16 June 2011

Anguilla, Anguilla, Anguilla: part the first

Travel Day & Day I

Because American Eagle no longer flies between SJU and AXA, my husband and I had an earlier than usual travel day.   Up at 3:00 am to catch the early morning BDL-MIA flight, then onward to SXM.  Our flight, which was scheduled to arrive at 1:55pm, must have been early because at 1:57 (according to the airport clock) we had already passed through immigration and were waiting on our one checked bag.  There was nobody there at customs, and I don't mean that there was simply no line.  I mean there was literally no person in any kind of official capacity waiting to check our bags or paperwork after we retrieved our bag.  We just walked out of the airport. 

The FunTime rep was waiting at the exit and we identified ourselves.  She checked us off a list and said for us to wait outside since she was still waiting on some other passengers.  So we waited.  And waited.  We noticed her walk out again with another young man, and I overheard her telling there was room for one more and then she sent him off in a taxi. I remembered reading online that FunTime leaves the airport no later than 20 minutes before the boat is scheduled to depart and it was around that crucial time that I went back inside seeking the FunTime rep.  She was evidently surprised to see that I was still there and that she had forgotten my husband and me, so she scurried to find somebody to rush us over to the dock.  We arrived just in time to fill out our paperwork and pay our passage before the boat departed, but no worries!  It was a quick trip, though a very bumpy one, and we were very happy to arrive at Blowing Point.  Oddly enough, it took us longer there to clear immigration, customs, and get out bags there than it did at SXM!
Grounds at Caribella

We'd arranged with Ronnie Bryan to leave a rental car for us, so we dragged our bags to the car and headed off to Caribella, a place that has by now, at the time of this writing, quite begun to feel like home.  Originally planning to stop first at Foods 95 to pick up some provisions, we opted instead to check in, knowing that the ladies there would be waiting for us to settle in before they could leave for the day.  Rose-El and Vondra both walked out to greet us when they heard our car pull up, and much to my surprise (and gratification) they greeted us both with hugs and cries of "Welcome back!" Home, indeed. 

Self portrait with my stacks of books to read

We unpacked, changed clothes, grabbed some provisions, and then set ourselves up on the balcony with books and beverages in hand.  It had been storming during our crossing from St. Maarten and in fact the power was out at Caribella when we arrived, but by the time we settled in it had come back on and the rain had taken a gentler turn.  Knowing that we'd be exhausted from our long day of travel, I'd made reservations before we left for an early dinner at Mango's for our first night, which was fabulous.  We chatted with our server and with the owner, whose daughter is soon to leave for an academic summer program at a school where my husband used to teach, so we had a lot to talk about.  The food was great--I had the sesame snapper (full disclosure: the sauce that accompanies it is made with cilantro, so I had them put it on the side. but when I tentatively stuck a fork in, I couldn't detect any flavor from that foul herb and so I ate it gladly) and my husband had the evening special of trigger fish.  Both were delicious and accompanied by sweet potatoes (or possibly yams) with an orange infusion, broccoli, and potatoes.  We finished with an apple tart that was good, but not quite as good as the one in my memory.  Two cocktails and two glasses of wine brought our meal to US $125 before an additional tip.  I'm only a little bit ashamed to say that we were both in bed and asleep by 9:00 pm. 
Straw Hat
Thursday morning I was awake by 5:30 since I didn't put on my sleep mask, but I luxuriated in fact that we were on vacation with no agenda and thus dozed off and on for the next two hours.  By 8:00 we were both up and dressed and before the hour was out, we had made our way to Straw Hat for breakfast.  I'm happy to say that it's a tradition for us to break our first fast there during our June trips (they are closed in October, the other time of year we've traveled here), and tickled beyond belief to realize that we have visited Anguilla often enough to even have a tradition!
Our large balcony where we spent most of the day

With books in hand, we linger over our continental breakfast, fruit plate, juices and coffee, pausing every now & again to watch somebody walk along Meads Bay, or to share a particularly good passage we've just read.  For my husband and me, breakfast and lunch are mostly quiet affairs, with each of us lost in a good book.  Almost two hours after we sat down, we paid the US $25, plus additional tip, and headed back to Caribella.  I opted for my first swim, which was incredible.  Barnes Bay might be shabby by Anguilla standards, but it has my heart.  I don't mind the Viceroy, I don't mind the rocks--I just bliss out in the water.  In point of fact, I rather like that the rocks are there, as the sound of the surf breaking on the rocks is more sonorous and lulling than on plain sand, and I could listen to it all day long and into the night. 

We rouse ourselves around 1:00 to head into town to buy more substantial groceries and to procure some items of a rather more (ahem) delicate nature that my husband forgot to pack--namely, underwear.  Don't ask me how.  He once forgot to pack his swimtrunks on a trip to St. Kitts, but this one pretty much takes the cake.  Thank goodness for Jumbo Plaza, that's all I have to say!  We stopped for a late lunch at the Island Bistro in The Valley where we shared the fish & chips and downed three Tings, lingering a little while to continue reading our books, which were both great. The food was good and ample; even sharing one portion, we couldn't finish it.  Can't recall the final bill, but the fish & chips was US $15. 

Back home again, we settle back down into the chaises on our balcony and continue reading.  It feels more luxurious than I could have thought to while away an entire day doing just that--usually we're more on the go, gotta see, gotta try, gotta eat, but with two weeks instead of one, it's clear that our pace will be a little different on this trip.  We even planned to eat in tonight--something we've never done for dinner before--and that itself also feels like a luxury, but more than that, it really feels like *home*.  I'm struck anew by how much this place, and by that I mean both the general of Anguilla and the specific of Caribella, really does feel like home.  It's simply wonderful. 
Our first Anguillian sunset on this trip
I finished a book yesterday that I had started at home, then I started & finished another.  Today I started and finished my third book.  Blazing start, no?  All have been good, but today's book was a great reading experience, about which more in another post when I've had time to form my thoughts.  Sorry there are no photos here for now.  I'll have to go back and add them once I've downloaded some of them to my 'puter.  I dare not risk uploading any photos directly from my phone for fear of the roaming charges it might entail: US $20/megabyte. (Edited to add: photos, as you can now see) (Edited again to add: I have since been informed by an unimpeachable source that what I thought was mashed sweet potato or yam at Mango's was, in fact, carrots.  I never knew that carrots could taste so good!)


  1. LOVE LOVE reading your blogs..well done so far..

  2. Emily, a fabulous read, and your pictures are divine, your Caribella reminds me of my Nathans, our "home".
    Thanks for the great read.

  3. Blazing start indeed! I'm mired down in three books right now and plodding along, even without the enchanting distractions of Anguilla to draw me away. Truly impressive, and what a glorious island.


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