Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Little By Little

Quickly, as my battery is dying and I'm sweaty and need a shower before I go to bed:

- I'm official! All my paperwork was approved and stamped yesterday. WOOHOOO! I have a BVI Social Security card and am considered a work-permit resident. Yeah! Good for another year!

- I got my bank account set up yesterday, and my BVI cell phone done today. It's starting to feel more real.

- I DROVE ON THE LEFT! It wasn't too terrifying. I even went up one of the worst hills on the island in the little rental car and survived. Now if I could just find a car to buy...

- Cooper Island didn't happen this week. :( Maybe next. I'll get out there one way or another eventually!

- Just three more days of work, then I get Sunday and Monday off as Monday is a holiday in the BVI (St. Ursula's Day).


Monday, October 15, 2012

Cross One Off The List

Woohoo! I have a place to live!

It's the top level of a house in Pockwood Pond, a good central location between town and the West End and also close to Nanny Cay and some good ex-pat hangouts. For convenience sake I'll stay in my temporary housing until the end of the month then make the move. My housemate is a super cool Canadian guy who is very CLEAN and laid back. I'll probably only stay for 6 months until I get adjusted, then look for a place on my own that will take Scully once I get her. But! In the meantime it's a great deal and a good place. Whew!

Next up is to finalize my paperwork tomorrow, then I should be done and legal. I hope. Ugh. After that will be obtaining my Social Security card, getting my BVI phone set up, opening a bank account, and getting my drivers license. Oh, and buying a car. I NEED A CAR. Like now. I'm a liar, that's at the tippy top of my priority list!

On Wednesday I might get to go out to Cooper Island to do outcall massage on a catamaran. WHAT?! How cool is that?? We're just waiting to confirm with the guests, but I have my fingers and toes crossed that it happens.

Thursday is my weekday off this week. Originally I was going to go over to St. Thomas to see my best guy friend who was supposed to be in town, but the wedding he was attending got called off last minute. :( Sad, no? Doubly sad because I don't get to see JR. So now I think I'll spend my day off doing the necessary errands stated above and going in for a very overdue adjustment by one of my first BVI friends, the new chiropractor on the island! We met up last night for a drink at Myett's down in Cane Garden Bay in the POURING rain (oh yeah, the tropical storm we were supposed to get? Nuthin'!), then waltzed over to the Elm for Caribbean barbeque and the same band I heard play last year! It was a blast. I had a great night and am excited to have made a friend. We discussed maybe hitting up Jost Van Dyke on Sunday and drinking at the beach bars there all day, as Monday is a holiday here on island. Ah, island life.

The spa is fabulous. My coworkers are nice chicks, the guests are great, my boss is amazing. She's no Jenni, of course, but who could be? :) At any rate, I'm happy. Honestly, truly happy. Even with all the ups and downs and road blocks and new things and such, I'm happy. Of course I miss everyone (and Starbucks, not gonna lie), but I really feel like I'm at home here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Don't Tell My Sister...

...but I successfully hitchhiked for the first time tonight!

Granted, I got passed a BUNCH before it happened, but it was late and dark and I am an unknown white girl. But still! I could have hoofed it up the giant hill, but I'd had a delicious dinner of conch fritters and a Painkiller (oh, and some key lime pie) at Myett's and I just didn't want to hike up after that. So, I walked a bit then stood at the bottom and hitched a ride up. GO ME. I'M A BIG GIRL.

Two exciting things today:

1. I'm almost completely thought the immigration process! I successfully picked up my papers from the clinic today, then went to the Labour department (no issues) and the Immigration department (one small hiccup, but we corrected it on-site). They kept all my shiz and told me to come back Tuesday to pick it up. HOPEFULLY there are no issues and it will just be a matter of grabbing my papers and being done. My coworker was not so lucky. She's having some issues and her time is running out, as we only have 2 weeks to be on the island and get our papers in order before we're supposed to go back off island and start again. She got here a week ahead of me and has had a few other issues. It should all be resolved and Immigration told my boss she could get an extention, but it's still been very very stressful for poor Toni and C.

2. Someone came by the spa and said hi to me! Before I came down I had corresponded a bit with the new chiropractor on island, as he sent me a nice welcoming message after I posted to the BVI board on Facebook and offered his assistance and advice. So imagine my surprise when my coworker told me a man was there to see me...and it was Dr. B! How nice. He said he was walking through and figured he'd come say hi and see how I was doing. He offered to put me in touch with his realtor and his mechanic to assist with my apartment and car searches. I have a friend, y'all!

Tomorrow night after work I'm meeting up with a guy about a potential house. It's a great situation, but I'm learning that I might not want to live in that area. But, it might be a good option for the first 6 months. We'll see. Saturday will be at the spa, of course. Then I'm off on Sunday! C and I are going to snorkel in Cane Garden Bay, weather allowing. We're supposed to have a tropical depression roll in which means a ton of rain, apparently. Go figure. Oh well...I'm still in the most amazing place and I'm going to take advantage of it. I'm from the Northwest; a little rain can't hold me down.

