Archive for the ‘What We are Doing’ Category

Back in the US of A

June 30 – Wednesday

We realized last night that we’ve been here for a month and never visited the Arawak Cove, small private beach for the Arawak. We decided to take a quick peak at that before progressing with our day. A short walk and a slightly inconvenient climb over some rocks, made more difficult with small children, and we made it. It was kind of fun sitting there is our own tiny, private beach. However, the waves were a little strong in that cove today and the rocks made the actual water area very small so we didn’t stay long.

We headed back to the Arawak and Gabriel decided he was going to be too  fussy to allow us to go on to Shoal Bay East. So we laid him down for a mid-morning nap and started packing. Then we ate a quick lunch of sandwiches and chips, trying to use as much of the food we had left as we could. Then off to Shoal Bay East. This was the first beach we visited so we thought it fitting that it would be the last also. It also didn’t hurt that it is one of the top beaches in the world and one of our favorites on the island. Shemar, one of the Arawak staff, said she’d stop by the beach after she got off so she could say good-bye since we would be leaving in the morning before she came in. She surprised us by bring her two boys with her and they had a blast playing with Ezekiel and Gabriel one last time. As the sun began to move lower in the sky we said our good-byes.

We stayed for a bit longer on the beach and took one final dip in the ocean before loading up to head back to the Arawak. We all waved good-bye to the beach and said we hope to be back again.

At the Arawak we got cleaned up and ready for dinner. We headed up to the pool area to listen to Terry and Smoothie for our final Wednesday night music fest. We ate the grouper (pictured below on the left) and Maude’s Caribbean Chicken recipe from St. Kitts (pictured below on the right) courtesy of Maurice, the owner, and Maria, the inn keeper. It was wonderful! The idea was for us to split both meals. Shauna was served the grouper and I was served the chicken. We ate half and switched plates. We both took bites of the new dish and the flavors were so different we both decided we’d rather keep eating our original meal so we switched back. Ha! We finished the meal with the infamous Banoffee pie made of a cookie crust, layered with toffee, bananas, whip cream, chocolate sauce and a cherry. Very rich so one slice was more than enough to share. We said good-bye to Maude, the cook then went back to put the boys to bed and finish packing, trying our best to even out the weight before heading to bed ourselves.

July 1 – Thursday

We woke up about 8am and I threw on some clothes and went by Le Bon Pain one final time for breakfast. After breakfast we finished the last little bit of packing and I loaded the car and was dripping with sweat by the time I was done. Then I took my shower and put on fresh clothes. We headed up to check out and say our good-byes to Maurice and Maria. One of the local couples (moved from the US) was waiting to say good-bye to “The Family.” We found out that morning that is what we became known as. Everyone referred to us as “The Family.”

We piled into the car and headed down the road to Blowing Point to catch the 11am boat called Ms. Shauna IV – spelled exactly the same as Shauna spells her name. The lady taking down our passport info and fees thought that was hilarious that Shauna was riding on her boat. We got a random security check and Shauna went with the security guard and one suitcase while I was buying our tickets on the boat. He too, found it funny that Shauna was riding on the Shauna boat and told Ezekiel to make sure he tells Gabriel when he’s older that mommy rode on her own boat.

We were told the boat was about 10-15 minutes behind schedule so we waited in the lounge (with AC) for our boat…and we waited…and waited…and waited some more. We finally departed about 11:45am for the 30 minute ride to St. Martin where we were told to arrive 2 1/2 hours prior to our 2:25pm flight. We started our boat ride and were offered complimentary drinks (Coke, Sprite, Water, Heineken, etc.). We decided to use this boat instead of the public ferry because this takes us to the airport as opposed to the port where we would have needed another taxi to get to the airport. We arrive at St. Martin and the lady on the boat collects our passports and gets off to go to Immigration. That takes another 15 minutes and we leave there to go to the airport. We get off the boat and have to through Customs (changed countries leaving from Anguilla and entering St. Martin). Even though we are at the airport we are on the far side and that is too far to walk with all our luggage, stroller, car seat, etc. so we get a shuttle for $6 total for the 4 of us.

