Thursday, February 14, 2013

Best Valentine's Day Ever in Antigua

A couple of days ago we called the BEST taxi driver in Antigua, Emelda to see if she was available for another afternoon with us for a tour and some shopping.  Keith decided to stay back while the three amigos hit the road with Emelda.  Our first stop was Betty's Hope, the first large scale sugar plantation built in 1650.  The first family to run the plantation was the Codrington family who took ownership in 1674 and lasted till 1944. The estate is named after Sir Christopher Codrington's daughter.   The plantation was run by African slaves and even though in 1834 they were emancipated they continued to work the estate as freed labour.  When we were there they were in the middle of restoring the giant wind mill, the only one left intact here in Antigua.  The remaining buildings, the Cistern Complex, the Great House (Buff or Estate House), the Manager's Home, the Boiling House where 16 copper hoppers were used to boil cane juice to produce crystalline sugar and the Still House used for manufacturing rum are all in ruins.
Our next stop was to visit the Donkey Sanctuary which is run by The Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society.  Donkeys in Antigua roam free and are at risk of getting hit by a vehicle and they also do damage to farmer's crops so this sanctuary gives them a permanent safe home.  Their goal is to bring all stray donkeys to the sanctuary and the Government of Antigua & Barbuda has promised to allocate additional lands to make this possible.  We met some wonderful, gentle animals today and ended up 'adopting' 4 of them.  They all have their unique personalities, Stevie a loving boy who got hit by a car and is now permanently blind.  He gets to where he wants to be by smell and hearing.  Then there is Mr. Personality, Raven, who fell in love with Emelda is our movie star who was in a movie filmed here in Antigua a few years ago.  Charley the curly haired boy who is always following you around looking for a hug.  And the girl in our newly adopted family, Chrissy who is a little pushy but loves to cuddle.  We will sponsor them for the rest of their lives, just as long as they do not out live us as donkeys can live up to 50 years old.  I'm thinking I have to live to be 90 so that I can look after our new family here in Antigua.  Besides this being a beautiful island we now have another reason to return.

Last but certainly not least on our tour this afternoon was to spend a couple of hours shopping in St. John's, Antigua's capital city.  It has a population of about 25,000 people and it's the major commerical centre and port for Antigua.  Emelda dropped us off and returned to pick us up after we visited a few stores and contributed to the economy.  Before shopping we decided to have a bite to eat and came upon an outside restaurant where we were treated with some lasagna and beer.  We wanted to get the feel of the city and we sure did sitting there.  It feels more like a village than the Capital and found people friendly and happy, just like at the resort.  After we ate we made our way up and down the streets and popping into stores we found interesting.  After meeting up with Emelda again we headed to Big Bananas one last time for an order of cazones to bring back to the resort.

As we drove through the village of Willikies, the place closest to the resort and where many of the employees from the resort call home we came across a sugar cane stand.  We tried sugar cane before here at the resort and we just had to stop to purchase some fresh.  Much to our surprise Shaka was working there, our favorite bell hops here at the resort and the one that spoke with Craig's mom & dad a few days ago through Facetime.  After our good-byes to Emelda we met up with Keith, had our cazones, played a bit of pool and then headed back to our rooms for a good nights sleep.

Talk soon!

The entrance to Betty's Hope
 The last remaining intact wind mill in Antigua under restoration
 The ruin's of the Manager's House
 What it would of looked like in the 1800s
 I'm not sure what this building was as it had no sign to explain
 The two wind mills at Betty's Hope
 Yay Donkey Sanctuary!
 Craig is loving all of the attention
 Our newly adopted Chrissy - getting to know each other
 Our blind boy Stevie
 Such soulful eyes
 The movie star of our newly adopted family, Raven, I think he was asking Emelda to be his Valentine
 Proof he was movie star
 Our curly boy Charley, so gentle
 This momma was expecting a baby soon (she is already adopted)
 This flower was growing on the side of the building at the Donkey Sanctuary
 The Big Banana in St. John's
 I love their hours sign, I guess they close when all of the guests have left
 Streets of St. John's
 Another one from a different view
 Next couple are examples of the colours

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