A Brief Interlude
I have to warn you, friend: things are about to get pretty boring for a while.
This new lodging situation? It changes the dynamics of our vacation entirely, and wreaks utter havoc on that aforementioned itinerary. Over the next couple of days it will become next to impossible to pry the family away from this place. They just don’t want to move. Unless you count trying out the many different seating areas, or traversing the path to the pool.
That’s okay, though. They deserve it, right?
You know what else they deserve? Pastries from Le Bon Pain.
And since I’m up with the sunrise, I’m the designated hunter/gatherer.
Le Bon Pain is now just a short drive from us. It doesn’t take nearly as long to drive there as I think it will, so I actually arrive before Le Bon Pain even opens. But that’s perfectly fine– better safe than sorry. I am determined to get one of those almond croissants today.
The hunter/gatherer returns with a bounty of pastries, including not one but two almond croissants.
At the time I’m thinking there might be enough for a snack later on. Silly me.
The rest of the morning is a study in relaxation as we shift from seating area to seating area. The double chaise lounges, the sofa and arm chairs, the chaise lounges on the balcony, the balcony’s bistro table and chairs. Then there is the downstairs. And the pool area, with its pool loungers. Not to mention the poolside bistro table and chairs. So many combinations! So much time!
It’s not easy, but I convince Mark to steal away with me for lunch. Luckily I had the foresight to order sandwiches from Le Bon Pain for the kids.
The trek to Meads Bay is much longer than that from Sandy Ground, but I don’t mind. I love driving the island, windows down, smelling that sweet, unidentifiable aroma, watching for chickens and goats. It feels so luxurious to be on vacation while the people that live here are going about their day-to-day business, working their jobs, going to school.
But we are on vacation, and the business at hand is eating lunch, which today is at Straw Hat.
We decide it’s a toss up between the Ferry Boat Inn’s rum punch and the Straw Hat’s ti punch as to which we prefer. If only we could do a side-by-side tasting.
It’s funny: that itinerary I’ve been planning for the past two years, the one entitled “Dreaming,” is carefully mapped out with places to go for lunch and dinner, and the can’t-miss things to order at each one. But we are finding we simply do not have the gastronomical fortitude to keep up the pace. Simply put, our stomachs are too darn small.
Of course, the flip side is we know that if we don’t eat it now, who knows when we might have the opportunity again.
This in mind, we power on, but on half scale. We split the wasabi dusted Big Eye tuna flatbread for a starter, followed by a half each of the fish sandwich with spicy jerk aioli. Half a sandwich for each of us, yes, but that certainly can’t be half an order of fries on each plate. Which, by the way, are the best part. I could easily have skipped everything else and just eaten a platter of those fried ribbons.
We could stay and enjoy the beach in Straw Hat’s loungers after lunch, but it’s hard to rest easy with thoughts of your teenagers alone back at your villa nagging at your brain. Besides, there’s the gravitational pull of that pool to contend with.
We return to Sea Feathers for the remainder of the afternoon.
The kids bounce back and forth between the pool and their own living area downstairs. Mark bounces between the pool and the March Madness games playing on the 60″ TV. I finish my book.
Afternoon stretches into early evening.
It becomes clear that vacation paralysis has set in, and that whatever we do for dinner, it’s going to happen right here at the villa.
The hunter/gatherer sets out once again. This time I’m accompanied by Aaron and Zoe, with a destination of Corner Bar Pizza.
A phone would be quite handy at this point to call and order ahead, but that’s the one thing this villa does not have, and I have no idea what the charge would be to use my cellphone. I’d hate to have this turn into a $100 pizza.
Right now I want to take a moment to make a public service announcement: WATCH OUT FOR THE DRAINAGE DIPS on be road to Corner Bar! Somehow we manage to find the restaurant without taking out the bottom of Ronnie’s car.
The restaurant is small, with about as much ambience as a drugstore. The woman behind the counter is a doll, though, less like a business owner and more like your best friend’s mother. Especially when Zoe informs me she’s not feeling well. I’m in the middle of instructing Aaron to wait for the pizza so I can sit with Zoe in the car when the woman (Lorna, I think?) says, “You take her out, I’ll come get you when your pizzas are ready.”
See what I mean about these people of Anguilla?
We return to the villa with our loot of two large pizzas, one lobster, one supreme.
I have to say that Corner Bar pizza and a bottle of prosecco in our beautiful villa rivals any dining experience we’ve had so far.
Especially when followed by a late night dip in our own pool.
There’s a few clouds in the sky this morning, but nothing too threatening. In fact, a little cloud cover will be good, I think, as the plan for today is to kayak to Little Bay.
Coffee on the balcony, staring at Saint Martin, cold pizza for breakfast. Life is good.
Except for Zoe. Zoe does not feel well, and would like to just rest in her comfortable bed.
