Friday, June 29, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Anyway, as I said yesterday I am in Dominica once again on a quick trip with my friend Ty. This time I have some responsibility though and tonight I will be taking photos of some friends wedding. Its pretty easy to get here from Antigua. You can fly one of three ways. One way is to come over with JHR’s private plane and stay at Silks. Another way is to come LIAT to Melville Hall and the way we came this time was on Carib Aviation to Cane Field near the capital. The landing was a little bumpy under the massive mountains on the leeward side, and the lady sitting up front said a few “lord save me’s”. Anyway, once we landed we took a short ride to our hotel, The Evergreen. Its a few miles down the road form the famous Fort Young hotel and a few miles less fancy. Although it’s less fancy it’s still as good for the money. The staff all is lovely and the rooms and beds are perfect. They helped us get a rental jeep and after a good b’fast we were off with guide book and map in our hands. We hit, Trafalgar Falls, Screw’s Sulphur Springs, and Titou Gorge. These major tourist sites were free of other tourists and it was just me and Ty. Trafalgar Falls I had been to three times before. The first I had cut my leg two days before and had to watch everyone swim in the Falls as I sat there keeping my stitches dry. The next time I had a cast on my ankle and couldn’t go in either. The third time I was sure to swim in these dam falls and what do you think happened. A big tropical wave was passing through and so much rain had fallen that the falls were too extreme to swim in. I sat there shaking my head looking at the natural but beautiful violence. This time I didn’t think anything could go wrong and I didn’t even think about the previous times. They were perfect! Totally perfect!!!! The sun was shining and although the waters were very cold it was exceptionally refreshing and within seconds I had forgotten about the cold. We played like little kids under the powerful falls until we realized how the time had flown by. On the way back we met two ladies half way along under a viewing platform. They said hello and offered us some fresh passion fruit juice and some acra and bakes which are local snacks. Obviously they were stationed there to sell to tourists as they made their way back from messing around in the falls and since it was just us I took the offer even though I wasn’t hungry or thirsty. The juice was so delicious and they told Ty when he remarked on how good it was that they had made it fresh this morning. We chatted about the falls and about mangoes which Ty had been going on about since we took of from Antigua. They were nice ladies and both did a double take when Ty asked how much we owed them for the juice and snacks. They laughed and said it was free. Free? Yes free since they were just taking a rest on their hike. What idiots Ty and I were. These nice ladies were doing just as we were doing….they were out for a bit of adventure and were just being nice by offering some of their own juice and snacks.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Until yesterday I hadn’t used the other fine prizes. Yesterday we went for a nice drive in the afternoon to see some friends on the South side. We ended up at a fund pre school fund raiser on Galleon Beach and bumped into Alexis Andrews and his family there. He said his book is doing very well at the moment. Check it out. Anyway, afterwards we went for a nice swim at Windward beach which wasn’t very busy at all. There were over one hundred people on Pigeon Beach and like 4 on Windward so it was very nice indeed. The waves were quite big but the little tide pools were calm enough to relax in while little sergeant major fish swam around us. Tide pools are always interesting places to explore and with their abundance of interesting marine life it can be quite exciting too. After several mangos which we picked up on the way up Fig Tree drive I needed a drink. IT was Sunday afternoon and we were in English Harbour…..where could I get a drink? SHIRLEY HEIGHTS!!!! Woooo hoooo! I haven’t been there for ages and ages and we got there just for the last steel band set just as the sun set. There are few places in the Caribbean as beautiful as that place. The sweet sound of the steel drum music with the taste of a nice rum and coke is hard to beat. Add a nice sunset and some good company and you are loving life! I was too.
It wasn’t long before the rum in my belly needed company and at this time of the year in Antigua there isn’t much choice in English Harbour. Recently a classmate of mine had told me that the new chef at The Inn where she works was excellent, and I remembered that I had the “dinner for two” letter in my car. Why not? We met up with some friends there on the way down the hill and went into their lovely bar for a drink first.
There are few bars in Antigua as beautiful as this one and although I took a few photos last night they don’t do the place justice.
My rack of Lamb was fantastic...........:
I would tell you to go there for that desert if nothing else, but it was all good and worth a hell of a lot more than the EC $5 raffle ticket that got me there. Thanks to the Inn and the Antigua Sport Fishing Club! IF you are here this summer and want to have to try something different please go and have a nice meal at the Inn. Get there before sunset so you can see the fantastic view from the Bar too.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Anyway, back to the hurricane Luis, my dad’s boat and Jolly Harbour.
As we rounded the point and saw Steven Mendes’ boat sitting there exactly as we had left it we must have forgot for a split second about dad’s boat. But as the second past we began to panic. Where the hell was it? There were several other boats that had come into that bay after we had left and none were there now. We sped up into the newly decimated mangrove habitat that was a magnificent display of the complex marine ecosystem 24 hours before. This is a photo of the boat i started the eco tour on in the mangroves, and it is the same one we were on that day.
