I sat in the window seat on our flight from Antigua to Miami. As we approached Florida, where the plane’s altitude allowed us to see the arc of the world, I was treated to a spectacular, fiery sunset behind the clouds on the western horizon.
I 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.
While we were at a cocktail party tonight on Antigua, a fully lit cruise ship sailed past in the distance. I’m not sure whether it looked more like a Christmas tree or the Mother Ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but either way it was an awesome sight.
The 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.
The 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.
From the shores of the Caribbean — where one holiday celebrant in St. John’s, Antigua, danced under Christmas decorations while wearing a Viking helmet, a rag skirt, a tunic, and underneath it all a t-shirt covered with characters from the Fat Albert cartoon show– we wish our friends and readers a very merry and perhaps somewhat zany Christmas.
Our resort in Antigua has two “infinity” pools. They are a fine place to lounge in the sun, drink a relaxing beverage, and watch the water of the pool blend into the waters of the bay. A few adult beverages help you to get into the infinity frame of mind, incidentally.
We’re staying in a small cottage here in Antigua, with one large bedroom, a bathroom, and a big front porch with a hammock and a “plunge pool.”
What’s a plunge pool, you ask? As far as I’m concerned, it’s a very positive development in the home design area. You walk out your front door into the Caribbean sunshine and plop into your own tiny pool, where the water is cool and you enjoy a view that looks out over the turquoise water in the bay below. This morning Kish and I lounged in the pool drinking our coffee, and worked up our appetites for breakfast.
It’s chilly and damp here in Columbus, and the weather forecast is for colder temperatures and snow. I’m mentally not ready for it. So, I’ve plugged in my iPod and decided to listen to some steel drum music.
Steel drum music is one of the few musical genres that will immediately transport you to a particular place. In this instance, it is somewhere in the Caribbean on a beach, looking at brilliant blue water beneath clear skies, with a cold adult beverage in your hand and your toes wriggling in the sand. The tinkling of the steel drums music wafts past on sultry breezes and urges you, irresistibly, to try the latest rum-based concoction developed by the friendly barkeep at the nearby Sand Bar.
When you listen to steel drum music, snow and cold are very far away.
Although the precise history of the invention of the steel drum apparently is uncertain, there seems to be general agreement that it was first developed on the island of Trinidadduring or shortly after World War II. From there, it spread to every island in the Caribbean, and a new kind of musical sound was born. The drums typically are made from the bottoms of 55-gallon steel drums and are called “pans.” The surfaces are carefully shaped and tuned so that striking particular parts of the concave surface sounds different notes, and they usually are polished to a shiny finish. If you watch an expert play a steel drum, as opposed to just swaying with the music as you guzzle your Swizzle or Sea Breeze, you realize that it takes a lot of skill.
The first song I ever heard played on a steel drum was “Yellow Bird.” Jamaica Ray plays it in the video below, and although the video is dark, I like it because the dimness and background bar sounds really capture the relaxed Caribbean feel that I think of whenever I hear steel drum music.