On Anguilla you can stroll The Valley and day trip to Shoal Bay East and island of Scilly Cay.
ANGUILLA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
During our flight to Anguilla we saw ‘rainbow clouds’. The white of the floating clouds over the azure blue sea captured a spectrum of colour.
Lloyd’s Bed and Breakfast lived up to it’s website claims and perhaps in some ways exceeded them. We were pleased.
Our room’s decor was a blend of ‘antique classic’ and ‘Caribbean funk’.
The evening manager gave us a warm welcome and made sure we were comfortable. We took her suggestion for a dinner restaurant and walked a kilometre into town to the English Rose. The walk was pleasant along back roads.
We had to ask directions a few times and each time our requests for help were met with friendly banter and helpfulness.
The food at English Rose was simple and good regional fare. Judging by the amount of takeout orders, it’s a favourite with the locals. We are pleased, in turn, to recommend it.
Walking back to our accommodations it was dark in spots but we never felt uncomfortable. Folks were sitting on steps and porches, visiting in the cooling evening air. “Good night,” we said and they answered back with a cheerful “good night”, sometimes adding, “hope you are enjoying your stay.” ‘Good night’ here is not a statement of farewell but a greeting. ‘Good morning’ is said before noon; ‘good afternoon’ covers from noon to six o’clock, ‘good evening’ runs from 6ish to dark and after that it’s ‘good night’.
After a pleasant breakfast at Lloyd’s, we walked back into town
Homes here, as in many parts of the Caribbean, are constructed of concrete. The small termites, as we had seen on St John, eat wooden houses and, we were told, eat them from the roof down rather than the ground up. Virtually all homes have shutters … real shutters; their main purpose … protection during hurricanes.
We changed our route from last night’s outing. At a park we found three plastic wise men and a camel flat on the ground taking a snooze near what, we believe, will become a manger scene. Joseph and Mary were upright but there was no Jesus to be seen … of course not … it’s not Christmas … yet. At home we are sure the stores are full of Christmas displays and ‘muzaked’ malls are probably already playing winter music with a hint of Christmas in order to stimulate some seasonal spending. Here … it is warm and balmy and our minds are being tricked into thinking the joyful season is at least six months away.
Instead of Christmas displays on street corners we watch men standing around an impromptu barbeque in the shade of a tree waiting for fresh corn to roast.
Under another tree we meet Sheridan. This friendly man, born on Anguilla, sells fish from a cooler off the back of a pickup truck. “Come see,” he invited us. We peered in and saw the many coloured fish. He picked up a multi-coloured iridescent one … blue, salmon pink, greens and silver. “A parakeet fish,” he told us and we understood why.
Further along our walk we met up with two ground lizards, each about 60 cm in length. One with green colouring took to the bushes as we approached, but the brown one paid little attention to us as he searched out just the right spot on the sidewalk to soak in the sun’s warmth.
Across the street was the prison. No thick solid walls; just tall chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire. Some of the prisoners, perhaps all, were sitting near a corner of the yard, their laundry hung on a line and chickens scratched in the grass.
A large sign hung on the fence … “Any Person who contrary to the Regulations of a Prison brings or attempts to bring into the Prison or to a Prisoner any Spiritous of Fermented Liquor or Tobacco, or places any such Liquor or any Tobacco anywhere outside the Prison with Intent that it shall come into the possession of a Prisoner, and any Officer who contrary to those Regulations allow any such Liquor or any Tobacco to be sold or used in Prison is liable on Summary Conviction to imprisonment of a Term of Six (6) Months or Fine of EC$4,000.00.” The sign went on to prohibit any written or verbal communication.
“Hi, there”, one of the prisoners shouted out. Not wanting to break any rules but not wanting to seem rude, we waved. “Do you have any cigarettes?”
“No. Don’t smoke,” we called back and waved as we passed their corner.
“Have a good day,” one yelled cheerfully.
“You too,” we smiled.
We used the ATM at the NBA [National Bank of Anguilla]. There were people busy in the parking lot setting up a stage for the annual Jazz Festival activities which were to start this afternoon … the bank is a big sponsor of the event and donates the use of their parking lot.
“There are no taxis in town,” a man told us, “unless a business phones for one. You can get one at the airport.” He pointed us in the right direction. Kotchy’s Taxi was next in line at the airport’s entrance . It seems almost everyone who grew up on the islands has a nickname. “Kotchy. What does that mean?” we asked.
“I don’t know,” he said, “it’s just a name. I don’t remember when people started calling me ‘Kotchy’, they just did and it stuck.”
“Were you born here on the island?”
“What was it like here when you were a boy.”
“We didn’t have roads like this,” he said zipping along a paved winding road towards Shoal Bay East beach. “We didn’t have any electricity. We worked hard; when we were not at school we were helping keep the family in food. I fished with my father.” As we drove, Kotchy, told us of the island and how we might best spend our day.
