Settle in and settle down

Settle in and settle down

Long-stays in a foreign country take some getting used to.

With short jaunts of a week or two, life is very focused. There are sights to see, local foods to try and beaches to visit. The drive to maximize experiences is strong, not much time for kicking back and reflecting.

This time, I have returned to Antigua and Barbuda for four months. Official snowbird status.

It’s my third trip in three years to this wonderful island in the eastern Caribbean. I am learning not to jump up in the morning with a full agenda of activities.

We are so fortunate to be able to winter here in a deliciously temperate climate, hot sun tempered by breezes from the trade winds. No need for fans or air conditioners in our little apartment by the sea.

I have noticed an increase in tourism this year, more people on beaches and visitors crowding the colourful, ramshackle capital of St. John’s. Some islands, such …

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Beach Bums in Antigua: The Adventure Continues

Beach bums in Antigua: the adventure continuesWe made good on our promise to return to Antigua in late January for a couple of months.The airfares were slightly higher than our fall trip as the low season has shifted into high season but we got a rate on our holiday apartment that fit our budget. This time we are 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. We like the more remote ends of both beaches.Snorkelling at Deep Bay remains a favourite with us, a two-bus journey but very doable.We’ve discovered our bus journeys generally begin with a trip into island’s capital of St. John’s and from there we strike out to whatever region …

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The Artistry of Antigua

I met a sweet-natured and talented artist while visiting Half Moon Bay on the south-east coast of Antigua this week.

Andre (Alex) Thomas is a gifted muralist and wood carver.

I had wandered up from the beach after an afternoon of swimming and watching some amazing surf crashing on rocks and reefs, with spray shooting up six metres or more.

I bought a cold drink at a locally run beachside cafe called Smiling Harry's and noticed a mural of the bay covering most of the walls in the open-fronted restaurant.

Andre (Alex) Thomas is an Antiguan artist. He's shown with a recent carving of an egret, a bird commonly seen on the island.

It was a beautiful and colourful work of art and as I was commenting on it, in w…

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Antigua Continues to Enchant

Antigua Continues to Enchant

It's been a month since I returned to Antigua. A month of taking life at a leisurely pace that includes daily walks, swimming, exploring, shopping and regular domestic tasks.

While visiting different beaches and walking around St. John's, I frequently chat with other tourists and snowbirds. Most are from from North America, the United Kingdom and Germany. Some are day trippers from cruise ships, others vacationing here for a week or two and a few are long-stay visitors like me.

But for the most part my regular social contacts are Antiguan residents. I am blessed to be befriended by such lovely people.

Our small beach draws fishermen, sea moss gatherers and bathers.  I look forward to seeing the regulars: Sanjay the spear fisher…

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Discovering Antigua and Barbuda

'When the butterflies come, it is Christmas'

Antigua and Barbuda, known for its stunning beaches, sailing yachts and celebrity snowbirds such as Giorgio Armani and Eric Clapton, is not normally on the radar for budget-minded travellers.

The availability of cheap flights from Canada and some moderately priced Airbnbs changed our perception of this Caribbean island nation as being only for the well-off tourist.

We flew from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in late November, just slightly before high season, paying a little under $500 each for return airfare with WestJet. Air Canada is also operating  similar flights. Costs vary widely according to the time of booking and days of travel.

We landed in St. John’s, the capitol of Antigua and its smaller, less-populated sis…

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