The Caribbean

Posted on May 23, 2018

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This afternoon I touched down in Antigua. A Caribbean island I have long wanted to visit ever since I was a little girl. I think it was a holiday programme I saw or possibly someone I overheard talking about their honeymoon. It sounded dreamy and far away and conjured up swashbuckling images of a lifestyle I never ever imagined I’d ever have. How wrong was I?! Well as my good friend Uncle Charlie in Kenya says, this next chapter could be called “PADIs of the Caribbean” or given my workout ethic possibly, “Pilates of the Caribbean”, which made me chortle. Anyway I am here for five days before I hop to the British Virgin Islands to start my summer dive job.

The coastline in Antigua is covered with white sandy beaches that disappear into the hypnotic turquoise blue waters. The visibility on land is insane forget putting my face underwater. Coconut trees sway in the breeze and the softly spoken musical local accents hang in the warm tropical air. It looks every bit like I imagined. In parts particularly with the yachting community there’s clearly a lot of money here. The boats in all the various harbours I passed are huge. Restaurants are pricey unless you eat local; the roads are tarmac-d and the US Dollar is king. Everyone speaks English and seems o be friendly enough.

My new dive equipment arrived in London last month after a lot of hassle and I’ve been gagging to try it out. The delivery of my wetsuit became a joke after the second week of waiting. The idiot driver from the delivery service couldn’t find the house, so it wasn’t delivered on the day I specifically paid for. Then when it arrived the wrong thickness of neoprene was sent and I struggled to pull it on. I then had to wait for a swap and collection for the right thickness but when that finally happened the size was too small. Anyway I’m finally kitted out perfectly now and my first dive is tomorrow morning.

I’ve eaten dinner at a place by the water, grilled Mahdi Mahi with steamed veggies and rice. Rather bland I guess to appeal to the ex pat palette. Tomorrow I will hunt out some some salt fish and the coconut, potato dumplings they serve with it. I did a shop for brekkie in the morning: oats, raisins, bananas and yogurt. The supermarket looks as though it’s been looted. The difference to London just 24 hours ago is more stark to me than if I’d been on the road. Lots of the shelves are empty or poorly stocked. I’ve been told it’s coming up to low season now. Probably why. The Hurricanes and rains start around July/August.

My digs are nice. Basic and clean and close to the dive school. Think there’s three other people here. Quiet. I’ve been awake almost 21 hours, time to get 11 hours solid kip and kick the jet lag immediately. Hopefully I’ll wake up to blue skies and calm water and a day filled with gawping at the pretty fish!

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