Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BREXIT: Brian & Renee's Exit . . . from Abu Dhabi

Sorry for the pun, but with so much drama over the Brexit vote, it seemed fitting. And of course happening just a week before our move had lots of friends and family asking how it would affect us. The truth is we don't know yet, but we're on our way and there's no stopping us!

Our departure was a bit complicated due to a number of factors. I left from Abu Dhabi on an Etihad ticket (and upgraded to business class!). This also allowed me 5 checked bags, which if you've flown lately, you know equates to a pretty large chunk of change. So off I went to Abu Dhabi to board my flight to London.
I was lucky it all fit on one luggage cart!

But of course a seat in business class made it all worth it! And this was on the A380 which I hadn't yet flown. A very fitting farewell journey for our sandbox adventure.

Brian, meanwhile, was departing from Dubai on Qantas. He didn't qualify for an Etihad ticket as my visa was never sponsored by them, so his company put him on Qantas from Dubai. He only had 2 bags, but did have to fly coach so he definitely had the harder journey.

And the cats? They flew kitty class on British Airways out of Dubai. We ended up flying them out of Dubai as our recommended shipper works primarily out of Dubai and the Dubai airport has a dedicated air conditioned pet waiting area (which is pretty important in July!) They, of course, hated the whole adventure and made sure we were well aware of that opinion. Poor little things.

Cats left at 1:30am, Brian left around 2am and I left around 3am. And, after all that, we did end up connecting again in London.

Departing Abu Dhabi, I had all kinds of emotions: excited for the next chapter, nostalgic for the past 5 1/2 years, grateful to be leaving the heat, and nervous about what we might find in the UK. A glass of champagne quickly took care of that and soon I was fully reclined and fast asleep!

And so ends our Abu Dhabi Adventures. I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who read the blog regularly, gave me feedback, asked questions, and prompted me when it had been too long between posts. It's been fun sharing our adventures with you.

And, for those of you who want to continue to follow our adventures, I've started a new blog, Tales from the Rain Puddle, which will share our stories from Bristol, UK.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Selling the Car Adventure

One of our last and most stressful adventures was to sell the BMW - a great car, but with high mileage for the area as I used it to commute to Abu Dhabi every day. And with BMWs coming out your ears in UAE, there is a lot of inventory to choose from.

We started with the community page, thinking those living in our area would understand the high mileage as they all commute as well. We also posted it on Dubizzle, which is a local version of Craigslist. A few nibbles and then one guy who offered 10,000 aed less (about $2700). Seemed like a real low ball to me, but Brian cautioned me to hold off as he wasn't sure we'd get many offers at all. So, we invited him to come look at the car, thinking Brian could use his past car sales experience to talk up the price.

Meanwhile, we have a drive train error pop up on the computer console. And not all the time, just every once in a while - the WORST kind of errors as they are almost impossible to diagnose. We took it to the mechanics, left it for 3 days, they replaced some gizmo and we thought all was well. This is now about 10 days prior to departure.

You know what happened, right? We got the error again! So, back to the shop and they think it has something to do with the 'dirty petrol' that UAE has suffered from over the past few months. ?? gums up the works apparently and can cause all kinds of weird issues. Bottom line: they can't find anything and without taking things apart and starting to replace random expensive pieces, there isn't much they can do. Not really an option 5 days prior to departure.

We decide to visit one of those "buy any car in 30 minutes" places to see what kind of a price they would give us. It's hassle free and we wouldn't feel bad about leaving them with a drive train issue. We pulled in - waited almost 2 hours (no truth in advertising) and they quoted a price 25,000 aed (about $6800) less than what we were asking! We still had 5 days - we weren't that desperate.

Brian provides full disclosure to our interested buyer (his low ball price looking pretty attractive now), and he agrees to take the risk at a further reduced price. Apparently, he works in a garage so feels like he can tinker if needed.

Great! 3 days to departure and things are looking up. Now we just have to transfer the title at the RTA (Transport Authority - think DMV) and collect the cash and finish packing.

Oh wait - he needs bank financing so a trip to an Abu Dhabi garage (in Mussaffah, which my UAE friends will understand!) is required to get the car inspected and provide a certification of some kind to the bank. The day before we're scheduled to leave and Brian has to drive to Abu Dhabi (we're now in temp housing in Dubai) while I take care of getting the cats ready for travel. While he's there, the guy explains that the bank could take a few days to approve the loan. WE DON'T HAVE A FEW DAYS! They agree to chat in the morning to see how long the bank needs for this.

