A Travellerspoint blog

Antigua and Barbuda

Do stingrays nuzzle pirates?

For breakfast, I made little sandwiches with the bread, brie, and black pineapple. They were surprisingly good. The pineapple tasted the same as regular pineapple. Today promised to be another rainy day, so I wanted to get an early start to it and hit as much as possible before the rain sets in. As I left the house, roosters were crowing, so I knew it was early. I started at Devil's Bridge. The road to Devil's Bridge reminds me more of the roads on the peninsula in St. Kitts. They are gravelly, when they're paved at all. They're full of potholes, which after rain means little ponds for the car to splash through. The width of the road varies. It's the kind of drive best left to more rugged vehicles, but one that I've done in crappy old cars plenty of times. I got to the point where the sign said “Devil's Bridge” and walked around a bit. I had sneakers in my car, and it probably would have been smart to put them on instead of hiking around in my flip flops. The terrain was rocky, but the rock was all eaten away in places by water, so the ground resembled swiss cheese or a moonscape more than land. Many of those little holes were filled with water, and a lot of them had tiny shells of some sort of sea creature growing all over them. I hiked around the pitted landscape, careful not to slip, enjoying the tranquility and nice views. I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking at. I knew that the bridge was supposed to be some stone that was unsupported over the water, but I had looked all around and not seen it. I took a quick dip in the ocean at the cute little beach by the outcropping. The water is so incredibly clear here! From around there, I thought I saw the Devil's Bridge. I climbed up and over some other rocks, and sure enough, I saw it. There's an arch over water, but my view wasn't great. I didn't see any other place to get a better view, so I took my pictures (which weren't that great) and moved on. The next stop was Stingray City. Ironically, there are tiny ruins that are difficult to find on the tourist map, but Stingray City, one of the big sights isn't on the map at all. Fortunately, there are pretty good signs marking the way there.I arrived there just in time to be the third person on the first tour of the morning. The guides gave us a brief introduction. They explained how to do “The Stingray Shuffle” so that we don't accidentally step on stingrays that are under the sand, feeding. The stingrays are all tame and accustomed to people, so we won't be startling them just by being there, and there is a limit to what they can do with their tails. As such, the guides report that in 8 years, nobody has been stung.

They put us on a boat and took us out by Guiana and Great Bird islands. They have a floating dock to tie the boat to. Despite being so far out to sea, the water is extremely shallow. Once we got into the stingray area, they came right up to us and nuzzled against us, much like cats do. We were able to pet them and hold them. Everywhere, we were surrounded by giant stingrays. It was very cool. (Pictures will be posted soon.) After a while, we got to snorkel the area. One of the guys on the tour didn't seem to get the concept that you're supposed to stay off the ground when you snorkel, and he was kicking up a lot of the seabed. The water was very calm and salty, so it actually took very little effort to stay afloat, if you actually tried. The reef wasn't that great as reefs go. It seemed a bit black and dead, without the bright colors I'm used to. We did see some big conch shells and even played a bit with a crab of some sort. Eventually, it was time to go back. I thought that they gave us enough time to see what there was to see, so I was ok with going back. The guides on the trip were funny though. They asked if I had a boyfriend. It's times like these when I hate how honest I am. One guy wants to come visit me in St. Kitts. The other wants to be my “one and only” and be with me forever. It makes me miss the “good old days” when I had 8 months between statements like that, not just a few weeks. I'm guessing that either that's a cultural thing and how all guys hit on all girls down here, or that they've been told fairy tales of US citizens picking up Caribbean spouses and whisking them off to the states, where you know the streets are paved with gold. Either way, I'm not marrying them. Back at the Stingray City land base, we got an opportunity to have some fruit punch and look at the animals they kept. They had some macaws (who will always be "Squeaker Birds" in my mind), some other birds, some lizards, some monkeys, and a turtle. The turtle was very photogenic. He saw my camera and came straight up to it. He was trying desperately to get out of the cage and come play with me, which was very cute, but also sad because he couldn't get out.

Last night, the ladies I met had told me that Half Moon Bay was the prettiest beach on the island, so that's where I went next. I think they were right. The bay is shaped like a crescent moon (hence the name) and is surrounded by cliffs and hills so that it seems very secluded. The water is very calm and crystal clear. The sand is some of the softest sand I've ever felt in my life. This would be the perfect place to throw a beach chair half in the water, grab a book, and read all day long with the waves providing a gentle, soothing backdrop. Surprisingly, there weren't many people there. If my goal was to relax, I would have spent all day there. It may be one of the most tranquil beaches in the world.

