04 July 2012

Round, Round, Get Around, I Get Around

Our morning breakfast location
For the first time on this trip, we wake up feeling a little sun-weary.  We'd inadvertently overindulged in the sun at Meads Bay the previous morning and decided that we'd do an island tour to avoid long periods of sun exposure.  I think I've mentioned it in previous trip reports, but it bears repeating: Anguilla is the only tropical location where I've gotten sunburned after sitting in the shade, whilst wearing sunscreen.  The reflected sun off the white sand and white umbrellas can really do a number on my skin, even when I think I'm protecting myself.  Growing up in the American south with a swimming pool, I totally abused the sun as a child and young adult, and I try to take lots of precautions now that I'm turning 40. It's good to remind my vanity that the short-term disappointment of returning from the Caribbean without a tan is outweighed by the long-term benefits of (hopefully) healthy skin!

Anyway, after breakfast out on the balcony, we head east with no particular destination in mind, other than stopping wherever we'd like. As it turns out, we like stopping at Irie Life.  DH picked up a good sun hat and I selected a tee for our housesitter, plus an extra AXA bumper sticker for our car. We'd been sent down Back Street the previous day on a detour, and unfortunately it turned out that somebody's home had burned down on the main road, which we discovered when driving by it today. 

Shipwrecked boat, seen from just beyond the Irie Life parking lot
Since we'd worked so hard all morning, we figured the best way to reward ourselves was to make like the hobbits do and eat second breakfast, so we stopped in again at Sea Spray to see Pamela and Veronica and get a smoothie for the road.  I sure do like that place! This time we created our own and had passion fruit-raspberry ones, and they were terrific.  We also had the pleasure of meeting Dash, a neighborhood dog/goodwill ambassador for Sea Spray, who belongs to a family near Sandy Ground, but whom Pam is helping care for:

Pamela & Dash

Dash--is he not the cutest thing?
Once we cleared The Valley, we decided to try to find Nat's place, aka Palm Grove, on Savannah Bay.  We tried driving there once before, but the road was truly awful and we gave up.  We came close to giving up again, but I'd just checked with the TripAdvisor forums and was assured the road was passable.  Feeling wary about our rental car, we boldly set forth.  And though we could have definitely walked the road more quickly than driving it, we got there eventually.  It was hot & bright, but we got out of the car long enough to walk around & take some pictures. The landscape is much wilder here than the more traveled, tamer beaches on the island.  It was a study in textures, too:
The dirt road shown here is actually in much better shape than the deeply rutted gravel

Sportin' his new hat from Irie Life

Tidal pools

Close-up of a tidal pool

View of Nat's from the water
Nat's Place, looking out
Cover-up, shades, baseball cap & hood--I wasn't taking *any* chances with the sun!
I love the colors & textures of this rough beach!
By the time we got back to Nat's Place, we were parched, so we bought a couple of Tings and sat down to enjoy the shade (and what little breeze was reaching us that far from the water) and to rehydrate before driving onward to Island Harbour.

We made a few photos of the church, but really, the day was so hot that the only sensible thing for us to do was to pull over at the little beach bar in Island Harbour and share another soda. 

Does anybody know this place's name?  When we gave Faye (from Elodia's) a ride home one day, she told us that it was Smitty's, but we saw a place called Smitty's across the street from there.  I don't know.  But we loved sitting there, enjoying the strong breeze and watching the fishermen work their nets.  A local woman named Ivy stopped to chat with us for a while--she lives on St. Martin now but she was visiting family for a few days back in Anguilla.

Scene shot through the windshield--the Jeremiah Gumbs highway
Speaking of St. Martin, I wanted to see more of it. So we got back into the car and headed down the Jeremiah Gumbs highway--that name always cracks me up!  Somehow the words "highway" and "Anguilla" in the same sentence don't compute. Anyway, we randomly turned off the main road any time we thought the view of St. Martin might be promising and we were positive that the gravel paths weren't strictly somebody's driveway. We saw some lovely villas, too:

I think all of those shots were of the Lockrum Bay area, but I could be recalling my map incorrectly.  If somebody knows, please leave me a comment and let me know.

My hair had some fun finger-combed wave action here. Alas I did nothing to create that affect and thus cannot duplicate it.
By late afternoon, we figured it was time to head back to Caribella for a swim and a nap before sunset & dinner.  We knew we wanted to eat at Veya again before we left, but that we had to time our visit against their open schedule, their live music schedule, and our departure schedule; thence, we picked Thursday night again, with the fairly chill music that wouldn't impede our conversation, as you might say that my DH's hearing is on the hard side, to put it generously.

