Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Hidden Paradise

Helicopter Landing by Palm Beach Hotel
It’s amazing to visit places that are so remote from the rest of the world. Barbuda and Antigua are one nation and only 25 miles from each other, yet so different. In Antigua there is an abundance of resorts, hotels, restarurants, and tourists. In Barbuda there are  only 3 resorts, one of which, has been closed for years. The other two, "Coco Point Lodge" and "Palm Beach Hotel" are very private and out of most people’s budget. Coco Point lodge won’t even serve to the cruising community and Palm Beach Hotel has a special pricing strategy, which in simple words, means don’t come here unless you have an endless supply of money. If there was a survey for the most expensive cheeseburger in the world, “Palm Beach Restaurant” would definitely make it in the top ten! A regular beer is priced at $19US and a chesseburger $49US, excluding the 20% tax. We see the same helicopter flying in and out everyday just to drop off guests.

We have anchored in three different places during the 7 day visit to Barbuda. The most scenic anchorage is by 11 mile beach. The sand on this beach has a pinkish color and is absolutely magnificent and reserved for a very few people. The stingrays here are not shy to jump out of the water, gliding over it so elegantly. I wish it could have been captured on camera. We feel very fortunate and lucky to be one of those few people visiting this hidden paradise. There is not a single soul on this beach. What’s even better, is that we setup a bonfire on the night of the full moon. Our friends and us gathered wood for the fire and set up our tent just a few feet from the clashing waves on this long stretched beach. Hotdogs and baked potatoes were made for dinner. We collected enough wood for the fire to last until midnight, then we all crashed in the tent.      

The only town and the capital of Barbuda is Codrington and most of the Island’s population live here. Codrington is named after the family that originally came to the Island in the 1600’s. It’s not even that easy to get to this town. We had to take our dinghy to the beach, pull it across the beach over to Codrington lagoon, and dinghy 1.3 miles to the town. There are taxi services that take people across the lagoon so you don’t have to drag your dinghy, but taxis are out of our budget. Our taxi is the dinghy and the 2  Dahon foldable bikes. We did the trip across the lagoon twice and the second time, the folding bikes were with us on the dinghy. These bikes have carried us to many places and are great transportation. The four of us biked 3-4 miles on a dirt road to get to the windward side of the island to explore some caves.
Why do we like to explore caves? Is it because mankind originally lived in caves? It’s fun to go in caves, and some advice, consider wearing proper shoes to be able to climb up rocks to even get into them. Furthermore, once you get into a cave, beware... there might be creatures living there. As I am stepping into one of these grottos, some kind of  animal started screaming loudly, just a few feet away! It surprised and scared the hell out of me. On top of that, as I am trying to walk away, Mike points out a huge bat hanging on the ceiling of the cave just above me! We later realized that there was no bat and the animal that screamed was just a bird!
Locals Commenting on Charlene
One of the Barbudan's Sunday events is horse racing and bike racing. We happened to experience a bit of each of these events. This Island has a bicycle culture, since it’s so flat. Everybody rides bikes and people are very enthusiastic about them. The few locals we connected with, admired our fold-up bikes so much they gave them names, Charlene and Maxene! The horse race was scheduled for 3:30pm and we were there till 5:30pm. They kept saying the race will start soon, and in the the Caribbean, that’s island time. For us cruisers, there are two times, it’s either day-time or night-time. When night-time approaches we have to get going home. Unfortunately, we never got to see the horse races because the night-time was approaching.
If we had spent another day in this town, everybody would have known us by name and we would have seen most of the townsfolk.

Love from a Hidden Paradise

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