Antigua time

Dick and Irene Craig
Sun 25 Mar 2012 16:21

The air conditioned, two bedroom apartment with pool, located close to the beach with a sea view, is in a compound with around ten other buildings, only half of which appear to be fully occupied. Four of the properties consist of two apartments apiece, three are two storey houses and three are single storey houses. The on tap internet access is a real bonus. We can’t pick up WiFi from our apartment but can plug in to a hole in the wall.

From one side of the apartment, we overlook a small farm where there are a lot of goats with several kids, in at least two separate pens, as well as free range chickens, accompanied by their many chicks.

The first night in the apartment we were woken very early by the sound of the cocks crowing. Now, we are more used to the noises although at full moon, there was quite a bit of nocturnal noise. The owner, who lives in one of the houses, has four dogs and sometimes they can be a bit noisy. His pregnant partner, a local girl, who has a nine month old baby and a thirteen year old daughter, doesn’t look much older herself; reminding me of the tourist guide in Grenada who told us that there, many of the women were grandparents at twenty six!

When we first rented the apartment, there were only three dogs here, one walks on three legs, having lost a foot. One of the dogs is generally not very friendly, he was maltreated when he was younger; normally he is kept in a fenced garden and only possibly a threat if we want to enter this space. After two weeks, a fourth dog arrived. It was very thin with its ribs showing. Apparently, the owner had reclaimed the dog; the person to whom he had given it had acquired another and reckoned that they could only afford to feed one of them.

I have scrubbed the place from top to bottom but it is still a lot easier to keep clean than those white decks on the catamaran which seem to get dirty as soon as you look at them.

There is a café/restaurant close to where we are now living, which serves the most delicious potato wedges. The seasoning is sensational and oh so crisp, to die for!

Caroline and Mia visit us each day. There is so much more room for Mia to run around, both inside and outside, without the fear of her falling down the steps from the galley into either hull, or falling overboard. She can even throw things around without us having to worry about damage to the teak floors. All the floors in the apartment are tiled.

The second bedroom is full of personal items from Pearl, the boat on which Caroline and Mia have been living. The owner was due to arrive in Antigua on the 22nd March, to use the boat himself for a month. However, he has been delayed for a couple of weeks so mother and babe may continue to enjoy the freedom of living on the boat and the fun of using the dinghy. They can move into the apartment when the guy eventually arrives from the US.

Renting a car has assisted the transfer of goods considerably although the security guard at Nelson’s Dock yard doesn’t like the car to be taken into the dock. Each day Caroline has to argue that ten minutes is insufficient time to put the baby into the dinghy, get to the boat, ensure the babe is safe while she loads some more bags and boxes off the boat, put Mia back into the dinghy, return to the dock, move the baby and the luggage to the car and leave the dock yard. Each time, the guard relents but not without the hassle.

The Italian chap who lives in the upstairs apartment gave us the contact name for the car hire, a small, semi unofficial operator, so we managed to rent the car for a third of the “high street” price. We have had minor problems in as much as the spare tire needed air, as did the one on the nearside front but the offside rear tire did have a puncture and was quite flat when we got up one morning.

There is a small supermarket within easy walking distance but one Monday, there was very little in the way of fresh fruit available. Apparently, there should be a delivery on Tuesdays but the boat from Dominica was late and it was Thursday before we could buy grapefruit again..

We drove along very picturesque, heavily wooded Figtree Drive to Jolly Harbour and lunched at Castaways, a beach restaurant. Fig is the local name for at least one variety of bananas.

After lunch, we tried to use the new inflatable arm bands that we had just purchased for Mia but the waves were too strong and full of sand to make that possible. However, we did play in the water for a while as well as on the very long, wide, sandy beach, despite the conditions not being as suitable as we might have wanted.

With the car, it was easy to visit the large Epicure supermarket at St. Johns where we were able to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. Surprisingly, there were no bananas so on the return journey, we stopped at a roadside stall on Figtree Drive and bought some there.

Life is very gentle and it is easy to adopt Antiguan time as the norm, a bit like manaña in Spain. So chilled were we that we didn’t even notice until the 22nd March that our visas had expired two days previously. We went hot foot to immigration at Nelsons Dock yard with Caroline and Mia along for a bit more than just moral support. They are well known here and their presence helped us not to have to suffer the wrath of the local officials. We completed the appropriate forms, supplied “recent” photographs and handed over our passports. They wanted the boat papers but agreed to manage without. They probably had photocopies from when we initially arrived here 21st December.

We have now started to make plans to return to Europe and hope to fly out on Virgin, 18th April, thus arriving in the UK around 9am on the 19th. It will be great to get home.