Stormy waters croppedWe don’t actually live in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), but we’re building our dream house on the beach, while renting the one next door, for the duration. What a difference from renting a vacation villa for a few weeks!

I am not a newbie. We’ve spent a week or two on Virgin Gorda, just about every month or so for the last year; talking to the Realtors, architects, landscape designers and lawyers required in the BVI if you want to be “licensed non-belonger landholders.”
However, as long-term renters, we don’t have daily housekeeping, magically clean sheets and towels or cute little soaps and shampoos. Those warnings about how expensive electricity and water are on the island don’t mean that we might increase the expenses of our landlords: it means our own monthly expenses go up. Just like at home, we pay the bill for the electricity and water that we use.
In fact, our first night we didn’t even have running water.
Since this is a desert island, the building code requires that each home have a big cistern built underneath the house, with gutters on the roof and pipes in the walls to catch and store rain water. Our Nail Bay resort/subdivision has a generator and de-salinization plant or “water maker.” The house we’re renting is not set up to switch from one to the other (as the newer homes and our own new one will be). The cistern must be full of rain water or expensive “community water,” in order to work at all. If the cistern goes empty and/or the pump burns out, the faucets don’t work. Neither do the toilets. Our first night and morning, we made do with a bucket and pool water, with my purse-sized Purell hand wash for hygiene.

The rental agent sent a very nice young man who evaluated the situation, turned on the community water to fill the cistern that night. He came back to replace the pump the next afternoon.
I can lug a bucket if necessary. The real problem was that we found out that the pump was burned out after the grocery stores had all closed. In our quick run between the airport and the house, we hadn’t bought drinking water. Beer, tonic water, and a bit of diet Coke got us through the night, but we didn’t have any way to make coffee in the morning!

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