Monday, 12 May 2014

Life's a Beach

Well folks, I've got one month left down here! Woo! It's looking like we'll be home between June 6th and the 10th. I'm hoping a decision will be made within the next few days! Most of the time I feel like the time has gone by super fast, but I've been curious as to how quickly this next month will go. We are currently in the BVIs and are finally going to start slowing down a little bit, which is nice. We will travel around here a bit, hit the USVIs, and then end our journey in Puerto Rico! Since my last post I think we had two 12-hour passages along with multiple others. I'm excited to take it easy! Below are a couple of pictures from our passages so far - the one on the left was a particularly brutal one! Ha ha. Sickness all around. I'm pretty sure I felt the way that they look!

When I wrote my last post we were anchored in Le Saints, which I loved! It was so quaint and quiet there. After we left that area we spent one night in Guadelope. We had planned to rent a car to do some touring there, but it didn't work out. So we went on to St. Kitts for fuel, which was our first time spending the night in a marina since leaving St. Lucia in the very beginning! Next was St. Barts, St. Martin, and Virgin Gorda (BVI territory). We are currently anchored at Peter Island and went to church across the channel in Tortola yesterday! 

I absolutely loved St. Barts! St. Barts is a popular island for the rich and famous. It was most definitely ritzy. We anchored the boat outside of the main port, The Port of Gustavia, and while we were entering the bay I noticed several sail boats go by all at once. Jenn had told me that May 1st was a holiday there, but I didn't realize that the boats were part of a big regatta they do annually. Check out for more pictures and a sweet video! Every other year they sail all the way from France. They come in at all hours of the night and are warmly greeted with bells, clapping, and cheers. We went over to Gustavia that night to meet up with some friends of the Bloods, The Millers, who currently live on their boat there. There was a pretty large celebration going on - camera crews interviewing the winners, tons of stalls filled with various items, and live music. It a busy few days around there and I really enjoyed being around lots of other people!

We spent three nights near the island. We didn't have internet where we anchored, so I made David take me back over to the Port for my break one of the days. Everything there was super expensive, but there was a cute little burger joint that was reasonable and really good! (I've missed going out to eat whenever I want! Ha ha.) I was able to get internet from their little souvenir shop next door and after sufficiently wasting enough time on Instagram and Facebook, I went on a walk to explore a bit. There are tons of tiny little cars and scooters there. The airport is right on the edge of the island, so planes fly right over the main road the leads into Gustavia. I even heard a man was hit in the head by one last year!

{See the cute little pink car? What I wouldn't have given to cruise that around!}
On Saturday, a week ago, we went with The Millers to Shell Beach. They have a little girl, Jade, who is Benjamin's age. I love the Blood family, but I don't often get the opportunity to interact with anyone else. So I really loved meeting Jade's parents, Simon and Meredith. They were the nicest people! Meredith does forensic science stuff for the FBI, so we talked a lot about DC and the pros/cons of living and working there. She mentioned that she would love to USAID, so I had fun telling her a little about the organization and my former job. She and Simon met in TANZANIA! So that was a fun story to hear about too. They've even been to Arusha, which is where I spent my 4.5 months, so I was over the moon to hear about their experiences there!  

{Seriously, shells GALORE!}

St. Martin, however, was a bit boring. We spent most of our time on the boat, but had the opportunity to go to church there, which was nice! Most of the people at that particular branch were white. There were a lot of visitors - cruise-goers and a young couple who were there to adopt some children on the island! There were several other young couples who were in medical school there too.

The BVIs, however, have been really fun! Our first stop here was the North Sound of Virgin Gorda near Saba Rock. Saba Rock was pretty legit and I definitely wouldn't mind going back there someday for a little vacay! It was also very low-key there. We were super close to shore, although there was nowhere to go/nothing to do except sit in the sand and get sand fly bites! (I've got so many, it's ridiculous.) It was still relaxing though. We stayed there three nights and one of the mornings I woke up to a surprise! The kids had all of their schoolwork done, which was nice because half of the battle Monday through Friday is getting them to focus, get along, and stay on task. (Some days it seriously sucks the life out of me!) They were so excited they made me take a picture of the pile:

That day David inflated the trampoline,"hot dog", and raft for the kids. They spent half the day outside getting some sun. I even joined them for a bit after I was done correcting all that work! Later that day Jenn and I went snorkeling out a bit further into the ocean and I saw my first shark! (Eek!) It was a 3 foot long nurse shark. Basically I'm just glad I wasn't bleeding from anywhere, ya know? 

