Anguilla by Betty Leigh Verbeke
Night tucks us in under a blanket of rain
Waking beneath a light sheet of clouds as cover
Not to let it be pulled over our eyes
The unforgiving sun is back to blister by cocktail hour
Past the pebbled sands and tall palms,
Coral serenades us into its home
Housing schools of fish and other creatures of unimaginable shades of color
The edgeless blue greets with a friend’s cooling touch
Having us leave our shoes at the door
The tide kindly sucks the sands from between our toes
A bruschetta island
The center topped thick with jungle foliage
The crusts composed of cliffs and beaches
Little markets of smiles and pleasant greetings are found at the end of dirt roads
Wisps of sea and weed float down the air streams
Cargo carrying canoes of island scent headed toward our nostril caverns
Food fresher than clean laundry
So succulent and savory
Flavors too vast in range for our vocabulary
Water more blue than all Arian eyes
Sands softer than silk
Hiding shells fit for Titan
Serenity is all encompassing
Sounds of birds and waves become our ear’s ring
Whispering its poetry, the island our only muse
A true paradise
Thank you so much Mom and Dad for funding this amazing trip for DonNell and me. I am so grateful to have such loving parents. Thank you so much Aunt Carrol and Stan for having us as guests in your beautiful home. You are great hosts and I had so much fun visiting with you. I am so grateful that I was able to spend time with you and get to know you better. I am so thankful that this universe has such beauty offered to open eyes. I am so very thankful to everyone involved in making this trip what it was. I will never forget my first 11 days in Anguilla.
DonNell and I boarded our plane in Dallas at 5am Tuesday to land in St. Maarten around 2pm after a short layover in Charlotte, NC. Once there, we went on a successful shopping trip on the Dutch side for our new Olympus-14 mega pixel-4X zoom-with 4GB memory card-digital cameras andstylish sun hats. Dad set us up with a kind cabbie that waited for us with our bags while we walked the shop-packed streets. This made things much more convenient than they could have been and we were so grateful. Once our wallets were done smoking, we went over to the French side to catch our ferry to take us to Anguilla. While waiting we grabbed a bite to eat at Rosemary’s little restaurant across from the ferry station. We snacked on fall-off-the-bone-ribs in a guava berry sauce and some much needed margaritas. The ferry trip was a short 18 minutes and once we arrived to Anguilla we were greeted by our smiling Aunt with open arms. Did I mention we brought the rain with us? Oh well, they needed it. Aunt Carrol’s house in Little Harbour was not too far and we settled in quickly, taking in the island, blinking as little as possible.
-Aunt Carrol’s Back Porch-
That night we all walked Aunt Carrol and Stan’s very cute dog, Brutus, and visited the red-roofed house that my parents would love to buy. The views are amazing from every direction. For a mere $3million, the house can be theirs. DonNell and I passed out early that night after generous portions of conversation and a good southern meal of bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, potato salad, and green beans.
The next morning I rose with the sun at 5:30. I spent the morning lazing around the house while Aunt Carrol got ready for work. When DonNell woke, we got beach ready and walked along Little Harbour’s cliff edges on the way to Elsie Bay.
-Elsie Bay 2-
After coming home from that, which was hard to do. I fell asleep on the roof and burned to a beet-red shade. So smart. That night, Aunt Carrol took us on a quick tour of The Valley and we bought some groceries. We stopped at Elvis’ Beach Bar in Sandy Ground for mango margaritas and picked up our surprise- a jeep borrowed from Aunt Carrol’s friend that was out of town. I can’t thank her enough for making this arrangement for us. The jeep was perfect for touring all of the little island’s breath-taking beaches.
I was glad it rained the next few days because it gave my skin time to heal itself. I nursed my burn with gregarious amounts of H2O and stiff drinks (mostly bloody marys) prescribed by DonNell and Aunt Carrol. The rain also gave me ample time to read and adjust my internal clock to the slow drifting pace of island life.
Thursday night after dinner, DonNell and I went on a drunken swim in the water from the little beaches just a few steps away from Aunt Carrol’s house. We laughed and listened to the fish jump in the eerie clear and moon-lit water. It was a perfect way to end the night.
