Archive for June, 2010

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.

Church in Anguilla and a “Tasty” Dinner

June 27 – Sunday

I cannot believe we are rounding out the final few days of our trip!  It doesn’t seem possible that we have been here for almost a month.  Now our parents, on the other hand, CAN believe that we have been gone for nearly 30 days and cannot wait to “put their hands on us” as my mom said!

We went to church for the first time since we have been in Anguilla.  We planned to visit once or twice, but we weren’t really sure which one to try and most that we passed had doors open (no AC) and the thought of putting on dress clothes in this heat was unbearable, but we finally made it.  We found one with AC -  No Walls Church of Hope. It was the top portion of a building, so not your typical looking church (and yes it had walls).  When we got there 5 minutes before 11, Sunday School was still going on in the sanctuary, so we got to hear a little of Sunday School.  Then the Children’s Sunday School group came out and told about what they had learned in their class, took their seats, and church began.

There were three women who started the worship time. The first couple songs were just voices and just drums…the keyboard wasn’t working.  They finally got it fixed and everything was full speed ahead! We knew nearly all the songs except the style of music and beat had more of a Caribbean feel to them.  We got some of the worship time on video so have a look.  During worship the Sunday School teacher came up and said a prayer for a sick woman from the church. After the worship service, there was prayer and then the preacher started.  Unfortunately, the normal pastor was out of town and they had a guest speaker – a very long winded woman that Josh said reminded him (looks, voice, and mannerisms) of Whoopi Goldberg.  She started in Ephesians 4 for about 30 minutes or so  before transitioning to 1 Corinthians 13 for another 30 minutes or so. About 1:15pm she was starting in Revelations and without any childrens’ classes the boys were getting very restless so we made our exit. Anyway, we are glad we went to church and got to see how their service compared to ours.

Another thing about Anguilla is that when we are asked what the boys’ names are and we tell them, 9 out of 10 say, “Oh, good Bible names!”  We have only had to tell a couple of people they were from the Bible, but everyone else knew.  It was refreshing to hear that.  Back home when we are asked what their names are, we are lucky to get the comment about Bible names 3 of of 10. The other times are either no comment or “Ezekiel – how did you get that name?” We explain it is from the Bible and the eyes sort of glaze over. Kind of disheartening. America is supposed to be a Christian nation yet we have to go the tiny island of Anguilla before people recognize “Ezekiel”, a significant Old Testament person and book of the Bible.

After church, we ate, then watched it rain some, then headed out west to Rendezvous Bay to escape the rain and enjoy the beach.  We swam for a couple of hours before the rain reappeared in the western part of the island. On the way back to the room we stopped at an Italian restaurant called Un Amore and ordered garlic knots and New York Style Pizza.  Yum was it good!  The garlic knots are just normal bread dough, but tied up in knots before baking. Then were tossed in olive oil and fresh garlic.  They were wonderful.  After pizza we hopped in the pool and Josh taught Shemar (a worker here) how to make dressed eggs.  She thought they were wonderful and really easy to make.  It was fun to show a little bit of something from back home.  Then we got cleaned up and went to bed.

Here are some sample clips from the church we visited:

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June 28 – Monday

We started the morning at the pool (since we had specific lunch plans).  Maria gave the boys a “special,” which is frozen kool-aid in a cup that is for $1 EC (which is about 37 cents) and of course they loved it.  The school kids were there, coming in shifts whenever they wanted since their school is basically right next door, and they were all having the “special” and watching the boys.  Gabriel really took to Maria and the “special.”  She helped him eat it and he got it all over his face.  He was her buddy after that, loving on her by giving kisses and hugs, and he even laid his head on her shoulder.  It was so sweet, she was melting!  She loved it!!!

After we swam in the pool for about an hour and told the school kids bye, we headed off to have some lunch at the English Rose.  They have an assortment of entries to choose from, but we were only interested in the cheese burgers and fries they have for $7.  It was a pretty good deal – our second burger this month.  After lunch, we stopped in a couple of shops and then headed to the beach.

