Beach bums in Antigua: The adventure continues

I made good on my promise to return to Antigua in late January for a couple of months.

The airfares were slightly higher than the fall trip as the low season has shifted into high season but I got a rate on a holiday apartment that fit my budget. The flat is located at the top of Runaway Bay and steps from Dickenson Beach.

They are two of the most popular beaches on the island with visitors because of their location (not too far from where the cruise ships dock) and services such as restaurants and bars, water craft rentals and clothing and souvenirs. I like the more remote ends of both beaches.

Snorkelling at Deep Bay remains a favourite, a two-bus journey but very doable.

My bus journeys generally begin with a trip into island’s capital of St. John’s and from there striking out to whatever region captures my imagination that day.

Earlier this week, I landed at Cades Beach where I lay in the sun, took a dip and ate lunch. I spoke to another island visitor from Dominique. This Caribbean native shuddered when I went into the water because it is “winter” here after all. She eventually entered the water but pronounced it to be “very cold”.

After hearing of the cold snap at home in Nova Scotia, Canada, where the mercury plummeted to -25 Celsius I wasn’t complaining. The water felt warm and lovely to me. The water temperature here in February, the coldest of the year, is about 26 degrees C.

Again the bus rides felt like island tours. I viewed the coastline from elevated roads winding around the island and bumped through small, colourful neighbourhoods on narrow lanes.

I especially like the decorum on the vans that service the bus routes. Passengers are very careful entering and exiting the vans not to bump or crowd others. “Good morning, good morning” or “Good afternoon” greetings ring out. Drivers frequently toss fares into their container consoles. There doesn’t seem to be much of a concern about losing money to theft.

Heavy rain showers obscured the sun for brief periods daily last week. I sheltered under trees and bushes until they blew over. With average temperatures between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius, I was damp but not cold.

One day I noticed local daily moss gatherer and other residents working along the shoreline, stuffing large quantities of a type of seaweed into buckets and bags. Clearly, this was a very prized gift from the sea

It turned out be sea, or Irish, moss, coveted for its health-inducing properties. I picked some clusters of the moss and processed it, using a method recommended by a local fisherman. After rinsing the sea moss well, I added some bleach to the water until the substance turned white. After rinsing again, I put it outside to dry in the sun. Finally, it is boiled and strained to capture the apparently prized medicine

This is used to combat inflammation, upset stomachs, boost immunities and some say, increase male and female libido. I will keep you posted.

A caution to bank customers: check online to see what credit and debit cards are accepted at local banks and ATMs Also cash withdrawals are typically restricted to ATMs and not provided at teller cages.

Trips to the supermarkets have been successful and I’m very eating well. On Saturdays, fresh produce, meat and fish are sold in the open market in St. John’s.