Island hopping, south to north
“Changes in latitude, changes in attitude
Nothing remains quite the same.” – Jimmy Buffet.
It’s been nearly four months since I returned to Cape Breton from Antigua and Barbuda, trading one island in the Caribbean for another in the North Atlantic.
While there is some difference in latitude – Cape Breton is about 3,000 kilometres north of Antigua – in longitude, there is only one degree of separation.
Antigua is 61.8 degrees west and Cape Breton, 60.9. I like to think the attitudes do remain the same.
For me that island vibe means going slower and not sweating the small stuff.
Early morning dips in Cape Breton are much chillier than in Antigua but I don a wetsuit and sometimes stay on my paddleboard, gliding along the coast of our cove. I see birds some of which migrated here from the Caribbean and I wonder if I have seen their mates during the nearly three months we spent in Antigua.
I am developing more of an interest in the flora and fauna of both places. In Cape Breton, I have planted a variety of flowering plants and a half-dozen rows of vegetables, all thriving in my “garden of benign neglect.”
In Antigua, I scoured the beaches looking for pretty or unusual shells and often found useful items as well, such as a paring knife, floating hammock, sandals, scissors and snorkels. One time, we almost snagged a kayak floating by. We would have searched for its owner, but were unable to catch the kayak and mournfully watched it drift out to sea.
In Cape Breton, I find old lobster traps, buoys, bits of interesting-looking driftwood and fishing lures.
Our beach has an array of colourful stones which I have used to build a rock wall that borders my garden.
I feel warm breezes on our beach and imagine the trade winds blowing in Antigua. It is now hurricane season and I worry about the safety of my southern friends. We’ve weathered severe storms in Nova Scotia, such as hurricane Fiona in 2022. Hurricane Irma tore through Antigua and devastated Barbuda in 2017. We still see remnants of the damage in both places.
There is something magical about friendships formed on holiday. Ones that are meant to be, become apparent quite quickly. Other encounters, while temporary, are no less enjoyable for the fun time spent together.
One of these friends, Jen, was returning from a sunrise beach hike when we met last November on our first trip to Antigua. In June, she and her partner Rob arrived from Ontario amid one of the soggiest summers we’ve had in awhile. It was a complete contrast to the sunny skies under which we first met. We celebrated our reunion with lobsters and promises to meet up on an island beach again soon.