At the airport we check in and check our bags only to have one of them be slightly over weight. We had some things on top to dispose of if there was not room so we got those out  (partial bottles of shampoo, some extra shells that weren’t our favorites) and left them. Then the lady asked if we had any more shells in our carry-ons. I said just the small ones (not the huge, pointy conch shell that could be used as a weapon). She said they would take those out confiscate them at the security point so we start rearranging again moving shells we had carefully spread out among all three carry-on bags and moving them into our checked bags and moving other things into our carry-ons to compensate for the extra weight. We rechecked the first bag and the weight was fine. I put the second bag up and it was too heavy again! I think the lady felt sorry for us and told us it was close enough and she’d send it through without charging us extra.

So then after checking those two bags we drug everything to the far side to check the car seat. Back home we checked it at the same point, but here we had to go to a special line. Then checked the numbers on the car seat against our ticket and sent it through. Then we had to to the opposite side to go through security with our carry-ons. Already very late because of the boat delay we are hustling as fast as we can drag carry-ons, laptops, diaper bags and two boys. We get to security and take off all our shoes, take out the laptop, portable DVD player, etc., etc. Then ended up opening all 3 of our nicely jam-packed carry-ons and removed our collapsable cooler to rescan, the bottles of sand to test, and I have no idea what else. So everything was a complete mess by the time they rescanned everything. We’re going as fast as we can trying to re-cram all our stuff back into the carry-ons, grab the boys and hustle to the gate. We make it with about 15 minutes to spare so I remove my extra shirt from the carryon and go change into a fresh shirt for traveling.

The flight from St. Martin to Charlotte went pretty well.  Here is some video from our flight back. The one called sour-watch my eyes…Ezekiel was eating some candy and he looked up at me and said, “This is sour, watch my eyes.” I grabbed the camera and had him do it again. I had to watch his eyes squinch up for proof that his candy was sour.

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After arriving in Charlotte we had to go through customs and immigration coming back into the US. Regardless of whether this was your final destination or you had a connecting flight everyone had to retrieve their checked bags and then recheck them. So after going through the legal stuff and being welcomed back to the USA we got our checked bags and then headed down the hall and handed them off to someone else to recheck and get to our connecting flight. Then we had to go back through security and take off shoes, take out laptops, etc. all over again. It was like had to start all over again even though we were already inside the airport and proceeding to our connecting flight. We had a 4 hour lay-over here so we were not at all pressed for time.

We took our time, got some dinner, talked to a cute dental hygienist that was headed to Louisville to see her boyfriend in college, and got some frozen yogurt. We got back to our gate with plenty of time to board for our 10:24pm flight back to Lexington…only the board didn’t say 10:24 it said 11:05…then 11:19…then 11:46. The ticket taker announced that the flight was arriving from Newport News, VA and it takes approximately 15 minutes to deboard and be ready to turn around and be sent back out. The plane arrives without people so we quickly board passing by the female pilot (no wonder it was late – ha!) and take off at nearly midnight.  The pilot announces that this plane has been having mechanical problems all day so this was it’s first flight with passengers…good to know!!!

The boys are exhausted and quickly fall asleep. We talk a bit to the man in front of us returning from a business trip and missing his girls. He asked what our boys names were and we told him. He said,

“Ezekiel? Is that a family name or something – I’ve never heard of that before.” I patiently explain that is a Bible name and think to myself, well, we are definitely back in the USA where people have no idea about the Bible.

The funny thing was a little later he was talking to the person in the seat beside him who asked what church he attended and named one of the largest churches in Lexington. I mean, come on people, Ezekiel is not some minor person in the Bible, it is an entire book in the Old Testament and one of the longest books of the Bible!

We finally land a little after 1am and get home around 2am and collapse into bed about 2:30am after getting the boys settled in their beds.

The 4 Biggest Shocks Returning to the USA

First – air conditioning! As soon as we got off the plane in the Charlotte airport. Brrrr! Having had almost no AC for an entire month we were freezing! We went to lunch with family the next day and shivered the whole way through our meal. Ezekiel got goose bumps on his legs and we got a jacket to put on him.

Second – allergies! Back to Kentucky, one of the worst states for allergies. As soon as we got off the plane in Lexington we all started sneezing, coughing and choking after breathing this Kentucky air. Several days later we are all still puffy, snotty, and getting back onto allergy meds to survive.

