Snorkelling and Hiking

Antigua

Bananaquit

Bananaquit

January 15, 2015

Very good food here. In the evening the restaurant has sittings for a la carte dining. We took the earliest at six-thirty. The seven and seven-thirty sittings are quickly signed up for and gone at breakfast. Thursday’s are a little different as there is a manager’s cocktail before dinner; so, the first sitting is at 7PM. We have signed up for that one.

Last night I had shrimp pasta as an appetizer and Brian had deep fried mozzarella sticks. We both had lamb with vegetables then Brian had amaretto ice cream and I had cherry cheesecake. All good, all,the right sized portions.

This morning our omelette chef was from Guyana. She is going to visit her cousin in Toronto this year. Everyone is very friendly, staff and guests alike. All of the guests we have talked with are from the UK. An eight hour flight for them.

January 16, 2015

I didn’t get around to finishing yesterday’s blog…too busy.

We snorkelled at both ends of the beach where we saw plenty of colourful fish. There were deep trenches at the south end of the beach. Because we were in the shade of the cliff, the colours were less pronounced. At the north end there were more flat rock hiding places, many covered in moss and seaweed. It is there that I discovered a large fist-sized octopus well camouflaged in green plant material but he kept stretching and curling his tentacles. I kept looking above water to get Brian’s attention but he continued to swim away from me leaving bread crumbs and schools of fish behind for me to admire. Brian always tells me I should not go far from him or too close to the rocks, but apparently that advice is only for me. Brian was disappointed he did not see the octopus.

There were twenty inch long blue fish and many differently patterned yellow fish that sparkled in sunlight and were happy to nibble bits of bun.

A pair of bullfinches

A pair of bullfinches

Walking the beach we were surrounded by a flutter of butterflies, hundreds of small white ones with splashes of yellow on their wings. I was unable to capture this marvellous sight.

We hiked with medicine man, Vaughn, and his apprentice, Ashlin and two other couples for an hour and a half. We left the resort and walked through the abandoned Grand Royal Antiguan Resort, a huge resort that for the past seven years has hosted only invisible guests. Curiously the hotel is in good shape. Someone is maintaining it. There was a security guard at the gate, a man on reception, a new flat screen television playing in the lounge. Vaughn explained the many medicinal properties of various plants as we walked through and told of us the political decisions that had caused the closing of the resort. He asked us to imagine the throngs of people that we would have had to shimmy past in the hotel’s former glory. It is now under new ownership and it is expected to open again.

Brian and Vaughn

Brian and Vaughn

We walked the sand beach of Deep Bay where about ten large sailboats were moored and an equal number of brightly painted former souvenir cabins remained vacant.

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We scrambled up the lava rock face of a steep hill to the top to the stone ruins of Fort Barrington. As we had no trekking poles, I think we merited mountain goat certificates but none were issued. The view from the top was stunning in all directions but particularly in the direction of Montserrat, the sailboats and the setting sun. Vaughn advised us to use our toes to climb and flat feet to descend. We heeded  his advice.

Vaughn gave many tributes to his grandmother for having taught him about plants. He was obviously very attached to her and missed her. Vaughn was a musician for seventeen years in New York City but came home to the island to lead guided walks which he has been doing joyfully and successfully for twelve years from four hotels, relying solely on tips.

We dined with Mike and Jill one of the two Brit couples who walked with us. A local playing a steel drum provided musical background. We kept one another well entertained with lots of laughs until 11 PM, well past our bedtime!

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