We had heard that some of the buildings had lost tiles from their roofs and that two boats had sunk. One had fallen which was in the part of the boat yard which didn’t have a concrete floor, but it sounded like Jolly Harbour and all of the 500 or so villas was still standing. So we finally get back to the little dock with Steve’s boat on one side and Dad’s on the other and notice quite a bit of damage to the dock. We do a little investigating and find out that just a few hours before the storm was about to detonate over Antigua and Barbuda “Lobster King” and his glass bottom boat pulled into Jolly Harbour looking for refuge. The first available dock he found was Dad and Steve’s so he pulled up and tied off. And wouldn’t you know it………the next morning he came down to find that his boat, like most others tied to docks in jolly Harbour, was as secure as he had left it. My Dad and Steve probably could have done the same without any trouble!!!! Jolly Harbour had made it through the storm like no other place in Antigua. The electricity and water was running the day after the storm even though it took three months where I lived to get electricity back. The vast majority of boats were fine as were the villas, and the next week villa sales and rentals picked up. A few years later there were still many villas unsold and prices were still hovering fairly low without anyone making any money on their original real estate prospecting on villas. All of a sudden the US dollar started a downward slide against the pound and Euro and people from Great Britain and Europe started buying. In fact, they bought at such a manic rate that by the time local people realized what was going on there were no villas left in Jolly Harbour. There were only re-sales and the prices on them were going through the roof. Right now it is not unheard of for a simple villa in need of some work to go for US $300K. Even after Luis they were being sold for about $140. How things can change so quickly is surprising for some people. Not for others…..I bet old Dr. Erhart R.I.P wasn’t surprised at all.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Over the past year we have been trying to buy a piece of land in Jolly Harbour where we can keep our boats in the future. Last month I started renting a villa here as well. It’s an interesting place. Jolly Harbour is really more than just a big marina. It’s a story, a town, and an unusual man’s dream. There is now way that I can come close to touching the full story that is Jolly Harbour, but this blog entry today will give some general info about the place which at the end of the day is the main base of Adventure Antigua and is also the place where we plan to expand into new areas.
Back when I was a youngster, my father, uncle and some of their friends would hunt wild ducks in the winter at several places around Antigua. One of the best spots in Antigua was exactly where Jolly Harbour is now. It was a huge mangrove salt pond filled with wildlife and nothing else. Tourism in Antigua was on a high point at the time and when the owner of the largest hotel on the island told the Prime Minister about his dream to turn the “mosquito ridden swamp” into the largest Marina in the Eastern Caribbean, the idea was welcomed. Environmental concerns were worse than they are now, and now they are not that good either. Jolly Beach located next door to the swamp, was owned by the Swiss hotel tycoon, Dr. Alfred Erhart who had made squillions with his hotel and real estate deals in the Mediterranean. I think his company was called Universal. I always thought he was a unusual man because of his fishing habits. When he was here in Antigua he loved to go fishing, but not the type of fishing that most of the other multi millionaires did. Dr. Erhart would go out on a tiny aluminum skiff by himself with a little net. He would set the net and catch small fish off Jolly Harbour. People on yachts would wonder who this poor white fisherman was. Most other men with his kind of money had 65 foot Bertram sportfishing boats with full time crew. His idea of fishing was more simple. His mega marina idea wasn't. One day after Jolly Harbour had been finished and was hosting a stop during the Antigua Sailing Week event here, I sat next to him as he chatted with my Dad. You see, my Dad was his lawyer here at the time. Anyway, my Dad looking around him at the thousands of people and hundreds of yachts said, “Doc, are you happy with all of this”. Dr. Earhart said with a smile and a scratchy voice, “You know I only did it originally to stop the mosquitoes from biting my Jolly Beach guests”. I thought that was such a funny thing to hear. Anyway, he went on to describe how the idea had developed while running his Jolly Beach Hotel into something much bigger and meaningful to him. Some say that between the two developments he spent US $400 million. It was quite obvious that Jolly Harbour was a passion of his, and despite criticism from a great many people, he pushed on with the development. He loved Antigua and wanted to prove all his advisors wrong about the Jolly Harbor concept. Even as we sat there, Jolly Harbour was still not self sufficient and in fact was far from being the success that he had envisioned. At that time back in the mid 90s most of the 500 or so villas remained unoccupied. Villa sales had been terrible and some people thought that the entire project would end up being a white elephant. The funny thing is that they were not that bad looking. The blocks of two bedroom waterfront villas that had seawall ready for dock space and were going for as little as US $140K. Many Antiguans (who are kicking themselves now) were sure that it would all be knocked down in a hurricane.