However, I have got to figure out something to do about these bugs. :( Toni said to take a B Vitamin complex with garlic in it. And to stop scratching. Easier said than done!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On Being The New Girl

Not gonna lie, going from knowing EVERYTHING about your job and how it operates to knowing jack squat and having to flop around like a fish out of water is tough. Luckily Toni and my coworkers are very cool and I do have a lot of experience under my belt, but it's still weird to be in the trainee position and have to ask things like, "Where do these towels go?" I'm trying to be as sponge-like as possible and soak up all that I can while leaving aside my previous habits and the obnoxious "well I did it THIS way at my other spa" mentality.

My new little corner of the spa world! The BVI's #1 choice. 
The upside to being new (and having another newbie at the same time) is training on each other. C gave me a salt scrub today (I gave her one yesterday) and I did a clay wrap on her (which I'll receive tomorrow). Sweeeeet. I love working in a spa.

Our lobby, looking towards the door.
While Toni was driving me to the grocery store tonight she said, "I really hope you like it here. I think you're a really great addition to the spa and we need your upbeat, positive energy. Besides, you "get it" and we think so much alike!" That made me feel like a rockstar. We are both very guest-centered; apparently that hasn't always been the mindset of all the therapists. She appreciates my managerial background and I'm glad that my work ethic and commitment to service are so obvious.

Tomorrow afternoon I have my first two guests! Well, after I spend the morning (and most likely ALL morning) at the government health clinic for attempt #2 at getting my papers signed off. If we're successful, we'll try for the Labour and Immigration offices. We'll see how much luck the island gods grant us.

My mom laughed at me last night for saying "tinned tomatoes" instead of canned. Shit. It's already begun.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012



Sunday night, after a painful and tearful goodbye to my family, I hopped on a plane for my new life. 19 hours later I arrived in Tortola. My flights were fine, for the most part. The first leg was AMAZING as I upgraded myself to first class. That's the way to fly, holy moly. I had so much leg room and a lot of wine! Once I was quite drunk I slept like a baby until just before we landed in Miami. The flight from Miami to St Thomas was a bit rough at times and I wished I had some Xanax, but we survived and made it onto the runway in one piece. Yay!

The ferry ride from St. Thomas to Tortola took FOR. EV. ER. (say that in The Sandlot kid's voice) as there were a bunch of drunk airline people with a bajillion bags and crap for a big sailing event that goes on every year. I ended up sitting next to a nice guy that works for Delta who told me all about it. Interesting. But! I made it to the Road Town ferry terminal, my papers got me through, and I met up with Toni (new boss) on the other side! She ran me by a grocery store to grab food to get me through the next morning, then I came to my temporary home, unpacked, ate a bowl of granola, and PASSED OUT.

It was dark when I got to my place last night, but when I woke up this morning and looked out my patio doors I was greeted with the most amazing view of Cane Garden Bay. Pictures to come soon, I promise. Blue water, green hillsides, dazzling sunshine...yeah, I made the right decision. I love it here.

Toni took C, the other new therapist, and I took the government health clinic at 8:30am to attempt to get our exams completed. :( They took our papers and told us to come back Thursday morning, and told me that I needed another form from my doctor for my TB test. UGGGHHHH. I had to call my doctor and get them to do a document, scan it, and email it to me. I opened it tonight and, of course, it's missing a very vital piece of information (that I KNOW I very clearly told them I needed about 4 times), so I left a message, emailed back, and will be calling as soon as they open tomorrow to have them send that back to me as soon as possible so I have it for my 8:30am attempt #2 on Thursday. We can't do any of the Labour & Immigration stuff until the health exam is done. Welcome to island life!

After our failure at the clinic, C and I walked over to Sole' and I worked my first day! I didn't think I'd be working so soon, but we started training and everything. I have guests on the books for Thursday. YAY. I'm ready to rock. I gave Toni a massage at the end of the day so she could experience my hands (she said it was amazing, for the record) and then we cleaned up and took off. We ran by the store again as Toni needed something, so I picked up some food items to make dinner and lunch for the next few days until I can do a big shopping trip.

C and I decided that we needed to hit the beach tonight, so once we got home we promptly changed into our suits and hiked down the giiiiaaaaant hill to Cane Garden Bay and got our happy asses in the water. Ahh. This is my life now! The only bummer is that we had to hike back UP the giiiiaaaaaant hill, but I just looked at it as an awesome workout. Glass half full, right?

Now I'm sitting outside of the motel office, the only place we can pick up the wifi signal, and enjoying the balmy evening. Through the magic of the internet I was able to talk to my sister for a few minutes, and hopefully I'll talk to Mom tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow I might try to get my phone set up if I can do that on my lunch hour. I'm hopefully looking at a potential apartment/house this week or weekend, and I'll contact a rental place tomorrow to help with the search as well. In the meantime, I'll continue to thank God for the amazing opportunity and embrace my new home!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Puppy Love

Tonight, I said goodbye and gave my last snuggles for awhile to my dog nephew, Mulder. I also had to say goodbye to Rudy, my sister's fiance's wonderful dog.

