Connor has been doing amazingly at school. He is starting to speak a bit now, and his favorite word this month is “tractor”. Luckily for him there is still a lot of heavy equipment running around properly so he gets to go and see those… and he thinks every yellow machine is a tractor! I really hope his next word isn’t something like antelope…. where are we going to find one of those?

Duck Duck Goose

The Atlantic hurricane season really started to pick up this month. Dorian popped up in August and gave us the wake up call, so we at least were prepared this time around. Prepared for what? We don’t actually know. It’s like a game of dodge ball this season with these storms. The weather men can’t seem to figure it out either.

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After Dorian, Jerry was headed our way. We did everything to prepare. Warned the guests about what they could expect, moved the patio furnishings inside of all the houses, and shipped Tina off to Florida for her birthday! Then all we had to do was sit and wait. Duck… duck…. duck? Hello? Jerry? Where’d you go? A few puffs of breeze and that was really all. Hmm… okay. We’ll take it.

Fast forward a few days… the weather men have us all a little on edge when they keep telling us about weather “blobs” that haven’t even come off Africa yet. But hold on… what’s THAT all the way south by Trinidad? A Tropical Depression? So far south? Okay… interesting. It will just cut west like all storms to… WRONG! It’s headed North?! Whoa, didn’t see that coming. And just like that, out of the blue, Tropical Storm Karen is born, and packing a lot of rain. She just can’t decide really where she’s going, when she’ll be coming, and what she wants be when she “grows up”. Duck… Duck… Duck… GOOSE! Here we go again.

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Luckily after our dry run with Jerry last week there wasn’t too much prep to do. This time the weather people got to do all the work. Update after update we waited, and waited. She shifted a little to the west, back a bit to the east, down to a tropical depression, back up to a tropical storm, slowed down, slowed down some more. The staff went home early in anticipation of the weather arriving around 2:00 pm on Tuesday. But like a typical woman she made everyone wait a little longer still. Finally around 8:00 the rain started, and it got a little blustery. Not sure what winds we actually got, but thankfully it wasn’t much.  Part of a tree branch down on the guinip tree at the beach and that’s all the damage we’ve seen.

The weather has delayed the unpacking of the Deltec trailers that arrived last week. Like a kid on Christmas morning we are anxiously waiting. Inside the four trailers are Plum Tree and Lime Tree houses. Despite the fact that they are here on time, they will not be ready for Christmas as we might have hoped for. There was an unforeseen delay in Hawaii with our Breezeway windows order and those won’t be arriving until MAYBE mid December. No windows means we can’t finish the interiors. Princess Quarters will get the Deltecs as far as they can, and then wait. Talk about an anticlimactic end to our rebuild saga.

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We did have some other excitement on property last week. Tina’s house was ready for its concrete pour! Her contractor, Sam, had come up the week prior and asked us to take a walk down to the house. Walk? In this heat? If you insist. We stop part of the way down to the beach, right there just before the dip in the road. Instantly we know what he’s about to ask… and before he can even get the words out… No, Sam … you can NOT move that rock to get the concrete pump truck down this road.  Not that we were trying to be difficult … but that rock on the right side of the road just before the dip is not a surface rock, hence why the road has all the funny curves in it as it is.

Okay, so can’t move the rock. Plan B… can he cut the trees? If you must… BUT there is a natural gut that flows through right by the dip so anything you cut must be promptly removed so it doesn’t stop the flow of any water in heavy rainfall (fast forward to TS Karen a week later!).  The truck needs a 7 ft wide clearance… the road is 8 ft wide. Perfect! We think it will actually fit, but lets get the driver to take a walk and make sure. 30 minutes later, the driver confirms… the truck will fit! We’ve never seen Sam so happy in all the years he’s been working on our projects. He actually helped built Tina’s original house in 1989. His face was beaming and he was grinning ear to ear. He thought he would have to have his guys pour her house by hand which would have taken days.

The following week, the scene was set. The pump truck was scheduled to come at 8:30… but of course in true Virgin Gorda fashion it was more like 9:30. Lo and behold… they made it down! And only took out part of a cactus on their way. Very impressive. Tina wasn’t here to witness it, but she was enjoying some time away finally. Connor made sure to keep a close eye on the maneuvers… from safely across the fence. Three point turning a concrete truck can’t be easy!

