Last night the mosquitoes were FEROCIOUS!! I researched and found that the species of mosquito that is endemic to Antigua has evolved the adaptation of teleportation through impenetrable objects, like mosquito net! Seriously though, there is not a hole in the net, no gaps around the bottom, and where it opens I have it really layered heavily across. NOTHING should be able to get through- except Antiguan Teleporting Mosquitoes apparently….
I decided to head back down to the end of the road where I saw those zooanthid corals the other day. High tide was around 5:30am, and it was a little after 7, so I knew they’d be open! But….that meant passing the dog gauntlet again. It wasn’t hot. They were well rested. And two of them met me at the corner, barking their heads off, bearing their teeth, and making my, “It’s ok, boy…” sound pretty feeble. I had a damn good feeling that if all 6 or 7 of them were there, I’d be in a bit of trouble. I eased by them, and headed down the road. Thank god they didn’t follow me! Tide was high and there were my green zooanthids!! Open and in full glory!! At this point, I realized I should have brought my snorkel mask to take pictures through. I contemplated going and getting it, but after checking the Vegas odds, mine weren’t very good for making it safely past the dog gauntlet a total of 4 times… This was the best shot I could get under the circumstances.
On the way back I did some more filming of the mudflats that are down there, showing the kids the difference between low tide and high tide, and I managed to find some black mangroves as well (and what I’m pretty sure is a white!) to show them the zonation in mangrove forests. Because I’m cool like that. 🤓 As I was walking back up, something big was moving through the weeds on the side of the road. It was a crab. A MONSTER crab!! I may or may not have gotten a little too excited about it…. Research says he’s a land crab. If you’re super interested, I made a blog all about him on my school’s website.
Continued up the road toward the dog gauntlet, and now the whole pack was awake. There were 5 or 6 dogs in the road. Like seriously, I was trapped. I didn’t have anywhere to go but ahead. I was afraid to pick up a stick, because it might look like aggression. I seriously didn’t know what to do. I was SO relieved when an older man was in the yard. As I approached the pack surrounded me. That nasty brown dog with the evil eyes and teeth was right on me. The man started hollering at them to get in the yard. They all went one by one, with Brownie McEvilShitHead being the last to go. Fuck that dog. I wasn’t going to go back down there, because if that guy hadn’t of been there, I am very confident that I would have been bitten.
When I got back, I hung out for a bit and then the gardener came by to weed eat the entire lawn. His name is Miah (short for Nehemiah). He was born in the Virgin Islands and went to school there, but also has roots here in Antigua and lives in Seatons now. He has a son who lives in San Diego and a daughter in Connecticut. He has also lived in Florida and New York. Really friendly, interesting guy! Was nice to have some human interaction after 3+ days without. To “pay” for my lodging for the day, I raked up grass cuttings with Miah. Took about 30 min.
Soon Jennifer showed up. Today I’m moving to the Turtle Bay area on the opposite side of the island. Jennifer brought her pup-pup, Lily, who for 10 years old acts like she’s 2! Super energetic. She seriously ran ahead of the van for probably 3-4 miles total! We stopped off at the grocery store- good thing because I’m running low on provisions! This was more of a local grocery than the more modern one we went to the first day- very reminiscent of those in Costa Rica and Panama. I got some more chicken, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, jelly, bread, crackers, coconut cookies (a MUST HAVE!), and a pack of gnocchi that Jennifer recommended. $25. Seriously, not terrible! Of course, I tried to steer clear of imported American stuff and buy whatever the more “local” brand was.
We drove up a bumpy half paved road to the villa. Walked in. O-M-G-Wiz Willikers!!! This villa is a 5 bedroom, 3 bath solar powered home on 2 acres full of amazing plants with an infinity pool and, get this- FIBER OPTIC WIFI!!! I don’t even have that in Los Angeles!! My office…oh, my office!! I’m on the 2nd floor huge open porch overlooking these amazing colorful trees with an ocean view on either side of them! If I position my head just right, I can’t even see the houses across the way on the other hill!! There is a constant breeze blowing- just the exact right amount to act as the most amazing natural air conditioning and to keep the bugs away!! And did I mention FIBER OPTIC WIFI!!!!! What am I paying for this? A couple hours of easy work that I enjoy every dayish and feeding two of the sweetest kitties ever. #mylifedoesnotsuck
Today was an easy day. Hung out at my new digs all morning and worked. Jennifer came by in the afternoon and we talked a little about what we needed to accomplish and how we were going to do that- basically a task list. I work better that way. After that, Jennifer wanted to take me down to a local beach to see some mangroves. We hiked along the coast for a while, talking, while Lily dog found every opportunity possible to get into the water! On the way back, we found a mango tree with some almost ripe ones! Jennifer said that if I just let them sit a couple of days, they’d be good. I took two. It was getting dark, and we weren’t taking the beach back- we were going some other way. And a ways into it, I realized there wasn’t really a trail and Jennifer was just heading in the general direction of the van! The light was diminishing by the second, and there were massive crab holes everywhere, like so big my foot would fit just inside, making for a wonderful ankle-breaking-test-your-trip-insurance moment. Oy. Of course, then a HUGE freaking crab (like 5″ across) comes scurrying out of the semi-darkness towards me, claws raised and ready for action. And I, of course, screamed like a girl. Oy times 2. Oh, and did I mention the bushes that were everywhere that have thorns the Romans would be pleased to make crowns out of? Oy times 3! At this point, Jennifer is telling Lily to find the goat trail. So I’m out in the middle of no where (at least as far as I was concerned) with impending darkness and a dog for a guide. Oy times 4! I was just imagining being lost in this place in the dark, stepping in crab holes, being attacked by crabs and impaled by 2″ needle like thorns while the mosquitoes drained my blood. #rationalthoughts Well, Lily turned out to be the savior. She found said goat trail and led us back to the beach! Whew! Crisis averted!