{Check out that amazingly blue water!}
Our next stop was Savannah Bay. Our Savannah, Savannah Blood, was pretty excited about spending the night there! When the kids finished their school work that day, we headed to the beach. Savannah loaded the smaller kids onto their inflatable raft along with their sand toys and my beach chair and we took off for shore. I was in charge of the navigating at the front while Savannah and Isabel kicked in the back. It was seriously tough! Ha. It's a good thing I wore flippers, because otherwise I don't think I would have made it! There was quite the current and I definitely got a good work out! I also (finally) saw my first sting ray that day! I personally think sting rays are creepy little buggers - I just don't want to end up getting Steve Irwined by one! 

There was also a killer sunset that evening! Serious eye candy, right?!

On the way to Peter Island we stopped at The Baths. Oh my heck... The Bloods had been telling me about The Baths since the beginning of our journey and for good reason! They have got to be THE tourist hotspot of the BVIs. Luckily cruise season is ending (or perhaps has already ended), so it wasn't too crowded. It was amazing though! The Baths are essentially piles of huge boulders that form natural tide pools, tunnels, and arches that eventually open up to the ocean. They were so fun to explore! We  climbed all over and through them and even slide down them (ish)! It was also a pretty decent spot for snorkeling! And now for a million pictures:




Sunday, 27 April 2014


Dominica was a whirlwind! It was an 8 hour journey to travel from Martinique to the Northern tip of  Dominica. I'm actually starting to enjoy our passages between islands! I even made it through our 3 hour passage from Dominca to Les Saints without any medicine yesterday! I'm just fine as long as I sit on the top level of the boat, which is exposed to air. It is actually super relaxing and I usually spend my time jamming or reading! The days we travel, however, are long days regardless of how the ocean treats us!

We were anchored outside of Portsmouth for 2 nights and 3 days. We got in around dinner time on Wednesday and left yesterday morning! Thursday and Friday we toured the island all day and yesterday (Saturday) we also started our morning out with a tour. It was really fun!

Dominica is the most mountainous of all the islands, (or at least the ones that I've seen). It is also the greenest, most lush! It is absolutely beautiful in that sense, but it doesn't have the best beaches. Portions of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3 where filmed there. I haven't seen those movies since they came out, so I could hardly remember the scenes that were filmed in the locations we visited! On Thursday we went to Number One Beach. There was a large river there that flowed out into the ocean. It was definitely picturesque! The kids had a great time swimming and playing there. Our tour guide, Kenny, was also a gem. He showed us how to break open coconuts to access the water and meat inside! So yummy!

We ended up talking to a guy who works as a security guard at the beach. He was so sweet and friendly! He mentioned to us that he used to travel between the islands, making money by peeling coconuts with his TEETH. So of course I had to see it! I took a video, but unfortunately I don't think it will upload! So you'll have to settle with a picture of his chompers! I can't believe how healthy they look! Ha ha. (I must admit I have a natural obsession with teeth, but I also worked in a dental office for a brief, hell-ish 7 months when I first lived in DC.) This guy has gotta be brushin!

We followed our stop at Number One Beach with Red Rock Haven. Beautiful, yet again!  

Lastly, we visited a model Carib village. (The Caribbean was obviously named for after the Carib people.) I wasn't super impressed with the tour - I would have LOVED to visit actual Carib territory!  One of my personal projects in Africa over the summer was to teach the Maasai people proper health practices. I went to my friend, Elias', village a couple of times, so I feel like nothing can really compare to that experience! Our guide for the tour was also incredibly soft-spoken! I almost had to laugh, because trying to listen to her and interpret what she was saying was like something out of a comedy. Goodness sakes! I feel like I didn't learn very much. are some pictures! 

Friday was one of my favorite days of this adventure so far! We started out our day hiking to Middleham Falls. It took us a little less than an hour to get to the waterfall. It was a pretty good hike and all of the kids did a great job! There were lots of ups and downs and climbing over roots, as you can tell by the picture below. The waterfall was huge! I couldn't capture it all in one picture from anywhere I stood. It was quite windy and there was a lot of spray! I knew it would be cold, but I forced myself to go in up to my shoulders. You'd think I would have done some swimming around, but I got out pretty quick! (We're talking super cold here.) David got in (I think socks, shoes and all) and Jenn did too! They rock! Calvin stayed in about as long as I did and the rest of the kids stayed away. 

