Sunday, February 03, 2008

Kids Birthday Party in Antigua

My old school friend from back when I was 10 years old called me a few weeks ago asking if I could help her with a party. Laila Hadeed, now has three children some 20 years later and her lovely daughter "Rax" had a birthday on Thursday. Yesterday we organized a party for her family and little friends. IT was quite an event. Tony and Chris collected the kids and a few parents from Dickenson Bay and cruises up the coast towards The North Sound where JD and I were waiting in his Boston Whaler with food and the Jumbo Dog. I think JD was more excited about the Jumbo Dog than the kids were. We had rented it from a watersports operator as it was one of the main things Rax wanted for her and her friends. Captain "J-Dog" dropped me off onto the Eco Tour boat, "Arawak Odyssey" in Great Bird Island channel and I was able to show the kids Magnificent Frigate Birds and Red Billed Tropic birds as they flew around the bluff of the island. I told the kids that the Tropic Birds needed caves to nest inside and that Bird Island was ideal for that. I also told them that caves were also used by pirates long ago to hide their loot. Tony steered us closer to a large cave at the base of Bird Island. As we approached, one of the kids screamed "there's a bottle in the water". Another quickly yelled "there's a message in it". I told Captain Tony to maneuver the boat closer so that I could grab it. Sure enough it was a message in a bottle. I told them we would anchor on the shore and then open it up. Rax read it and the rhyming message explained that there was a clue under a coconut tree on the North beach of Great Bird Island which would tell us where treasure would be found. The kids all began scrambling over the sides to make way for the beach on the other side. I had to yell at them to stop pretty quickly for two reasons. One was that none had shoes and another was that they had North and South mixed up. I asked Tony to check the compass and to tell the kids where North was. Chris brought down the shoes to the eager kids and was nearly swamped by them. We all rushed over to the nearest coconut tree on the North beach. No luck! We then moved on to the next one and sure enough another message was enclosed inside a palm frond at the base of the tree. The rhyme inside explained that we had to go to the top of Bird and look South for a rock with a bridge. As Chris, Tony, JD and I guided the group slowly to the top we explained about the wild life and plants we were passing. Once on top we spotted the island off to the South. We found some fossils and explained a little about the unique geography we had all around us. It was now time for a quick swim before heading off to the "isle with a bridge" where hopefully we would find our treasure. One child asked how we would share up the treasure. I explained that the way it usually works was that Captain keeps a third, crew keeps a third and owner keeps the last third. The kids told me that Captain Tony didn't need a third and that we could share the treasure between us. I explained that what they were suggesting was close to mutiny and that keel hauling was the punishment. They didn't like the sound of keel hauling and said that Tony could keep his share. We were then off to Hell's Gate.
Once Tony, Chris, and I had gotten almost all the group to the shore safely, it was time to find the "treasure that lay inside".
I led with "#2", Rax (the birthday girl) right behind me. Once we were all in the cave, I let Rax go ahead. A few steps and she blurted out "treasure!!!!". We had found treasure and despite much doubt earlier, there was enough for everyone. It was now time to eat and we cruised down to a nice protected area between Rabbit and Read Head islands. This is where the Jumbo Dog had been anchored up slightly out of sight from the kids. Man were they excited. I don't think I have ever seen food consumed so quickly and only kids could have done that kind of speed eating without heartburn. Once the other crew had eaten, we got belts ready for the kids and J-Dog got the Jumbo Dog loaded up for the first ride. For the next hour or so, J-Dog and his small crew pulled happy kids (and a few adults) back and forth in the nice calm waters to the lee of the "Arawak Odyssey". I just realized that the only person who didn't join in the fun was me!! Wait a second.
It was now time for the trip home where the cake would be waiting at a dock in Hodges Bay near the kid's home. Unfortunately the dock was a bit small so the cake was transported to Dickenson Bay where Tony and Chris said goodbye to the group. JD and I had left the group when the last of the kids took their last ride. Actually, a very pirate like little woman called Marissa had to be removed from the Jumbo Dog before we could leave. She had had too much fun and didn't want to get off. She told me I was an "evil evil evil man". I told her thank’s what all of us pirates want to hear and strive to become. Ahhhrrrrrrrrhh!
All in all it was a fun day and I hope to do something like this again.