Next morning, we find a different "buy your car quick" place and hope for the best - we need a back up plan if this guy's financing doesn't come through on time. This time, we had a much better experience and agreed on a price that was only $200 less than the guy who needs the financing approval. Great - done. 1:00 on departure day - cutting things a bit close, don't ya think? :)

And now we can relax . . . wait, no we can't, now we need to transport 9 suitcases and 2 cats on 3 different airlines from 2 different cities and hope we all end up in London!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Packing on two continents - deja vu

A few weeks ago, I posted about the experience of packing things up in the US for shipping. I'm happy to report that the US shipment has arrived in Bristol and is in storage (until we find a place to live). The shipment came A LOT faster than expected!

Once I returned to Abu Dhabi, it was time to do the whole thing over again, but even worse, as it wasn't all in a storage locker, but scattered around our 3 bedroom villa. Man, the stuff you accumulate! And I really thought we had done pretty well. When you're an expat on a 'short term' assignment, you often say to yourself "I don't need that, I won't be here that long." or "Is this something I want to keep forever?" Still, we end up with a villa full of stuff.

So, the same process of packing, sorting, selling and shipping started in earnest on this side of the world. One nice thing is that the For Sale/ To Buy page here was for the community and I wasn't working, so people could pop over any time to look at things and pick them up.

I again worked with a shipping company for some items to go from UAE to Bristol. This shipment was a lot smaller than the US one so in some ways easier to manage. The local guys showed up at 9am (an hour earlier than they said they would come!) and got to work immediately.

And did these guys work! It was one of the hottest days of summer in Abu Dhabi - 110 degrees F and 92% humidity . . . no, that's not a typo, it was beastly hot and humid. I seriously don't think I've ever sweat so much in my entire life.

Despite the heat, they finished in about 4 hours - almost the same time it took in the US, because they needed to box up everything as we weren't in our own shipping container, but were going to share it with others. Everything was boxed and carefully labeled - it was quite the impressive process.

The cats clearly were not impressed as evidenced here by Petra. :)
Our stuff is now waiting to ship out on the 25th (and yes, probably melting!) and should arrive here about a month later. It'll be like Christmas as I'm not sure I could tell you what I packed!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Adventure in Seattle: Pike Place Market

Our final Seattle adventure was the Pike Place Market - I know, tourist haven, but it had to be done. The market is remarkably similar to our visit 23 years ago, although I'll admit that we went early Monday evening so the place wasn't really hopping. In fact, the famous fish throwers were already cleaned up so we only got to see them throw garbage cans - not quite the same experience.

Great view of the sound from the market windows.

The first Starbucks. Line was too long to venture in - even on a Monday evening, but had to snap the photo.
The gum wall - yes, you read that right, GUM. Ewwwww. It was as disgusting as it sounds. And no, we did not contribute to it - I couldn't get any closer than taking the picture. Gross.

We finished the evening with some salmon cakes and fish and chips dinner a the Steelhead diner. Yum!

And that was that. A huge thanks to Andrea & Dan for hosting me - it was the perfect getaway from the packing and sorting and shipping chaos of our move to Bristol.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Adventure in Seattle: Chihuly Glass Garden

I only had a few days in Seattle so had to be pretty selective when it came to sightseeing. The Chihuly Glass Garden was at the top of my list and didn't disappoint. For those not familiar, Chihuly is a glass artist. He started blowing glass himself and then lost an eye so now paints the creations for his staff to carry out. He's had works all over the world and as you see the photos, you may recognize the style and remember seeing something like it somewhere yourself.

The museum and garden is parked at the bottom of the Seattle Space Needle, which provided some interesting photos. It was another gorgeous June day. Enjoy!

The Seattle icon itself - and such a clear day.

Amazing piece combining the glass sculptures with neon lighting.

The underwater room (or under sea room?) Doesn't this piece remind you of Ursula from the little mermaid?
The detail on these pieces was just amazing - we wanted to reach out and touch them. (not allowed of course!!)
The indoor garden - a whole room full of pieces that mimic a garden. Then you contrast this with the garden and sculptures outside - pretty incredible.

