Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas - Virgin Islands Style!

So what do you do in the Virgin Islands for Christmas?

Well to start off, you hang your lights on palm trees.

Then you go to many a Christmas Party!

And finally on Christmas Eve, you have friends that are here without their families over for a Prime Rib Dinner!

After a good night's sleep, you get up and head to the dock with your passports to go to Jost Van Dyke and the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands!

Then you have a White Elephant present exchange!

This was a Christmas not to forget!

I hope you too had a joyous holiday!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Road Center Lines No Come?

Often times driving here can be a little stressful.  Not only do you have to drive on the left with cars from the states (driver side still on the left, which puts the driver on the shoulder side of the road) along with our narrow and windy, hilly roads, but in many places the center double yellow is non-existant. There are often times when drivers stray into your lane. I worry if I were to get side swiped, who would be at fault if there were no center lines?  So I asked our local on-line newspaper, the St Thomas Source and here is the article:

V.I. Answer Desk: Drivers Must Contend with Unmarked Lanes for Now
Reader Ken Wiseman wanted to know when the government would paint center lines and lines indicating turning lanes on all of the island roads that are currently bare. So he asked the V.I. Answer Desk.
The response is: Not until there’s more money in the treasury. Or, put another way, no time soon.
That’s not to say that no striping at all is being done. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said any federally funded road project – which is most of the major ones – includes striping. For existing roads, he said, he tries to stretch local funds by prioritizing places where there are acute safety concerns, such as heavily trafficked or dangerous intersections on all three islands.
The current budget includes $1.5 million for striping roads – $750,000 for St. Croix and $750,000 for the St. Thomas-St. John district.
“We’re appreciative” that the Legislature appropriated the money, Smalls said, “but it’s a very small amount” compared with the work that needs to be done.
Public Works does not have the equipment needed for painting roads and has to contract private companies to do that work, he said. The department did have one striper for each district but the one on St. Thomas was destroyed in a fire at the heavy equipment facility in 2010, and the one on St. Croix was heavily damaged in a fire in 2011.
The two together cost $250,000, Smalls said. “It was a tremendous loss,” he said.
“We’re still working with the (insurance) adjustors” concerning the St. Croix incident, so there’s a little hope that eventually there will be some money for replacement, though it still may not be much. So unless and until the government’s overall fiscal health improves, there simply isn’t enough money to paint or repaint lines on all the roads and highways that need it.
In the meantime, is there concern over public safety?
“We recognize the importance of striping,” Smalls said.
Left unsaid: You can’t get paint out of a turnip.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Good News Soon Come for My Career!

This is from the Virgin Island Daily News:

DLCA hires contractor to offer professional licensing exams
By ALDETH LEWIN (Daily News Staff)
Published: November 16, 2012

ST. THOMAS - After more than a year without a contractor in place, the V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs will once again offer various licensing exams in 2013.

In July 2011, the company DLCA had contracted to administer the exams pulled out, saying there was not enough demand in the territory.

DLCA spokeswoman Shayla Solomon said the department typically tests fewer than 100 people per year.

Once the former company - Prometric Services - left the territory, DLCA began to look for a new testing service.

DLCA Commissioner Wayne Biggs Jr. said a contract has been awarded to PSI Services to provide computer-based testing in multiple languages for a range of professions.

"Immediately following Prometric's decision, the department actively engaged in a search to identify an alternate testing agency to create, administer, and score the required exams, in accordance with established national standards. We are pleased to announce that all individuals approved by their respective boards or commissions will be able to take their required exams in the beginning months of 2013," Biggs said.

As soon as an official start date is confirmed, the department will make it known to the public, Biggs said.

The testing fees will increase, but the increases are not finalized yet, Solomon said. She said the new rates will be made public in the near future.

Solomon said the new contract is about half what DLCA was paying before. Under the new two-year agreement, DLCA will pay $30,000 per year to PSI Services.

"We're getting a really much better deal here with PSI, and it's certainly cost-effective for the department," she said.

The new company will develop the tests, provide maintenance, administer the tests and provide security. The security is to prevent those who have taken the test from posting the questions or answers online, Solomon said. If such a breach is discovered, the test is changed, she said.

"We're happy that that's included in the contract," Solomon said.

Another new feature is the ability to administer the tests in several languages.

The barber and cosmetology exams will be available in Spanish and English, and the manicurist exam will be offered in Spanish, English and Vietnamese.

Tests offered by DLCA and administered by PSI Services will include:

- Real estate exams for brokers, salespeople and appraisers.

- Construction exam for general contractors.

- The state portion of the Certified Public Accountant exam.

- Trade exams for electricians, plumbers and heating, ventilation and air conditioning mechanics.

- Barber, esthetician, manicurist and cosmetologist exams.

Other professional exams required for licensing in the territory are administered by national organizations, Solomon said. For example, while DLCA offers the state portion of the CPA test, the national portion is conducted by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

DLCA has only one testing facility for the territory, which is located on St. Thomas, but the department is trying to establish a testing facility on St. Croix, Solomon said.

For more information call 718-2226 on St. Croix or 774-3130 on St. Thomas

Friday, September 7, 2012

Owning a Home in the Virgin Islands - Landscaping Update

I thought it was time to give you an update on our landscaping as it has been a while. The previous post can be found here: Landscaping June.

The bad -

My septic tank banana tree that has never produced a banana in two years was blown over by TS Issac.

I cut the stalk below where it give way, so we shall see if it re-grows.

The other banana tree I had planted, well when we had our cistern cleaned and re-coated, the workers poured the dirt and muck on it, it died, but alas I planted yet another one. I am determined to have bananas as in the store they are up to 99 cents a pound!

The mango tree, well it didn't do so well.

So, in it's place we have a ?