All the cousins! Mulder, Scully, and Rudy.
Now I'm lying in bed (yes, with my computer. I'm single. Whatevs.) with my little Scully curled up under the covers in her favorite spot behind my knees...and this is the last night I'll have her for a long, long time. Tomorrow night she goes to her foster family, where she will be loved and snuggled and adored until next August.

Sleepy Scully

Cousin Love <3

Shit's getting real now. Leaving my little girl is so hard. She's been my buddy through a lot, and she brings me such happiness and love every single day. I will be counting down the days until I can get her down to Tortola with me. She's going to be in very good hands, but I'm going to miss her so much.

Be good, little girl! You'll be in the sunshine with me soon enough.

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Week From Right Now...

...I will be getting ready to land in St. Thomas. My new life will be starting. I'll be 4000 miles away, completely on my own, and scared as sh*t. My entire life will be packed into 2 suitcases, a carry-on, and a backpack.


So yes, it's here. The time is very VERY quickly approaching for me to fly off to paradise and become an ex-pat. These past 6 weeks have been a blur, especially considering I've been waiting and planning for 18 months.

On August 27th, I talked on the phone with BVI Boss about where we were in the permit process and if we could set dates. She said not yet, but that we were close.

On August 28th, I got out of my hot yoga class and had a message from her. I sat in my car, sweaty and disgusting, and played the voicemail...then promptly burst into tears when I heard her say, "I have good news! Your permit has been approved!" Tears probably aren't the most accurate descriptor. Sobbing, bawling, "ugly crying" as my sister would say, would be a better term. Through the tears I called my mom, sister, and Jenni to let them know. IT WAS FINALLY HERE!

On August 29th, I purchased my airplane tickets. Sunday, October 7th at 9:40pm. BAM.

So since the end of August, my life has been madness. I've done a bajillion massages trying to get all of my beloved guests in one last time, worked a ton of hours, cleaned/organized every item I own, given away even MORE stuff, received my final paperwork and got my police records and health exam completed (I don't have syphilis, TB, or parasites in my poop. Yay!), sold my car (*tear*), had a minor freak-out over dog fostering which was then promptly squelched by awesome people in my life, partied with friends, visited people, driven up to my sister's place numerous times, and had more than one breakdown.

I found out in early August that I wouldn't be able to take Scully with me at first. This whole time I had planned on having my dog with me and had started working with the vet to get her ready, but my boss informed me that I couldn't have her in the temporary housing I'd be in for the first month. Besides, she said, it'd be much better for me to get there and get settled, then have someone bring her or get her when I went back to the States for a visit. Completely logical, but of course I started to stress. I knew my family couldn't take her. A friend then offered if I couldn't get anyone else...but then 2 weeks ago she realized she was having issues with care for her own dog while she was at work and said she might not be able to take Scully. I completely understood, but freaked out a little again.

Luckily a guest (and friend) of mine had offered to be a back up if something went wrong with the first person. So! Scully will be living with a wonderful family with 3 little boys and another little dog and she is going to LOVE it. I took her over there last week to meet everyone and it was perfect. The boys ran around and chased her and threw things for her and she had a blast. They promised to snuggle her and let her sleep with them. S & T, the mom and dad, are amazing people and I feel completely at ease about Sculls staying with them. S assured me that Scully can stay as long as I need. Considering that might be until I come home for Kate's wedding next August, I was/am completely floored by their kindness. The boys apparently keep asking about Scully and when she's coming to live with them. :) Scully will be going to her extended vacation on Thursday evening (so they can take her out of town to Leavenworth this weekend. Lucky dog! I've never even been!) and start to get her acclimated. I am going to miss my little girl SO MUCH, but I know this is the best and most responsible way to handle the situation. Once again, I have the most amazing people in my life. I'm so blessed!

One of the other most difficult things for me was saying goodbye to Solei. I had my last official shift last Sunday (minus a massage I did Thursday night that couldn't be rescheduled earlier), and it was painful. I wouldn't be where I'm at, I wouldn't be doing what I am, I wouldn't be the therapist I am, without that place. I know it's in good hands and my guests will be well taken care of, but I still have a very strong sense of responsibility and pride. That's been my home for the past 4 years. My rock. I've seen it grow from the ground up. I'm the last original team member. But, every baby bird has to leave the nest at some point. Time to fly on.

Which brings us to my last week here. I have SO MUCH TO DO, but it will get done. I have plans with friends this week, errands to run, crap to pack, and parties to attend. While I'd love to say I'm totally ready for everything, I'm not; I'm completely terrified. Full on freak out mode. But it's ok! It's all ok. The control freak in me is having a hard time with all the unknowns but I just need to trust and have faith and let it go. Everything will be fine.

I suppose I should shower and actually get my rear in gear...