Chandeliers - you'd need some strong support beams for these babies - they're huge!

My favorite shot from the atrium with the space needle in the background.
The outdoor gardens were amazing, but unfortunately, the photos just don't do it justice. This is my best one. So creative.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Adventure in Seattle: Wine Tasting in Woodinville

Amidst the packing, I decided to take a long weekend break to visit a friend of mine who now lives in Seattle. Brian and I had been to Seattle for our honeymoon 24 years ago so I was excited to see how things have changed.

After meeting my friend and having a wonderful home cooked meal, we decided to do a little wine tasting in the nearby Woodinville area. Beautiful countryside and quite different from wine tasting we have done in other areas of the world.

Most of the wine tasting here is done in warehouse districts, where each winery sets up a tasting room to show off their wines. In other areas, we've actually tasted at the winery itself, so this was a different experience. The bonus was the ability to try a number of different cellars in such a short amount of time. But don't worry, we were too busy catching up on news to stop at too many.

Andrea & I enjoying a little vino. Everyone looks more awesome holding a wine glass, don't you think?

And a perfect day for it - who says it rains all the time? Can't get more crystal clear blue sky than this!

Chateau St. Michele - the biggest  winery in the area (we can even find it in Abu Dhabi!) complete with picnic area and a stage and grounds for concerts. Tears for Fears is coming later this year!

I did get to see some vines after all - such a beautiful day for it.

So clear, we even had a view of Mt Rainier - not a daily occurrence I'm told.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Packing on two continents

Unemployment has been good so far (well, except for that no income bit). I stopped working on the 2nd of June and got on a plane for the US on the 8th. I'm here for 3 weeks sorting out all the stuff we left behind when we moved to Abu Dhabi for "2 years". Now that we're continuing the adventure in  UK, it's time to sort through properly and decide what we'll ship to UK and what we'll get rid of.

We had a 3 bedroom house in Wisconsin and put most of it in storage when we moved to Abu Dhabi thinking we'd be back in a couple of years and pick up where we left off. Little did we know we'd catch the expat bug so completely and decide to stay in the sandbox for 5 1/2 years and then decide to continue our adventures in the UK.

As a result, I'm faced with a storage locker worth of stuff to organize, which has been some work and a fun trip down memory lane. The first order of business was to get rid of all the electronics - nothing will work in UK due to the different voltage. Some has gone to family, some is posted on Craigslist and some to St. Vincent de Paul. And a lot of it I would have loved to take with me, but I learned that hard lesson after burning out a boombox and a hairdryer in my first month in Abu Dhabi.

Next up is the furniture. The challenge here is that we don't yet know where we'll live so have only a vague idea of how much space we'll have. In general, I've been informed that UK room sizes are smaller than US so I've been trying to keep that in mind. We'll see.

And then there are all the boxes of misc. stuff - kitchen stuff, decorations, clothes. I'm sure I've sent away stuff I will regret, but something had to give. And I'm now down to a manageable amount to ship across the pond.

Shipping company comparison was another fun adventure and at one point you have to just take the leap of faith and sign with someone. They come on Friday and we'll see if I made a good choice - too late now to change the plan.

Our shipment will take 45-60 days to reach UK by boat and I'm hoping by then we'll have a house sorted and can move things right into our new place. If not, we'll put it in storage there and have to move everything twice - not ideal.

Despite the work and the expense, I'm excited to have some of our familiar things in UK - should make things feel like home a lot faster.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I'm famous!

Okay not really, but probably as close as I'll ever get. I got an email today that Abu Dhabi Adventures has been selected for Abu Dhabi ExpatWoman.com's list of best bloggers in Abu Dhabi to read. You can find the list here. And just in time for me to pack up and leave the sandbox. Oh well.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ramadan Kareem - 2016

It's our 6th Ramadan in the sandbox - wow! Well, actually, I'll be in the US for most of it, but I still think it counts as number 6. For those who don't know, Ramadan is a special month of the Islamic calendar and the month where all Muslims are required to fast (no eating, drinking or smoking) from sunrise to sunset. It's a very holy time where many try to read the Quaran (holy book) from beginning to end and work to keep their thoughts positive and calm. It's a time of family gatherings, generosity, reflection and prayer. Today marks the first day of Ramadan and the traditional greeting for this is Ramadan Kareem.