Jennifer came over in the afternoon, and we spent a few hours working on her spreadsheet for her UN funding reports and getting together the things she needs to start the website. We also discussed more educational filming ideas. After that, she asked if I’d like to go to the 150 steps. Sure! So Jennifer has been here for 20 years. When she first moved here, she moved into a house just up the hill from this one. When I say hill, let me clarify. She moved into a house that is up a road that is about an 80 degree angle from this one!! Luckily, we drove. At the top is a cute little house with a garden. And if you are a local, you know there’s a trail here to a secret cove! We followed the trail down, down, down. Jennifer assured me that we could take the stairs back up. I’m not sure how assuring that was! At the bottom was an unbelievably gorgeous rock cove, with these huge, strange, red striped boulders- with ocean crashing on to them! There was a hidden pool. Deep enough to almost swim in, but definitely to sit in and relax! And then, a channel where another pool emptied into the sea over a small cliff- like a waterfall. WHAT?! MAGICAL!!! And guess what? This idiot didn’t bring the camera!!!!!!!!!! We then went up about 150 rock stairs that had been cut into the hill. Oh man. My out of shape self had to stop at least 6 times on the way up! I swear I’m going to get the energy and mental fortitude to go back with the camera- but means braving that insane uphill road and then those stairs again! I have to though. That place is too gorgeous not to capture.
Today Jennifer had to go to town. I’ve been working the past two days on my new Titanic class, so I was ready to get out and see something new! She picked me up in the afternoon and we headed to town. Please don’t ask me the name of it, for I do not know. I told Jennifer I’d take her to lunch. This is for three reasons:
1. I am sick of eating chicken and rice and pasta.
2. Jennifer has been taking me to some amazing places I never would have found without her! I want to return the favor in some small way!
3. I’ve been doing more of the “away” part of workaway than the “work” part, as Jennifer doesn’t really have everything organized for me, so I feel kind of bad. Yes, I’m that person.
Along the way, we wound up next to a church having a funeral. There was a lot of traffic. Everyone was dressed to the nines. Jennifer said funerals are a BIG DEAL here. We just stopped right in the middle of the road and grabbed a fresh coconut water to tide us over.
We ran a few errands. First stop though was to meet Kerry and Charmane and see their house. Why? Well, because me and Brian’s flight leaves on the 27th at 6am. We’ll be back at the Seatons house while he’s here. We really didn’t want to drive in the dark to the airport, so I told Jennifer we were looking for an AirBNB for the night of the 26th close to the airport. She said her friends have a house right on the water that they Airbnb out private rooms and it’s 5 minutes from the airport. She checked with them- normal price, $100 a night. But they’re letting us stay for FREE!!! How cool is that??? #itswhoyouknow Anyway, the couple is really lovely, their home is gorgeous, and it’s right on a reef with great snorkeling!! I had told Kerry we’d be driving around Antigua all day the 26th exploring (since it’s Brian’s only full day here) and would be back right before dark. He said come early so we can snorkel. Sold.
We then went to town. This was a proper town- the first I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Some places with their strip malls looked like they could have come right out of the states! Literally, EVERYONE at the errand places that Jennifer went to see was at that funeral! Met one of Jennifer’s friends, Andrea, along the way. She decided to come have a drink while we had lunch. Lovely native Antiguan lady! I really enjoyed talking to her. Lunch was beef. Cow. Something I could sink my teeth into! I chose a bacon cheeseburger with fries and Jennifer got a veggie burger with fries. So, so good…. The receipt and amount I paid was about $42. I gave the cashier $60 US. You can pay for things in US dollars here, and they will give you East Caribbean Dollars back. I needed some just in case I wanted to buy some of that roasted corn I’ve been seeing on the side of the road, so this was an easy way to get it.
After lunch, we went to the store. And when I say store, I mean ultra-mega-expat-shopping-extravaganza! Holy shit, this place is bigger than the grocery store I shop at at home (a major chain!!). They had everything, and I mean literally EVERYTHING an expat would need/want/crave to make them feel at home in Antigua- no matter what country they were from. With expat food, comes expat prices. EEE-OWZA!! I didn’t buy a single thing. Jennifer got a few things. We headed for the checkout. There was a line, and it was right next to the soda aisle, so I thought what the hell- just for fun I’ll see if they have Dr. Pepper. And there, on the bottom shelf, was my beloved maroon can!! A whole full 36 pack of them! There wasn’t a price, but I didn’t care. I grabbed 12 and was quite pleased with myself. Total was a little over $1 a can! Not too shabby at all!
