This story is divided into two parts
Once we decided to embark on this new adventure, we knew that our lives (from now on) would have to be lived without a set plan; always open for adjusting and adapting.
While we were in Ecuador we had thought that if the boat would take a while to be ready, we could go to Costa Rica to visit my brother and spend some time there. We also knew that it was now time (after 8 months of the REAL good life) to look for ways to decrease using of our savings and lower our expenses. So we started looking for ways to maybe do some volunteer work in exchange for accommodation or food.
That’s how we came across a really useful website called www.workawayinfo.com . It’s not free but for a reasonable amount of money ($35.00 for two years) you can become a member and be in touch with people worldwide that offer a place to stay and sometimes food in exchange for some hours of work. I really like this website because there are endless possibilities of what you can do, from taking care of monkeys to helping out at backpackers.
We wrote to a few interesting places in Costa Rica and also Nicaragua and we did get a few responses. We were all set; our plan was to fly to the British Virgin Islands, find a boat, and while the boat went through the maintenance and so on , we would go to CR, visit my brother and start volunteering.
But then we packed all our stuff and we flew from Guayaquil through Miami to San Juan Puerto Rico to Tortola, BVI and the plan changed a bit.
Arriving into Miami we had to pass through customs. There was a huge line that went really slow. Once we got to the immigration officer, I got called in into “the special room”; they didn’t tell my why (luckily Mick was allowed to come with me as well). We sat there for about 15 to 20 minutes and then they called my name, gave me back my passport and pointed at the door. We still don’t know why they gave us such special treatment!
By the time we arrived to American Airlines they told us we had missed our flight and we got put into another line. Once we reached the counter, we found a really nice guy who even took some extra time to talk to us about surfing, he gave us a new ticket which was only two hours later than our original ticket to San Juan. We were finally able to relax, we went and had lunch and walked slowly back to our gate.
While we were sitting waiting for our flight, Mick looked at our tickets and realized we hadn’t been assigned seat numbers so he went and approached the lady at the counter. “Excuse me, there must be a mistake, we don’t have any seat numbers”, said Mick in a friendly manner. “That’s because you ain’t on this flight!”, replied the AA lady abruptly. (I will stop this dialogue now, to prevent from writing any swear words that may have occurred after that response).
To make the story short, we were only stand-by passengers and the friendly guy at the first AA counter, wasn’t really that friendly; he probably didn’t want to actually explain what was happening and distracted us from asking any questions with his smile and quirky chit chat. Unbelievable!!To make things worse, there weren’t any more flights to San Juan that day, so we had to stay in a hotel overnight.
The part that was the most frustrating for us, was that fair enough, it wasn’t really American Airlines’ fault that we missed our flight, but it wasn’t our fault either that we got held up by immigration (we had 1.5 hours to connect to the other flight!, that’s plenty of time in any other airport in the world!), but the people in American showed no compassion and no sympathy whatsoever. Every time we would approach the counter to ask about our situation they would treat us like we were the last people they wanted to see on the face of the Earth. That’s what’s sad about this. But anyway…
Luckily we managed to change our connecting flights and we were back at the airport really early the next morning trying to catch the first flight. This time, we were successful. We arrived at Tortola only a few hours later than what we had expected.
After all of that we went through, we didn’t feel like travelling anywhere anymore for a while, especially carrying all the stuff that we were travelling with. Imagine dragging a board bag filled with 6 boards on one side and a long board on the other, plus two backpacks, two ukuleles and two 23kg bags..No way!! We were going to try our best to stay on the BVI until we had a boat and we could travel that way from then on.
So that brings me to the second part of the story.
It’s been over 10 days since we arrived and everything’s worked out really well. We have been staying in this really cosy and comfortable granny flat up on the hills in Tortola. We found this place through a website called www.airbnb.com . It’s an amazing way to find great accommodation (from cheap to luxurious) but instead of staying at hotels you can stay with families or rent people’s houses or apartments. For us, this was the cheapest way to stay on the island. BVI can be quite expensive and when you’re on a budget, like we are, cutting costs is very important. This granny flat has a little kitchen and it’s perfect because we can cook at home instead of having to eat out all the time.
Once we settled in we started visiting all the different marinas to look for boats. We kept ourselves pretty busy the first few days and once we had a few on the lookout, we started focusing on ways to stay on the island. We found a few volunteering opportunities through workawayinfo but then we also remembered there was woofing. For those of you who haven’t heard about woofing, it’s a way to travel around and get accommodation and food in exchange for work in organic or sustainable farms around the world. We looked into the Caribbean woofing website http://www.wwoof-caribbean.org/home/ and found a few options. We soon realized that the place where we were staying at (the little granny flat on the hills) was listed there as needing some woofers to come and help.
We didn’t want to miss our chance so the following morning we talked to Majel about it, the lovely American lady who owns the property, and she told us that we were more than welcome to stay for as long as we needed to, in exchange for a few hours of work a day. How good was that? We didn’t have to move our things anywhere else and we got to stay in this lovely and comfortable flat.
We really love it here. It’s up on the mountains so we sleep with the sounds of nature; it’s all green and peaceful. The only downside to it is that it’s up on the mountains!; for now it’s good because we have a rental car, but on Sunday we’ll return the car and from then on it’s hitch-hiking for this pair of budget travellers! The last few days we have been giving rides to everyone we encounter, hoping on building our karma bank :).
We have our eyes on a boat but we can’t say too much about it yet. The only thing we’ll say is that it’s on the process of becoming ours, but we’ll need to wait a few more weeks for that to be certain. So for now, we won’t be saying anything else about it. If and only if it becomes ours, we then will have to wait 6 weeks for it to be fixed and ready for us. So at the moment the only definite is that we will be staying on the island at least until the end of October whether we get that boat or we find another and from Monday on our paid accommodation finishes and we’ll start woofing. See as I told you at the beginning of the story, life is all about adapting and adjusting.