Island time, I assure him. But good things await beyond those walls, I am certain. A woman with the air of proprietress greets us at the entrance. How many rooms do you wish? I am so excited.
This woman and I are going to be good friends, I know. Lifelong friends, when I succeed in moving to this island for good. What could I do? There is a long silence as my husband, the proprietress, the taxi driver and I all shift from foot to foot, like members of a boy band. She reemerges a minute later with keys in hand and hops in a pickup truck. We gather we are to follow in the taxi. Down the main road of Sandy Ground we drive. Out of the town, past the barge pier, beyond the salt pond.
We hesitantly step out of the taxi, then follow the proprietress to the padlocked gate of a front door. She unlocks it and leads us inside. The place seems huge. How much is this all going to cost? I have vague recollections of an email months ago mentioning a villa maybe twice the price of the duplex. My husband gives voice to my trepidation. We wrap up things with the taxi driver, who has been watching the proceedings with bemused interest. The proprietress offers to return in a bit to drive us back to Sandy Ground for dinner. At this point I just need space to regroup.
Well, that, and a stiff drink. We decide we will make our own way back, and decline her kind offer.
I can sense my children watching us for clues on how to proceed, and realize I must snap out of this sudden funk. This is our dream vacation, after all! I begin to explore the place. It is by no means luxurious. Something along the line of the beach houses we have rented in North Carolina. It is, however, in need of a thorough cleaning.
The sun, I suddenly notice, is starting to set, and I remember how quickly darkness falls here after the sun goes down. I hustle my family along before we find ourselves stranded in the dark. We head down to the beach, which we find almost literally out our back door. A short walk takes us to the pier, which is surrounded by a tall wire fence.
We contemplate how to get to the other side. We decide to try our luck going under it, and after crouching and scuttling, find ourselves on the other side, the beach of Sandy Ground stretched out before us. We have arrived on a Sunday. Our plans for dinner are undefined. This is so unlike me: I usually have that sort of thing mapped out long before we leave home. However, there is no beach bbq to be found. A quick glance at the menu shows nothing we really feel like eating either, so after a quick drink we head back down the beach.
At this point I decide that some good, comforting pub food is what we need, something that reminds everyone of home for a smidgen. The full moon has risen, and I feel a surge of optimism. That optimism fades quickly once we enter Ripples.
While the restaurant is open, it is also dead quiet, and I am wondering if maybe they are closing soon. There are two other people in the restaurant, who, together with the person behind the bar, look at us blankly, and I like we are interrupting something.
We tentatively ask for a seat. The menu at Ripples is our first introduction to Anguilla dining prices. We order two fish and chips and one coconut shrimp and grilled fillet of snapper dinners, as well as some calamari. And what a day this has been. Everybody is out of sorts, and I feel responsible. What have I gotten us into? Do you know how early the sun rises in Anguilla in March? And as the sun rises, so do my eyelids. I oblige my eyelids, and rise along with them. After a quick brushing of the teeth, I sneak to the sliding door in the adjoining bedroom and slip outside.
Except that dangling between me and the promise of beach is a massive spider web, and off to its side a spider the size of a small rodent. I find a stick on the landing guess the lack of a good housekeeping is a blessing in disguise.
In a big sweep I strip away the web, then commence battle with the beast. Safe passage granted to the beach. At the far west end I see what looks like a shipwreck. I start to walk in that direction, savoring the warm, powdery sand between my toes. To my left, set back from the shore a bit, lies a cluster of abandoned little cottages and the wreck of what looks like was once a beachfront restaurant. And that is indeed a shipwreck! I know I have promised to let my family sleep in all they want on this vacation, to not hustle them along on an agenda.
But this is too good to keep all to myself! I return to the villa and rouse my daughter Lauren, and together we scuttle past the spider corpse and head back down to the beach. The magic of Anguilla starts to set in. I hug them good morning, then just watch as they absorb it all. We poke around the wrecked ship a while, but leave without penetrating beyond its hull on our shoeless feet, deciding it best not to start the vacation with a case of tetanus.
We spend the bulk of the morning back at the beach in front of the villa, the kids getting their first taste of snorkeling. Unlike their mother, who had to be rescued on her honeymoon by her new husband when she ventured too far out on Shoal Bay East, they take to it with ease. The three of them frolic like a pod of dolphins, and together with my husband discover a constellation of starfish. Hunger eventually sets in, so we head down the beach toward Sandy Ground. TWO shipwrecks on our beach.
