“Wa Gwarn” “cool cool cool” “Wa Gwarn” “Me CF (safe)”
This is how the locals greet in Antigua and beyond. I feel like the first non local to use it as the response is tremendous and always with a huge smile and a bit of bewilderment that a white woman as speaking the tongue. LOL As we travel I like to learn about the local customs, foods and such and on night #1 our waiter gave me a small list of words to try out. A little shy the first time, yes me shy, it was answered so delightfully that now I can’t stop. Need a break from the fear and hate that is spreading like wildfire in the USA? Come to Antigua and say “wa gwarn” to a local and you will let that shit go. It’s one world after all. Just can’t see it sometimes when you are smothered with fearful news.
If you ask us this month which is our favorite island in the Caribbean it would be Antigua. Why?
Plentiful harbors, beautiful beaches of all sizes, decent stores, good restaurants, and the most important reason is the people. Everyone is friendly and greets you with a genuine smile. I asked the taxi driver today why it is so and he replied they are content with what they have. If they don’t have it, someone shares. Sounds like a good plan for happiness to me!
Antigua was a British territory but is now independent and its sister island Barbuda is only 35 miles north.
They desalinate the water, and the outdoor markets are lovely. The ladies wear dresses and hats when they step out which warms my heart. Respect mon.
The only downside here is the reefs for snorkeling are not all that bountiful due to hurricane damage from the past, and often the water is quite silty so even though the color is gorgeous, you often can’t see your hand all that well.
That doesn’t stop the tourists from booking dive and snorkel trips. We see them going out daily and just guessing but when you only have a week to vacation you take what you can get. We haven’t visited all the sights but enough to know that it’s not as good as it gets. The rest however makes up for it!
We loved hiking up to Shirley Heights, a must see, and although I missed the big party on 4 consecutive Sundays, Eric, Tim, and Jen experienced the BBQ and steel bands in style and even danced in the pouring rain with our Brit friends Pauli and Nick!
Our first 2017 charter was with Jen and Tim Ray from Buffalo NY. Tim and I have worked together as coaches at the North U Race Week and it was their first long break from their 5 kids, the youngest of which are 4 year old twins! We did our best to let them relax, hang loose and sail. Shirley Heights and Deep Bay were good stops to do just that!
Eric and I had a few days alone to relax and unwind from the hectic pace of going home for Christmas after sailing 1500 miles south from the NE of USA. We sailed to Barbuda, had dinner with Margie and Al Slater, folks we met in Maine on Sweet Dreams, and discovered the Frigate rookery which I posted about in the last blog.
Eric went home for a week to finish selling his house so I planned a “girls week” trip. Teri McKenna, Christy Radecic and Sarah Cavanah arrived a few days apart and Teri left early to return to her home in St Thomas.
We did our people transfers to the airport up at the Nonsuch Bay Resort and that’s where we just had to get in that lovely disappearing pool!
We windsurfed, snorkeled, and met another catamaran from California with mostly women who were skilled kiters. Inspiring to watch! When the wind was down and they were stuck on a beach I windsurfed and did freestyle. There were paddle board challenges and skiing sessions too.
From Nonsuch Bay, Sarah, Christy and I sailed around the top of Antigua to St Johns and then to Deep Bay for the night. I learned where to go with our charter so it felt easy to repeat and show the sights.
The next day we sailed to Barbuda and after a tour with the famous George Jeffrey to see the frigates we walked, then hitchhiked (it was 3 long miles in hot sun on a non paved road with wild horses and donkeys around) to the other side of the island to the caves. Cliffs have eroded to the point that you can walk up through them and have a great lookout from above. The folks that picked us in their 4 seater car had 4 people in it. We squeezed into the back and they shared beers, knew where to go, and even took us back to town. They were from Antigua and again, a reminder that the people here are super nice!
The girls left on the 31st on the same plane Eric flew in on. We’re back in Antigua and enjoying some down time repairing, blogging, and hanging out watching super yachts race, and watching Harry Potter at night.
Several friends are here for the superyacht (AKA bubble) races and we windsurfed out to the starting line in 15-20 and nice size swells. It was zen time for me but my body is out of shape for doing long sails and I was SO SPENT afterwards! We obviously need to do that more often.
Most of our time has been in Jolly Harbor where we’ve reunited with boats/friends, some who we met in the Canaries, others from the Caribbean 1500, others from cruising clubs we’ve joined, and enjoy sharing dinners, stories and adventures. Of course we are also meeting new folks and sharing info, stories, and domino games. This world of cruising keeps getting smaller as we traverse the seas. And that feels good. When in the Med we knew not a soul, there were no American flags, and we didn’t speak the languages. It’s amazing we did as much as we did looking back. Eric keeps trying to figure out ways to get back there (translate go around the world). I’m not ready to make that commitment yet as the world keeps getting scarier. But then we meet people who have done it a few times and have the experience to share. Dinner tonight with a couple from Alaska who owned and operated dog sled and fishing camps in Alaska and Chile while home schooling kids. Adventurous souls abound!
For now I am as happy as I’ve ever been sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling and swimming in turquoise waters that don’t make me shiver. They say you go back to the things you loved as a child and this is my happy place. Growing up in Miami with parents who loved the water and took us cruising to the Bahamas and Keys, it doesn’t get much better for this southern girl.
Soon we will head south to the next island, Guadalupe, and then Dominica for a rendezvous with other cruisers. From there, down to Martinique for Carnival and another awesome charter!!! Last year Eric Christy and I dressed up and joined the parade. Who knows what could happen this year!