For us non-Muslims living in the region, it means all the restaurants are closed during the day and we also cannot eat, drink or smoke in public. Each year, they publish a list of places that serve breakfast and lunch for non-Muslims. They are usually in hotels or tucked away places and always curtained off or with frosted windows. At work, the 12th floor cafeteria is open with frosted windows and door and that's the only place you can eat or drink during the day. No coffee or water at your desk, which always takes a few days to get used to.

At the end of the day, the fast is broken with an Iftar, which starts with a few dates and some milk or juice to break the fast, then evening prayer and then a feast. The hotels go wild with their Iftars and they end up as lavish as the brunches, but without the booze!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Unemployed - Day one

So I showered today. And brushed my teeth. Now, it wasn't until 3:30 in the afternoon, but hey, I think that's pretty good for my first day of unemployment. Thursday was my last day at work so I'm now a deadbeat until we move to Bristol and someone gives me a job. It's a nice feeling for now, but I know I'll be stir crazy within the month.

I'm currently keeping busy getting things organized for our move. To do lists are everywhere as are boxes. We're trying to minimize what we ship from Abu Dhabi to Bristol as we want to also ship some things from the US. We've had a storage locker there for over 5 years now and it's time to move some of that stuff with us.

And that means I'm listing a bunch of misc stuff on our community For Sale Facebook page. Now in so many ways, this little page is a godsend because we live in the middle of the desert so no one from Dubai or Abu Dhabi is going to drive out here for some used furniture and kitchen items. In other ways, it's a total pain in the ... Here's a typical exchange:

Them: Hi, is it still available?
Me: Yes (I just posted it two seconds ago - of course it's still available)
Them: How much?
Me: 100 dirhams (just like it says in the posting)
Them: Can you hold it for me until tomorrow? I would like to look and then maybe I'll take it.
Me: I can't hold it, but if it's still available tomorrow, you're welcome to look. 

(radio silence for 3 days)

Them: Hi, is it still available?
Me: Yes
Them: How much?
Me: 100 dirhams (just like the last time you asked)
Them: Okay
(Me: Okay? What does that mean? You want it, you don't want it? Ugh)

And it goes on and on like this. I've had people stand me up for specific times after I'd changed my plans to accommodate them. I've had people low-ball the price so badly, that I've wanted to ignore them completely and I've had people walk in and then practically snoop around on their own asking if I have anything else for sale. One woman asked if I had any other items for 5 dirhams. It's been an interesting cultural experiment. Indian and Arab cultures definitely haggle and haggle hard (but of course so do I). Asian and Western cultures tend to take the price as is, assuming that I've already listed things pretty low. And the Eastern Europeans seem to be the worst for promising to come and then not showing up. Of course, my sample size isn't large enough to validate any of this, but it is pretty funny to see some of the stereotypes play out.

So despite my first world problem, it is a lot easier than having to move the stuff ourselves or get pennies for it from a second-hand furniture place so I'll just think of it as an adventure and carry on.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Phuket Adventures: Tiger by the tail

We visited Tiger World against our better judgement, but did get some fun photos of Brian with one of the big kitties.

Tiger World is a bit of a racket and we probably shouldn't have contributed to the place, but we were looking for something to do and decided to pop in. Unfortunately, a mix up with timings and tickets kept me from getting in the cage with the littlest tigers, but Brian got his own photo shoot with one of the big guys.

Here kitty kitty ...

They say the tigers aren't drugged and from our two cats at home, I do believe them - those kitties can snooze the day away. This guy didn't seem to care one wit that Brian was in there.

This one gives you a sense of his size. Beautiful animal.

And here's one of the 2-month old babies. I was supposed to be in there, but we ran out of time due to a communication error. At least I got a bit of a look through the fencing.  Too cute.

So while we have some cool photos, I'm not proud that we visited. It just didn't feel right. Too many animals in such a small space and all of them in small cages. They seem to be breeding them for this business only. Once a cat like this is raised in captivity, they can't be reintroduced to their natural habitat so why have them keep breeding? Rescue tigers I completely understand, but growing the streak (yes, that is the correct term for a group of tigers) doesn't seem like anything more than a money making scheme.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Phuket Adventure: Sunsets

It just wouldn't be a tropical vacation without the obligatory sunset shots. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Phuket Adventure: Cocktail school

In my last post, I confessed we were too "busy" to go to the Blue Elephant cooking school. Well, another confession is that this was partly because we opted for the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery cocktail workshop instead!