Monday, June 11, 2007
and the second is the inside fold:
Friday, June 08, 2007
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
This hypothesis seems to be rampant all over the US media as well as with "officials". Thankfully I don't have TV at the moment after this move, but I am sure it’s even worse with Fox and CNN. To show how stupid this kind of statement is I will just go over a few things. What is really considered "The Caribbean"? According to Wiki the "The Caribbean.......is a region of the Americas consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (most of which enclose the sea), and the surrounding coasts. The region is located southeast of Northern America, east of Central America, and to the north and west of South America." Take a look at this map: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:CaribbeanIslands.png to get an idea how large and separated it is. Most of the named areas are different countries all together. Guyana, an independent country, is further from Havana, Cuba in the North of the Caribbean than Rome is from Bagdad. As far as Cuba is from Guyana is about as different as the people, politics, language and ethnic makeup. The funny thing is that you don't have to go far in the Caribbean to be dramatically different. Let’s just look at Antigua for example and compare it to our neighbors Guadeloupe. These islands are only 50 miles apart and today as it’s so beautifully clear, we can even see each other. We are as different as you can get though so to be grouped in the media as "the Caribbean" with the implication that terrorist cells are quietly organized ready for attack is asinine and totally irresponsible. The general lack of good geography education in the USA is famous and can only be made worse during situations like this. It is so frustrating to me and other people who rely on tourism to see our little independent island in the cross hairs of the war on terror because of idiotic news headlines. Some people may think that I am taking this too far, but I can tell you that when someone who doesn't know the West Indies well reads the Economist article they may think twice about booking their winter holiday here.
Now the story of these bumbling idiots or would be terrorists is obviously going to get plenty air time for many reasons. Many would say that anything that shows some success in the war on terror will be highlighted and the US authorities did an excellent job of infiltrating and eventually busting this group using other criminals. The fact of the matter though is that this alleged group of would be terrorists appear to have been pretty stupid (thank god) and according to some officials had no chance of doing any harm. According to the New York Times these misfits were more talk than action which we can all thank God for. That being said I find it so strange that there are articles all over the web implying that the Caribbean is a hotbed of terrorist cells. Trinidad and Guyana in the far south of the Caribbean Basin are up to 2000 miles away from the Northern part of the Caribbean and are independent nations. After the end of slavery in 1834, plantation owners sought laborers from India as spoken about on wiki: "As can be seen in the movie "Guiana 1838, after the slaves were freed, the plantation owners were desperate for new sources of labor. In 1839 the British government began a program of recruiting Indian labourers (or coolies) in Calcutta to be sent to Trinidad and British Guiana (now Guyana). They bound themselves to work as indentured labourers for a set number of years on the plantations." This is how the Trinidad and Guyana came to have East Indians making up large parts of their populations bringing along their culture and religions including the Muslim faith. Unfortunately, Muslim extremism however small, does seem to exist in these two countries and there have been several occasions where "terrorist crimes" have been committed. The weirdest thing is that Muslim extremism in Trinidad seems to be limited to a small group of Afro-Trinidadians. The most infamous group is the Jamaat al Muslimeen which as WIKI says is a known terrorist group headed by Yasin Abu Bakr who tried to take over the Trinidadian government in a coup in 1990. This group arrested with the terrorist plot at JFK is allegedly linked with the Jamaat al Muslimeen.
Anyway, all of this has nothing at all to do with the rest of the Caribbean region. In fact, even Tobago which is part of the country called Trinidad and Tobago has no Muslim influence of any sort. It is so unfortunate that Trinidad and Guyana have been slated let alone the rest of the region. This tiny group is insulated and separate from the rest of us in the region. The independent Christian nation of Antigua and Barbuda is 754 miles from Georgetown, Guyana and 446 miles from Port of Spain, Trinidad. Between Antigua and Trinidad and Guyana there are so many other countries, cultures, languages and ocean. I think the generalization as spelled out in the Economist and other media publications is just ridiculous, and I think that the media is just keeping people in the dark while causing many innocent people to be slated and discriminated against. Shame on them!
Monday, June 04, 2007
Anyway, my friends Alex Portman, Roddy Grimes Graeme, and Alan Aflak have photos in the book as well. You can buy copies of the book on line. I think there is a link to it on my links page and will attach the link before i post this blog. Go to the bottom of my website's links section and you will find the images link.
Friday, June 01, 2007
The photo exhibit will run for the month of June in one whole section of the Woods Art Gallery, but the other half will have the usual variety of Antiguan art work. While you are in Antigua you should definitely go and have a look. Hope to see you there tonight.
As you know, if you have been reading my blog over the past week, JHR Caribbean (a.k.a Caribbean Real Estate) was kind enough to sponsor our Xtreme team in the 41st Annual Sport Fishing Tournament. As our exclusive sponsor, they also get to have their banner on the blog for three months. Not only are they the first sponsor of the Xtreme Team but they are also the first sponsor of the Antigua Island blog. So to Nadia, Derek, Adam, and the rest of the gang....Thank you. I am sure that you will get some return on your investment. The time right now is 9:45 am and my blog has gotten 134 unique visitors already for the day. Good luck and thanks again.