28 November 2016

First Day On the Island

Stormy morning on Barnes Bay
When I woke up on Friday morning after the big thunderstorm in the night, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but rain or shine, I knew it would be a good day.  I went outside to snap a few photos while Michael was still sleeping, but since we had decided the night before to drive to Geraud’s together (rather than my driving there to bring breakfast back to the villa), I couldn’t let him linger too long in bed!


Chairs, umbrella, and hammock for our private use
Geraud’s had moved to their new location since my last visit to the island and I was curious to see how it looked.  The new location provides more seating and shows off their pastries to greater effect, but there was something about the old location that I missed that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Oh, right -- it was the use of real plates & silverware, not styrofoam and plastic. The environment notwithstanding, the quality of the pastries and the coffee has not diminished, and it’s a little bit easier to pull back out onto the main road now, too, in the new location.



We selected a coconut & a lemon danish, an almond croissant, and a cheese turnover for our repast and tucked into them with considerable gusto. The iced coffees were excellent, and we talked over our plan for the day at a leisurely pace, and then drove back to Villa Ella to pack a beach bag and head out for the day.



The Place on Rendezvous Bay became my favorite beach bar around the same time that Rendezvous Bay became my favorite beach. I fell in love with it for its gorgeous location, ample shade, good food at decent-for-Anguilla prices, and its wonderful staff, particularly Mo and Dave.  Unfortunately, those two no longer work there, but the current staff was genial and bid us choose whatever location we desired for the day.  They had been so recently re-opened that they didn’t have their beach umbrellas yet, so we selected a shady spot under the palm fronds, started a tab, and settled in to read, always keeping an eye to the sky, where the clouds were constantly in motion and threatening to rain.


Terribly crowded, these Anguilla beaches
We read, we walked the beach, we swam in that glorious, glorious water, and did a repeat of that throughout the morning.  While Michael had been on a Caribbean cruise before, this was his first time staying on a tropical island and the first time he’d stepped foot on a tropical beach. As a Yankee whose ocean swimming was in latitudes of Rhode Island and farther north, swimming on Anguilla was a revelation. If it weren’t for our sunburn-prone skin and a ridiculous tendency to prune, we could have stayed in that water for simply hours.

Our server came out around 12:30 to let us know that a large group would be arriving for lunch at 1:00 and to recommend that we put our food order in before that.  Happy to oblige, we shifted from our beach chairs to our lunch chairs and ordered the jerk chicken sandwich, a hamburger, and a couple of Tings to quench our thirst after such a hard morning. They brought out the wrong hamburger, but by that time we were so hungry that we decided to just keep it. My jerk sandwich wasn’t spicy at all, and the French fries were pretty pedestrian, but both sandwiches were good and filling, and at the right price. Meanwhile Michael continued his quest to try every rum punch on the island (verdict: a bit too sweet for me, just right for him).





It started sprinkling, and then raining in earnest, so we hastily moved our chaises longues under the shelter of the roof on the western side of the building and there we were content to continue reading for a while. One of the families who had been traveling with us on the public ferry drove up for a late lunch and we had fun chatting with them about their trip.



After a while, the sky cleared enough for us to take a walk, followed by one last swim and one last rum punch before packing everything up around 3:00. Once back at the villa, we went for our first swim on Barnes Bay.  Because of the rocks, getting in and out of the water here can be tricky, depending on the surf, but we managed to avoid getting banged up. Napping and getting ready for dinner took up the rest of our afternoon until sunset, when we had a good bit of color in the sky -- moreso the light reflecting on the clouds than from the sun itself.  If we had known then that it would be our last good sunset of the trip, we might have made even more photos.







We had been looking forward to trying a new-to-both-of-us spot for dinner that night -- Criss Conch Shack on Sandy Ground. Since their menu says that they’re open Friday-Saturday-Sunday at 6:30, and since I have some experience with island time, we showed up at 7:00, eager to sample some conch and other local delicacies. We parked across the street from the Pumphouse and carefully made our way in the dark towards the Conch Shack -- that part of Sandy Ground is not well lit AT ALL -- but they were still closed and nobody was around to ask about it.

Undeterred, we walked towards the lights at Elvis's to have a drink before giving it another go. Michael did the rum punch while I opted for the less-sweet planters punch, both of which we enjoyed. By 7:30, there was still no light on down by Criss Conch Shack and we were decidedly peckish, so we went with the item on the menu that featured something Michael wanted to eat while on the island -- the “goatchos” are a nachos platter for two, featuring slow-roasted goat. I’m not sure if it was a matter of how good the food was or a matter of how hungry we were, but we practically inhaled them.  We did, however, have just enough to share with a couple who walked up while we were eating to offer them a bit -- they had never had goat before and were very, very curious.



By that time, Michael had walked up the beach again to see if the other place had opened.  They were nearly ready, but by that time we were feeling more than sassified from our meal and not inclined to order more food, despite how much we were looking forward to it.  We had one more round of drinks at Elvis’s, and by the time we left, the Conch Shack was open for business...two and a half hours after their advertised open time. Were we disappointed not to try a new place? Sure. But we agreed that our time at Elvis’s was a great night -- we talked to everybody at the bar and still had plenty of quiet time for the two of us to chat. There were expats and locals and tourists all there, and of course Elvis is great for telling a story or two.

We hit the sack almost as soon as we got home, knowing that we’d have another full and wonderful day ahead of us tomorrow.



11 comments:

  1. Ahh, what a great read. We stayed on Rendezvous Bay for 5 years and loved it, we would get on our water hammocks and float all the way down to Cuisinart, then roll them up and paddle back and do it all over again, we did this all day ever day. Fond memories.
    Your last shot is perfection, the cove that you introduced me to, love it when it is calm.
    Glad you were able to show your friend the magic.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Ellen

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    1. Ooh, Ellen, that sounds like the perfect way to “do” Rendezvous. That little cove at the end of Barnes was too rough to enter on our entire trip, which made me a little sad, but I’ll just have to go back for that another time.

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  2. What a lovely way to spend a day. "We shifted from our beach chairs to our lunch chairs" - oh the hectic pace of a day on Anguilla!
    Shame about Criss Conch Shack - I am always hoping local restaurants do well but opening for dinner 90 minutes late is not going to help.
    Eagerly awaiting the next instalment.

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    1. Yes, we set a pretty blistering pace for ourselves on the first day. ;-)

      Other folks have raved about Criss Conch Shack -- I’m wondering if the timing that night was more a factor of getting off work late that day and everything getting pushed back -- I’m fairly certain that they have regular M-F day jobs and do the restaurant on the weekends.

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  3. Was the bartender at Elvis's wearing his Cubs shirt...and was he thrilled about our Cubs winning the world series?

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    1. No Cubs shirt for Elvis this time, but I’m sure he was pleased about their historic win.

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  4. Look at that beach. Caribbean beaches RUIN all other beaches (espec the ones up north which are such junk in comparison).

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    1. I know. People ooh and ahh about all of the New England beaches, particularly Cape Cod, and all I can do is smile and nod.

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    2. People in Cape Cod are ridiculously proud of those beaches. I do not understand it but yes, smiling and nodding is the only response

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  5. So beautiful! Those beaches are to die for.

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    1. Yeah, the beaches are pretty darn amazing at this place.

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