Thinking Warm Thoughts

IMG_2303_2It’s been so cold for so long I’ve begun to wonder whether there is any warmth left in the world. So, to lift my spirits, I’m consciously trying to think warm thoughts.

Yesterday, as I was walking on a frigid downtown Columbus street, leaning into a biting wind and trying to dodge icy patches and unplowed snow on the sidewalks, I thought of a place we visited in Antigua in December 2012.

I thought of the infinity pool that looked out over a bright blue bay dotted with rugged islands and sailboats. I thought of the sand between my toes at a ratty poolside bar as Kish and I savored some well-prepared pina coladas and visited with other guests. I thought of a catamaran on the beach, its colorful sail flapping in a gentle breeze, of the beautiful stretch of sand and rocks and driftwood a short walk away, and of the tables where Richard, Russell and I played cribbage and drank Caribbean beer.

And I thought of baking sand, blazing sun, oozing suntan lotion and its coconut oil smell, deep shade under a palm frond umbrella on the beach, warm salt water, and hot, sun-dappled pavement and wooden walkways.

Sure, I was still in snowbound, sub-zero Columbus, Ohio — but I felt better. IMG_2426

Craving The Carib

IMG_2706It’s cold here, and next week it’s supposed to get even colder.  I wish I were down in the Caribbean, with toes in the sand and a cold beverage in a wet, beaded glass in hand, looking out on sailboats moving languidly across the blue water!

As a noted philosopher once observed, however:  You can’t always get what you want.

The Two Ronnies

While we were in Antigua we got to know a British family that also were guests at the Cocobay Resort.  One day the father, George, wore a t-shirt with four candles on the front.  I asked him about the significance of the four candles, and he told us it was a reference to a classic skit that appeared on the vintage sketch comedy program called The Two Ronnies.

I like British humor — I’m a big fan of Monty Python, I like the original British version of Whose Line Is It, Anyway?, and I’ve watched more episodes of Benny Hill than I probably should admit — but I’d never heard of The Two Ronnies, which apparently aired during the 1970s.  I found the sketch in question on YouTube, and it is, indeed, pretty hilarious.  It combines what I think are the best elements of British humor:  wordplay-based jokes, broad physical comedy, and some words (and accents) that I just don’t understand, now matter how many times I listen.

Defining “Abrupt Change”

IMG_2705Yesterday morning Kish and I walked for one last time on the beach at Cocobay Resort in Antigua, where I took the above photo.  It was a beautiful, warm day, with gentle tropical breezes and temperatures in the 80s.  We sat at the open-air poolside bar, drank beverages served by the vivacious Sasha, and said farewell to friends we made during our weeklong stay.

By midnight we were back in Columbus, where snow blanketed the ground and temperatures were in the 20s.  This morning I woke up to the scene below, donned my hat, gloves, and overcoat, and went out to shovel the driveway covered with about 10 inches of snow and ice.

I can’t really complain, but I could have used a little transition period.IMG_2745

A Cocobay Resort Farewell

IMG_2597I rarely endorse things on this blog, but I have to give a strong recommendation to the Cocobay Resort in Antigua, West Indies.  This lovely place, located on a promontory overlooking a turquoise bay, is staffed with some wonderful people.  It offers two beaches, two infinity pools, two great bars, and two good eating establishments.

When we arrived last week we were welcomed with cool towels and a terrific glass of old-fashioned rum punch, and last night the manager delivered some more rum punch and some charred salted coconut to thank us for our visit.  What a nice, and much appreciated, touch!

If you’re interested in visiting a cool, friendly, and relaxing place in the West Indies, you’d be doing yourself a favor by giving Cocobay Resort a try.

Sunrise Over Jolly Harbor, December 28

IMG_2633The dawn breaks hard down here in Antigua, at about 6:30 a.m., Atlantic time.  This morning was the first time I was up early enough to see it.

Incidentally, having now been down here for a few days, I finally realize that that locals speak of An-tee-gah, rather than An-tig-wa, which was how I was pronouncing it.

Cocktail Hour

IMG_2523It seems like every hour you are on a beach vacation is cocktail hour, but on Antigua — which is on Atlantic time, and therefore is an hour ahead of our standard Eastern time zone — cocktail hour is actually here.

My drink of choice this vacation has become a pina colada, and tonight I’ll probably order another one, or two.  Kish is astonished that I’ve ordered them, because I almost never drink distilled spirits, particularly in fruity concoctions.  Here at the Cocobay Resort, however, the pina coladas are exceptionally good — well-blended, carefully made, and not knee-buckling in their strength.  They go down easy after a hard day of beach walking, snoozing in the sun, reading, and snapping a few photos.

The Rains Come, And The Rains Go

IMG_2583The weather moves fast here in Antigua.  You can have blazing sunshine one moment and torrential rains the next.  Sometimes you experience rain on your face and hot sun on your back.  It can be confusing for the rum-added traveler.

When it rains, though, it rains.  The water comes down in torrents, the wind lashes the tropical vegetation, and you feel like one of the Weather Channel reporter sent outside to report on the in person effects of the latest big storm.

Even in the midst of a storm, the blue water looks pretty.

On Golden Frond

IMG_2496The Caribbean sun is amazingly intense.  Being closer to the Equator results in a Sun that is dramatically different from the old Sol we get in Columbus, even during the hottest day of summer.  The blazing rays not only burn the skin of pale travelers from the North — as this pale Northerner can attest — but also can turn everyday items like the fronds on a palm tree into fantastic golds, and ochres and other colors never seen on a gray Columbus winters’ day.