The bar, which is open on four sides and in the center of the restaurant

The treetrops, seen from the dining level
Well, it was marvelous as always. I know I've said this before, too, but it also bears repeating: Veya offers what I think is the best dining experience on the island. The menu is inventive and unexpected, the service is always warm & welcoming (we had the lovely Amelie again), the food is perfection, the setting is unexpectedly lovely, and we've never had a bad item, much less an off-night. It is the only restaurant we've visited every time we've visited Anguilla (this was our sixth trip since 2009, we calculated), and we usually try to dine there twice per visit--which means it's also the most consistence of the places we've tried. They also recognize us from year to year, they remember my cilantro aversion, they make us feel like we're valued customers (though our tabs are always modest compared to what most people spend there) and we chat about dogs and children. I'm not sure there's anything else to add: they are our go-to restaurant for a special dinner and when we want a superlative dining experience.

My favorite grilled watermelon/poached shrimp starter

The amazing tuna -- the bottom layer is a slice of grilled pineapple
 That night the amuse-bouch was a conch fritter with a sauce that would be called a comeback sauce down South, but which probably has a more sophisticated name there.  Then the johnny-cakes, which are, hand-to-God, the best johnnycakes I've eaten, anywhere. For the first time ever, we asked if the pumpkin and banana breads could be wrapped up to go--we never have even tried them, which is a shame, because we were too full from the rest of the meal. But I had the feeling that they'd be excellent the next morning for breakfast.  Amelie may have just been politic, but she assured us that people ask for them to go all the time.   Made me feel like a dunce for not doing so before. Anyway, I ordered the grilled watermelon & poached shrimp appetizer, with candied pecans, mint, and Chinese five-spice, followed by the steak & lettuce wraps as my meal (it's in the starter section of the menu). DH tried the jerk tuna with the rum-coffee glaze, and it was uh-MAZE-ing. For dessert, we shared my favorite dessert on the island.

The piece de resistance: dense coconut cake with caramelized toffee sauce.

That particular night, though, we got an extra-special treat.  Jerry had apparently read my post about playing with some of the local island dogs and thus offered us the opportunity to meet two of their four dogs: Attila and Brutus, their two Rotties.  Alas, I have no photographic evidence, but they were wonderful additions to our already splendid evening: Brutus is the new pup, not quite fully grown, and very excited to be amongst "company." Attila is their small (for a Rottie) adult female, who seemed perfectly happy to curl up at DH's feet while we were chatting.  They were both utter loves and made us miss our own Roxie girl all the more.  I can't imagine a more perfect end to a perfect day.
A palm from the east end of the island


  1. Emily - what a wonderful wrap up to your trip. Veya is a special place and they deserve all their accolades. I am glad to hear Amelie is still there, she was working at Johnnos on Sundays also and I have not seen her since she had her baby.She is a doll.
    Thanks for all your posts, it has been really great to have your on island reports - they will be missed.
    Much happiness to you both.

  2. Wow, that picture of Veya's coconut toffee cake makes me want to get on a plane NOW! Hope it's on the menu in November when we go.

    Emily, you have been too kind to all of us out here sharing your time and travels with us. So very grateful. BIG THANKS!

    1. Emily,
      Want to add my thanks for your wonderful posts and photos.

      Veya, too, is one of our favorites and we agree that the johnny cakes are the best anywhere! There are two places we go multiple times during our 3 weeks in February: Veya and Dolce Vita

      You and DH clearly enjoy each other and everything about Anguilla and it's a joy to read about your days. Glad you found Savannah/Junk's Hole. Looks like Nate put up a new sign! It is an "interesting" drive to get there but so different from other beaches.

      Glad you are home safely but truly understand why it is so sad as well. While we don't go twice a year, it seems our trips get a tad longer every year. One of these days, I'll convince my DH to stay a month.

      PS--I understand the "hearing" part :-)

      Diana (aka HorseLady4)

  3. Emily,
    Enjoying your accounts of Anguilla--- I wish I could describe it as eloquently as you do--- I just tell my friends that Anguilla is like no place else on earth. Next time you might visit St. Gerard's church to see the original and new versions. The new one is a duplicate of the old one, only MUCH larger. Perhaps you have described this from previous visits. If not, put it on the agenda for next visit. I already have our tickets for December-- even with this HOT weather in the States, I'm looking forward to returning to Anguilla.

  4. The little bar in Island Harbor is now run by Everette, not sure of the spelling. Not sure it actually has a name.


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