As a writer and photographer I travel between my life in Toronto, my life in Antigua, and anywhere else my wanderings may take me ... writing my books and enjoying local arts and adventures along the way.

Legacy of Pirates

After wearing ourselves out at the beach, we visited an elderly cousin from my Dad’s side of the family who lived near the seashore. Speaking with her was a revelation. Connections that I had never known with the past flowed from her effortlessly as she spoke. She told me who my paternal Great Grandfather was close to, which ancestors my father looked like, and she described what my paternal Grandfather looked like, though she said that the only picture she had ever seen of him was lost in a past hurricane. Caribbean people in North America often seem to forget those connections. I guess you need reminders all around you in your everyday life to connect those memories to.

The most colorful story of the day came from her son, who pointed at the nearby mountain, and told me “they used to shoot cannons at pirates from that mountain, when pirates used to come in the bay”.

The mountain was reputedly a great vantage point for gunning down pirate boats looking to plunder Antigua’s riches.

The mountain was reputedly a great vantage point for gunning down pirate boats looking to plunder Antigua’s riches.

Jabberwock Beach

I will admit that I dreaded getting up at the hour in the morning required to go to church. But of course, tired as we were, we had to go because Grandma loves her church and we very much appreciate Grandma. Once we got up the early hour wasn’t so bad. In fact it turned out that church was a refreshing change of pace. Everyone looked so graceful and composed in the heat that quickly erases all false composure and grace. I quickly realized why wearing nice clothes should be done very early in the day, before the mid day heat.

After church we changed, ate, and then found ourselves at Jabberwock beach. On an isolated part of the beach the most beautiful horses were swimming in the ocean. I wanted to get a picture, but by the time I finished swimming they were out of the water and under the shade of some nearby trees. I approached anyways and was greeted by a young man who was from somewhere between Antigua and Boston. He said the horses were race horses, and he pointed to one and said “this one is a champion”.

The horse was unquestionably beautiful, and its rider seemed to be well in tune with its nature. I was surprised that the horse seemed so calm rather than being as jittery as racehorses often seem. The sea must agree with it.

The horse was unquestionably beautiful, and its rider seemed to be well in tune with its nature. I was surprised that the horse seemed so calm rather than being as jittery as racehorses often seem. The sea must agree with it.

Mr. Boston-Antigua had time for a quick smile and “Good Afternoon” before literally sailing away on that horse that moved like water.

Mr. Boston-Antigua had time for a quick smile and “Good Afternoon” before literally sailing away on that horse that moved like water.

Behind the horses a Grandfather was playing cricket with his two Grandsons. I had never seen such a young boy bowl a cricket ball. After talking to the Grandfather it turned out that he was a first cousin that I had never met.

“]The youngest cricket bowler I have yet seen.]

The youngest cricket bowler I have yet seen.

Our Island Home

My mother lives on the island. Once we got back to my mother’s house the kids were amazed to see the house looked so comfortable after all they had heard about learning resourcefulness through having to “make do” from relatives who grew up there. From their surprise, I guess they expected to see a coal pot, candles, and an outdoor toilet.

Grandma kept to her promise of taking the kids to the beach on the first day.

In fact within hours of touching down at the airport we were enjoying the warm Caribbean Sea. The kids ran back and forth through the water while their grandma floated in the knee high water

Even in the early evening, the water is warm and inviting.

Even in the early evening, the water is warm and inviting.

After taking a quick dip myself, and assured all was in Grandma’s capable hands, I watched intermittently from the beach. After carrying all the kid’s bags and my bags through immigration and customs, I can’t be sure that I didn’t doze off, but I do know that I was hard at work doing my part to hold down the sand to the beach.

A little ways down the beach from where I lay, a couple of men were fishing. Now there are few pastimes I enjoy as much as surf fishing, although admittedly I’ve always caught many more fish on deep sea fishing charters, which I love as well. Eventually my fascination with the fishing got the better of me and I wandered down to ask the same question that one asks of fishermen everywhere, even where there are clearly no fish, “catch anything yet”?

He said that he hadn’t yet, but that he certainly would before he left. I marveled at how clean the water was. There was none of the odor associated with the red tide I had encountered in Florida, and that some people had told me was related to water pollution. I commented on how I could not remember ever visiting a North American city near water that hadn’t killed off most of the fish species there from pollution.

With hotels being such an important business on the island I was amazed that 30 years after I last visited the island that the water was still so clean. The man I spoke to was not only a skilled fisherman who knew the local catch well, but one who also kept track of the ecology. He told me that strict regulations promoted very green practices by the hotels with regards to the quality of the water near the beaches, but that the water near the harbor (where there are no beaches) is less clean.

Eventually the subject changed and we found out that he too used to visit the rum shop. He and his buddies would sneak in to play pool, but my Grandpa would run them off because they were too young. It turns out that the rum shop was a little bit famous.

Antigua’s waters stay clean by decree.

Antigua’s waters stay clean by decree.

The Taxi Ride

On the taxi ride from the airport I got to talking with the man driving the car. He asked me where I was from, I told him I flew in from Toronto but that my parents are from Antigua, and that my Grandfather owned a rum shop. He asked me what my Grandfather’s name was. At that point I realized that aside from calling him “Grandpa”, I hadn’t heard my Grandfather’s Christian name enough to know what it was. I told him that everybody called him “Ranny”. He said “you mean Uncle Ranny?” He told me that like many young men of his day he used to find himself on occasion inside the rum shop. He said that Uncle Ranny, who was not really his uncle but just called that by everyone, was more of his father’s peer than his, so he didn’t know much about the man aside from his Rum shop.

Even though I didn’t know anyone, it didn’t take long to meet someone who knew someone I knew.

Even though I didn’t know anyone, it didn’t take long to meet someone who knew someone I knew.

Love at First Sight

I caught sight of Antigua from the air for the first time in around 30 years. I expected to see a sea of concrete beneath me, but the island was still remarkably green. I was only partly amazed, because I know that many Antiguans have immigrated to other places, leaving unresolved land and property disputes between relatives spread out across the globe. In my experience these disputes resulted in land going undeveloped for generations. Also I know how difficult it is for many regular people to get the money together to build a second home on the island after they have built a life in some country outside of Antigua. I could only imagine that lots of land in Antigua would never be sold or developed anytime soon for these or very similar reasons. Land near the beaches might be a different story altogether. I didn’t get a chance to do a quick aerial survey to see whether the beachfront property was more densely populated. In any case, I love that the island is so green.

My first view of Antigua in about thirty years was from the air. The view was a good one.

My first view of Antigua in about thirty years was from the air. The view was a good one.

The Plane Ride

We flew non-stop to Antigua from Toronto via Air Canada. During the long flight the power outlet and free in-flight movies were very much appreciated.

The in-flight movies kept the kids occupied, and the power outlet kept my laptop humming.

The in-flight movies kept the kids occupied, and the power outlet kept my laptop humming.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Page 29 of 32« First...1020...2728293031...Last »