caribbean art festival

Okay, okay, I’ll eat my words about the BVI not offering up any culture to our island experience, although I know I am not the only expat down here that makes that complaint. After attending the Caribbean Art Festival in both Trellis with Coralie and in town as a mini field trip with three elementary children, I was blown away by all that was on display. Jewelery produced with seeds grown by the artists herself, amazing 12 feet long wood sculptures created by a 4-year-old boy and his father, and incredible marbalized textiles, that went well beyond the tie dye you often see, all so inspiring.  And of course it’s quite awesome to expose your daughter to such original work, all while she runs around shoeless!

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camp st john

Last week we joined the Hunt family for on a three-day excursion to the US Virgin Islands last week, as the children we off school for half-term break. I’d had my heart set on camping at Cinnamon Bay Camp ground for some time now, and somehow managed to talk the three other adults into my dream. Although we found ourselves at times looking at the deluxe private villas available for hire on the hillside longingly, nothing could have the topped the campground environment for the children. Amazing kid-friendly white sand beach, check; pots, pans, plastic plates for kitchen-play, check; hermit crabs galore for collecting, check. Couldn’t get that over at Caneel Bay. Now that we know what to expect, the next time will be even better.

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random pics of sailing trips i forgot to download from my camera

Just a quick photo dump of recent excursions off Tortola. We made it out to Jost for a last hurrah with a group of friends that are all making their way off into the world on new adventures. Coralie and I also got to enjoy a lovely girls day at White Bay with a much missed friend, who recently moved back to the UK. It’s that time of year, where it seems like ages since we have been off the rock properly, and these little boat trips seem to do wonders for mental well-being.

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Some day soon she’ll be carrying her own board.

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Waiting on the dingy ferry.

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Not all related to sailing, but while taking Barney for a walk the morning after an overnight at Soppers, came across a space in progress, soon to be a new Italian restaurant, exciting.

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Fisherman at sunrise, in Westend.

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Leaving the dock at sunset.

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I love these girls!

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We’re getting there!

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holiday season 2013, check

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This first Christmas season as both a full-time teacher and a mom was a whirlwind. At times exhausting, occasionally overwhelming , but surely memorable, as I now get to enjoy the holidays with Coralie both at home and at work.  We chose to stick it out on island over our break, as Yann of course had to work, but I think we both truly needed the time doing as much of nothing as possible after the busy few weeks proceeding the end of term.   First up was the school’s Stop-N-Shop event, which included sewing projects and lots of craft work with the Elementary children to make for sale.

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Next was this year’s Century House Montessori School’s Seasonal Presentation, which is always a ton of work and rehearsals, but the outcome is more than worth. Coralie braved the stage with a very sweet duet, that she blatantly stole in rehearsal, that’s my girl!

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Finally, we made it to thru the end of term, with time to spare for all our projects at home – tree, cards, gifts, etc.  Oh, and of course letter to Santa.

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Christmas day itself was an amazing day spent visiting with friends over on Peter Island, after a morning of present opening and last minute baking.  Peter Island never ceases to amaze, just a short ferry ride away from the hubbub on Tortola, to this…

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I have now fully embraced the English tradition of Boxing Day, continuing the Christmas celebration to the 26th.  For me it means after all the chaos leading up to and on the 25th itself, I can safely rely on Boxing Day saved as a day for nothing.  This year was true bliss   – C very happily playing all day with new toys, while I kept myself occupied with a ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’ marathon, only surfacing at the end of day to meet up with friends for parktime and fireworks.

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catching up

It seems the weeks/months have gone again, without a word on this space.  So it goes.   Life tends to get in the way of documenting said life.  That’s a good thing, I imagine.  And looking back, it has been a fairly busy couple of months.  Back to school, for the both of us, cross-island move, and the start of holiday season.  Although we have a simpler life down here on the rock, it doesn’t take much for the days to be filled and the weeks to fly by.

Be still my Montessori heart, Coralie started he first year in the Casa classroom.  Although she did a year in the toddler Crech,  seeing her working away in my old class has been very bitter sweet.   The following classroom pics were taken by her own wonderful teacher, Ms. Roxanne, as I try to give her as much space in her environment as I can do, working just downstairs.  But sometimes I do find myself passing by during lunch time, and grabbing a cuddle here and there.  I am very much appreciative of being a working mom, while still being a part of her day to day.

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Coralie also participated in the H. Laverty Stoutt College one mile run series for children.  We made it out for a few of the runs, and Coralie worked her way up a bit in the pack from last place to second to last place, being the youngest by at least a year.

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By far the biggest change this fall, we relocated to the other side of the island to our first real ‘house’ as a family.  We are now much closer to Yann’s marina, cutting his commute by about 30 minutes.  And Coralie has even graduated beyond her closest-room, all very exciting!

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Of course, I can’t help but squeeze in a few pics of C in her Annie costume, somehow put together in the final hours on Halloween Eve.  She’s been singing her heart out to “Tomorrow” for as long as I can remember, and I had to see the dream come alive.