What a fun afternoon (and that's not just the 3 rum cocktails talking!). We had a wonderful guide? teacher? bar tender? named Pim who was so excited and cute that we considered going back again just to hang out with her.

Here is our workstation. Cocktails are so easy when all the ingredients are laid out for you It's like being in the middle of a cooking show. Our first drink was the classic Mojito. And they were delicious!
A proud student!

We took our Mojitos and got the first installment of the Rum Distillery tour. Unfortunately, they no longer allow photos as supposedly someone on a previous tour used the photos to get in touch with their suppliers or something.

In any case, we learned a bit about making rum and the fact that Chalong Bay uses pure sugar cane for their rum as opposed to a mix of sugar cane and processed molasses. And it really does taste different - less bite than Bacardi.

Back to class for our second cocktail (sorry no photos, must have been getting tipsy) which was a combo of rum, lime juice, ginger and chili pepper. I'm not a fan of anything spicy, but these were good.

Off to our second installment where we saw the distillation process and storage.

And our final cocktail - Pina Colada. Neither of us are huge fans of the PC, but this was drink 3 so it went down pretty smoothly! :) And was such a lovely presentation.

And then, just tipsy enough to fall for the merchandise portion of the tour. All of their bottles are hand labeled by a small group of ladies in their warehouse. We came home with a small bottle of rum and a bottle of their homemade lime syrup. YUM!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Phuket Adventures: The Blue Elephant

I know, I wish it was a real elephant that was blue too, but it's just a restaurant. But a nice swanky one with very good food and drinks. They also have a cooking school, which we thought we might try out, but were too 'busy'. How do we get busy on vacation and end up doing nothing? :)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Phuket Adventures: Sunday Night Market

After a relaxing morning and a massage, we decided to have a bit of an adventure and visit the Sunday Night Market in Phuket Town. We've been to markets before - Vietnam, China, Morocco, Sri Lanka, so we knew what to expect and we knew we'd need to brace ourselves for the crowds, the smells and the unexpected.

After finding a place to park, we jumped right in and started to wander the aisles. Everything from clothes to cosmetics, CDs to car parts. I guess things are somewhat organized, but heck if we could figure out where to go for what. We just wandered - not really looking for anything, just enjoying the adventure. We were quite early (around 5pm) so things weren't very crowded yet, thank goodness!

But it was hot, and steamy, and smelly. Temps around 90+F and humidity so pretty uncomfortable to be walking through what looks like a rusty tin cow shed with stalls. I don't understand how some of the merchants in the middle can stand it. Yes, there are fans blowing, but that just wafts the hot air and sewage smells around.

We decided to see if we could find the food area, thinking we might pick up some yummy street food and munch our way through dinner. But before we hit the food stalls, we stumbled across The Leather Man bar. Or at least I guess it was a bar, and a leather store, and a leather working workshop, and a very surreal place to hang out for a cold one.

A couple of ice cold Tiger beers and Hank Williams Jr. followed by Phil Collins songs later and we were fortified enough to continue on.

The food stalls always take the adventure to a whole new level. Colors and odors and textures collide as you wander around looking for something familiar or something that looks inviting. The fried insects booth was NOT what we were looking for. Nope, not in a million years, not for a million dollars.

Cockroaches and crickets and grubs, oh my! And look how many there are? You don't fry up that many if you don't think you'll sell out.

Luckily we found some nice tame pork satay (skewers) and chicken spring rolls to satisfy our hunger. And I know what your thinking, "pork? chicken? are you sure? could have been dog and monkey for all you know!" And you would be absolutely right.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Adventures in Phuket, Thailand

What?! You didn't think we'd stop with the vacations, did you? We actually had this one booked before Bristol was confirmed and since my company won't allow a payout of unused vacation . . . here we are.

We've been to Phuket twice before as it's an easy trade with our Hawaii time share. We stay at the Marriott Beach Resort in Mai Kao, which is away from the towns and the crazy tourist/club scene in a beautiful area of the country. But due to ticket availability, we're staying our first night a bit south of Patong at the Le Meridian and then driving to Mai Khao the following day after massages at our favorite massage place.

