I woke up to my alarm, very confused as I was in a deep, much needed sleep. We had an island to visit today, hence the early start. We went to the Peninsular restaurant for a sit down, table service breakfast. The eggs Benedict I ordered was excellent, the lipstick on my coffee cup however, was really not my shade. My sister L, a fussy eater, got the hump as they brought her food the way they serve it instead of psychically knowing her preferences.
Back to the room for sun lotion and cash. We have been docked in Antigua for some hours now, first thing this morning we were treated to fine rain and a rainbow. It’s now 9am and 25 degrees with clear(ish) skies. That will do. Shame about the force 7 winds. As we passed by reception L pointed out a sign for luggage pick up envelopes that needed to be posted by 12pm. The night before we had found luggage tags and travel information for our return journey home. Being the second night of a two week holiday we put it to one side and forgot about it. Wrong. Obviously, sorting out getting your bags collected and put on the right flight is crucial at the start of your holiday. So we had to go back to the room to fill out forms so we could post it on our way off the boat.
We departed the ship and instantly fell into the tourist trap. Being regular travellers we should have known better, we did know better, yet we still got sucked in regardless. A taxi driver promised to take us to a ‘special beach’, secluded and beautiful. He’d take us, return at a time to suit us and would accept no payment until he had returned us to the ship. We had no excursions so thought a few hours on the beach wouldn’t hurt. The issue we had was that four strangers joined us and they wanted to make a day of being on the beach, which they didn’t divulge until we had arrived.
It was clearly a good screw for the locals, the driver was blatently getting a price per head for everyone he dropped at that beach. We got stung for $25 dollars for renting sun loungers and an umbrella that we couldn’t use for the wind. The local prices of booze and food were pretty high too and we didn’t bring much cash.
It turned out that the people we cab shared with were part of a larger group of revellers and we got friendly with them by the end of the day. They went away as a group quite often and two of them had made a surprise announcement they were getting married on the ship. They even invited us to attend. Lovely bunch who clearly knew all the tricks. They found a local who was willing and plied him with money. He went to the supermarket and brought back cheap booze and mixers and made them all rum punch then provided foot massages for the ladies. One lady even did a deal with the local bar to provide rice dishes at a discount for bulk buying. We were in awe.
The day was not a total waste, the beach was beautiful, we had a swim in the sea, made new friends and leaned a lot about the tourist industry here and what to expect. Including that our taxi driver was over charging us. Also learned that it was in the 70’s that Antiguans changed from Sugar production to full on tourism. They still process some sugar but mostly just to make rum, so no arguments there. We also ran into the Hair People. The younger female was alone, not dressed for the beach and had these shiny reflective shoes on that looked like they were made as props for back to the future 2. Very cool yet the whole outfit did not suggest beach wear. The older lady, with the purposely dishevelled silver hair, was drinking at the bar with the young male. I’m not convinced the younger two are a couple after all.
We went back to the ship for sail away and watched as the boat turned 180 degrees in order to leave the harbour due to the ‘jaws of death’. A narrow channel 90 metres wide that has to be navigated to access and egress the dock. It was majestic and again deathly silent. Save for the sail away party on the top decks blaring out YMCA.
More confusion came later when L tried to tell us that the lifts we were in didn’t go to her floor (they did) and were only for staff to use (they weren’t). It came about because there is one section of lifts that are employee only and a set of stairs that takes you down to a bunch of doors that are all ‘crew only’. We can’t find them on purpose, we just randomly end up there sometimes.
The Highlight of the day for me came after me and L had left H to go and talk to some of the family. Found an Uncle and his hetero life partner (think Jay and Silent Bob) who told us all about the family excursion to a beach we hadn’t been invited on and the one planned for tomorrow that, seemingly, we were not invited on. We have a date with the St Kitts railway tomorrow so it was a moot point either way. However, returning to the room was a little bit of joy, my wife had been in the room alone and heard a knock at the door. Assuming it was me, she answered in a state of undress, though definitely not indecent. The man at the door informed her he was here to fix the shower and showed her his massive spanner! It’s not clear if he was a handyman or a 70’s porn star but she sent him packing either way. I had tears rolling down my eyes mostly from the naivety with which she told the tale. She just made it worse when she held her fingers about a 10 inches apart to show me just how long his spanner was and how big the ‘bit at the end’ was. I was dying.
Go back to the start here
Go to Day 4 here