Checking out

Chiscos - Atlantic Cruise
John Simpson
Thu 29 Mar 2012 18:29
17:38.644n 061:51.302w
Our second day on Barbuda was almost entirely taken up with 'checking out' of the country.  As Barbuda is under the jurisdiction of Antigua, we had been able to sail to Barbuda without informing the authorities that we had left Antigua, but needed to do so before we could move on to Nevis. 
The morning started with Joe and Clair creeping out early for a walk along the white sands before the sun got too hot. I started the day with some early morning snorkelling and found a shoal of fish sheltering directly under the boat so I didn't need to go far!  After all our activities, we were ready for our leisurely breakfast in the cockpit.  The anchorage hadn't got any busier in the night so it was all very peaceful.
We motored the few miles around the corner to anchor by Codrington Lagoon.  Codrington is the main settlement on Barbuda, but between the beach and the 'town' is a lagoon that is 2 miles wide.  The colour of the sea was breathtaking - I always thought that photos of the Caribbean had been taken with a turquoise filter, but here we saw it with our own eyes.  Unfortunately the photos we took with our cameras don't show the true colours.  We went ashore in the dinghy, then carried the dinghy over the sandbar to motor across the lagoon.  We left the dinghy on the small quayside next to a newly built Sushi preparation plant.  It was the most modern building in Codrington by a long way.  Most of the town is made up of one storey buildings in various states of decay.  Some appeared to have been abandoned in favour of newer versions built next door.  We passed the school where the classrooms were separate wooden buildings, built on stilts.  With no glass in the windows and no apparent access to computers, whiteboards, or other IT equipment, they seemed very different to the classrooms at home.
We were carrying an empty petrol can for fuel for the dinghy and soon attracted the attention of a man passing by on a bicycle.  We asked where we might get fuel, to be told that the garage was a long way away  (quite difficult in Barbuda!) but he would get us some fuel for a small fee.  Off he went into the heat with our petrol can, promising to meet us somewhere near Customs.  We wondered whether we would ever see the can again!
Checking out involved a visit first to the Tourist Information office, where we were told to visit the Post Office and ask for 'Miss Jones' as the lady who usually does the Port Authority work was not there today.  Miss Jones was duly located and our first set of forms were completed.  We were sorely tempted to complete a form in the Post Office which asked us to 'suggest a name for a street in Codrington'.  We thought Simpson Street would be most suitable! 
Next stop was the Immigration Office, where we told that we must first go to Customs.  John asked the lady if she would be closed for lunch as it was already 12.30 pm.  She said she would be closed for lunch but would wait for us to come back.  After a bit of wandering around Codrington in the searing heat, we finally located the Customs Office in the front room of another lady's house.  More forms were completed in triplicate and we were free to go back to Immigration.  We were very amused to see that the Customs Office contained a number of large clear plastic rubbish bags, apparently filled with forms just like the ones we had just completed!  Finally, we were back at Immigration where the lady had indeed waited for us to come back and more forms were completed.  We spent half an hour in the Internet Cafe before completing our excursion.  In the meantime we had been pleased to be reunited with our petrol can for our return journey!
We were back at the boat for a late lunch and a pleasant afternoon snoozing and reading our books to escape the sun!  Next stop - Nevis.