Saturday night we ate at Roy’s Bayside Grill in Sandy Ground. I had grilled fresh mahi-mahi with peppers, brown rice, veggies and a mango margarita (these are Aunt Carrol’s favorite). The food on the island is so palatable. All the seafood and fruit are freshly plucked from nature’s vast garden. It is hard not to enjoy every bite of an island meal. I never left a table without a full stomach.
Sunday, Aunt Carrol, Stan, and Brutus took us on a rainy tour of the 17mi X 3mi island.
Monday, DonNell and I ate a light lunch of shrimp kabobs at DaVida in Crocus Bay and spent a few hours on the beach there.
-Crocus Bay 2-
We enjoyed the rest of our afternoon in Rendezvous Bay. We first stopped at Great House looking for lobster salad, but settled for sushi, ribs, and wings at Cuisin Art Resort & Spa.
-Rendezvous Bay 2-
-Cuisin Art Resort & Spa-
-Rendezvous Bay 3-
Tuesday’s lunch was at Shoal Bay were we ate a seafood spread salad consisting of shrimp, tuna, scallop, halibut, and mahi-mahi over lettuce with olive oil and lemon at the restaurant Ku. I enjoyed a strong rum punch on the beach and DonNell spilled hers into her bag. Haha.
-Shoal Bay 2-
In the afternoon, we explored the East End by driving on the off-roads, ending at Savannah Bay.
-Savannah Bay 2-
-Savannah Bay 3-
Tuesday night Aunt Carrol made DonNell and I gluten-free spaghetti with turkey in the sauce. I think it is the best spaghetti I have ever had.
Wednesday we went on a bout tour with Punky that Dad set up for us. This was so amazing. We drove by Road Bay, Benzies Bay, Katouche Bay, Crocus Bay, and stopped in Little Bay to snorkel. I have never snorkeled before and this was a fantastic experience, comparable to nothing ever seen before. Our eyes swam over coral, sea brain, schools of fish, an eel, a sting ray, and so much more.
-Boat Tour 2-
-Boat Tour 3-
-Little Bay 2-
-Boat Tour 4-
DonNell and I took turns driving the boat to Prickley Pear Cays where we downed two mango vodka daiquiris each and held some interesting conversations with very intoxicated business men. We also met Punky’s brother, Dreada, and inhaled some of the island life before moving on.
-Prickley Pear Cays-
-Prickley Pear Cays 2-
-Prickley Pear Cays 3-
We embraced sunset on the very small and shell-filled Sandy Island.
-Sandy Island 2-
Thursday’s lunch was a delicious lobster salad with french fries at the restaurant Blue in Maundays Bay. They had solar powered golf carts and a little garden that we walked after eating.
-Maundays Bay 2-
-Maundays Bay 3-
Next we went to Shoal Bay West.
-Shoal Bay West-
-Shoal Bay West 2-
Then Meads Bay.
-Meads Bay 2-
We finished our day at Sea Feather Bay. Here DonNell and I came up with the idea that we should approach the Anguillan government with our proposal to start a nonprofit business of us keeping the Anguilla’s beaches clean. This way we could live there and help promote environmental awareness.
-Sea Feather Bay-
-Sea Feather Bay 2-
Thursday night we at a little restaurant called Ripples in Sandy Ground. This is a popular place for the locals. I tried conch for the first time and it was decadent. I had conch creole with rice, veggies, and a strawberry margarita. This was our last night in Anguilla and it was a great way to end the trip.
Friday morning DonNell and I caught a 10:30 ferry back to St. Maarten’s airport. One of the bars in the airport provided DonNell and I with “margaritas” which were all tequila with a splash of lime juice. It was exactly what we needed to help ease the transition back to reality. We had a short layover in Charlotte, NC, again, and landed in Dallas with a group of characters that kept us entertained till we grabbed some of America’s finest food at Denny’s. Finally, our beloved home of Austin greeted us good morning around 5am.
I cannot believe how fast this trip seemed to fly by. Days spent swimming and meandering around the island are already just a memory filed away. I am so looking forward to our next visit to paradise. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom, Dad, Aunt Carrol, and Stan. I love you all so much and am so very grateful for being able to experience something like this. <3