Hopefully now that everyone got not one, but TWO storm “rest” days… work will keep on cranking out as we gear up for season just around the corner.

Keeping On Our Toes

By now you all know how much we love and appreciate a sick sense of humor, and how we ourselves pride ourselves on our own. However, we do not appreciate when Mother Nature decides to try out her newest stand up act.

Tuesday was just another normal day. Sun shining, blue skies, and a little blob of clouds crossing the lesser Antilles south of us as a slightly disorganized tropical storm called Dorian. We were watching it and all forecast tracks were sending him around 100 miles to our south west.

Fast forward to Tuesday evening, and okay he’s grown a bit, but no storm advisories for the BVI. Our neighbors in the USVI and Puerto Rico were issued tropical storm warnings so we figured we would just get some nice rain and a bit of a reprieve from the scorching heat we have been having. All fine and good.

As we tucked in for the night on Tuesday the BVI Department of Disaster Management our out a notice to check the 11 pm tropical update as there just might be a watch issued last minute for the BVI.

11:15 pm: no update…. phew. Sleep here we come!

3:00 am Wednesday morning: wooooosh! Here’s the rain! Quickly jump out of bed and check the windows are all closed. Glance at the phone… well crap… there’s that advisory from the BVI DDM. BVI is now under a Tropical Storm Warning, and we can expect to feel the effects within the next 24 hours. Not much we can do at 3:00 am, so back to sleep.

6:45 am: Woooosh! There’s more rain! Okay getting a little blustery out there now. Quickly check the 5:00 am update and still looks much the same as the 11:00 pm update from last night, though looking outside tells a different story. BVI DDM alert: Flash Flood Warning issued for the territory…. well, we have all been saying we need some rain but Mother Nature took our rain dances a little too much to heart.

8:00 am: all scheduled staff clock in and get straight to work securing all of the patio furniture at the cottages and villas. Again we are so grateful for an extraordinary staff who always go above and beyond! They got everything put inside and headed home to hunker down (As you East Coaster’s say).

11:00 am: here comes the “breeze” … just a bit more than we anticipated! The governor has issued a curfew from 2:00 pm Wednesday to 6:00 am Thursday…. so that means it’s going to be worse than it is now… okay. Fill the sink and buckets and wait for the power to go off.

2:00 pm: update now says we are under Hurricane warning. **^%#*!

2:03 pm… electricity goes off. We were lucky enough to have power up until then anyway as it had been off in the north sound from 10:00 am.

2:15 pm… Tina calls Michelle …. “the power is out and I’m not turning on the generator until this evening, but now all the computers, server, and satellite equipment are beeping at me! What do I do?!” ….” it’s past curfew Mom, sorry…. not coming out 🙂 power off the battery backups and the beeping will stop. “ Now, not many of you know this… but Tina is not so electrically inclined. Surprising we know, since she can do just about anything! Michelle can usually figure this stuff out…. when she’s looking at it, but it was the blind leading the blind. Tina: “which button on which thing do I press?” Michelle: “the one that’s beeping at you?” Okay, all comedy aside, Tina did press the right button in the end… well, we think so… tomorrow we will know for sure!

4:00 pm: the winds and rain start to subside a bit. Power is still out so just have to wait it out.

6:00 pm: Tina reports in that all is well at Guavaberry! Yay! No trees down, the beach tree stood strong, and the Deltecs took Dorian like a spa day!

8:56 pm… electricity is back!! Thank you oh so much for the hard working crew of the BVI Electricity Corporation!

Now we can rest well and enjoy the weather as we were EXPECTING to before… a cool breeze and soothing rain. Thanks Mother Nature, you sure do keep us on our toes!

(Jackson propping up one tree casualty)

(Ixora standing strong… missing foliage is thanks to a pesky bunch of goats)

(Hibiscus as good as can be)

(The tamarind tree still flourishing… the guinep tree had a bit of a mishap a few weeks ago)

(Water as calm as can be the day after Dorian. The waves were more rough than swells so the sand is barely disturbed!)