We went back to the Viceroy Beach Club at Meads Bay and were not charged $10 again for the chairs and umbrella, however we still received the “royal treatment” of fresh towels spread on our chairs, an ice bucket with 3 bottles of water, and usage of sand toys for the boys.  I met one of the workers the last time we were there on Saturday, who really took a liking to the boys.  His name is Edwin and we talked quite a bit.  He asked what the boys names were and I told him and he said, “Oh good Bible names.  Gabriel – the Angel Gabriel.”  Then he asked if I was a Christian and I said I was and then I asked if he was.  He said that he used to be, but he isn’t walking the full Christian life right now, but would like to.  We began to talk some more about it and it was a really good talk.  So we saw him again Monday and he remembered us and took us on the Sports Boat so we could go snorkeling.  He took us to another part of Meads Bay where there are a lot of rocks, but also a lot of fish and sorts.  Josh stayed with the boys (he has really bad swimmers ear) while Edwin and I went snorkeling.  It was neat to go with him, because he knew his way around and saw a lot of fish that I had missed.  I took some video of the fish, but then it locked up on me and I couldn’t get it reset under water (have to take the battery out if that happens). Just at that time I saw a couple of really neat squid! I was so mad the camera wasn’t working at that moment.

Anyway, after snorkeling, we played on the beach and in the water.  We met a couple from Italy.  The husband is from Italy and only speaks Italian and a little bit of French and a little bit of English.  The wife is from Switzerland and speaks French, Italian, and English.  They have a 6 (almost 7) year old son who speaks French to his mom, Italian to his dad, and has just learned English this past year.  The mom was excited to have Ezekiel and her son playing together, forcing him to practice his English, which he doesn’t get to do much back home.  A little more about them is that they have 1 1/2 months vacation, so they spent a month in Las Vegas (they have been going every year for 11 years, so it’s like a second home), then 5 days in Angullia, then 5 days to Orlando, FL.  They were really interesting people and we really enjoyed talking with them.

After the beach, we hurried home, since it was already 7:20, and showered and got ready.  Maria took the boys for some ice cream  and then back to her house to play while Josh and I had a nice date out.  We don’t get many dates, so when she volunteered to take them out one night, then we were super excited to have the time to spend together.  They have some baby-sitting services on the island that we had considered using, but decided against it because they are total strangers. So when Maria offered we couldn’t pass it up. This may seem scary to you, but you have to be here to fully appreciate it. Maria has been running the place for 11 years and over the last month has treated us just like family.

So, Josh and I went to a place called Tasty’s!  And man was it tasty!!!  First of all, it was packed!  We have never been to a restaurant here where there were a lot of people dining in, so it was refreshing to see it full.  So, we asked for recommendations and we took one of them and it was so yummy.  Josh ordered the “Tasty’s 6″ which is a 6 course sample meal for $45. Sampler platters back home list what all you get. Not here. It is up the chef to decide what to make so you have no idea what you’ll be getting.  They did ask if there was anything we did not like or were allergic to. Since we were a little nervous, I ordered something safe, Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Breast with a mango chutney sauce served with rice & peas and then we split everything.  Our first thing was mahi mahi with eggplant that was compliments of the chef for the both of us. We watched the other tables and no one else was sent out anything compliments of the chef so I guess because we ordered the “Tasty’s 6″ we got the special treatment.

