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.

Under the Sea in Antigua’s Submarine Adventure

I’ve never been in a submarine before. Today I traveled under water on a submarine/submersible catamaran called the subcat. The subcat has two pontoons on either side of it that allow it to float on top the water and that make it a catamaran. When the subcat is floating on top the water the passengers may sit outside on chairs that are fixed to the platform that rests between the pontoons. When the subcat is ready to submerge the passengers get inside a water tight cabin between the pontoons and ballast water is taken into the ballast compartments so that the subcat sinks.

The craft was quite a technological marvel and I was told that it was one of only three such subcats in the world. Once we finally got out into deep enough water we all went into the cabin to make the trip under the waves. Having never dived before I was amazed to see how the colours of everyones clothes changed as we went deeper. Red clothes began to look purple. As part of the tour there is a diver on the outside of the craft who uses an underwater camera to take pictures of the passengers inside. It was neat to look through the port holes and see the diver outside feeding fish and taking pictures of us inside. I was told that although the visibility that day seemed good the visibility is even more excellent at other times. I was just happy to have a bright sunny day and such calm seas. With all that it was a perfect day for riding the subcat.

Chilling at the Seabreeze Cafe in English Harbour, Antigua

Great view of English Harbour, fast wifi internet, and comfortable chairs, not to mention good coffee and gelato.

Great view of English Harbour, fast wifi internet, and comfortable chairs, not to mention good coffee and gelato.

For me the Seabreeze Cafe is nice for three reasons. Firstly there is the fast and free WiFi  internet access. Secondly there is the beautiful view of the yachts in English Harbour, and thirdly there are the comfortable chairs. For someone intent on using a laptop good food and drink are only bonuses after these three. I had their homemade burger and fries and bottled water because I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I’ve been told their cafe americano is good. Their gelato also seems to get an enthusiastic thumbs up from  patrons.

Ziplining between Skyscraping Treetops in Antigua’s Rain Forest

Higher than it Looks

Higher than it Looks

Jumping off a platform at the top of one huge rain forest tree I found myself racing out across the zipline. Only an endless drop into nothing but empty air was below me. I was moving towards a wooden platform that looked tiny at the distant end of the line where it was fixed to a tree. The tree looked almost impossibly far away … so far away that I was grateful for the tremendous speed I was gathering since it was getting me to the other side quicker. But my gratefulness froze almost instantaneously into fear when I realized I was approaching that opposite platform at crash velocity and still not slowing down. Panicking slightly I pulled the brakes a little too hard just when the natural deceleration at the end of the ride kicked in so that my braking plus the natural deceleration slowed me down too much.  Rather than colliding into the tree my forward motion dribbled to a weak stop and I ended up slightly short of the platform. The patient ranger had to reach out to bring me in … leaving me feeling kind of sheepish. ”You all right cameraman” he smiled. It was less of a question than a statement.

Despite my excessive caution I had won points among the rangers for being able to shoot photos while holding on to my harness … one of the cute young rangerettes even referring to this prowess as my “ninja style”. Though my pulse was still racing, I found that I couldn’t resist faking a little bravado in the face of that compliment. “No problem at all man” I responded to the ranger who’d caught me.

I honestly never expected the tour to be so much fun. I never expected there would be such an adrenaline pumping combination of height, speed, balance, and natural ecological beauty. Don’t expect to use your camera in mid-flight like I did though … I had a special harness, and it was quite a challenge as well as being a grave risk to the camera.

The 2010 Weblog awards

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Buying Ingredients for Pepperpot in the St. John’s Market

The first stall I visited where I bought some delicious peppers.

The first stall I visited where I bought some delicious peppers.

I had two goals in mind today when I went to the Saturday morning produce market in St. John’s, Antigua. My first goal was to photograph the sights and atmosphere of the market. My second goal was to get all the ingredients to make a traditional West Indian dish called “pepperpot”. Figuring out the ingredients to pepperpot is a little tricky since I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it made exactly the same way twice … even by the same person. In fact I think the official Caribbean definition of pepperpot might just be a stew in which you’ve thrown anything green that can be cooked along with some salt beef or salt pork. I had no clue what most of the vegetables at the market were … but I bought some green ones that looked like they should be cooked and accomplished my goal of taking lots of pictures while doing so.

A hint to all the tourists who find that the market sellers refuse to let you take their picture … BUY SOMETHING! Try not to standup in front of the people’s stall and point a camera in their faces without saying hello or buying anything. Make it an adventure for yourself and gain goodwill by buying a little of the wonderfully exotic local fruit to take back with you to the cruise ship or hotel. Make a friend out of them while you ask for permission to take their picture. Charm them. Follow these rules along with being respectful and trying not to take pictures that put your subjects in a ridiculous light … and you’ll be amazed at how many locals will want you to take their picture.

Back to my quest to make pepperpot. I’m a great cook who prides himself on being able to make “anything from anything” but these local ingredients were proving too confusing. Realizing that I was completely out of my depth I finally went up to one of the ladies in the market and simply asked her “put everything in my bag that I need to make pepperpot”. A couple dollars and many bags of vegetables later I was set. She went on to tell me how to put it all together … assuring me “it’s easy”. As I write my pepperpot is stewing on the stove right now. It smells delicious. I can’t wait to taste it.

Basketball on an Outdoor Court in Antigua

Last Saturday at the healthy living conference I met a Rastaman named “Mozambique”. As he was laid back and easy to talk to I took an immediate liking to him. He looked very active. When I asked him what he did to stay in such good shape he answered “I like to play basketball”. Being a baller from long time myself I immediately sized him up to see whether he might be able to guard me. My first guess was likely not. I could feel trash talk already welling up in me and about to pass my lips. But given that this conference was full of very centered and spiritual types I kept the “street” in me to myself. But I did exchange numbers with him and promised to meet him and his buddies the next morning on the Clare Hall basketball court near my home. I had survived the conference with my sense of peace and goodwill intact. Just as I turned to go my new found friend  called out after me “I hope I see you there … you don’t have to make any excuses if you feel your game is too weak and you feel afraid to come down … I’ll understand”.

At the same time that I thought “talk is cheap” I was also happy that it hadn’t been me who had said something like that when we were trying to be spiritual. I smiled and waved at him and said nothing as I departed. I definitely would be there the next day with what my new friend would come to recognize as 100% grade A prime North American game. “Jah gives guidance and teaching” I thought to myself  ”and at least one Rastaman on this island is going to wonder if it was the almighty Jah himself  that brought me to teach and school him on the court tomorrow”.

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