Third – drive on which side? I thought it would feel a bit strange, but like riding a bike…to drive on the right side. Boy was I wrong. I found myself driving down the left side of the road in our subdivision, turning from a main road onto a smaller road and headed toward the left side before mentally checking myself and moving back to the right. It took all day Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday before driving on the right became automatic for me again.

Fourth – dag on heat! Temperature-wise we are about the same as what we left in the mid eighties. However, having been back for several days the heat is starting to get to us and the AC is no longer freezing us. There is no ocean to jump into and the air here feels so stale and stagnant. We always had trade winds and ocean breezes to cool us in the heat of the day. Here, it is just dead air and nasty heat.

Well, this has been a wonderful journey and a vacation of a lifetime. We strongly encourage you make plans to visit the Arawak. You will not regret it!

Signing off for the McDonald family,

Josh, Shauna, Ezekiel, and Gabriel.

Last Day!

Today is our last full day for the beach! So terribly sad. We are, of course, looking forward to seeing family, but not at all ready to leave this beautiful island. In a dream world, we’d rather stay and have our family come here! Today we plan to stay close and finish out the trip at Shoal Bay East, one of the top beaches in the world and favorite on this island. The property owner is here in Anguilla (arrived yesterday) and he offered to give us dinner tonight on the house during the Wednesday night music so we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking or going out for our last meal. We’ll probably do one more post after we get back to put the finishing touches on the blog (we are saving all of these entries in a journal to remember this trip).

June 29 – Tuesday

After our late date night Monday night the boys were exhausted. They woke up at the normal time, but by 10:30 or so Gabriel was ready for a nap…he slept until 2:30pm! Shauna and I took turns in the pool with Ezekiel – the whole time hoping Gabriel would wake up so we could get to the beach! I went out and picked up lunch from Hungry’s food van. Then we fed Gabriel after he woke up and took off for the beach! We went to the western side and returned to the Viceroy Beach club on Meads Bay. We spent a little over 2 hours there, met a nice middle-aged couple from Dallas, TX with their Texas accents. She is a school principal so when we told her about the Arawak she started making mental plans for next summer to spend her summer vacation at the Arawak! We had a really nice chat with them and shared some of the high points of our trip and answered questions they had. Which reminds me, if anyone plans to come to the Arawak next summer or any time in the future, we will be happy to come as you personal tour guides and all you’d have to do is pay for our family to come back. Ha!

After the beach we ran by the store and picked up a rotisserie chicken for dinner and some more drinks (didn’t quite have enough to finish out the last couple days). After dinner we walked up to the pool area and the boys had popsicles and we chatted with Maria (inn keeper) and Maurice (owner). It was a nice preclude to tonight’s final dinner.

3 Beaches in a Single Day

We have gotten a bit behind so I’ll do a couple days today and a couple more tomorrow to catch us back up. Shauna is at the pool with Ezekiel and I volunteered to stay behind while Gabriel took an early nap.

June 21 – Monday

Today was pretty simple. We returned to one of our favorites, Shoal Bay East. Just quality R&R on one of the top beaches in the world. We went back, got cleaned up and ran to the grocery to pick up some fresh ground beef I had seen at one store earlier in the week. Well, they were out so I had to buy frozen beef any way. We needed that to make our Old El Paso burrito kit. Typically, we would not even buy these little kits, but with limited fridge and storage space we used this. Back home we eat Mexican probably once a week at least. We haven’t had any since May (before we left) so we craving Mexican something fierce! They do have 1 Mexican restaurant on the island, but it is on the  extreme western end and a little pricey so we decided to do our own. This silly little burrito kit tasted soooo good!

June 22 – Tuesday

Today looks like a good beach day and we are bound and determined to take advantage of it. Go away rain! With no rain in the sky we decided to visit three different beaches in a single day! Cove Bay, Maunday’s Bay, and Shoal Bay West.

We set out for Cap Juluca, another expensive resort property on the island that was situated between Cove Bay and Mauday’s Bay. The main beach for the resort is Maunday’s Bay, but the back side of the resort as you go down the drive from the main road passed Cove Bay Beach. We stopped, got out and took a few pictures. It was fairly barren. No people, no chairs, no umbrellas. There was a volleyball net set up, but the beach had quite a bit of seaweed and the waves looked a little rough. In the end, we decided not to waste precious beach time on this beach.

