Part one: stormy skies

For those of you keeping score, this is Julia’s and my second Antigua. We have also been to Antigua, Guatemala, which looks very different than Antigua, West Indies, the latter being the largest of the leeward British Islands, whatever that means. The trip started a bit rough, but not in the usual sense. We flew to Toronto then spent the night in at the Sheraton attached to the airport: easy-peasy, pumpkin McSqueazy. We boarded the flight, which went from 2/3rds full to full seemingly overnight then as soon as we were airborne, the person in front of me tipped their seats right back almost smacking me in the mouth.

“Woah,” I thought, “better tip back.”

I tipped my seat back about halfway and heard a woman behind me huff and curse under her breath. Moments later she tapped me on the shoulder and with a snooty English accent barked:

“Excuse me, but I need you to move your seat forward, my baby keeps hitting her head on your seat.”

“I’m sorry,” I replied, “but the people in front moved their seat back so I have no room.”

“Well, it’s not good for my baby.”

I grumbled audibly then moved my seat up an inch, but again heard huffing.

“Um… I need you to move it all the way, there’s no room for my baby.”

“Okay,” I grumbled. “God forbid your baby is uncomfortable.”

I moved my seat forward all the way and for the rest of the four and half hour flight I was basically the middle sardine in the can, with no room to stretch out front or back and unable to watch TV because the seat-back screen could not angle far enough up. I stared at the top of the guy’s head reclining comfortably in front of me.

Halfway through the trip I went to the washroom and saw that SHE had her seat all the way back and had moved the baby over to her husband, who was behind Julia’s reclined seat, but by the time I came back to my seat, she again had the baby, so I grudgingly acquiesced and scrunched into my foxhole. Was this some kind of game?

At the end of the flight I could hear her talking to the little toddler:

“You were so good… yes you were, such a good baby.”

“Grrrrr… thanks to me.” I thought, imaging both mother and baby being ingested into whirling jet turbines.

When we all stood up, she ignored me and didn’t even say “thank you.” Seriously, what’s the etiquette with this, should I have said “too bad” and left my seat down? Should I have said “you’re welcome” sarcastically and made a Sid Vicious up lip snarl or did I do the right thing and just keep my mouth shut and suffer with my discomfort knowing full well that if there is a Heaven I’ve surely bought another couple weeks in its pool-side suite.

My anger quickly abated as we walked across the tarmac to the old airport before meeting Joan who picked us up in her taxi. She explained that her previous occupation was as a journalist and the former head news reader on a local Antigua radio station. She drove us to Birds and Bees cottage, on the Southeastern tip of the Island near Falmouth Harbour, and upon arriving were greeted by barking dogs and the proprietor, Janie, who checked us into our one bedroom cottage. Everything seemed in order and we had enough food and water to last us for at least a day. We unpacked and headed up to the pool to grab some much needed Vitamin D. Janie was nice enough to provide a couple small bottles of rum and some fruit juice so we dug in, had a swim, and vegetated by the pool.

Ah, this is the life, a swim and some reading by the pool, while sizzling in the afternoon sun. We had the place all to ourselves until the other couple showed up then all of a sudden it felt like we were at Sandals. What? Four people sharing the same pool, preposterous! We chatted with Neil and Helen for a while and they gave us some advice about places to visit around the Island. They had rented a car a few days earlier and told us it was easy to drive around and that all the best beaches were on the West side of the Island.

At dusk we returned to our cottage where I boiled up some pasta with an Indian curry we brought from home. We retired to our mosquito netted bed where I quickly fell asleep, despite the heat, then <BANG!> was awakened by thunder so loud it felt like a meteor exploded in Falmouth Harbour. Then the rain came, rumbling and galloping like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I got up to close some of our windows and doors and noticed the floor in our cabin was wet; rain was gushing in from somewhere. I was too tired and decided to deal with it in the morning, then crawled back under the mosquito net and passed out again.

The next morning was grey and gloomy. We went to see Janie in the morning to tell her about our flooded cottage. She got a mop then told us it was the eaves trough above the door that needed cleaning.

“Great,” I thought, “a simple solution.”

We went to town with Janie and bought some supplies at a local grocery store (ie. rum). We were now prepared for anything Mother Nature threw at us and it wasn’t long before the rain came again, and again, and again, brief deluges, followed by intermittent sunny, humid interludes. That evening, the rain came down steadily, so as I moved the Lilliputian barbeque pit closer and closer to the door until the smoke started billowing inside, while water rushed in through the door from the faulty eaves trough. Obviously it hadn’t been cleaned. We retired early but were again woken up throughout the night to torrential downpours and flickering lightning. It was going to be one of THOSE holidays.

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