Family Time in Antigua
Nick’s parents have just left us in Jolly harbour after another enjoyable holiday together- this is becoming quite a regular event, which Nick and I are so pleased about. We miss our families very much, and not being able to spend time with them is one of the hardest things about choosing this lifestyle. Unfortunately my parents aren’t able to visit, but we’ll try and make up for that later in the year when we go home to Australia.
Gwen and Marco were with us for 12 days and it gave us the opportunity to explore the island by car, something that Nick and I have been wanting to do. We visited beautiful Deep Bay on our first outing because there’s a ship wreck in the middle of the bay which is meant to provide some interesting snorkelling. Unfortunately it was too far out for a comfortable swim, so Marco donned the snorkel and fins and went for a leisurely exploration of the underwater world closer to shore, while Nick, Gwen and I enjoyed a paddle in the crystal clear water. It was a largely deserted beach, except for one of those tourist catamarans full of, well, tourists. They looked like cruise ship passengers, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Anyway, the three of us were sitting in the shallow water having a chat and hoping the catamaran would soon move on and leave us to enjoy the beautiful surroundings in peace when a man working on the boat wandered over to us, a tray of drinks in hand. He offered them to us, but we regretfully explained that we weren’t part of the tour.
He shrugged. “No problem! Have a drink! Enjoy yourselves!” We didn’t need to be told twice: we plucked three rum punches from the tray and suddenly the presence of the tourist boat didn’t seem so bad!
We were just congratulating ourselves on our free drinks when a different boat boy came up to us, again with a tray of drinks, and we went through the same conversation. He too didn’t seem to care one bit that we weren’t part of the tour and suddenly we were two rum punches down at 10 o’clock in the morning! Marco returned from his snorkel to find Gwen and I in quite a state, although Nick had sensibly chosen a beer as he was driving.
We also explored another beach called Long Bay which again had great snorkelling, this time very close to shore, which made Marco a very happy man. Once again the water was so clear and warm, it was absolutely heavenly.
We often went for an evening swim down at Jolly Beach, near Jolly harbour, and while the water here is opaque, it is the most amazing turquoise colour when the sun is out, and, especially when the sun is low in the sky, the view of the surrounding mountains and palm trees is absolutely beautiful. We usually followed this up with a drink in the beach bar, or took advantage of happy hour in one of the marina bars. All in all, life was quite idyllic.
While we had the car we also revisited Falmouth and English Harbours, and Gwen and Marco loved this area as much as we do. We went up to Shirley Heights to enjoy the sunset (we avoided the Sunday night party like the plague though) and had several wonderful meals in the English Harbour village. I’ve mentioned before the generally low quality of food in restaurants in the Caribbean, but this particular area in Antigua, as well as Rodney Bay in St Lucia, are the exceptions: there’s a concentration of truly excellent restaurants here and it’s probably a good thing we weren’t staying nearby otherwise we would have eaten out every night, something our bank balance would not be happy about!
Exploring St Johns
We took the bus from Jolly Harbour into St Johns one Saturday and the capital was much livelier and vibrant than the day Nick and I had visited ourselves. We checked out the market, bought some souvenirs, then wandered towards the cruise ship area, and as we did so we got caught up in a march- complete with a band, banners, and coordinated outfits- for World Glaucoma Day. Gwen, who suffers from glaucoma herself, couldn’t get over it. We tried to get our hands on one of the t-shirts, but didn’t manage it so just took some photos instead.
Eventually they had to fly home, so we said our goodbyes and since then Nick and I have been trying to decide what to do with the rest of our time in the Caribbean. John and Sandra are due back in a few days, and we’ve got quite a few of our friends from the ARC in Jolly Harbour, so for now we’re content to just stay put and enjoy life in this marina a bit longer.