Wednesday, November 23, 2011

St John’s, Antigua
Antigua was a new stop for us. One word: stunning. Truly, just stunning.

We booked a tour with Tour Guide Gordon who was another one of my cruise critic finds. We hooked up with another couple from our roll call to do an island tour and transportation to the stingrays. We’d done the rays on Grand Cayman last year and loved them. I was curious to compare the two experiences. We ended up with a total of 9 on our tour: our 5, a cute young couple, and another couple who really kind of bugged me. Oh well, what can you do right? Anyway, first stop was a really cool fort and historical area, Shirley Heights. I’ve learned a lot about the history of the islands on this trip and the fighting that took place between the English and the French for control over the islands. Nearly every island has forts and it’s interesting to compare them. Antigua was a major stronghold.

After checking out the fort area for awhile we had some lunch and then headed to the rays. On Antigua its run by a single company who about 10 yrs ago built an enclosure on a sandbar about 10 mins boat ride to shore to trap many rays in. After some time and regular feeding the enclosure was taken down allowing the rays to come and go as they pleased but, of course, they now come around freely for the daily food. The rays were HUGE! They can live a really long time and some of these must have been pretty old because they were enormous. We had a pretty good amount of time with them. Just like last time, G was thrilled. Sadly, our pictures are pretty crappy.

Having enjoyed the rays we moved on to a natural wonder called Devil’s Bridge. Seeing it was a trip highlight for me. It is so beautiful. I took dozens of pictures with my pretty decent compact camera but none of them will ever do the area justice. It was absolutely gorgeous. Gordon said it got its name because supposedly slaves were sometimes given the choice to become a slave or jump from the natural bridge and gain freedom. Of course, that almost certainly meant death but some made that choice.

There are vendors at the coast selling their trinkets on small card tables. I always try to look at what they’re selling and often buy something small if it catches my eye. I wonder, as they sit there hour after hour day after day in the heat and humidity, if they’re even see the beauty of their location anymore. Probably not. I think it’s a hard life. Each day they sit there watching tourists jump out of air conditioned vehicles sporting expensive sunglasses and snapping pix on their uber pricey cameras then jump back into the comfort of their vans. I wonder if it bothers them when people try to bargain them down from $5 to $4 on the shell encrusted frame they’re selling? I hear a lot of people complain about the vendors and I understand it can be a bit bothersome to be approached by yet another young woman wanting to braid G’s hair. But, I try to keep in mind that we tourists are their number one source of income and there is a lot of competition for our dollars that they need to keep their families going. I try hard to remember that our family is very fortunate to be able to make these types of trips when others are struggling just to get their basics satisfied. I try, and hope we are teaching G, not to be an “ugly, entitled tourist”. Then I either look if interested or politely say “no thank you” with a respectful smile.

Back on the ship we went to dinner. I don’t remember what we had but it was probably pretty crappy. The food has been consistently bad throughout. They seem to have difficulty getting all the meals done at the same time so someone’s food is always cold. Plus, the food itself is just not good. It ranges from barely edible to downright gross. There are a few things that are tasty and we eat those: broccoli soup, wild mushroom quesadilla, chocolate raspberry truffle cake. As has become our routine, after dinner G goes to the kids club for the evening program and we go to the show. Tonight was the hypnotist, Terrance B. Oh my gosh what a stupid show. It just goes to show the lengths that some people will go to get themselves on stage, and a cruise ship stage at that. Phooey. It was so bad that it was comical so Bobby and I enjoyed ourselves by laughing at the silliness of it all.

No canon is safe from G. She will climb it, lay on it, jump on it!
Isn't this a gorgeous view? By the way, that group buildings on that hill in the pic is Eric Clapton's house!! Can you even imagine???
Overlooking the bay where the English hid their ships from view of the French during battle.

This is one of my favorite, non Georgie, pix I took on our trip

Devil's Bridge is the structure in the middle. I so wish my limited photographic skills were enough to capture the beauty of this place. There are tubes drilled into the rock below your feet here and as each wave came in we'd hear a whoosh and a rumble. It was awesome!

This stop was late in our day and G had fallen asleep in the van. Bobby said he's just stay with her while I went to look. Once I saw it, I walked back up to tell Bobby he couldn't miss this one. Luckily, G had just woken up!

With the rays. This one was fairly representative of the size of most of them.

G liked feeding them. She held the fish then I put my hand all the way around hers to feed. Rays eat by sucking their food up very hard. Its like a very strong vaccuum hose so you have to be careful or it can hurt.

Awesome day!!

Tomorrow: Rosseau, Dominica

1 comment:

Tanya said...

Looks like a fun trip so far! Sorry about the food. We ended up eating in the steak house and Italian restaurant on our cruise. Both were awesome!