Limin’ At Breakneck Speed
One of the side effects of your Anguilla addiction is you will start to follow trip reports. You may not know such a thing even exists. Once your addiction has set in, however, and you start to research all things Anguilla, you will discover this nifty resource on TripAdvisor. And you will use it to feed your hunger to be back on the island.
You will find all sorts of trip reports.
There will be newbies just returned from their first visit, still stunned from Anguilla’s beauty and amazed by its hospitality, and curious now as to what they missed and need to try next time.
There will be reports from visitors on their second or third trip, who are applying everything they’ve learned from prior trips to fine tune their next one. These members might also be checking in to see what has changed on the island since they’re last visit.
And every now and then you will find reports from longtime visitors, the ones who have been returning year after year, sometimes twice or more, the ones who no longer worry about missing out on anything. They’ve probably already done most everything they wish to. And if they haven’t, they’ll catch it the next time around.
You may find these veterans somewhat reluctant to post, and often apologetic. “We’re so boring,” they protest. “What’s there to report? All we do is eat and lounge on the beach. Eat some more, lounge some more. Then we get cleaned up for dinner and go to one of our favorite restaurants, then come back and go to sleep. Then we get up the next day and do it all over again.”
I guess it might seem boring if you take the approach that a beach vacation must be filled with water sports and sailing excursions and nightclubs and casinos. But personally I love their perspective. I would love to vacation that way on Anguilla.
I only wish I could do that.
You see, on the contrary, I feel a constant need to be on the move. I don’t mean to say I feel the need to parasail or kitesurf (although when traveling with teenagers, you can never entirely rule out those options). Instead, I feel an urgency to take in as much as I possibly can, to explore every beach and road, no matter how obscure, to listen to as much music I can squeeze in, eat as much food as my mortal limitations will allow. To suck the very marrow, so to speak. I want to get to know Anguilla as best I can in the short time I have here, for I’m pretty sure this will be our last trip for quite a while.
After all, one only has so many kidneys.
My normal sense of urgency, I realize as my eyes pop open at 6:20 in the morning, is going to be a force to reckon with today. For today is Funday Sunday.
Sunday on Anguilla is the day for live music, with bands playing at beach bars all around the island. And even though this trip we are lucky enough to have two Sundays to tuck under our belt, there are enough options to fill at least eight.
However, we’ll start the day in a relaxed way, appreciating little things like…
1.) this rainbow:
2.) this guy, who joins me on the balcony for my morning coffee:
Who are you?
3.) Hall’s Unique Bakery.
On recommendation from Ronnie Bryan, Zoe and I head there to bring back sandwiches for breakfast. The ham, egg, and cheese one is quite good. The salt fish, we all decide, is an acquired taste.
It is clear early on that some members of the family will not be moving quickly today. In fact, Lauren doesn’t want to move at all. She is now paying dearly for not diligently applying sunscreen yesterday, believing like her father that her Greek blood will help protect her from the sun’s power. Mark is in slightly better shape, but not by much. The two of them decide they need a few hours of rest and shade at the villa.
Aaron and Zoe head off on a sibling adventure to explore the ruins next door at the old Mariners resort.
That leaves me alone to pick up the limin’ mantle.
Now limin’, in case you’re not familiar with it, is not a culinary term. Basically it means to “chill” or “hang out.” It is best done in the company of others, ideally with adult beverages and music, maybe some dominos.
But in a pinch it can be accomplished solo.
I drag one of the chairs down to the beach with a bottle of water and settle in with my book for some limin’ time.
Now, usually I am capable of little more than staring slack jawed at the water, so it is a testament to the suspense power of The Girl on the Train that it is able to hold my attention for any amount of time.
I lime away at least a couple of hours.
Eventually Mark joins me with a chair and a Heineken for each of us. We spend another hour or so limin’ together, watching the boats sail in and out of the harbor and building sand creatures.
I do an admirable job of relaxing on our beach, I think, but I do want to say that this really does throw off our itinerary. Right now we are supposed to be enjoying the prix fixe lobster lunch at Le Bar. Scrap that one.
Had I known the Greens, some TripAdvisor acquaintances with whom I’ve been engaged in a game of personal messaging tag, are at present doing that very thing, I could be crashing their lunch.
But that familiar sense of urgency starts to grow as time passes. By 12:30 I am noticeably restless. By 1:00 I am downright antsy. By 1:30 I decide it’s time to make a move. Festivities are well under way across the island, and we are going to miss them if we don’t shake a sandy leg.
Aaron and Zoe are still out, and Lauren is quite comfortable in the villa, so we leave her with another glass of water and directions on where to find us.
Johnno’s is packed, nearly every seat occupied and turned to Sprocka, who is playing acoustic guitar and singing on the small stage. Obviously we are late to the party.
We take what is possibly the last seat and settle in for a more organized form of limin’.
The Heineken was fine, but I decide my sick self could benefit from a little vitamin C. I order a mango colada.
Mark, who is obviously not nursing a major illness, is content with another Heineken.