Our next stop was Titou Gorge. It was amazing! I sat with the two youngest kids first while Jenn and David took the four oldest in. Luckily, Calvin came along for a second round so I wouldn't have to go with our creepy tour guide alone! I have never hiked The Narrows or been to a slot canyon, but I imagine Titou Gorge is very similar. And (I can't even believe I'm going to bring this up again), but for those of you who watched this last season of The Bachelor, it was pretty similar to Juan Pablo and Andi's one on one! Ha ha. Oh my...I HAVE GOT to stop watching that show. I am ridiculous!

{The entrance to Titou Gorge}

Anyways, we swam through a short tunnel-like thing and ended up in a cave-like thing. The water was so clear and blue! Our guide made us wear life jackets, because there was a bit of a current inside of the cave. We climbed up the first waterfall you can see in the picture below and entered into another cave with another waterfall, only we weren't allowed to swim in that one! The picture of Calvin and I above is in the second cave. After we were done checking it out we jumped from the first waterfall into the water and swam back out. LOVED it!

Our last stop that day was Trafalgar Falls, but I had been there before. It was an excursion stop on last year's cruise. Baby Alex was asleep, so I stayed in the car with him and snoozed a bit too. I can't lie, I was happy to have a little break. (Who wants to guess how many times I've heard the Veggie Tales theme song in the last 40 days?! Ah? Anybody?)

Today I was taking a look at our pamphlets and realized that a couple (possibly all) of the parks in Dominica are part of a program funded by USAID! Remember my last post when I said I always like seeing the sign for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? I also get super, super excited when I see USAID's logo. It makes me feel so proud, even though I don't work there anymore! Ha ha.  

Before leaving yesterday we were up bright and early at 5:30 am for a tour of the Indian River. It was beautiful, of course, but also very peaceful and quiet at that time of day! No motors are allowed on the river, so our tour guide rowed all 9 of us around! Poor guy!

I definitely enjoyed Dominica! We're currently in Le Saints - the islands are part of Guadeloupe. I'm not sure how long we are going to be here. This is our second night and if we don't leave tomorrow I'm guessing we'll only stay one more. I am absolutely loving it here though! It is so beautiful, calm, and relaxing. There are a couple of small beaches and the snorkeling has been great! I even got to swim with a wild dolphin today, in case you didn't already see my picture on Facebook or Instagram. Ah... dream come true! Anyways, more to come! Almost halfway through!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Boy am I already suckin it up at this whole blog thing! Ugh... Today I'm five weeks into this jaunt around the Caribbean! Woo! One more week and I'm halfway through. It's actually going quite fast, so I'm going to try and remind myself to take the time to enjoy every day instead of rushing through each one!

After leaving Grenada we headed north in hopes of chartering new territory. (Territory that is new to me I guess, as The Bloods have already been to most of the places we have stopped!) We hit three islands we had already been to and ended up in Martinique. Here's my island/anchorage count so far:

St. Lucia
Tobago Cays
Union Island
Petit St. Vincent

Addendum #1: I'm pretty sure this list is correct, but I'm not 100% sure. My days started running together about two weeks ago! It's hard to keep track of things out here!

Addendum #2: The Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Union Island, and Petit St. Vincent are all part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Carriacou is a part of Grenada. I think. I need to do more research on what is actually going on down here! Ha ha. Shoot. We didn't actually stop at St. Vincent (the biggest of the 32 islands that make up "The Grenadines"), because we've heard it isn't safe to go there.

We've anchored at more than one location at some of the islands, so I've gotten to see a few of them from different perspectives. The Tobago Cays were just a group of tiny islands that we were in the middle of, as you may remember from a previous blog post.

