Monday, March 23, 2015

Firmly Anchored

I'll just come right out and say it.... we're STILL in Antigua. We didn't mean to be here forever this long, but here we are. We kept thinking about moving on, but friends kept showing up and then we'd make some new friends and, then someone would say "hey come for drinks!" and we would, then someone else would say "hey, come for dinner!" and we would and it's been really fun being so social! We're usually going the opposite direction from everyone and are often on our own so this social whirlwind has been a nice change for us. Oh, and there's also Barbuda so nearby that needed re-re-revisiting.

Our friends Denise and Jean Pierre on s/v Absaroque returned to the Caribbean after a long absence and were headed to Antigua - so we stuck around to see them and *let them beat us in many games of dice. (*OK, we suck at dice and they beat us all the time.)

Skip, me, Jean Pierre and Denise on Absaroque
Denise makes her fabulous naan.
They got us hooked on confit de canard in St Martin a few years ago and it just wouldn't be a visit with them without at least one duck meal. And then we have all that leftover duck fat that we have to cook everything in for the next few weeks. Urp.

Denise's brother and sister in law were visiting for a week and we spent an evening getting beaten at dice by the entire crew of Absaroque. (Note to self: Must sharpen up dice playing skills.)

Andre, Roseline, Skip, me, JP and Denise
In between friends coming and going we wandered into town for a change of scene and for some fresh fruit and veggies. We walked and swam along Jolly Beach, checked out the Antigua & Barbuda museum and had the requisite roti at the Roti King. We had great rotis at a little place in Jolly Harbor made by a woman who calls herself the Roti Queen, and we've eaten at the Roti Palace in Road Town Tortola; does this mean we've eaten a trifecta of royal roti in the northeast Caribbean?

Fresh everything at the market in town

Hair raising bus rides and busy bus stations are the norm 
Local ladies lunch under the menu board at the Roti King 

Super cutie pie on the bus; topographical map of the ancient land connection between Antigua & Barbuda in the island museum
Our friends Simon and Hilda from s/v Brisa, and their friend Pauline were hanging around Antigua too and we had our share of evenings with them. When they hauled out early, they graciously invited us, along with Iain and Fiona from s/v Ruffian to their rented villa for a day of laundry and wifi and an evening of using-up-all-their-leftover-provisions-in-one-last-dinner. Thanks Brisa! We loved the laundry.... and, um, spending time with you too!

 Visually from L to R: Iain, Fiona, Skip, me, Hilda,Pauline, Simon
We've crossed paths with the Ruffians bunches of times since we first met them in Deshaies in 2013, but haven't really spent any solid time with them. They're our alter egos when it comes to travel speed... they cover more ground in less time than most people, and at the same time, they see and do more than most people. Now that we've spent a week with them I know why. For one thing, they get up and going early and they never stop. Something that, ahem, does not come naturally to me. I'm afraid I may have scuttled our friendship by allowing them to see me pre-coffee one day.

A Saralane/Ruffian selfie in Antigua
On the rocks in Five Islands
The weather was looking perfect for another trip to Barbuda just a few days after the Ruffians arrived so after a night in the pretty anchorage between Rabbit and Redhead Islands in the north of Antigua, off we went to Coco Point.

Iain and Fiona on their go-anywhere-anytime Sadler 34, s/v Ruffian... up anchor to head for Barbuda.
As is often the case, Barbuda is best described in photos...

Blue and blue
Clockwise from top L: Limin' in the sea, sand details, Fiona has her way with a coconut, Jamar; master palm climber and coconut opener
Work continues at the K Club, clearing the grounds in preparation for whatever comes next in the development and we came across a crew on our first morning there during our early morning pre-coffee Ruffian style forced march/hike. Shy young Jamar strapped on his palm climbing spikes, went up a tree in seconds flat and whacked a few nuts to the ground for us. Though he learned to climb palms barefoot, he sheepishly admitted that the spiked climbing boots help a lot. I'll bet they do!

Clearing the grounds at the K Club yields many coconuts
There's a right way to open a coconut, and then there's Iain's way. Well done you!
Art at the water's edge
Instead of another Ruffian style crack-of-dawn forced march the second day, we took the Saralane approach and struck out on a walk at high noon in the mid-day heat. It was yet another picture perfect, bright and shiny Barbuda day, and we decided on an inland walk to Uncle Roddy's restaurant to get away from the shore and see what we could see. A north swell crept in while we slept though and made getting ashore a little tricky; big swells rolled in and big waves crashed on the perfect Barbuda beach. 

We decided to ride ashore in Ruffian's dinghy Thug, instead of in John H; Thug is smaller and lighter and easier for the four of us to heft up the beach. But... being smaller and lighter, Thug also didn't quite have the get-up-and-go to get-up-and-go-go-go over the big crashing waves and instead turned into a swimming pool as a big perfect crystal clear Barbuda wave crested behind us and crashed into Thug, soaking us all and filling him with sea water. Thug was quickly bailed and hauled ashore and when we finally stopped laughing we got on with our heat-of-the-day hike. I've added this dinghy landing to my list of best photos I didn't get.

Artnell Beazer; guard at the end of the Coco Point Lodge runway - starting point of the mid-day hike.
I couldn't resist two photos of him.... he has such a great face.

Clockwise from top L: Fi admires the lilies, HIbiscus, Iain stares down a dog on the hot dusty road, disinterested donkeys 
Uncle Roddy at home in his restaurant... 
Iain gets sucked in. Fiona watches.
Fiona takes her coconuts for a walk
Many coconuts later, and several duck dinners later (See? Who doesn't love duck?!) the Ruffians left the perfect island of Barbuda for less perfect islands to the west, and we moved off to Spanish Point to see what we could see below the perfect waters of Barbuda.

Our anchor is in there somewhere
Flamingo tongue
A conch tries to stay camouflaged in the sand. It doesn't work.
It can't hide it's true colors. (Don't worry, we put it right back where we found it.)
We've left Barbuda behind for now and will clear out of Antigua (finally) and head for Guadeloupe in the next few days. Really. Unless someone shows up and says "Hey, come for dinner!"