But, I can only relax so long before I want some more adventure. Plus, I was really enjoying the whole “roadtrip vibe.” I was able to pick up radio stations that were playing US pop, old slow jamz, reggae, and Carribean dancehall music. (There were also some religious channels and some talk channels, but those aren't for me.) As what stations I could get depended on where I was on the island, I kept switching between the stations, and got a great mix for driving.

I drove to Betty's Hope, an old plantation. It's not open Sundays, but the gates were wide open, so I drove in to see what I could see. The house was closed, but there were placards identifying the other ruins (similar to what I saw at Shirley's Heights). I saw the mill and some of the other ruins, being careful to avoid the presents the sheep left. The buildings may not be used any more, but the grazing land certainly is.

Finally, I decided to head towards Jabberwock Beach, as that is where my friends from last night say is a good beach. As previously mentioned, I would pull over periodically to check my map. Whenever I did so, somebody would slow down for me and ask if I needed directions. The Antiguan friendliness was extreme.

Before I got to Jabberwock Beach, I got hungry and needed to use a restroom, so I pulled into the parking lot of a nearby restaurant called The Tides, where again, they were so friendly. It was also a very fancy restaurant. I was most certainly underdressed, but they were happy to let me in anyway. When I checked out the buffet they had for Sunday brunch, the chef even offered to make me something else if I couldn't find anything to eat at the buffet. He was so helpful with making plates for the old people. Some of this, I'm chalking up to it being a very fancy restaurant, but I also think a lot of it is the Antiguan friendliness. So why do I keep harping on the fanciness of the restaurant? First, it is immaculately clean, crisp, and well-decorated. It is clear that the people there pay great attention to detail, whether it's setting a place perfectly, or making sure all of the window shutters were open to exactly the same angle. I know that things like that don't matter so much, but it does attest to the fact that somebody there cares. Even the music playing subtly in the background was elegant and at just the right volume so that you could hear it, but that it faded into the background and didn't interfere with the sounds of conversation. The food itself was perfection as well. I wouldn't be surprised if you told me that the chef went to culinary school, picked up a few recipes, and practiced those recipes a thousand times until they each came out perfectly every time. The greek salad had just the right level of spice and just the right amount of fresh basil to feel refreshing. The salad had a perfect balsamic dressing that was just the right consistency, jut the right amount of creamy, just the right amount of tangy, and didn't come apart. The local delicacy, fried bread, was just the right amount of chewy, fluffy and moist on the inside. The cheesecake was melt-in your mouth perfection; and the apple pie had a crust that had the ideal flakiness. The only negative thing I can say about the food was that it was a bit uninspired. Most menu items could have come from a classic culinary school text book. The plantains and plantain fritters were the only thing that wouldn't have. Those were fabulous as well, and not greasy like plantains often are. So, while the inspiration was a bit lacking, the perfection was noticeably amazing. The food was worth the money I paid and then some, and brunch wasn't cheap.

On my way out, one of the ladies gave me directions to Jabberwock beach, where I hung out for a bit. There, the water is also incredibly clear. Because it's shallow and very calm, I felt more like I was in a baby pool than at a beach with sand and ocean The only indication I had that this wasn't pool water was that there were schools of tiny fish swimming all over the place, even in the super-shallow water I was walking in. I tried to get them to come right up to me and surround my legs by standing there for a while, but they kept a little bit of a distance (a foot or so). My cousin, Max, has a trick where he spits at the water, and fish come up to it because they think it's food. These fish just ran away from it. Oh well.

At this point, I headed back to the house, as I really needed to check out. I had lost track of time, so it was good that they didn't have anybody else coming in that day. The lady was very nice about telling me it was checkout time, even though I was a little late.

The plan was to head back to Jabberwock beach and read on the beach until it was time to go to the airport, because Jabberwock beach is right near the airport and if I got too involved in my book and lost track of time, I at least had a chance of still making my flight. I went to get gas for the car as well, because I wanted it to be full before the beach so that I wouldn't have to deal with it later. The station I went to was full-service, except between about midnight and 6am. The girl filled my tank, and I pulled money to pay, but then she topped it off. I tried to stop her, but she thought she was doing something nice for me. Ugh. I didn't want to pay for more gas than I needed. Being my cheap self, I decided that if I paid for the gas, I was going to use it. Besides, it will be at least a month before I get another chance to drive the open road, and there's a good chance there will be traffic when I do, so it won't be as good as this.