Martinique is where we are currently anchored. (By anchored I mean it is where we have "set up shop" and are spending the night.) As of today we have been here for a week. It's the longest we have stayed in one place, second to a marina in St. Lucia where we stayed for about six nights in the beginning while we got the boat ready. We are leaving for Dominica in the morning, which was one our stops on the cruise I went on a year ago! We've anchored at three different locations on this island - Martinique is the biggest island we have been to so far! It's so crazy how different the islands are. For instance, Mayreau is only about 1.5 square miles with a population of about 300 (300! I'd kill myself!), whereas Martinique is approximately 700 square miles with a population of 412,305. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)  I'm not sure how I feel about Martinique, even though it is my namesake. It's a French island, so it's difficult to get around and everything here is mega expensive! I heard somewhere that it is the most expensive island (in the Caribbean? In the area?), who knows?! But I believe it!

Last Tuesday was little Matthew's fourth birthday! We didn't do anything to crazy for it - Jenn made him a cake and we opened birthday presents! He's so cute! Every time I ask him how his day is going he says "Not good!" When I ask him why he says "...I'm sick." He was sick our first week in the Caribbean and it seems as though he thinks he hasn't recovered! Ha ha. What a stinker!

I had a couple of rough mornings last week with the kids - sometimes it's so hard to get them to stay on task! It would be nice if I could remember any of the stuff I learned from my brief stint as an elementary education major...but no. Anyways, I decided to hop off the boat before going completely crazy. I went for a little run, which was great! I've missed running a lot. It's hard to do down here and I've been itching to go! (I'm totally thinking about signing up for another half when I get home, but we'll see.) I did some exploring too - ran to the beach below and walked around some shops before returning to the ship! (BTW, I didn't even make ONE purchase!)

Saturday we did some exploring around Fort-de-France, the capital, and Sunday we were able to go to church. Getting to and from church was quite the adventure! There's just no easy way for nine people to get around, ya know?! We left the boat at 8 am and took the tender across the bay to Fort-de-France again. Luckily we had found the bus station the day before and were able to catch a bus that made a stop near the area the church was in. (Jenn had formerly spoken with some English-speaking missionaries who had given her general directions to the building.) After reaching our stop, we walked quite a ways to reach an area with tons of buildings like the one pictured below. So random - think the times I have attended meetings in a place other than an actual church meetinghouse of some sort are few and far between. I always love coming across our church's signs wherever I am in the world. I always instantly feel more comfortable, no matter where I am!

We ended up being about forty minutes late to church and made quite the commotion when we entered sacrament meeting! Later I learned that there are about seventy members who attend regularly and about 100 others who are inactive. I think the nine of us really shook things up a bit! Apparently there is a small group who meets on the other side of the Martinique and there are ten missionaries serving on the island. The meetings were in French of course, but some of the missionaries speak Dutch and English too. One of the sister missionaries translated for me in relief society and was so thrilled about being there she even used "jazz hands" at one point - go her! (Not...ha ha.)

The best part was trying to get back to Fort-de-France. When church ended, we made another little trek to a different bus stop and arrived before we thought the bus would come at 12:30. We ended up waiting for a bus to come for an HOUR. And it rained. And it was hot. And there were six hungry kids. And a pregnant woman. And a Melinda. (Actually, for the record, I handled it super well!) We ended up calling a taxi and by the time he got there it had been an hour and a half. The taxi was also a bit of a joke - we piled in like clowns in a circus! But what is travel without a few frustrations?! 

{Crummy picture, but you get the idea!}

We moved to our final (Martinique) anchorage yesterday. The swell here is really bad, so the boat has been rocking like CRAZY! I'm bouncing all over the place, so sleep = not so bueno. But it is really beautiful here! A couple pics of our last and current anchorage are below. 

{Double rainbow!}

{Saint- Pierre, Martinique}
The mountain in the background is called Mount Pelee. (There's supposed to be an accent mark in there somewhere!) Mount Pelee is an active volcano that erupted in 1902 and completely DECIMATED the town of 30,000 people. Only three individuals survived - one of which was a prisoner who lived only because he was in poorly ventilated prison cell. Today we went to a museum with several artifacts that remained from the disaster. It was pretty incredible! We also visited what was left of a theater and the prison where the survivor was found. (Side note - What's also interesting is the prisoner later joined Barnum <and Bailey!> circus in America as a circus freak. He must have gotten burned pretty good...)

Anyways, let's hope the volcano stays dormant so that we're good for the next 24 hours! :) That's all for now! Pics below.


{One more of Mt. Pelee for good measure - reminds me a bit of Mt. Kili, especially when the clouds cover the top!}


{Theater area}

{Prison area}
{Prison cell}