No trip to Johnno’s would be complete without partaking in its famous steamed whole snapper. Those breakfast sandwiches were quite hearty, so Mark and I decide to split one between the two of us.
You can choose how you want your snapper served, dry with fries and coleslaw or rice and peas, or the more traditional option, where it’s served in its pot liquor with fungi (sort of a steamed cornbread pudding) and vegetables. Onions, peppers, potatoes, yams, and a rather disconcerting looking steamed plantain.
We choose the traditional.
We (well, maybe one of us slightly more so than the other) devour every last bite of that snapper and vegetables. The plantain, however, remains on the plate relatively untouched. Not that I don’t like plantains. Just not ones that look, er, so suggestive.
After an hour or so of jazz, we are just considering moving on when we see our son making his way down the beach.
He orders the whole snapper too, this time fried, and with fries and a salad.
I am so distracted by Sprocka’s spot-on rendition of “Layla” that I forget entirely to take a picture of his plate of fish.
Then, just as Aaron is finishing his meal and we are gathering our things to leave, Zoe arrives. By this time it’s 3:00, however, and we definitely have to move on now if we are going to catch any of Omari Banks at DaVida.
We hustle back to the villa to round up Lauren, but she still shows absolutely no interest in moving. While normally I would be more persistent in my persuasion efforts, I decide this time that another hour or so of Minecraft will hurt nothing, whereas a grumpy teenager might wreck an otherwise lovely outing.
We leave her with juice and a slice of breakfast sandwich for sustenance, and then hit the road at breakneck speed.
Or at least as fast as one can go dodging Sunday drivers and goats.
We find da’Vidas on Crocus Bay, in the spot that Roy’s used to occupy. It looks nothing like the old Roy’s, however. The Bayside Grill is gorgeous, a lofty, open-air wooden structure surrounded by lush vegetation, all facing a beautiful beach lined with upscale wooden loungers with white cushions.
Flowers given to us by some little girls
We are greeted warmly, and led to a table in the center of the pavilion, where a table has miraculously just opened in spite of the large crowd. We take our seats facing not the beautiful beach but with the crowd turned the other direction, toward the stage and Omari Banks.
By now I have familiarized myself with Omari, the son of the legendary Bankie Banx, and listened to recordings of his music. But I am unprepared for the charisma he exudes. This man is a rockstar.
Unfortunately we have once again arrived late to the scene. We get to witness Omari Banks’ star power for just three songs before he wraps up the performance for the day.
We do get a picture of him as he makes his way through the crowd talking to guests, though. Or Zoe does, and only because I can’t hear well, the result of this cold moving to my ears as well. When he asks Zoe if she likes her pizza, I hear, “Would you like a picture?”
Zoe, utterly mortified, nonetheless allows me to take her picture with Omari.
I’m sure she will thank me one day.
Bob and Lynda are there too. Today is their last day on the island, they tell us, and while they are sad to be leaving, they are ready to get back home.
I try to imagine ever getting to the point that I might feel that way.
We depart with hugs and hopes that we’ll meet up again tonight at Dad’s.
Back at the villa, I become painfully aware of just how much sitting I’ve done today, whether on the beach or in a beach bar. I decide I need a hike.
I’m not a particularly physical person, and have practically zero hand/eye coordination, but one thing I am good at is hiking. I love the physical exertion and the feeling of being one with nature.
Plus, I need to work off some coladas and snapper if I’m going to have any room for dinner.
Zoe and Aaron, ever game, are up for more adventure too. Lauren and Mark are once again content to relax on the terrace.
Our hike takes us down the beach past the old Mariners resort. We poke around the dilapidated restaurant, startling some lizards, and imagine the glory it must have been in its heyday.
How quickly one gets used to wearing beachwear, no matter how questionable the fashion choice
Then we head up the goat path leading to the Backroad area overlooking Sandy Ground. We can hear music and laughter coming from Johnno’s, where Funday Sunday continues.
And yes, I vaguely yearn to be among that crowd.
But I settle for heading back to the villa to freshen up for dinner.
Dinner tonight is to be a very casual affair, but one which I greatly anticipate. The Conch Shack is our destination, right there on Sandy Ground, just steps beyond Dad’s, where we plan to spend the rest of the evening listening to music.
And it is indeed a shack, about the size of a closet, with an order window at one end and several picnic tables for seating. All extremely casual. But the aromas emanating from it are delicious.
None of us have ever tried cracked Conch, and we’re pretty excited about the prospect, even Lauren, who we’ve managed to pry out of her nest at the villa, assuring her that her enemy the sun has safely set. So we are crushed when the Conch Shack informs us they are out of conch. Plenty of wings and chicken nuggets, but no conch.
Oh, the best laid plans.
Dejected and hungry, we shuffle back to Dad’s.
I look around as we take a seat on the picnic tables set in the sand, and realize how woefully underdressed I am. Anticipating a casual dinner at a beach bar, toes in the sand, I had donned (nice) shorts and a (crisp, new) tank to. But the women here, tourists and locals alike, are decked out in maxi dresses and wedge heals. Including the girlfriend trippers from the ferry.