I drove around some more, past their power and desalinization plant, but eventually got tired and decided to go to Jabberwock beach and chill for a while. I napped in the car there, and when I woke it was raining. So much for reading on the beach. I headed to the airport a bit early, just because I was done and might as well read there as in a car in the rain.

The Antigua airport is a small airport, but it does have a restaurant (Big Banana) with free wifi on both sides of security. Like most international airports, it has duty-free shops as well. I was actually surprised that so small an airport had a jewelry store, a souvenir store, some clothing stores, and some other stuff. I guess I should have done my research, because I was also surprised by the exit tax they charged. It cost me 70 EC to get out of the country. Of course, they only took cash. While that wasn't a problem for me as I've gotten used to places like that, before I lived in the Caribbean, I most certainly would not have had the money to leave. Again, Liat boarded late. This time though, the plan was full as it was also going to St. Marten and Tortola. In contrast to my flight to Antigua, this one had standard legroom- which is to say that my knees were up against the seat in front of me the whole time. Because it is a small plane, even my backpack wouldn't fit in the overhead bin, so that had to go under the seat in front of me, further reducing my comfort. Good thing it was an 18-minute flight.

Devil's Bridge Area

Devil's Bridge Area


Turtle at Stingray City

Turtle at Stingray City


Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay


Betty's Hope

Betty's Hope


Goats in the road

Goats in the road


Stingray

Stingray

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Antigua and Barbuda Comments (0)

No pirates of Antigua

I got up early Saturday morning, showered, and went to look for food.

The first food I passed on my drive was the coconut man. The coconut man was slicing off the tops of cocounut, and emptying the water into a several gallon jug for a lady. When he was done filling the jug, he hacked the coconuts open, scooped out the soft, gooey, white meat, and plopped it into a plastic bag for her. For me, he filled a plastic bottle with coconut water and (over)charged me 10EC. I was hungry though, and excited to be able to take it with me, so I paid and was on my way. (In contrast, the coconut guys in St. Kitts just give you the coconut to drink from, so you can't really recap it , and it doesn't fit in the cup holder in the car.) I drove through town, looking for the first place that was open and looked like it had food (other than a supermarket, or ironically, a “superette”). Because it was around 7ish, the town was just waking up, and I didn't really see anything open. I did see a lot of closed Chinese restaurants though.

Because I didn't really have a plan, I just kept driving. I ended up driving through the Antiguan countryside, which has some nice views, all the way to the south side of the island by where Nelson's Dockyard is.

I drove around Shirley's Heights, from which I had a great view of the port below. I guess that's why the British littered it with forts. In the early morning, none of the visitor's centers are open and none of the booths that say “pay here” are manned, so I got to see the outside of everything for free. They had a few markers up by the various ruins that indicated what I was looking at, but maybe it would have been cooler to have a guide telling me the history beyond what was on the placards. The area was also marked with trailheads, and I bet the trails would have been fun to hike with somebody. One of the cool natural things to see is what I'm going to call an “Aparagus tree,” due to my botanical ignorance. This tree is like nothing I've ever seen before in my life, but it wasn't rare in this area. It is tall, thin, and green, reminding me of an asparagus spear. It has no branches anywhere except the top. At the top, there is a plume of bright flowers. If anybody reading this knows what they're called, please let me know.

I was still looking for food, and I figured that Nelson's Dockyard must have food as it is a touristy area, so I tried to find it. In the process, I drove through a few neighborhoods, some of which had livestock running loose. At one point, I was stopped in a road as there was a chicken crossing the road (ha ha). The chicken ran right into my stopped vehicle, and then kept on going. I must have had a terrified look on my face as a lady nearby reassured me that I didn't do anything wrong, the chicken ran into me and it was ok.

Eventually, I got tired of driving around an unsigned area, so I stopped to ask a lady waiting for a bus for directions. She gave be brief directions, but then said that she was trying to go that way for work and that she'd just show me. Now, I am not somebody who picks up hitchhikers or random strangers. However, she was obviously waiting for a bus to work and I was going in that direction. I had initiated the conversation with her, so it's not like she planned anything. I took the risk and drove her to her work, which was where I was going anyway. On the way, she was very friendly. She told me about the area, the island, and things to do. She made an excellent tour guide.