We headed back. Stopped at a small grocery store so I could grab some bananas and toothpaste, plus Jennifer needed a few things too that were cheaper here. Got 6 small bananas, a tube a toothpaste, and a small watermelon. Actually, that watermelon killed me. The price wasn’t marked, but at the register I learned that it was almost $10 and no bigger than my head!!! It better be good….
Headed back home, and guess what we saw crossing the road? A MONGOOSE!! O-EM-GEE it was SOOOOOOO freaking cute!! Jennifer wanted to show me her house, so we went there first. She’s about 1/2 a mile from my house on another hill closer to the ocean. And she has one of those mega death gravity defying roads up the hill to her place! So walking over there would be some work… Beautiful home that she housesits at almost full time. We then headed down to the beach by her house. Again, just beautiful!
Ah!! The morning of the ninth day…the morning that I would have one of my Dr. Peppers!!!!! I have been struggling to come up with a cool marketing piece for my fall enrollments for the past couple of days. I create a new one every semester and it needs to be catchy for Facebook. No good ideas. I shit thee not, I took a couple of sips of Dr. Pepper and the most BRILLIANT idea hit me!! Caffeine- it does my brain good.
On Day 6, I picked those mangoes fresh from the tree on the hike. Today, they were soft and ready. I cracked one of those puppies open and took a bite. I let it get a little too mushy, but omg- it was SO sweet!! And gorgeous. And natural.
Worked for a few hours and then had to stop, because today I had a meeting, like a real official businessperson or something! A woman named Susan found out through Jennifer’s facebook that I was in Antigua and own an online school. She messaged me, said she teaches a class at Columbia about online schools for K-12, and would like to talk to me. She came over at 11, was impressed with my digs (who wouldn’t be??), and we sat down and had a lovely chat for about 1.5 hours. She said my model was unique and filled a niche in the market. Yep. I ain’t public school at home. 😀
After Susan left, I worked some more on some things for Jennifer. More work on the spreadsheet, lined out some talking points for a sea turtle video we want to shoot, etc… Jennifer came by to get me around 3:30. She had broken her Iphone the other day, so we had to go in and meet someone who was selling her another. We stopped at a few SPECTACULAR stands of mangroves along the way, the tallest ones I’ve ever seen!!- getting good ideas on potential filming spots for the Adopt A Coastline program.
After the phone was dealt with, Jennifer wanted to take me to Rendezvous Bay and beach, not too far away- but a world away. She is seriously taking me to the coolest places! Having a person who has lived her for 20 years as a tour guide is not a bad gig… One thing I’m missing soooooo much is wildlife. Other than the mongoose and a few birds, there’s not a lot of terrestrial critters. So as we were bouncing down the road- wait, let me back up. The road to Rendezvous is a rutted out, pothole filled 4 wheel drive road. We were in a low clearance electric van!!! I was thinking, “This woman is crazy!!”. Anyway, as we were literally bouncing down the road, my little underused jungle eye caught a glimpse of something!! I said the word Brian is all to familiar with on road trips through interesting places- STOP!!!!!! He knows that means I’ve seen something amazing. Jennifer probably thought I was over the traversing of this insane road! But she stopped. And I got this picture of the most gorgeous caterpillar! It’s a Fragapani Catepillar, as they eat Frangapani plants. Makes sense. Want to see what this brilliantly colored, insanely gorgeous beauty turns into??
Somehow we managed to make it down that road. I was doubting our ability to make it back out. And by the way, did I mention it was early evening, would be dark in about an hour and a half, and there was no cell signal? (This is a running theme with our adventures!) But I digress….We parked and made our way down to a gorgeous secluded beach. I swear, Jennifer keeps upping the ante on gorgeous places she takes me to every day!! We walked around the beach, with the waves crashing over rocks, zillions of gastropods of several different species (snails for you laypeople) holding on to said rocks for dear life. Around every curve was something else to stare at in wonder!
It was starting to get dark by now, and the bugs were coming out, so we headed back. Lily found the shortcut path, and we headed up and back to the van-that-was-not-made-to-be-on-this-road.
I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about a couple of the spots in the road that were particularly sketchy (hills, with ruts filled with medium sized boulders…). The first hill, we got stuck. The tires were spinning. Jennifer backed up and tried again. Same thing. Visions of all kinds of ghastly things were going through my head. However, to be perfectly honest, there was a house about a 1/2 mile up the road and Jennifer knew the lady (because she knows EVERYONE). But still. Backed up further, put the peddle to the metal (which in an electric van doesn’t mean much) and somehow made it up! There was one other sketchy spot, but she did it! How, I will never know.
Groceries: $25 + $12 + $13
Lodging in this KILLER villa: FREE!! About 6 hours of total real work for these 4 days
4 day total: $92
8 day total: $579