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.

Surfing in Antigua

Coming to surf.

Coming to surf.

I haven’t surfed in twenty years. And I haven’t surfed well ever. But after so many years of believing I couldn’t try surfing because my contact lenses would pop out and I wouldn’t be able to see a blessed thing … I just happened to bump into a old surfer today who said that he had no trouble with his contacts popping out … and that if mine did pop out that he would give me a ride home so I wouldn’t have to drive blind. That was all the encouragement I needed. I grabbed the board he loaned me and headed in past the breaking surf.

Despite having skateboarded for a lifetime when much younger and still having that board balance … I still wasn’t able to stand up on the board today. But man … having the opportunity to be out there in the surf just trying to catch my balance in the midst of the huge natural power of the waves … it was beautiful. I would even say that it was in a way spiritual. There were so many other surfers that were more experienced and that could have been an insecurity that I focused on … but in the moment when each wave came there was no room to focus on what skills anyone else had and what skills I didn’t have … there was only room to focus on and be grateful for my own ride.

Sunset at Shirley’s Heights in Antigua

The view from Shirley's Heights right around Sunset.

The view from Shirley's Heights right around Sunset.

Shirley’s Heights is a scenic lookout in Antigua with a restaurant and a stage for live bands. On Sundays the venue hosts a big celebration to watch the setting of the sun while enjoying food and drink. They have the both the bar and barbecue going full tilt serving the throngs of guests, but although the music is pumping and people are dancing the night away, there are also secluded spots for a pleasant conversation.

Christmas Day in Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua and Barbuda

yachty rastaman christmas

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[This cigar was a gift from a yachtie who'd traveled to Cuba. It got waterlogged and had to be wrapped in paper to hold it together ... but it was both given and received in the very best of spirits for Christmas.]

Nelson’s Dockyard is a popular place in Antigua for yachts to moor but the lively bars and cheap rum to be found in nearby English Harbor are only walking distance away and usually draw sailors like a magnet on most evenings … leaving Nelson’s Dockyard relatively quiet.

Today being Christmas day was very different. A big Christmas celebration was taking place in Nelson’s Dockyard and the lively Calypso music had drawn in locals and seafaring tourists from miles around to come and celebrate Christmas together in the historic Nelson’s Dockyard. For new arrivals to the island seeking a place where everyone is welcome to celebrate Christmas … or for locals looking for the same … it was a fine Antiguan celebration of the holiday. I was told by one of the yachties that there was even a champagne breakfast as well … but given the priority put here on celebration it’s little wonder that he found it to be “all champagne and no breakfast”.

The Christmas Party today was  being hosted by Women Against Rape, a local organization that offers education, counseling, and legal referrals for rape victims. I was told that some portion of the proceeds from every bottle of champagne sold was going towards supporting that organization.

Having spent much of my Christmas holidays in the icy clutches of the Canadian winter I found that the unique things about this Christmas celebration was the absence of even the thought of snow. Instead there were Christmas hats and outfits were everywhere. Another unique thing was that unlike what you would expect for a similar sized party in North America or in the UK … there were no police to be seen … and not even the hint of an argument to warrant the presence of any.

Exhibition by Artist Naydene Gonnella at The Copper and Lumber Store Hotel in Antigua and Barbuda

set of doorways

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The Copper and Lumber Store Hotel in Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua and Barbuda is a beautiful place to have an art exhibit. Having shown up early to artist Naydene Gonnella’s exhibit there I got the chance to chat a little with her. I was curious to find out what technique she used to give certain scattered details in her paintings the appearance of having been carved directly into the canvas. She explained that in places she applied both wax and paint in layers and that she drew parts of the images by actually scraping away rather than painting on.

“Sometimes” she said “the layers sit for quite awhile”. I have to work on many painting as at the same time because of the time required for the layering process”. She told me that she even used the layering process for creating portraits. I thought of how interesting it would be to have her paint my own layered portrait. I wonder what elements of my character or what insights about the person I am would come through those layers.

And I wonder what it would be like to be captured in the warm colours she uses. Somehow those colours gave me the overall impression of contentment. And not a contentment without basis. The range of shades and tones conveyed the impression of a more solid contentment such as what one would achieve by way of honest reflection. Her work definitely had substance.

Art Exhibition by Naydene Gonnella at The Copper and Lumber Store Hotel in Antigua and Barbuda
Having shown up early to Naydene’s exhibit I got the chance to chat a little with her. I was curious to find out what technique she used to give certain scattered details in her paintings the appearance of having been carved directly into the canvas. She explained that in places she applied both wax and paint in layers and that she drew parts of the images by actually scraping away rather than painting on.
“Sometimes” she said “the layers sit for quite awhile”. I have to work on many painting as at the same time because of the time required for the layering process”. She told me that she even used the layering process for creating portraits. I thought of how interesting it would be to have her paint my own layered portrait. I wonder what elements of my character or what insights about the person I am would come through those layers.
And I wonder what it would be like to be captured in the warm colours she uses. Somehow those colours gave me the overall impression of contentment. And not a contentment without basis. The range of shades and tones conveyed the impression of a more solid contentment such as what one would achieve by way of honest reflection. Her work definitely had substance.

Great Bird Island near Antigua and Barbuda

Sugar Bird

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Today I photographed birds while on a snorkeling adventure to Great Bird Island with Antigua Adventure.

Another Day at the Beach in Antigua

Another day at Jabberwock beach in Antigua.

Horse on the Beach

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