Yep, we're driving! Brian decided he wanted to rent a car to give us a bit more mobility - taxis are expensive and a pain to find at our secluded resort. Plus, he needs some additional practice driving on the left! :) So with an unlimited data plan and GPS, we headed out. Not too bad as most of the roads are divided highway - it's those roundabouts you gotta watch out for!

I got a couple of nice shots of Phuket from the plane. About 5:30pm so seeing some of the sunset.
Le Meridian pool at night.

Hmmmm, give me a sec - gotta go check the weather report . . .

Friday, April 29, 2016

And the Adventures continue . . .

Like many expats in Abu Dhabi, we planned to stay for 2-3 years . . .  and it's now been more than 5. When we left home, we figured a 2-3 year adventure would be fun and then we'd come back home and pick up again. I even remember initially thinking I might take a sabbatical from my job and come right back to it. But that's jut not how things have worked out for us. The adventure of 2-3 years has turned into more than 5 and our plans to return home and pick up where we left off seems silly now.

About a year ago, we started to get the 'itch' to leave the land of sand and started exploring our options. We talked about everything from going back home, moving somewhere else and even trying to retire early and get part-time jobs as beach bums in Thailand. We weren't in a hurry and knew that, like all of our previous adventures, something would come along.

And something did. We'll be leaving Abu Dhabi in June to continue our adventures in Bristol, UK which is about 2 hours southwest of London. Why Bristol? Hubby's job - he'll be establishing his company's European office which will be located in Bristol. A great career opportunity for him and another great adventure for us.

So, it's now packing and sorting and selling and searching while June zooms closer every day. What seemed to take forever to come to pass is now speeding ahead too quickly, but that's how it always is. I gave notice at work on April Fool's Day (it just felt right!) and my last day will be June 2nd. Yes, two months notice required here for my position and level! I'm using the two months to transition a bunch of projects, clean out my desk and get my CV in shape for the next round of job hunting. Yeah, that's the bummer part - no way I can stay with my current employer and work from Bristol so I'll be looking again for a new job.

The kitties will come along of course and so we're working on getting their vaccinations up to date, new microchip for Rogue (apparently the UK can't read the one we did in US before she came here) and one for Petra too. Poor Petra, how will she cope with that thin soft fur built for Abu Dhabi summers? I may have to take up knitting so I can make her some sweaters.

And June is the perfect time to head out - as the horrible heat and humidity start to get unbearable. It honestly is my number 1 reason for leaving. I'll miss some of the glitz and glam of UAE and, of course, the people, but I definitely will not miss those summers. No, not even as my wellies grow mold from the damp of UK winters!

So now you're up to date. I suppose I'll need to start a new blog for this new adventure . . . Bristol Adventures? Tales from the rain puddle? I'll have to give this some thought.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sharm El Sheikh: And the snorkeling was great too!

After two days of diving, we stayed at the resort on day 3 and did some snorkeling and relaxing instead. We snorkeled just off the best of the resort with fairly low expectations and were very happily surprised. Just off the dock was some of the best snorkeling we've ever done. Really interesting terrain, crystal clear water and lots and lots of fish to watch. We were in heaven.

That is, once we got past the gauntlet. The ladder is situation in a relatively shallow area and then you swim under the ropes to get to the good stuff. However, a banner fish must have some babies there because we were both harassed by the little guy until we got far enough away. The aggressive little dude swam right up to Brian's mask making mean fish faces! Pretty fun to see a fish no bigger than your hand act like he's going to kick your a..

So a bit of snorkeling, some sun, a nice lunch and we were fully relaxed . . . and covered in mosquito bites. I seriously looked like I had the measles. Luckily they didn't itch too much,  just created really attractive spots that lasted almost a week! Ah, the price of a great vacation.

The beach. You can see how deserted it is. I think we saw 4 other groups and were there for at least 4 hours.
 These are the party barges that show up from about 12-1:30 just off the beach at our resort. They take advantage of the calm inlet and great snorkeling.

Not a bad view for lunch.
I wasn't joking about the mosquito bites. Okay, yes, some of those are freckles but I seriously looked like I had the measles!