Antigua was a lot of fun despite the fact that it rained and rained and that Hurricane Omar decided to pay us a visit Wednesday night. Most of the the poor island was left without power for most of Thursday and our hotel was left without Internet. Luckily for us, our hotel did not lose power, but the rest of the country was trashed right and left, making transportation impossible due to flooded streets.
It also rained all Thursday, which was a pain in the arse since the hotel is a resort with all bungalows, so you need to either walk everywhere, or be picked up by a hotel car, and you still get drenched from running from the door of your room to the aforementioned car.
Other than that, our meeting went great and the hotel was verra nice. And, mercifully, on Friday the sun came up and the place dried out.
I cannot begin to tell you how rejoiced we all got.
I shall not bore you with details of our meeting. Suffice to say that it ended Friday noon, and afterwards we found ourselves in a big ass van ready to see the island sights.
Our tour guide ended up being one of the participants of the conference, a really colorful guy by the name of Mr. Hill, who volunteered to be our guide for the day. I must say, Mr. Hill is one of those people that would warrant an article in the Reader's Digest "My Unforgettable Character." An irrepresible man with an uncanny resemblance to Eddie Murphy, he is also an enthusiastic archeologist and has published a book on his theories linking Atlantis to the Caribbean, which stem from his research from the Torah, his visits to Israel, and the digging he has done in many of the Caribbean islands.
In rainy days, he also likes to dress in a red business suit made out of raincoat plastic.
With matching hat.
Colorful? Yes. Interesting fashion statement? No kidding. But he was the only dry person in the conference come Thursday morning. (See note on Thursday pouring all day.)
The man was definitely into something.
But I digress.
Mr. Hill not only resembles Eddie Murphy. He's also funny as shit. And he's also the kind of person that everyone knows, from the President of the country, to the shoeshine boy in the street. And I am not kidding. I saw it myself. So having such a guy as a guide to the island was a real treat.
To make a long story short, under Mr. Hill's care we:
1. Ate really good grilled corn purchased from a random woman grilling on the side of a deserted country road. Anthony Bourdain, eat your heart out.
2. Visited an old site containing the ruins of the Manager's Mansion, where dances were held in the days before Antiguan independence, and well-to-do folks would meet and greet their future spouses.
3. The same site also had a couple of old windmills, which were used for processing sugar cane into molasses for the production of rum. It was awesome, and I took some kickass pictures.
4. Visited the town of Libertad, which is the first town settled by freed Antiguan slaves. (Libertad means "liberty" or freedom.)
5. Went to the other end of the island, where we stood at the very edge of some really high cliffs of terrifying beauty. I took some really awesome pictures.
6. Visited St. John's, the capital city, and went to the central market where I picked a bunch of t-shirts and one of the rag dolls that they make in the town of Libertad.
7. Paid a visit to some street vendors and purchased some music for el Brato. (Did I mention that all of these, and the people in the market knew our guide? No need to. We were stopped every 5 seconds by his friends and relations. Really awesome.)
8. Ate roti stuffed with curried chicken from a dive in the street, and drank seamoss for the first time. (Seamoss is a drink made out of kelp, an algae.) It was delicious. Again, Anthony Bourdain has got nothing on me . . .
In the end, we drove back to the hotel to the other end of the island, tired but happy.
By then, the country road was dark and bumpy, and a large silver moon peeked through the trees. I just felt that I was travelling in the "Mystery Machine," only without Scooby Doo, with a dozen other people, and reggae blasting into the night. I was half expecting a zombie to pop out at any minute saying, "And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you, meddling kids!"
Saturday, we piled up into a hotel shuttle and took the plane back home. I arrived home at midnight, to a very happy ballistabob.
And that my friends, is my recap of my adventures in the Caribbean. I took some very cool pictures and I will be posting them as soon as I am done uploading them.
And now, back to catching up with work and replying to email.
The salt mines await me.