We found him friendly and informative. If you are looking for a taxi or tour on Anguilla consider reaching Kotchy through his cell number at 264-235-1269. If you see a taxi with the licence plate T-18 … that’s Kotchy’s Taxi and Tours.
Shoal Bay East beach is the “beach of postcards”. Fine cream coloured sand stretches on and on defined by a palm tree border. The spot on the beach where Kotchy dropped us off (with arrangements made for pickup) is populated with beach shacks serving up food, drinks and snorkel equipment and dotted with coloured beach umbrellas, lounge chairs and tourists ranging in colour from office-white to vacation-burnt-red.
We shed our shoes and took to the waves walking along the beach until we ran out of sand. The water was warm and inviting but we didn’t have our swimsuit.
Returning to the umbrellas and shacks we had a drink at Uncle Ernie’s.
This modest beach-side snack shack is one of the best known eateries on Anguilla. The soft spoken Ernest Benjamin Harrigan, known affectionately as Uncle Ernie, started this unpretentious little stand on the beach in 1984. Although it was blown to bits in Hurricane Luis, Ernie was able to rebuild within three weeks … the same place, same style … just a new colour scheme. The food, ranging from cold drinks and burgers to lobster is offered at attractive prices … $2 for a Heineken, $4 for rum punch, a $5 pina colada and for $6 you can get a rib dinner. Uncle Ernie, born in 1918, passed away last year, but the family business continues with his daughters Eileen and Icilma and his nephew Franklin.
Kotchy met us as planned and drove us up the coast to a concrete wharf where we caught a shuttle boat over the 150 yards of water to the little island of Scilly Cay.
The tiny island is lined with a wall embedded with brain coral and conch shells … no longer fashionable in these eco-conscious days … and is taken up almost entirely by a tourist destination restaurant. The open-air restaurant was not showing it’s best … damage from hurricane Omar has not been completely repaired and it was closed. The owners, Eudoxie and Sandra Wallace, had opened it to treat a large group of travel writers, we just happened to come along and blend in. We didn’t pass ourselves off as part of the group and therefore were expected to pay the $55 US price per plate for the lobster and chicken lunch. We settled for two $5 rum punches and accepted the offer of the travel writers’ tour guide to track down Kotchy, via cell phone, and ask him to return sooner than planned.
Kotchy drove us back into town in such a fashion that we had circled the island by the time he dropped us off at the NBA parking lot.
Barbeques were emitting savoury chicken aromas and the music was underway on stage. We took our plates and joined the locals at long tables. This was more in keeping with how we like to travel. There was no hurry to rush away after lunch and we stayed around to watch high school students, who had spent part of their summer holidays attending a jazz music workshop, perform. They weren’t as polished as the professionals but more heart-warming to watch.
We had planned to return to town later tonight and revisit the English Rose … that was the plan, until we came across Ken’s Barbeque.
All around The Valley (the name of Anguilla’s capital) weekend barbeques are set up on street corners. Ken’s (across the street from the Brooks and Son’s Complex) is bigger and busier than most. Ken, tending the grills himself, told us he has been doing this for nine years. His chicken is good and his pork excellent … he raises it himself. He has johnny cakes too (a sweet little bun) but you have to get there early because they sell out fast … sadly, they were already gone. The aromas were intoxicating and Ken so friendly, we changed our dinner plans and ordered some chicken and ribs to take with us. Delicious! … quality for sure, no scrimping on quantity and the prices great ! … chicken $2.75 US, ribs $6, combo $6, pork (thin sliced and succulent) $6, garlic bread $1, Johnny cakes (when available) $.50 each. Ken’s is only open Friday and Saturday from noon to until he sells out. Folks in line behind us brought a large turkey roaster with them to have it filled for a gathering they were hosting.
Heading towards Lloyd’s, we walked along a street lined with mahogany trees. The mahogany tree of Anguilla is shorter, around 20 feet in height, and lacks the straight trunk of the variety grown in South America. The windy conditions on Anguilla have forced these trees to bend and twist. So revered are these impressive shade trees that the capital dedicated a bronze plaque to a single tree which met it’s end at a very old age.
At the end of the line of trees, we paused for awhile to watch a soccer game (called ‘football’ here) between two preteen girl’s teams; again this is the kind of everyday thing with everyday people we enjoy experiencing during our travels.
It has been a most enjoyable day.
Kotchy drove us to the Lady Maria ferry dock on Anguilla.
The ferry was packed with people, so much so one of the crew was shuffling people around and squeezing them in. We asked if it would be okay to sit outside on the forward deck and to our surprise the answer was yes.
Two men were already there, a Dutch fellow taking a break from his job in Switzerland and a local making the hop across to St Martin.
The fresh ocean breeze … actually wind … was cool and most refreshing … we had the best seats on the boat.