14 July 2012

Anguilla: None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds

Would you believe that at only two weeks removed from my vacation that I can hardly remember what we did on which day?  I didn't make any notes during vacation because I started out blogging as I went along.  When reading, work, and real life started interfering with that, I got a little lost...so these last few days might be less wordy than usual (I can hear y'all already, giving thanks to whatever powers that be).

So, Saturday.  We tend to avoid "the" places to be on any given day, which means we don't do Gwen's on Sundays, or Smokey's on Saturdays, or any other place when live music is on the menu.  Not because we don't like people (we do. at least most of 'em), and not because we don't like music (we do. at least most of it), but because my beloved DH has difficulty hearing.  Live music tends to put a cramp on any conversation we might wish to have, and as we actually still really like each other, and like knowing what the other has to say, we avoid live music venues for the most part. Thus, we decided to spend our last Saturday on the island at Elodia's for a quiet but beautiful beach day.

A sweet, abandoned church, not the one mentioned below
We ate breakfast at home and reached Shoal Bay East around 10:00 that morning, after having passed through town to see a crowd, the likes of which we'd never seen before on Anguilla, amassing by the Anglican church.  Folks dressed up in their best duds, food tents pitched on the grounds--we knew it was playing host to either the happiest or saddest of occasions.  While we hoped it was for a wedding, it was, in fact, the funeral for the young man who'd been murdered just before our arrival on the island.

Sobering thought, that.  As it turns out, Carole arrived at Elodia's early and tuned the radio in to the live broadcast of the funeral, so we listened to the preacher (normally in an Anglican church, I'd say "priest," but his booming and lilting cadence was pure preacher) conduct the service with unshed tears in our eyes.  We didn't know the young man who was murdered, nor did we know the circumstances surrounding the crime, but I defy anybody to sit there in that singularly beautiful place and not be moved.  The juxtaposition of such a hateful crime with the peace that we've come to associate with Anguilla was sobering.  I didn't know most of the hymns that were sung, but I joined in with Carole, sotto voce,  on the first verse and chorus of It Is Well With My Soul, and again for a surprisingly cheerful rendition of I'll Fly Away. That is, when I could sing around the lump in my throat.

I'm using this photo for transitional purposes....
We read for the next couple of hours, the silence broken in the end only by our rumbly bellies, when we made our way up to the pavilion for our usual table--the one in corner, up on the dais, which is the breeziest table in the whole location.  Believe me, we've had plenty of opportunity to test them out.  Not wanting to wait for the fresh bbq chicken or ribs, we opted for two orders of the grilled fish sandwich--I think it was smelling the previous order being prepared for somebody else that triggered our hunger. 

The fish sandwiches were good--not great, but good, solid sandwiches--served with fries, cole slaw, and a small green salad.  The accompanying tartar sauce was quite good, and passionfruit daiquiris (both virgin and non-virgin) were excellent.  They're the biggest ones on Shoal Bay East, for the least amount of money, and Carole also gave me a generous pour of rum on top of mine, to boot.

Saying goodbye to Carole
We spent the next few hours there, reading, walking on the beach, and swimming in that unbelievably gorgeous water, before packing our bags and saying good-bye to Carole, who's a real sweetie and takes great care of us whenever we spend the day there.  Once home, we quickly clean up for an early dinner at SandBar.  Since it was (a) Saturday and they don't take reservations and (b) we wanted to see the sunset from the restaurant's deck, we got there pretty early.

The lantern next to our table
We knew from previous experiences at various Sandy Ground locations that the bugs can be simply awful there, so we pre-emptively loaded up on bug repellent and chose a table for two on the deck.  Settling in with a most refreshing cocktail involving fresh watermelon juice, gin, and basil, we watched as the sun continued its downward progression, but again, it was a fairly subdued sunset.  Our whole trip, we didn't see a single sunset that had the glorious span of colors, nor one that it was possible to see the Green Flash. Alas.

The food was only pretty good (alas, we've never had a great experience there), but the value sure is worth writing home about! We shared the honeyed cayenne carrots with pinenuts (asked for no cilantro, was told it wasn't a problem, yet there it was in the dish anyway), a shrimp salsa (ditto), crispy beef wontons (these were quite good), and the beer battered fish (ditto). When mentioning to our server that our food did, in fact, have elements that we'd specifically asked not to have, she apologized and then told us that the dishes actually couldn't be made without cilantro.  Well, fine, but it would have been better to know that before ordering, now wouldn't it? We made do, because by the time the food was in front of us, the Pavlovian response to eat was too strong to delay sending it back or ordering something else.

Luckily for us, there was free entertainment for the night--shortly after sunset, four boys and their families came down to the beach in front of us with four beautifully carved wooden sailboats.  They played in the water, swimming after the wayward boats while learning how the wind played in the sails.  I'd never seen anything like that before and I was completely captivated.

It's a good thing, too, that we had something to distract ourselves with, because by this time, there were clouds of bugs swarming everywhere.  Gnats, I think they were--thank goodness nothing of the biting or stinging variety!  They apparently were also the kind of bug that is impervious to OFF!, because they crawled all over our skin and clothes. They got so bad that a staff member from SandBay walked out to the deck and turned out all of the lights in an effort to attract fewer of them.  We hurriedly asked for the check instead of staying for dessert, and as we scurried to the car, I paused to count the bugs on my husband's shirt. Let me put it this way: I stopped counting at 100.  Note to self: if arriving at SandBar for sunset meal, dine inside where the ceiling fans are, not out on the deck. We don't normally shower after dinner, but both of our skin felt so crawly after our experience that we had to wash the night off of us. 

One of the lounge/seating areas at SandBar

Our sunset at SandBar


  1. Wow Emily. I am glad you decided to favor us with your wonderful writings. You certainly have a way with words. I was completely drawn in by your prose. Especially the part about the funeral, which had me gulping and I wasn't even there.
    I share your feelings about Sandbar. Good for drinks, lite fare and "staying inside" unless enjoying the bites that will surely come your way.
    But then I like to hi-tail it to dinner elsewhere.
    Please keep posting. You add miles to this place.

  2. Pretty :-) Sounds like you guys had a very nice trip!

  3. I read a Trip to the Beach and enjoyed seeing the pictures of Blanchard's Beach Shack. I really enjoy reading your blog and love your photos! Anguilla might be the next island I visit!

    Anguilla Beach


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