We continued down the drive to the other side of Cap Juluca to the Maunday’s Bay Beach. Cap Juluca wasn’t quite as fancy looking on the outside as Cuisinart so we didn’t take many pictures. Everything was very spread out, which would be perfect for honeymooners because that means more privacy between the villas. They have little guys on solar golf carts to transport guests between the different points on the property.

We had a nice picnic lunch in the grass and shade of some coconut trees. Then we went down the beach. Cuisinart, if you recall, was going to charge us $200 to use a chair and umbrella for half a day. We were told Cap Juluca was only $5. That used to be true, but they stopped doing that last year and now only guests are allowed to use the chairs and umbrellas. Non-guests cannot use them at any price. We made the best of it and played in the water and sand for a couple of hours before retreating to the shade trees. Make sure you check out all our pictures under Cap Juluca for this beach.

Next we decided to proceed west to Shoal Bay West. We wanted to see the western counterpart to Shoal Bay East. It was not nearly as nice. If we hadn’t gotten quality beach time at Maunday’s Bay I would have felt cheated. The chairs & umbrellas were $40 if you didn’t eat lunch at the restaurant there and it was about 4pm so obviously we had already eaten lunch. We found a nice big coconut tree on the beach and set up under that instead. The water was very murky compared to all the other beaches so we could barely see more than a few inches into the water. There were lots of shells, rocks and who knows what else since we couldn’t see – that we kept stepping on in the water. We spent very little time in the water here before heading back to get cleaned up and have left over burritos! Yeah! And yes, they were just as good left over as they were the first night we had them.

June 23 – Wednesday

This was our second day of rain during this month. We had just finished up laundry and hung them out to dry. I commented that it looked like ti was going to be a nice, beach day today. Not 5 minutes later the sun disappeared, it got cloudy, and started raining all over our wet clothes. Ha!

We basically repeated our last rain day last week – watched a movie and headed out in the afternoon to shop after the rain quit, but was still cloudy, wet, and gloomy. We went to a couple of nice art galleries with creations by local artists and then finished up our souvenir shopping.

NOTE: We have new pictures under “Cap Juluca”, a few under “Around the Arawak”, “Scilly Cay” from Father’s Day if you missed those, “Exploring Anguilla” including the island’s oldest building, and “Anguilla Beaches Cont”.

Who is Crazy – Us or Them?

June 18 – Friday

Well it was our first rainy day since we have been on Anguilla, so not much to tell about our day.  We just stayed in the room, watched some movies, Gabriel slept, ate our lunch, then went out shopping and out to eat.  We went to Roy’s Bayside Grill, which has an early-bird special on Fridays for $14. We both got Fish & Chips and they also had chicken curry and steak kabobs.  After dinner we went to an ice cream shop and all four of us got a different flavor – Ezekiel got chocolate, Gabriel got banana, I got Black Raspberry Cheesecake, and Josh got Pastashio and Butter Pecan.  We stopped at a local grocery we heard sold locally-made hot sauce and found a basketball court beside it. So we decided to sit and watch and the boys really enjoyed watching them. However, Josh said they weren’t going to get any college scholarships – we saw maybe 3 or 4 shots made the whole time we watched.

Now here are some funny things since we have been here that people have commented on or we’ve seen.