His first course was Lobster & Corn Bisque, which we are undecided if we really liked it or not.  Bisque is very rich and full of flavor – almost heavy. It was really different, but it was good.  I think I liked it more than Josh, but he said he has never been really wild about bisque.  The next course was a Warm Goat Cheese Salad with roasted marinated peppers and red onions.  It was really good.  Next was Tasty’s Sea Food Salad “the Chef’s Favourite”, including Sauteed crayfish, snapper, lobster, shrimp, Conch, & salmon with Tasty’s basil vinaigrette dressing (pictured at the right).  It was really good too.  The next two courses were entree type foods. First came Tasty’s Shrimp – sauteed in “yummy” coconut curry sauce & served with “Southern Mashed Potatoes.”  It was really yummy and I’m not fond of coconut either.  My chicken was brought out with this course. Next was Coconut Crusted Filet of Fish with lemon sauce and served with rice & peas.  Whew, it was so good too!  By this point, we were getting so full and we still had dessert.  We got to pick our dessert, either a Chocolate Mousse or Banana Creme Brulee, so we chose the Banana Creme Brulee and it was so yummy.  There was a delayed reaction of the banana with that first bite and then it was spectacular from the first yummy explosion until the last.  What an excellent meal!!  We are so glad we went there. As far as food goes, this and the Scilly Cay Caribbean Spiny Lobster were the highlights for sure!

So, we picked up the boys from Maria’s house after a quick tour of her home, and got them to bed.  Our dinner took over  2 hours, so we were trying to hurry as quickly as possible to get them to bed.  Anyway, it was a great day and a great night.

NOTE: There are new pictures in Around the Arawak, Beaches Cont, and Food Stuff

From Dinner Theater to Sting Ray

June 24 – Thursday

We did a little pool time in the morning, ate lunch and then did a bit more shopping today hunting for those last minute things. Then we came back and got cleaned up for the dinner theater. Yes, a dinner theater in Anguilla! This was on the west end of the island at a nicer hotel. The buffet was $35/person and we, of course, brought our own food for the boys (even at half price Ezekiel & Gabriel combined don’t eat $17 worth, let alone each).  The buffet had salad with thyme dressing, potato salad, a sweet cole slaw with raisins, black bean soups. eggplant parmesan, mahi mahi, stewed conch,  BBQ chicken & ribs, steamed veggies, fried plantains, and probably other stuff I’m forgetting.

There was some music during dinner and then the singers/dancers came out to perform as things were settling down. This was the” Mayoumba Folkoric Theatre” – first and oldest on the island having started in 1972. Some of the original members are still with the group. The lighting was really dim so the video quality isn’t the best. The guy in the middle would do a brief narration that introduced the next song. It was really neat the boys enjoyed it too!

Here are 5 video clips from the theater:

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June 25 – Friday

We spent a little time back at Shoal Bay East today, one of our favorite beaches on the island before it clouded up and started to thunder and some lightening. Thinking it probably wasn’t a good idea to be in the water during a storm we packed up, stopped at the grocery, and went back to the room to make dinner.

June 26 – Saturday

We headed out pretty early today and went to the Viceroy Beach club on Meads Bay. This is probably our other favorite beach on the island. They were short-staffed so we didn’t get to go sailing or snorkeling. Just normal beach day with the added complimentary waters. I met a couple from North Carolina, who luckily were not basketball fans so we got along OK. :) They were staying at the Viceroy hotel for 4 nights @ $2300! Craziness to pay all the money for flights and only get to stay 4 nights and pay that much for the hotel.I also met several couples from Puerto Rico, but didn’t talk much.

While in the water the group from Puerto Rico was situated a little up the beach from us. I saw all the women run out of the water in a hurry and all the guys  looking down into the water. I hollered to ask what they were looking at and they said a sting ray. I called Shauna over after it made it down to where we were and had her keep an eye on it while I ran to get our camera. Shauna had also filmed some birds diving into the water for fish.

Here are the video of animals we saw.

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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”.

Father’s Day Weekend

June 19 – Saturday

Today was still a little left over rainy feeling. It was very overcast, cloudy, gloomy – in general, not a good beach day. There was a beach on our list to visit that is not good for swimming, but for shelling so we decided this would be a good day to do that so we we wouldn’t get too hot from the sun and not be able to go into the water. We started with a french pastry breakfast from Le Bon Pain again.

