A few weeks ago we got the heck out Dodge and headed to Antigua. It's an island that we had never thought of visiting before, mostly because it seemed so expensive. But then a rockin' deal came through last October so we jumped on it. This was new for me because, 1. We rarely book so far in advance and 2. I like to mull over a purchase for a while - comparing, researching, etc. (Shopping with me is a pain.)
But here we were - in the middle of February and in the middle of a snowstorm - the perfect time to go. In fact, it was snowing so much that our flight was delayed for 3 hours, but not cancelled thank goodness. We sat on the tarmac for most of that 3 hours - I actually watched an entire movie before takeoff. After travelling through the snow and then all that time spent on the plane, seeing the green grass and palm trees was a bit of a shock. When on vacation in the winter I'm always wondering, "Is this real or a dream?"
Do you know Antigua? It is a two-island country - Antigua and Barbuda - located south-east of the US Virgin Islands. It's an independent state within The Commonwealth (i.e. a former British territory.) It's known for its sailing, and we saw plenty of multi-million dollar yachts and super-yachts. Hopefully these two bumpkins didn't stand out too badly. :-)
We stayed at the Jolly Beach Resort next to Jolly Harbour. It's a lower-priced hotel in relation to others on the island, but we were pleasantly surprised by it. Great food, nice room and view, and the grounds were really pretty.
We chose it mostly for the beach - it doesn't matter how fancy your hotel is if you don't have a great beach, amIright? This beach is awesome. Really deep (plenty of room for everyone) and about a mile long. And the pool was just steps from the beach so you could go back and forth easily.
We wanted a mix of relaxing and sight-seeing and that's just what we got. This is the view from our room -
and a view down the beach in each direction -
It wasn't all beach and pool though - we went ziplining with Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours on Valentine's Day. This was my first time really ziplining. We've done high ropes challenges before with a zip line down to the ground, but never high up from tree to tree. So much fun!
The staff members (aka rangers) were great too - always polite and patient. The equipment is very safe and they give full instructions with demonstrations. After ziplining we continued on to their high ropes challenge which involved crossing expanses on highwires, rope bridges, and plank/rope combinations. Not quite as challenging as the course at Blue Mountain - but still a good time. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to bring our cameras so I have no shots of the ropes challenge.
There are 5 or 6 dogs living on the tour property, so of course I had to have a visit with each one. There was one that looked a bit like our Chloe and one like our Sasha, so we informally adopted them (i.e. in our minds). We even stopped back on two other days just to see them again.
The next day we rented a car to drive to the PAAWS animal shelter in Parham. That day was the 20th anniversary of the day Tom and I met, so we celebrated by doing our favourite thing - playing with dogs.
PAAWS is a no-kill shelter on Antigua that cares for and re-homes abandoned and neglected animals on the island. And there are A LOT of abandoned animals on Antigua. Dogs are rarely seen as family pets like here at home - they're just another animal like a pig or goat, so there is a lack of interest in spaying and neutering. This leads to an abundance of unwanted puppies - called "Dadli dogs" after the original name of the island (Wadadli/Waladli). Visiting the shelter was wonderful and yet sad at the same time because it operates completely on donations and sponsorships with no government assistance. At any time there are up to 80 dogs at the shelter waiting for a forever home.
the newest arrivals
Here are the dogs we walked that day (all except Princess are available for adoption):
Frankie and Princess
Barney and Freddie (they've been there for 8 years!)
Iggy and Libby
Zac and Unity
Baldric and Lance
Brindle and Flynn
Quincy and Archie
Tom walked across the bridge but I was too much of a chicken. There is a big crack in the rock and it's going to give out one day - I don't trust my luck. I did wear out my camera battery though. I love taking pictures and video of breaking waves - the sight and sound of them is soothing to me.
It was getting late by then and I was HUNGRY, so we made our way back to the resort for dinner. I'd like to say that we stayed up enjoying the entertainment, but the truth is we just collapsed into bed. We did a lot of walking that day!
I'm going to stop here because I know I've talked enough. Tomorrow it's on to the south end of the island!