By the time I dropped her off, it was POURING rain. I parked at the yacht marina and waded through the parking lot to a restaurant called Bar-B's cafe. I almost fell down the steps several time due to the slipperiness of everything. When I finally got settled, I noticed that the place was decorated very brightly, which I really liked. The service wasn't quite so bright though. I had decided on black pineapple pancakes, because that was the most local thing on the menu, but the waitress said they weren't doing pancakes today. I asked for a local beverage, and they didn't have anything. I asked finally got the only thing on the menu I could order, which turned out to be some sort of spinach tomato eggs benedict. Considering that I'm not a fan of eggs, I was a bit unhappy about the choice, but I was also overly hungry and not in the mood to go out into the downpour and try someplace else. As I waited for my food, my ears were regaled with plenty of Aussie and British accents. Sailing week was just ending and a lot of the other people in the restaurant were very obviously here for that. A lot of the tables had ordered alcoholic beverages. I'm not sure if those facts are related or not. Eventually, I got my eggs. I wanted to be upset at them, but they actually were perfectly cooked with just the right amount of runniness, although I had to assemble the “sandwich” part myself. When I was done, the waitress was still taking forever to get me my bill, so I just went up to the front and asked to pay. I had spent more than enough time there are breakfast and wanted to get on with my day. I paid, and was on my way.

Again, I slipped all over the place getting down the stairs, but fortunately didn't fall. I forded the small river that was forming in the gutter between the road and the parking lot, and made it to my car. After quite some time, I got everything defogged and was slowly on my way. I passed the dive shop, and frowned as I wasn't going to be able to dive Antigua as I didn't leave enough time between flights to allow for it. I passed an art shop and a building marked “Chandlery,” so I decided to park and look at art, since that is an indoor activity.

The chandlery doesn't sell candles, wax anything, or fancy soap. It is a boat-themed hardware store, not what I expected. I moved on to the Jason Pickering photo store. I actually saw a sign for pottery, and thought it was this place, but it turns out that the pottery place is next door and was closed. Regardless, the lady running the photo studio was very nice and let me look at all of the photos while staying out of the rain. A bunch of the photos were very impressive. If they had been less expensive, I probably would have bought a print or two, but they were very overpriced in my opinion.

Eventually, the rain let up a bit and I made my way over to Nelson's Dockyard. Really, this would have been the place to get trapped in the height of the downpour. The dockyard consists of several historic buildings, each of which has been repurposed for a modern use. At the entrance is the souvenir stand area, with lots of ladies selling the same t-shirts, plastic souvenirs, and other generic items printed with something that refers to Antigua somewhere on them. Next, there is a passageway into the rest of the dockyard. One of the next buildings was another souvenir shop, but this one was full of carvings actually made in Antigua. They had some very nice mancala boards carved in the shape of turtles, a ton of carved fish, and a bunch of other tropical or nautical-themed pieces. Again, the art was nice, but way too expensive, in my opinion. One of the big buildings is the museum. It has a few artifacts on display and a bunch of descriptive blurbs about what life was like in the British navy during the days of the pirates and wars with the Spanish Armada. One of the funnier ones described the origin of “grog.”

Beer was a typical British navy ration, but it was less available in the Caribbean. So, rum became the ration. Except, the sailors were all getting very drunk off of the rum. One day, a man who wore grogram cloth, who was nicknamed “Grog,” decided to dilute the rum ration with water so that they men wouldn't be so drunk and disorderly after the meal. From then on, rum that was watered down was called “grog” after that guy.

Behind the museum is a bakery. It had a lot of pastries that I'd classify as British or Caribbean or some sort of fusion. I ended up getting a veggie patty, which I have to say, was much better and spicier than the one I previously had from Rituals in St. Kitts. I really enjoyed noshing on it as I walked around the rest of the complex. This would have been the place to grab breakfast, not the marina. Many of the historic buildings had been converted into various restaurants, and so there were a lot of choices.

In addition to the historic things to see, there were also a lot of boats (I assume that were there for sailing week) parked in the port. To service the boats, there were showers, and immigration building, and power hookups. Watching all of the sailors take care of their boats made me wish I had come for sailing week and participated.