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ca holiday

Back on Tortola, having post vacation blues, thinking the best way to cope is to relive the experience through blogging. Apart from a few weekend trips to Puerto Rico on our own, this was in essence our first real solo family holiday.  After Coralie and I finished our stay in Portland, we flew south to meet up with Yann in San Francisco.  There we enjoyed four days as proper tourists, taking in the waterfront area; the Louis Vuitton Cup, the precursor to the America’s Cup; and Yann’s highlight seeing Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Outside Lands festival.  From there we headed on highway one for a night in Santa Cruz, of course taking a brief stop at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay.  We then spent a few days visiting friends who are really more like family, in Nipoma, near the central coast, seemingly spending every day at a different farmers market, taking it all in before it was too late.  We continued on south visiting BVI friends, who share the year between their boat in the Caribbean and their hometown of Santa Barbara.  It was my first time in the area, and I have to say it completely lives up to the hype.   I got some shopping in, Yann fit in a surf session, and Coralie was happy just doing her thing.  Our last few days as a family were spent with family down in LA in the company of my Uncle, who Coralie took to instantly.   It was awesome taking her around the spots we always hit up in LA on our family holidays.  After three days of sightseeing, my little gypsy proudly took off with Papa to the airport for two weeks in France, repeatedly requesting to ride on the ‘alligators’.  We finally figured out this to mean the escalator, which she had seen for the first time in memory at the airport four weeks prior.  I had one more night in CA on my own, spending it with an amazing college friend, who I always seem to pick up with where we last left off.  Now back on the rock, back in the routine of normal life, and already starting to plan our next summer away.

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dearest portland, you will most certainly be missed

Although my little girl was born in Portland, she has only spent a grand total of seven weeks of her life in the city itself. Regardless, I know she feels just at home there as I do. Similarly, for me, I have now spent twice as much time on Tortola as I lived in Portland, but it doesn’t matter, when asked I always call the Northwest home. It’s where I found my passion in Montessori, made a house a home on Glisan street, learned the meaning of friendship, a friendship tested during some of the toughest months of my life, and found the strength through these roots of friendship to take off not once but twice, knowing I would always be welcomed home. It’s hard to tell now if I will ever make my way back. As Yann says, it’s a bit far from the sea, and I too find the weather more difficult than before as I relearned the power of the sun. But never say never. After these last couple of weeks in the city spent with Coralie, lovingly hosted by the Montgomery’s, whether or not we return permanently, there will be more summers in our future, maybe a few weeks in Hood River or on the coast, Oregon is a magical place.

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date night with C

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After an incredibly frustrating start to our holiday, which included a six-hour wait at the ever so lovely Beef Island airport after a 4am alarm call, Coralie and I finally made our way into Puerto Rico for a quick visit before our 3am flight out the next day.  I have to say, Coralie was quite the patient traveller, whereas I was the one going a bit mental trying to kill time between the lounge and Trellis Bay.  Even though our day in Old San Juan  was cut short, we still managed a trip into Marshalls, where Coralie was humbled by the many choices available.  With just enough time for an early sitdown meal before heading back to our hotel room, we made our way to one of my favorites, St. Germain Cafe, only to find it shut until later in the evening.  Patrons were encouraged in the off hours to try the wine bar Mezzanine above the cafe for tapes and drinks.  As we started to head up the stairs, I hesitated as I realized that it seemed to be more of sophisticated atmosphere than a two-year old requires.  I attempted to bring Coralie back down the stairs, silly me, thinking I was the one in charge.  She continued to march her way to the top, greeting the hostess with a boisterous ‘Hello!’.  But of course in child-loving Puerto Rico, no one even batted an eye seeing a toddler enter the establishment.  In the end C and enjoyed a lovely meal together after a long day of travel.  

In retrospect, this little date of ours ended being exactly what we needed to rekindle our mama/daughter relationship, which had taken it’s toll during the month of July.  As the head, and often only teacher at our schools day camp, I smugly thought there would be little issue having Coralie in my class.  I’ve substituted here and there in her Crech classroom, and she has always seemed totally fine sharing me with the other children.  Not so much if the set up is all day, everyday.  Add this to a schedule which took her afternoon nap away cold turkey, and it’s no wonder that she and I had a tough four weeks.  Lots of attention calling tantrums, arguments with the other children, and the notion that because it was only ‘mommy’ at the school she had free range to anything she wanted on the campus.  But as soon as we got off the rock, and she had me back, all to herself, I felt a sense of relief as she seemed her usual chipper demeanor.  Maybe it was just island fever, maybe she’s just growing up, or maybe I was so tired and overwhelmed I had little tolerance for any challenging behaviours.  Whatever the case, I feel much more confident that our long summer holiday will be a great one. 

 

72 hours, barefoot

Over the last long bank holiday weekend, our family managed to get off of Tortola  and over to Anegada, which in my opinion is the most spectacular of all the British Virgin Islands. While Yann and Barney raced over on one of his Catanas with a small crew to participate in the Lowell Wheatley Anegada, Pursuit race, Coralie and I instead enjoyed the comforts of a gentle four-hour sail, with an all women crew supporting Captain Jules. The first night we enjoyed the award ceremony barbecue and party, that being the only scheduled event for the weekend. For the next three days there was a lot of eating, a bit of drinking, and plenty of beach time. Yann logged some time with the kiteboard, and I got over to Loblolly Bay to hear the Lashing Dogs play, a local Fungi band.  And Coralie and Barney chased one another around Pimento Point, ensuring early evenings in bed.  Essentially 72 hours our barefoot, bliss.

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caribbean market day

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Last week Coralie and I made it down to the Caribbean Market day event held at Sir Georges Plaza on Main Street. I would love to say that this is weekly event down here, but sadly this was a one-off sponsored by the BVI Historical Society, created to exhibit the traditional waterfront market that was a staple in the past. Local growers and other craftsman showed off their goods under a canopy of recycled sails. The event was a huge success for locals, expats, and visitors alike, on an island where it is next to impossible to please everyone at once. We’re hoping organizers realize this, and make the market a regular occurence.

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