I slink down on my bench to inspect the menu.
We decide on burgers and a few tapas (there’s crayfish on the menu- $10 for three!), then settle in to watch people and listen to some more music.
Now, in addition to its reputation for excellent food, Anguilla is known for its respectable music scene. But most of what I’ve heard to this point, I’d have to say, has been pretty American and contemporary.
So I’m delighted to note scene here at Dad’s is decidedly Caribbean. Earthlight, the band, plays reggae interspersed with a few soca tunes, and the mood is infectious. Pretty soon I’m dancing in my seat- er, bench, maxi dress or not.
And when the food comes, we forget our disappointment over the conch conundrum.
I snap a picture of the crayfish before they’re devoured. They are great, but even better are the calypso wings. I’m transported to calypso heaven, whatever that might be. Maybe it’s all the mango coladas talking, but these are some of the best wings I’ve ever had, and I consider myself a wing connoisseur. And of course at this point my hands are covered with calypso wings, so I can’t take a picture. And I sure as shooting am not going to pause to clean them up, because: three hungry teenagers, who will gobble them all up before I can even focus my camera.
So you’ll have to use your imagination on this one.
We last through Earthlight’s entire performance, and even some of the DJ who follows them. Sadly, we do not see Lynda and Bob, so bid then adieu and safe travels in our hearts.
Then, finally, the day catches up with us, all the coladas and rum punches and Heinekens, all the sea and sun descending like a heavy curtain. That’s enough limin’ for one day. Time to go home.
To a villa that we once again have all to ourselves.
Monday dawns with threats of not being such a fun day.
My voice is barely a croak, I’ve blown (quite literally) through the last of my Kleenex, and the skies are overcast and threatening rain.
But don’t think for a moment we’re going to let any of this slow us down. Overcast days may not be the best for lying on a beach, but do you know what they are good for?
The far west end, a veritable dessert the last time we visited, is now a lush garden. Everything is in bloom.
Enter a caption
I mean everything.
We find the arch again with no problem.
I wish this time it were maybe a little more elusive.
We press farther this time, just to see what we might find.
Stairway to heaven?
By this time it is after noon. The clouds are showing no sign of dispersing, but it’s also not raining, so we decide to make a go at lunch and some beach time on Meads Bay.
The menu at Blanchard’s Beach Shack is so large it’s almost overwhelming. We stare it in bewilderment for at least fifteen minutes before deciding.
At least it’s an easy decision on what to drink.
We discover our friends Lynne and Angela and the rest of their party on the beach, and park our own party next to ours, in front of our future business venture.
Future home of the Touris’ Beach Shack?
And watch the yachts roll in for a late lunch.
The occupants of this one disembark for Jacala.
The occupants of this sinister looking one are preceded by an entire boatload of crew members, who proceed to set up a picnic on Turtle Cove that takes up the entire little beach, complete with umbrellas and loungers, tables, and even towels laid out so the guests’ feet do not even have to touch the sand.
I guess that particular public beach will be a private one today.
Gazing longingly at Turtle Cove
The sky is turning darker and darker, and soon it’s looking like a page out of a Donald Crews picture book.
We decide to try our luck on Rendezvous Bay.
We find no sunshine at the Sunshine Shack either.
But we do find Garvey. And BBCs.
But the skies just refuse to cooperate today, and as more time passes, it’s clear it is going to rain any time now.
At least it waits until we’re safely in the car driving home.
Dinner that night is at Picante, which means we have to drive to the west end of the island once again. Which the entire family finds actually quite interesting, as the island looks like an entirely different place when you drive it at night.
Although we have to dash from the car to the restaurant between showers that evening, at least Picante delivers up some delicious Tex-Mex for dinner.
We start with margaritas (at least for Mark and me) and chips and guacamole (at least for the kids).
Who thought one order would be enough?
We waste no time ordering tonight. Each of us knows exactly what we want.
Steak burrito for Aaron
Burrito for Zoe, chicken, please
Tacos for taco lover Lauren
Steak enchilada for Mark
Seafood enchilada heaven for me!
My seafood enchiladas are a plateful of cheesy goodness that hopefully won’t hit my waistline until I’m safely home and out of swimwear.
We all decide I have a Diane Arbus slant to my photography.
Guess I don’t get to take the Christmas card photo!
Sure, we’re stuffed by the end of this gluttony. Of course we should exercise restraint and think twice before ordering dessert.
Who are we kidding? Of course we’re not going to skip dessert. In fact, we’ll take two!
Although it’s only 8:30 by the time we receive the check (and how cute is this delivery?!), we are once again utterly wiped out.
It is clear there will be no stroll down the beach to Elvis’ tonight, no popping in to the Pumphouse to see what’s happening. How boring we are becoming!
Of course, we still have six more nights to fill. Plenty of time to fit in everything we want to do.