By the time I was done exploring Nelson's Dockyard, the rain had let up enough that I decided to go down Fig Tree Drive. Fig Tree Drive is supposed to be one of the prettiest drives on the island. It actually doesn't have fig trees, but at one point the locals called bananas figs, and it does have banana trees. It has a bunch of other trees and is almost like a jungle, but I'm not a botanist and can't really say what kinds of trees it did have.

This drive is another reason to rent a car. The drive is very pretty, but it was nice to be able to stop in a few places. First, I stopped at the Fig Tree art studio. Again, it had gorgeous art, but was way out of range of my budget. Next, I passed the zip line center. I didn't stop because I'm a little bit over zip lines. The camp I went to as a kid and then worked at as a counselor had a zip line that we did about once per week, so they have lost their novelty with me. But, if you've never done a zip line, this would be a good place to try, I suppose. My last stop was at a pineapple stand. Some lady was selling Antiguan black pineapples by the side of the road. I'm not really sure why they're called black pineapples, as they don't appear any different from normal pineapples from the outside, or any different color-wise from the inside. In fact, they look just like mini pineapples. The only real difference between them and standard pineapples is that they have been bred so that the core is edible. You don't have to core them or slice around it, you can just eat the whole thing (minus the outside). At the end of Fig Tree Drive, you can keep on going to see all of the southwest beaches. Maybe it's because of the season or the rain, but nobody really appeared to be out at the beaches. I went in the water a little bit, but there really wasn't anything to do there, so I got back into the car and kept going up the road.

One thing that I noticed on my drive is that the road signs here are very British. At each intersection, they tell you what towns are in each direction, but not which way is north/south/east/west. The whole system is based on the premise that the driver knows all of the towns on the way to the final destination, which wasn't my case. I got to the point where I would pull over in front of each intersection sign so that other cars could pass as I pulled out the map and tried to figure out what way I wanted to go. Also, the roads in Antigua are much better paved than those in St. Kitts, with infinitely fewer potholes to swerve around. Also, with the exception of St. John, they are wider and have fewer cars parked half on the side. Overall, it made driving very enjoyable and not tiring.

When I got back into St. John's, I found myself passing a busy marketplace, so of course, I had to stop. The market has several parts. First, there was the outdoor part. There were tons of people selling all sorts of fruits and vegetables in street stands all around the buildings. The only place where there wasn't a slew of veggie vendors was in the little park out front of the market. Another part were the indoor food sections. There was a building for fish, a building for meats, and a building with more people selling more produce. I really didn't plan on cooking, but I did at least check for any strange veggies. I didn't see any- most of what they had were standard food s I could get anywhere. All of these areas were filled with locals buying whatever they were going to eat for the week.

Finally, there was a crafts market, aimed at the tourists. There were a bunch of stands that were selling the same souvenirs as you would get anywhere else, except these happened to say “Antigua” on them. At those stands , the most exciting/unique items were the off-tune souvenir tin pan drums. There were a few shops that actually contained crafts. I went into one shop, Earthly Instincts, because it had very pretty painted gourd bowls out front. The artist herself was in the shop, working on making some napkin rings. We chatted for a while about her and her art. When I marveled at some very uniquely-shaped wine glasses, she noted that she “likes shapes,” which of course made me crack up and tell her about my sister. She also sells some art by her friend who makes recycled things, which were gorgeous as well. I ended up getting a few things from her, including painted shell magnets. I was lucky to get some. Apparently somebody had come in recently, bought her out, and asked her to make a hundred more so that the person could take home presents for everybody. On the way back to my car, some random guy in some random house yelled after me. At first, I didn't realize he was yelling at me until he commented on the Redkins (because my bag has a big 'skins logo on the side). I'm not sure what association he has in his head between 'skins fans and pot, but basically, he stopped me to ask if I wanted to smoke with him. While I suppose it was nice of him to offer, I was definitely not interested and kept on my way. At least I got a chuckle out of it.