After breakfast we grabbed the map and set out to find Mimi’s Bay. It was slightly more difficult than some of the others since this isn’t one of the major white sand, beautiful swimming beaches. We found what looked like it should be the right road and headed down this little dirt road. We got to a fork that veered right. I noticed a sign post, but no sign. I stopped, jumped out and fit the pieces back together. Mimi’s Bay! We were on the right track. So we took the fork and arrived at Mimi’s Bay.

The waves were pretty rough and there were large rocks right off the beach so definitely not for swimming. The boys loved hunting for shells and we found a few neat ones too! There was also an abandoned life raft on the beach that we used to have a picnic lunch.

After lunch, even though the sun was not out, we decided to go to a beach and get in the water. We couldn’t stand the thought of missing beach time two days in a row! We were very close to Junk’s Hole so we went there. They don’t have chairs & umbrellas so again, a good day to go there without the hot sun. Gabriel fell asleep on the way so we pulled right up onto the beach, rolled down the windows, and left him to sleep in the car while we jumped in the water. It was cold, still a bit rough, but nice to be back in the beach water.

After beach time we headed back into the Valley to pick up Ken’s ribs again for dinner.

June 20 – Sunday (Father’s Day)

The sun came peeking through! Not full sun yet, but a sight for sore eyes! We celebrated Father’s Day today at Scilly Cay. Make sure you check out our pictures under the photo tab for this day called “Scilly Cay”. This is that little mini island in the harbor here right across from our room. The island and restaurant are owned and operated by Sandra and Eudoxie Wallace. They even have their own website (http://www.scillycayanguilla.com).

It was a WONDERFUL (albeit expensive) experience. This was Father’s Day, Shauna’s 30th birthday (April), my graduation celebration meal, and our 8th anniversary (May) dinner all rolled up into this meal. We didn’t do anything special for those occasions knowing we would while in Anguilla. It’s a good thing too because this was $75/plate for what we got! Yikes! But a wonderful, wonderful experience!

There is no electricity on the island. Early in the morning they bring large coolers over by boat with all the fresh food ingredients to prepare the meals. They offer three main entrees: lobster, chicken, crayfish or a combination. The lobster is the specialty. The fisherman go out 25 miles into the ocean and set lobster traps. They are brought back and kept alive until they are ready to cook. Talk about fresh seafood!

We, of course, had to try the Caribbean spiny lobster. Neither Shauna nor myself are big fans of lobster – during previous east coast (US) beach trips we always choose Snow Crab legs over King Crab or any lobster.  Caribbean spiny lobster is soooo different from lobster in the US – much better based on mine and Shauna’s personal tastes. According to the info I looked up they are barely even related to traditional lobster we see in the US. Caribbean Spiny lobster does not have any claws and instead has sharp spikes down its back for protection.

We were told it takes about an hour from the time we order. We were already starving when we got there! We fed the boys some chicken salad & crackers while we waited and took a dip in the small beach on this island. Our meal came with three lobsters on the plate lined with sea grape leaves (we had no idea we got that many), pasta salad, bread, and fresh fruit. The lobsters were grilled and then brushed with a special sauce (butter based I think) prior to being served. The texture and flavor was just completely different – soft and sweet, just melts in your mouth. A local band was playing and singing throughout the afternoon. This will go down as one of my all-time favorite dining experiences ever!

After lunch we laid around on the beach. The water was super shallow – we had to almost lay down to get water over our shoulders. Ezekiel came in for a bit and the rest of the time played in the sand with Gabriel. We also saw about a zillion crabs in and around the bushes. Ezekiel was catching them in a cup and bringing them down to the decorative drift wood log on the beach.

They quit serving food at 5pm and start packing up. We stayed about an hour after that until most everyone was gone. I asked Ezekiel if he was ready to go and he said, “No, not yet.” So we let him play for a bit more. I went over and asked him again and he said, “Stop asking me. I’ll tell you when I’m ready to go.” If that wasn’t so funny he would have been in big trouble!