Little Bay will have to wait.
We decide to explore Sandy Hill Bay instead. The beach is right across the bay from our villa, so if Zoe (who will obviously be staying put) will be able to see us from our balcony.
Additionally, we’ve heard this is one of the better snorkeling spots on the island.
I confess I have a minor motive of my own, as I’m hoping to find the villa that Mark and I stayed in on our honeymoon many years ago. I have a hunch that it might lie just around the corner of Sandy Hill Bay.
Close, but not a match.
Last night’s pizza is gone, and I’m pretty sure the family is not going to want to go out for lunch (Hello?Pool? Sick Zoe?), so I suggest more takeout. I’ve been wanting to try Ken’s BBQ anyway.
Ken’s is in the Valley, one of the many food stands and trucks that make up the Strip. Though we’ve made up our minds to pick up Ken’s BBQ, I have to say all the offerings here sound good. There’s corn soup, stewed goat, oxtail stew… This is my kind of place!
Sadly my family is not as excited about the Strip’s possibilities as I am.
We pay for our food and take our leave. I snap a few more pictures as they drag me away.
On our way back to the villa we have to stop to refuel. Thank heavens we went low budget for lunch.
Lunch is fabulous.
By mid afternoon I have read the latest edition of Vanity Fair cover to cover and swam about four miles in our 20 ft pool. Suffice it to say I am restless.
I slip my shoes on my feet and slap my floppy hat on my head, and set out to explore the neighborhood.
If Anguilla had a suburban neighborhood, it would be Sea Feathers. From what I’ve read, it’s home to many of the island’s expats. And somewhere in this neighborhood is the villa where Mark and I honeymooned. Today I am going to find it.
I’m sure if anyone in the neighborhood is looking out their windows today, they are puzzled by the sight of a strange woman wandering the streets, peering over fences and ducking down walkways (I apologize to anyone if I trespassed! It’s hard to tell sometimes where properties begin and end!).
Finally I decide I stand the best chance of finding this villa if I go down to water’s edge and follow it back around the bend.
Imagine the surprise of the poor man out spraying weeds in his yard when he looks up and sees the crazy woman walking up from the sea.
It’s the same villa, all right, and in fact the poor man who I have startled is the father of our old friend in Montana. And you know what? He invites me in for a tour.
Even the expats here in Anguilla are the nicest sort of people!
My quest finally satisfied, I head back to the villa. The path back, unfortunately, is entirely uphill. In 84° weather. I don’t even want to know the Real Feel. I just know I’m burning the soles of my feet, even though I’m wearing shoes.
Thank heavens for that pool.
We spend the remainder of the afternoon lounging some more at the villa. See how boring we’ve become? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But I’ll be damned if we are going to stay one more meal in this villa. We have reservations for Mango’s for tonight, and no way are we going to cancel.
Luckily, the rest of the family seems to feel the same way. After their two day hiatus from restaurants, everyone has a renewed enthusiasm for the idea of dressing up and embarking on a dining adventure.
We intentionally made reservations for 6:30 with the hope of finally witnessing a sunset. Unfortunately we have to drive practically to the other end of the island to do so. We set out a few minutes before 6:00, and while we feel like we’re cutting it a little close, we should still get there in time.
Unfortunately it becomes quickly apparent that Anguilla is capable of rush hour traffic. And then, just after the light to Blowing Point Road, we get stuck behind a driver who doesn’t share our same sense of urgency. We putter along behind him with no chance to pass because of all the oncoming traffic. Just where did all these cars come from?
Finally the car turns off into the Best Buy parking lot, and we have a clear road ahead of us. We fly down the remaining stretch of Albert Hughes Road, yank the car to the right, bounce from rock to rock down the drive to Mango’s, then slam the car into park. We sprint across the parking lot and finally up the steps to the restaurant.
We almost make it.
Oh well. We still have two opportunities left.
Once again our table is perfect, upfront closest to the water. And when they say waterfront here, they really mean it. We are literally steps away from the oceans edge.
You’d be hard pressed to find a waitress with more personality than Andrea. She’s the stuff those endearing TV sitcoms like Alice are made of. She fusses over the kids, treating Aaron like a prince and calling the girls “baby doll.” She takes one look at Mark staring bewildered at his whole snapper, then swoops in to rescue him with a masterful performance of tableside deboning. By the end of the meal we feel like she’s family.
And speaking of the end of the meal, these kids have been deprived of dessert for days. Of course we are once again stuffed, but second stomach and all. There’s certainly room for a Mango’s banana split.
If you check that “Dreaming” itinerary, you’ll see there’s one more item on the agenda for today, Friday night music at Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve. But of course you know that does not happen. Yes, we’ve become downright boring.
And that’s okay. We have to save some things for our next visit, right?
Besides, we need to rest up for tomorrow. It’s going to be an epic day.