  1. School kids come to the Arawak regularly to get pizza by the slice and every Wednesday have a special menu. Several girls have asked me if I cut my hair.  They were asking why I liked short hair and not long hair.  I asked them if they cut their hair and one little girl said no.  Then another day one of the adults asked me if I cut my hair. I asked the adult if no one cuts their hair in Anguilla and she said that some do, but most don’t. The fact that I only have shoulder-length hair seems to fascinate the locals.
  2. Another funny thing is that when Ezekiel chews gum, people comment about it.  They ask him what he’s chewing on and he says gum and they are like really.  He is chewing gum?  He likes gum?  Wow!  Apparently gum isn’t for little kids here.
  3. People also ask where we are from and we tell them Kentucky.  They are like “I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone from Kentucky here before.”  And “I didn’t think anyone from Kentucky would ever come here.” Or one said, “Where is Kentucky – close to Floriday?” Josh explained it is about a 10-12 hour drive from Kentucky to various parts of Florida so when it only takes 30 minutes to drive across the entire country here then no, Kentucky is not close to Florida. And the best for last, “Oh, Kentucky Fried Chicken, yes, I know.”
  4. There are also crazy, crazy drivers here.  Of course they drive on the left, so that is different, but once you get used to it, it’s no big deal.  But they drive so fast and if you’re not driving fast enough, they will pass you. The strange thing is the passing technique – they honk their horn and go around you.  Guess that is good so you know they are coming. In general the driving seems very aggressive and without many rules. People will pull over to talk to someone or stop at a shop and they are still half-way in the lane. Everyone just waits for a gap in the oncoming traffic and buzzes around them so that’s what we do too. Many times these cars seemingly parked half-way off the road will decide to keep driving and they pull out right in front of you.  So if you’re not paying attention, then you can get yourself in trouble.  You have to be quick on the brakes. On our way home last night, a guy was driving across the center line in our lane (maybe a foreigner because the locals all stay in the proper lane) and almost side-swipped us. Josh got over as far as he could without hitting the fence on his side and we probably missed by inches. Not 30 seconds later these 3 kids on bicycles darted out from a side street right in front of us and Josh slammed on the breaks to keep from hitting them.  I thought I was going to pee my pants and Josh thought he had a heart attack.  If that one car got in our lane as the 3 boys were there, it would have been a choice between hitting the car head on or running over the kids on bikes. Thank God nothing happened. As a general rule though, driving has been very safe, just odd.
  5. Another weird thing is that the speed limit signs are all in miles per hour, however the spedometer is in kilometers per hour.

We have met some more people since we have been here.  A couple on their honeymoon from Texas.  A couple from Brazil.  A couple from Rome, Italy.  A girl who lives here from the Phillipines.  And a family that is from Texas whose grandparents have a house in Anguilla and have had the house since the 1970′s.  I’m sure we will meet more people in our remaining days.  It is really neat to meet so many people from so many different places and to hear their experiences and different languages.

Cheddie’s and Sand Messages

June 16 – Wednesday

We did some cleaning up this morning and a little laundry in the sink. Kind of fun washing by hand, but wouldn’t want to do it all the time. Yes, they have laundry services here, but at $9.50/load we decided to do our own in the sink this month.

We headed west again today with our destination in mind: Cheddie’s. He has an art gallery and carves things out of drift wood that washes up on the beaches. He’s also got a little restaurant called Klassik Cafe that is essentially outdoors, but all the tables are in little tiki huts. Really neat! We had garlic shrimp and shrimp pasta and boy was it good! Mmmm! Definitely worth the 25 minute drive to get all the way across the country. :)

After lunch we walked through the gallery and it was amazing. Make sure you see photos from this day. We also walked through this small nature trail that had some pigeons, an iguana and some crabs. Short, not much to see, but fun for the boys to see.

We headed back to the Viceroy Beach Club to live it up like royalty again for $10. Unfortunately the waters were choppy so we didn’t get to do any boating activities. Apparently a tropical storm had been building out at sea and was headed our way and then broke up leaving choppy waters and scattered showers. Instead we enjoyed VIRGIN strawberry daiquiri and pina coladas. The boys liked both flavors. One of the attendants brought them their own flavor ice popsicle thing each. It rained on us at the beach today for the first time since we got here June 1st and only for about 3-4 minutes as we were getting ready to leave.

We headed back tot he Arawak and cooked dinner then went up to the pool for the Wednesday night acoustic guitar singing.

June 17 – Thursday

Today the waters were still choppy so we headed to Shoal Bay East (closest NICE beach to us) where we get free chairs and umbrellas courtesy of the Arawak and Tropical Sunset Beach Bar & Restaurant. Despite the choppy waters we still got plenty of beach time and fun. We also managed to create some sand messages (see photos). We came back for a dip in the pool mid afternoon. Then we got cleaned up, made dinner, and headed to the grocery – only one open past 8pm and it only stays open until 9pm. Another nice day, but nothing much new to report today.

If the waters are rough again in the morning we’re going to a beach on the other side of the island. The side we use most often is actually part of the Atlantic Ocean. The other side is part of the Caribbean Sea and should be calmer, or so we’ve heard.