Thursday, October 25, 2007

Quiet October days…

If you live in Antigua, and you are planning a trip abroad, October definitely seems to be the month to do it. I’m one of the few people in my circle of friends on island right now, and as circumstances have it, I’m filling in for Eli while he’s away.

I like to think I’m not one to sit at home and complain about the quiet times. In fact, when things get quiet here, I tend to look deeper into Antigua to find adventures that in busy times, I would not get to do.

Along with a friend, I’ve taken myself to Windward beach in English Harbour for the past two Sundays. It’s lush down there right now, inaccessible to anyone wanting a quick dip. Like many beaches in Antigua, there is a marshy mangrove swamp behind the beach, and with all the rain we’ve been getting recently, the usual route to the beach is underwater.

This didn’t matter though; it just confirmed to us that we would most likely have the beach to ourselves. Determined, we walked through a bush trail to the left of the swamp. The trail meanders initially through gnarled cassi trees but in no time, a thick wall of sea grape trees form, creating the back drop behind the southerly facing, secluded bay.

It’s something mystical; to wander through a shaded, tunnel-like sandy path, surrounded by sea grapes, and eventually burst out through a key-hole opening onto an empty beach, to see Montserrat on the horizon and the deep cobalt of the sea, contrasting the rocky hues of the left point.

Needless to say, time was of the essence, and I was overheating. We had come to snorkel this bay for the first time. I was hoping to find life under the calm water, something that these days, is hard to find in Antigua.

Instant relief!! It felt like I was downing a cold glass of water as I submerged myself into the water just off the left point. Finally I was underwater, and to my surprise, there were fish, lots of fish. There was even live reef and lots of live sponges. The water was crystal clear and the clatter of fish and sea life was really refreshing.

It is beaches like these I search for these days, at a time when our local beaches are succumbing to the pressure of our tourist industry and the negative impact of development, which is slowly but most definitely depleting our tropical beach ecosystems. It is hard to find a beach in Antigua these days, which feels untouched. Despite the state of our beaches and reefs, and the dwindling fish populations, this time, on this quiet Sunday I felt a glimmer of hope, as I snorkeled around the point.

Back to the beach, satisfied and with a few shells in hand, it was time to make a move. What could be better after a snorkel then a fresh tall latte, or two, at Sea Breeze! These days, with work, I try to squeeze as much as possible into my days off, and this Sunday was no exception.

Who knows what surprises the next quiet October Sunday will hold!

Annabel Fuller