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Friday, February 21, 2014



Travel – February 19 and 20, 2014

Antigua and Barbados



What breath-taking islands these two beauties are. Both are independent countries with very proud citizens. When asked how you like their country and you gush with glee, they proudly smile and tell you when they won their independence. It would appear, however, that both are dependent on their neighbors, tourists and the world for their survival. Neither is self-sufficient and there is not enough industry to keep everyone working. In Barbados the unemployment rate is about 13% and the rate is going to go higher as the government is forced to lay off people in order to trim their budget. Hummmm - sounds so familiar. This repeats around the world. You need a going economy and good jobs before anything works. On some islands though, there is really nothing to make a good economy except the tourists. Other than that they are all living in heaven on earth. At least that is the case during the non-hurricane season.


Antiqua Beach and Boat harbor


In 1492, when Columbus sailed by Antigua, he named this island in honor of Maria de la Antigua, the saint he worshipped in Seville. Eventually the English gained control, and retained it until just 25 years ago when Antigua achieved independence.

The island was an important colonial base of the Royal Navy. The remains of its presence are still some of the most fascinating attractions to tourists -- a walk around historic Nelson's Dockyard and the grounds of Shirley Heights reveals remnants of a working Georgian harbor, old forts and officer's quarters, as well as a multitude of crumbling sugar mills from the days when sugar plantations ruled the island. In more recent years, English Harbor has become the capital of international yachting and sailing, whose activities are responsible for the surge in population during the winter months from 70,000 to 100,000. The season opens in December with the Antigua Yacht Show, and ends in May with Antigua Sailing Week, the largest annual regatta in the Caribbean.

Since gaining independence, Antigua has all but abandoned its agricultural heritage in favor of a tourist economy. The real highlights of the island lie well beyond the port town. With 365 beaches to explore, it's best to check out at least a few of them during your trip.


Antigua Harbor where the Crown Princess was docked
In Antigua we went sailing. What a kick that was. We took a local bus/van all the way across the island. It was an interesting trip and we really got to see the country as a local does. I sat next to a nice young man who worked for the park service at Nelson’s Dockyard. We started to chat about the island, America and Canada. If it wasn’t for him we would have gotten off miles early and really messed up the trip. Thank God there are gracious and kind people everywhere and we keep on running into them.

Rain squall and a sea swell ...AHHHHhhhhhh.....

Another couple Brooke and Larry from Denver, John and I rented a 40 foot sail boat with a crew of two, Lincoln and Simon from “On-Deck”. Lincoln and Simon are a very apt crew. Lincoln, late 20's something, is a professional crew and skipper guy who has participated in big-name ocean races and trans-ocean delivery of yachts. Simon, maybe 20, is just getting started. We sailed out and around the back side of the island for about two hours. Larry and Brooke race their boat on Chatfield Dam Reservoir back in Denver, but they also have experience out in the Caribbean. I could tell from the start we were in for a fast moving trip. The winds were blowing at 20 to 23 knots with gusts to 29 and the seas were choppy between 6 to 7 foot swells. From my perspective both seemed much faster and larger. The water kept coming over the bow and rolling over the gunnel. We were soaked to the bone by the time we got off…but we were all smiling. YAHOOOOooooo!!






Mushroom coral rocks on the beach

About 150 miles off the northeast coast of Venezuela, and the easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles, is the island of Barbados. It was discovered by Spanish navigators in the late 15th Century. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English arrived in Barbados in 1624. They took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony. The population today is about 280,000.


A view from the top of the island of Barbados

I think that Barbados would be my island of choice. The weather was perfect, the island was beautiful, and the beaches were picture perfect. They have sugar cane, rum, and an inner island with promising agriculture possibilities if handled correctly. John and I both joked that we spotted a vacation home with our name on it. We took a 4X4 jeep tour planned by the ship. It consisted of a trip across the island to Bathsheba, through a small preserve with a dirt road, hence the 4X4 title of the trip. We saw the mushroom coral rock beach and lots of beautiful country side. I know there is much more to see in Barbados. Guess we will just have to come back! Darn!!!!


Back on the boat in the evening, we celebrated our 21st anniversary at the Crown Grill with Ed and Cindy. We had a lovely time and enjoyed being with good friends. I can’t believe John and I have been together that long. We are very lucky!! We both enjoyed the night and are looking forward to visiting Trinidad tomorrow. Then we have four days at sea. I think many of us are looking forward to a little rest. I know…..a rest from vacation….you think we are crazy! Well, hang on, there is more for this adventure. Hope you are enjoying the trip!

Barbados Country Flower

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