The Good! The papaya tree is doing really well! Sadly, I discovered the life span of this tree is only like 3-5 years.

Now on to the vegetables. The zucchini started to bear fruit, but then turned all yellow and got infested with worms. It never made it and will not be trying that one again!

Basil is rocking, have used it many times already in some dishes.

The jalapeno peppers are doing well with some peppers that are almost ready to be harvested! Sadly though I discovered underneath the leaves this white fuzz with black scales underneath the fuzz. I sprayed it with insecticide as I believe these are mites? If you have any ideas let me know?

The lettuce is doing great and have had several salads already from it. It is doing so good and with a box of salad going for $7 a box, I bought another planter and will start a new batch.

I have also started a new pot with green bell peppers as price for those here is $1.49/lb.

I am anxious to see if I can keep growing these vegetables year round here!

On another subject, if you are interested in what is going on for entertainment on St Thomas, there is a new Facebook page that is letting us know what to do! St Thomas Weekends Etc

Monday, August 27, 2012

What To Do in the Virgin Islands - Cooper Island, BVI

Since today is a cloudy and grey day, I thought I would post about a trip we made two weeks ago.

We all heard the story of how great Cooper Island and the resort there, Cooper Island Beach Club was and was on our bucket list. We were waiting for a calm day of which there hasn't been too many this Summer, which is a mixed blessing, nice to have breezes to keep things cool, but for boating makes for a rough day. We also had a deadline for when Shannon started her real Monday through Friday job.

That day came on a Thursday before Shannon started work on that Monday! Seas were forecast to be 1-2 feet. We are going, Cooper Island or Bust!

Out of the Compass Point Marina was surprisingly calm, Pillsbury Sound between St Thomas and St John which is usually rough, was good and through the north side of St John was a like a lake, glass!

We pulled into Sopher's Hole, Tortola, BVI within 30 minutes of leaving. This is where we cleared customs.

Cleared customs without a hitch, now on Cooper Island!

Seas were pretty calm, 1-2 feet and 24 MPH was no problem. On our way there, I saw Salt Island and remembered there was a wreck there, the RMS Rhone. So we motored over there, hooked up to a mooring ball. We were surrounded by all these dive charters, apparently it is one of the most frequented dive spots in the Virgin Islands. A little back ground on the Rhone:

The RMS Rhone was a royal mail steam packet ship that transported cargo between England, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. She was one of the first iron hulled ships, powered by both sail and steam. It sank in a hurricane when it hit a rock in 1867, killing 123 passengers and crew, with 23 surviving. It is in about 25 - 60 feet of water.

We donned our snorkel gear and watched all the divers below us. The wreck is pretty cool, saw the large propeller.

Now off to Cooper Island, 10 minutes away. There is a large, single finger dock there, but it had day charter boats docked, so we took a mooring ball off the beach.

Time for a little snorkel around the boat. It was some of the clearest water I have seen this close to a resort.

We waited until about 1:30 when all the day charters left to swim in for some lunch!

We essentially had the place to ourselves. The staff was amazing, all from the British Empire, English, South African, New Zealand. It was a refreshing change! Jacques our waiter was from S. Africa.

I had the humus wrap and Shannon had the Tuna. It was most excellent!

I tend to judge the quality of the beach resorts by the cleanliness of their bathrooms, and I must say, this bathroom was nicer than the one in our own house!

Time to head back to the boat, but first a stop at the table in the water to finish my pain killer!
It is getting late in the day, so we shove off and head back to St Thomas, going past the North side of Peter Island and Norman Island and the south side of St John. Let's not forget to stop at Salt Pond on St John for happy hour?

Cooper Island does have bungalow rooms and serves three meals a day. You can visit their website at:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac - Update!

These meteorologists are just like the media, sensationalists. This storm was an utter joke, and they still have us under a tropical storm warning for heavy rains this afternoon. Anyone one with a brain can see on the satellite the storm’s back end is falling apart over Barbados. The only real voice was the meteorologist Rob Carolen on the Country Radio Station, 93.5 out of St Croix (and after doing some research and always wondering why the staff meteorologists on that station had Massachusetts's accents, they are an independent meteorologist company out of Nashua, NH were I went to college for 2 years, LOL, and he said on Tuesday morning there was no real concern for this storm and that it was going to flop as it went by us. This morning when he was being interviewed, he was like, see told ya so!

Adding to the sensationalism, our marina is still closed until Saturday or Sunday to see what happens with Joyce, which is not coming anywhere near us, which Rob Carolen also said this morning. Cry wolf too many times, you are going to have another New Orleans, where no one believes these forecasts. 35 MPH winds? One of the reasons we left N. Nevada was every day there were winds of 30+ MPH. As I am writing this, here comes a passing shower with a peak gust of 30 MPH.

Oh well, it was good emergency practice run, next time, I will listen to Rob Carolen and look at all the information myself and make a real judgement call.

Update at 7:00 PM AST  - Still no rain today, where is this Tropical Storm? We still have a Tropical Storm Warning in place, I guess for the winds? Right now peak gust is 12 MPH with avg of 7 MPH. This storm never materialized and let's hope it doesn't? After thinking today, this used to be same sensationalism when I lived in NJ, CO, ID, NV when there was a snow storm, 24 inches and the next day there would be 4 inches. I am a hoarder by nature after living for 8 years in N. NV and the nearest store was 45 mins away. So, in the future, I am going to forget the stress and roll with it. For those who know me and my sarcasm, I hope you are getting a laugh.

7:10 PM AST - Rain shower coming through, checked rain guage since the storm started, 1/2 inch, heck we get those all the time with a passing shower?

In parting, here is the forecast for Reno, NV, better issue a Tropical Storm Warning?

Tonight: Clear. Haze and areas of smoke. Lows 53 to 63. West winds 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph in the evening becoming light.