Next, I wandered around the cruise ship port. There wasn't a cruise ship in, so it was reasonably deserted, but there were still some shops open. A lot of the shops were the standard shops that you see at every cruise ship port- jewelry stores, stores selling the same crap made in China and printed with the name of whatever port it is sold in, fancy clothing stores. This port had a lot of that, but it also had a few shops selling somewhat more unique items. One sold rasta bracelets, hats, and other gear like what I've actually seen locals wearing. Another sold paintings done by a local artist. I got a deal on one and bought it as I really liked it. Another thing I noticed in the port was a pirate-looking ship called the Black Swan. It is owned by “Pirates of Antigua” and they do give rides on it, which I tried to pre-book, but the people were pretty non-responsive. Since the lady emailed me and said that there would be one Saturday night, I went to the office in person to try to get myself on it. I guess because it was off-season and they didn't have enough pre-bookings they weren't having a trip on Saturday after all. Oh well. I passed a vegan restaurant, SWHole, run by a rasta guy. I'm not a vegan, but the whole “natural foods” and “good for the planet and your body” things get me very excited. When I get a chance to support somebody who is trying to succeed at peacefully and open-mindedly encouraging others to be (in his opinion) better people, I can't pass it up. It had the ambiance somewhere between a beach bar and a euro yogurt shop, which I found interesting. There were a bunch of cafeteria-plate-style options to choose from. , I got some sort of pasta bake and rice with (for lack of a better term) stew. Also, I got local tamarind juice. All of the flavors were good. The stew had an interesting texture that you might have to be vegan to appreciate. The pasta bake was amazing! It almost tasted cheesy, but I know it wasn't cheese in there. Whatever it was, I was considering getting some to go so that I'd have breakfast tomorrow. The only thing that stopped me was that I didn't want to carry it around with me for the rest of the day. On my way out of the port area, I passed King's Casino. There was a sign on the door that said “no smoking,” which I'm not used to seeing at a casino, but was so excited to see that I went in. It was a small casino with a few tables and a lot of slots. I'm not really into betting, but it seemed ok enough.

Also in that part of St. John is an old cathedral that is undergoing restoration. It's pretty enough from some angles, but from others it's downright spooky. From just the right place, you find yourself standing in a graveyard under the shadow of what what appears to be an abandoned and empty church, reading construction signs that say things like “danger” and “keep out.” I bet you could have a great ghost story party there at night.

By this point, I was a bit tired and ready for a nap. I headed back to my rental in Friar's hill, passing the same coconut guy that was there in the morning. He was still out there, although with a larger pile of cut up coconuts and a smaller pile of raw ones.

After my nap, I went to see the forts and bays on the north side of the island. Fort James is so out-of-the-way that I had to off-road a bit to get there. Also, I had to stop on a beach and ask a random guy for directions. In addition to pointing out the fort to me, he pointed out Nevis. From the fort (and the nearby beach) I got to see the side of Nevis that I'm not used to seeing. The fort itself is best classified as ruins. There is nothing there indicating that anybody ever takes care of it. In fact, there is a lot of graffiti and trash. However, because it is abandoned, you can literally drive right into the middle of the fort and park your car inside. The whole time I was there, I only saw one other person. The fort has a nice view, a bunch of cannons that you can play with, and a little wooden bridge. Because it was so rustic and untouched, I felt almost like an explorer or archeologist, finding some ruins off in the jungle. From there, I drove around by the Sandals resort and a little lake, then back into St. John. I wonder why there don't seem to be lake boats and lake things to do. I was looking for dinner, but not at some place shady. I found a Chinese restaurant on he north side of town that had parking out front and seemed to be nicer than some of the others. It was called New Thriving chinese Restaurant. After looking at the menu to make sure there was something I was interested, I sat down and waited. And I waited. I know the lady knew I was there because I had spoken with her about the menu and she showed me where to sit. I waited some more, taking notes and staring at the decorations. They had those classic shiny pictures up as well as Christmas decorations. A group of boys came in while I was waiting, and they were the only other patrons around. After about 10 minutes of waiting without her so much as asking what I wanted to drink, I gave up and left. Moral- don't go to that Chinese restaurant.

Again, I went on a quest for food. I almost went through the KFC drive through, just because earlier in the week I was desperately missing drive thrus as there aren't any on St. Kitts. Instead, I headed towards Friar's Hill as I remembered that there was a shopping center there and thought it might have some restaurant in it. Instead, I found the book store all lit up and still open. I own a kindle and had it with me, but nothing compares to the draw of a bookstore with real books in it. I went in to check it out. I did end up buying a cook book and a Roald Dahl book for adults. (I didn't even know he wrote things other than children's books.)

