Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
From St John’s, a gentle drive took us to Fort St James, another monument to English determination to keep out Johnny foreigner, or more accurately our French competitors. Conservation and exploitation of what we would consider historic monuments is still in its infancy here. However there is enough remaining to see that this might have been a very pleasant posting by comparison with some others. Cannon still line the walls, but today guard only a well-known restaurant and a picture postcard beach.
It is interesting to make a gentle comparison with the other islands we have visited so far. The French islands are still very much an extension of La France, whilst Antigua is Caribbean with strong reminders of its English connection. The very colourful villages, roadside stalls and beautiful beaches could not be mistaken for anywhere else, but ‘Her Majesty’s Prison’, the cricket grounds and a few red double decker buses shout England. That the newest cricket ground was built by the Chinese for the World Cup might be glossed over, were it not for the fact that the ground is miles from anywhere, and is not easy for the local people to access.
The contrasts are surprising. The generally neat houses have gardens frequently planted with rusting derelict cars, and are interspersed with surprisingly abandoned dwellings. The people are friendly, and smile broadly when you engage with them. However when you get near the tourist areas, you are fair game for calls on your wallet. Today, there was the strange sight of a man with a small donkey between his legs. Crushing her fellow passenger against the opposite car door, Annemarie rushed to wave the camera at the toothless gent astride his mount. The well-trained donkey smelt gold, and leapt across the road to make the demand. Much scurrying produced some change, but fearlessly, and without regard top the obvious consequences, she then leapt from the car to take more shots. In one move, she prevented us from moving on, and gave Don Quixote the chance to try for more.
Once we extricated her from being a complete ass, it was down to English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard. Here the old buildings have been restored and put back into use as bars and restaurants, and are a great place to visit. The Harbour is also currently full of superyachts getting ready for the Caribbean 600 Race on Monday. ‘Superyacht’ does not convey the astonishing range of craft here. From J-Class to vast modern ‘ships’, it is a vast display of the sort of wealth that one can only try to imagine, so far removed from the sailing we enjoy.
After an extended Happy Hour, followed by a superb meal at Oceanis, sadly it was a parting of the ways last night for our friends on the other boats. Webster and Arcarius are heading north to join the ARC Europe Rally. Avanti is off to the BVIs, and we are dropping back to Guadeloupe.