This trip I managed things somewhat differently, which also explains why I didn't start my blog upon arrival as usual. I flew into Düsseldorf for the final weekend of the world's largest boat show, the “BOOT” and enjoyed looking at some of the newest and biggest yacht models being presented. The bigger boats were all cordoned off and it was difficult to get aboard for viewings without prior appointments. I left the camera in the suitcase so didn't get any pictures. Sunday was the last day of the boat show and I helped the crew at ISTEC take down their booth before returning to the hotel in preparation for the next day's early morning flight.
Monday the 1st of February had me head to the airport for the long journey to the British Virgin Islands via Frankfurt, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Martin. I had a good long wait in Frankfurt after the short hop from Düsseldorf and before boarding the Condor flight to Antigua. That flight departed on time (I've not had good luck with that hop) and at first I was thrilled to see that I had an exit row window seat even though I hadn't requested it. I wasn't thrilled to find that the seat was a bulkhead row right by the busy mid-section toilets and there wasn't a great amount of legroom to offset the fact that the seats wouldn't recline. Oh well, only 9 hours and it turned out that I didn't read all that much as I spoke with my neighbor, a medical doctor taking a windsurfing break.
I'd forgotten that they'd constructed and opened the new terminal building so the expected long wait in line for customs & immigration didn't materialize and the new building is so squeaky clean that it is hard to imagine that one is actually in the Caribbean. I cleared formalities and found the LIAT airline check in counter and was soon ready to depart - except for the 4 hour wait. I walked around outside for an hour, but then went inside to the air-conditioned comfort of the terminal building since I was beginning to notice the heat - my long-sleeved shirt, full shoes and jeans didn't help me cool down, either.
There's a reason that LIAT is considered one of the worst airlines around; I'd risked using them again and hoped that my long-shot at an on-time flight might pay off for once, but I was out of luck once again. The scheduled 20:00 was fast approaching and I could see a LIAT aircraft on the apron but not a single LIAT employee was in sight. At five minutes before our planned departure an announcement came across that due to “Operational” reasons the flight was going to be delayed, and the next announcement was going to be 21:00. That was typical of LIAT - no explanation of what “Operational” actually means and no information on whether we should expect to make it out that evening. They were smart to announce this via remote-control with nary a LIAT employee in sight in the departure area, they used to just send out someone with a bad temper and with no information to get into arguments with the guests. I was frustrated that we were going to have to wait an hour before they told us that the flight was cancelled and as I headed towards the bar for an unhappy hour beer to celebrate my return to island time in the Caribbean they pulled down the shutters on that fine establishment, allowing me to see but not drink from the selection of liquor behind the bar.
At 21:00 nothing happened (no surprise there), but at 21:15 a voice on speaker asked the passengers bound for St. Kitts, the first stop of the flight, to go to a different gate; but only those passengers. It turns out that they were being given the bad news first and were being assigned new flights the next day and hotel rooms. I was certain that the rest of 30-40 people still waiting were going to receive similar treatment when a voice from LIAT once again spoke to us and said that our flight was in the final stages of boarding and we should get aboard immediately. This was going to be difficult considering the gate we were supposed to be boarding at was still locked. But soon a harried and bad-tempered LIAT employee showed up and tried to hurry us through the gate as if the whole delay was our own fault and he was doing us a great favour in letting us board anyway...
Once aboard the aircraft we got to wait again without being told what was going on; but at least we were on an airplane and the external generator was chugging away at running the aircraft A/C. 20 minutes later the crew showed up and things started taking shape and we were told that the flight was going directly to Tortola rather than stopping on the way, most of the passengers were headed there and the rest were continuing on to St. John, the flight's final destination that evening. So while the flight was now shorter, we were still going to arrive close to two hours late and I know that they've cancelled flights that late before because the customs and immigration officials in the BVI want to go home. But once in the air I knew that I'd get there without having to overnight anywhere. I wasn't so sure about my luggage, though.
Arriving before midnight at Beef Island airport in the BVI we cleared formalities and then had the typical wait of about 30 minutes before the baggage showed up. This delay is typical for that airport. The walk from the aircraft to the terminal is no more than 100 yards and they use a Toyota pickup to transport the luggage yet it always takes a long time. But my suitcase showed up on the conveyor belt and I was whisked through customs to find my rental car in place with the keys underneath the mat and a short note requesting that I drive to the agency sometime the next day to take car of the paperwork. Rather than try to find the right roads up the hills, I opted for the somewhat longer route along the shore and I arrived at the “Château Relaxeau” sometime after midnight to find that Malcolm had been kind enough to leave two chilled Red Stripe beers in the fridge for me to consume upon arrival! I had my first island beer to the sound of the waves hitting the beach only feet away from my now bare feet.

Mouse problems Somehow a mouse managed to get aboard and cause mischief for a day or so before going on. Here the paper around my storage cans has been shredded.
(2016-02-03 12:48:29 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/20s] ISO 100)
Mouse problems
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau Charms Tibetan charms outside the Ch‚teau Relaxeau.
(2016-02-07 16:22:36 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/4s] ISO 100)
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau Charms
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau Break The break outside the Ch‚teau Relaxeau
(2016-02-07 16:18:20 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/20.0, 1/250s] ISO 1000)
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau Break
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau bed The bed with mosquito net (for those wishing to use it) at the Ch‚teau Relaxeau
(2016-02-02 09:23:01 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/10s] ISO 100)
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau bed
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau Pelican Pelican cruising the break outside the Ch‚teau Relaxeau
(2016-02-07 16:21:12 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/6400s] ISO 1000)
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau Pelican
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau Sign Sign warning of the dangers when wet
(2016-02-07 16:17:56 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/20.0, 1/80s] ISO 1000)
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau Sign
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau View through the flyscreen to beach
(2016-02-02 09:22:40 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/200s] ISO 100)
Ch√Ęteau Relaxeau
Zanshin on the Travelift Zanshin being moved from the storage area to the water on the big Travelift
(2016-02-08 11:53:59 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/4.2, 1/320s] ISO 100)
Zanshin on the Travelift
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