As it turns out, they were having a book reading and signing there that evening. Some lady (US accent, don't know her name) was there to promote her books of poetry. She read some to us, and it was pretty good, although not really my taste. At the book reading, I met a few Antiguans who were so very nice and friendly. We chatted about what there was to do on the island (one didn't know because she mostly works, reads, and sleeps), engineering (she wanted to become one, but the school system said the classes were full so she had to do business instead), and the weather (Antiguans don't like rain to the point where they stay at home in it and even close shops early due to it). We talked about life, traveling, and everything as if we were old friends and not people who had met a few minutes ago. The one even invited me to come along on her driving lesson tomorrow so I could see the island. I declined as I had already driven around a lot, but was very appreciative of the offer. This was just one of the many examples of Antiguan friendliness that I experienced. They also gave me advice on dinner- go to Epicurean, a nearby grocery store. The best way I can describe Epicurean is Wegmans-esque. It is HUGE. It seems to have everything- local stuff, US brands, lots of British and other international stuff. They had a full florist, bakery and deli. It was so clean and huge that I thought I was someplace else. There is nothing at all even somewhat like that in St. Kitts. It made me glad that the house I was staying at had a little kitchen. I grabbed brie (one of the foods I sorely miss), bread, and a British frozen dinner. The frozen dinner I ate that night. It was pretty bland and flavorless. Maybe I shouldn't have picked a British dinner. After dinner, I relaxed, read, and planned out some things to do tomorrow. Since nothing in any of the tourist guides has hours printed, I was just going to have to wing some things.

Coconut Man

Coconut Man


Asparagus Tree

Asparagus Tree


Shirley's Heights

Shirley's Heights


View from Shirley's Heights

View from Shirley's Heights


Nelson's Dockyard

Nelson's Dockyard


Boats at Nelson's Dockyard

Boats at Nelson's Dockyard


Southwest Beach

Southwest Beach


Market Park

Market Park


Market

Market


St. John's

St. John's


Fort James

Fort James


Cannon at Fort James

Cannon at Fort James

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Antigua and Barbuda Comments (0)

New Island- Antigua

When you're working on a tropical island, where do you go to “get away from it all?” Maybe another tropical island? Because Liat had a sale for super-cheap flights this weekend, I booked a trip to Antigua.

I actually started my vacation weekend a bit early. Although my flight wasn't until 9:30, I was packed and left home much before that. I went out to eat at Taste Kittitian-finally. This place looks so interesting from the outside, but every time I pass it, it's closed. Honestly, I wasn't missing much. The rice was a little dry and undercooked and the veggies were a bit greasy, but at least combined they kind of averaged out. The flavors were good though.

I got to the airport earlier than normal, which meant that I had a looong wait (ok because I was reading, and I might as well read at the airport so I don't have to interrupt myself to go to the airport). I've heard that “Liat” stands for “Late If AT all,” and it was true. Without any announcements about a delay, we boarded after the scheduled departure time. The plane was empty- I think there were 6 people on it- so we all got our own space. In addition, the plane was pretty old- I don't think the seats were rearranged since before companies started getting rid of leg room- so I had a very comfortable flight wit hall the room I could possibly want. Too bad the flight was so short. Despite having taken off so late, we landed only a few minutes later than scheduled. We got through immigrations and customs relatively quickly as the line was short, and I went to go pick up my rental car. I had done the math- 4 taxi rides was about the same cost as a rental car. Add 2 more, and you've got the license fee and gas covered. So basically, if you plan on exploring at all, it makes financial sense to get a car, which also gives you freedom. If you don't plan on seeing any of Antigua but your hotel, then I'd skip the car. If that's the case, why bother going to Antigua in the first place? From the airport, I found the vacation home I had rented pretty easily. Between the directions they gave, the map Hertz gave me, and the signs on the roads, I made it all the way to the last turn fine. I couldn't see the pond the directions referred to in the dark, but with a quick call, I was there.

The house itself is nice and clean. I was didn't want to pay the exorbitant hotel prices I saw online, so I checked out homeaway.com and found this inexpensive vacation rental for less than a hotel price, even though it would fit more people. While I didn't expect to use any of it, the kitchen had a stove, oven, microwave, tea kettle, toaster, and mini fridge. The place was outfitted nicely with pleasant furniture, a collection of books to read it you got bored, and (most importantly) nice toilet paper. Overall, it was a nice place and I'd recommend it. For Friday night, all I really used the house for was sleeping though.

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Antigua and Barbuda Comments (0)

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