Everybody orders chicken or ribs, but my eye is drawn to the steamed whole snapper with funghie. Fresh fish sounds delightful, and I love mushrooms in any form. What comes out is a beautiful plate brimming with fish, vegetables, funghie, and a rich broth.
One taste of that broth and I wanted to climb in that dish. I eat until I am beyond stuffed, devouring every last morsel of food on that plate. And I suspect the cook has returned to Johnnos? As Mark and I sit on the back terrace in duplicate food comas, we hear a key in the door. However, dinner this first night turns out to be a gem.
Alicia at Sandbar graciously seats us with a wonderful view of the setting sun. We order drinks and an array of tapas. Tuna poke, beer battered mahi bites, mahi fra diavolo, chicken satay, strip steak with chimichurri sauce, and two orders of SandBar fries. I do not get a chance to snap pictures of the food, choosing to grab what I could before it is devoured by the wolves. Followed by three desserts.
Darren and Alicia are absolutely delightful and the food delicious. A perfect cap on what is a decidedly better day than the previous one. Did I have one too many cocktails? But no, everyone else can see it too. We walk on back to the villa, leaving a glowing trail in our wake. Everyone else is still nestled deep in their dreams. I resist the urge to wake them, and decide instead to strike out on my own. Still, it has a certain charm of its own, even with the restaurants boarded up from the previous night.
I walk the beach all the way back toward the other end where the shipwreck lies. The ambience on this side of the pier is much better, for sure. A young couple are enjoying the beach on the far end. I make a note to check it out at a later time.
Back at the villa I take survey. The structure sits on about an acre of land. Two units, one upstairs, one down. We are in the larger upstairs one. Back yard, beyond which lies the beach. The flamboyant tree stands just to the left. With some minor repairs and a few updates, it could really be something. Which would drive up the price, of course. She informs us that it used to be a beachfront resort named Mariners, but was decimated in a hurricane in and has sat abandoned ever since.
Well, not quite so quick. The Best Buy on Long Path Road is a vast improvement over the grocery store we visited in , its aisles well stocked with many of things we use at home. We need just a few things, mainly munchies, drinks, and some breakfast items. A bargain, in that case. Amusingly, gin is less expensive than milk. But not nearly as good on cereal. We almost miss Le Bon Pain, set as it is so modestly off the road.
The choices are rather limited, as we have arrived late in the morning. Still, we make off with chocolate croissants, almond croissants, cafe au laits and bottles of juice. As tempting as it is to tear into it all right there, we decide instead to have a picnic at Savannah Bay. Ahh, Savannah Bay, how I love you. Just the right amount of wild. The perfect spot for a picnic breakfast. Well, except for all that wind. But we persevere right along with the trees. The rest of the morning is filled with snorkeling down the beach and body surfing at its far end, where the waves become much larger.
I watch from the beach, again. Hey, I am Fun Mom in all ways except when it comes to water. Remember the near-drowning incident I mentioned? Fun Mom kicks back into gear once we minus Mark, who has popped a beer back on the beach head back toward Junks Hole. This is my territory. Which I quickly discover would be better traversed in shoes sturdier than the flip flops we are wearing. Note to self for next time. Still, we keep going, curious to see what lies around the next corner, then the next. So many beaches, so little time. My heart flutters a bit as we start down that road to SBE.
This was the beach that sealed the deal for me so many years ago. Cars line the sides of the road. Definitely more crowded than I remember. So far so good. But what is this? The man leads us into a thick forest of chairs and umbrellas. I make him move us down to the end of the row, where we can have an unobstructed view of the ocean, and we set up for the day. This is not how I remember SBE. The kids play around in the crystal water. I almost suggest they swim out to where Mark and I found the amazing snorkeling on our honeymoon, but then I recall my near-death experience and think better of it.
It is not how I remember it either. One good thing that did come from this lunch? Our introduction to Ting, that nectar of the gods.
Ripple Rider has 2 ratings and 1 review. When events keep repeating for college freshman, Hannah, coupled by the squiggly lines of a migraine aura, she i. But things begin to change rapidly when her roommate Tasha tells her the island stories of Anguilla where doomed souls ripple back in time and take hapless.
Not familiar with Ting? We are instant fans. Emboldened by the Tings, we decide to abandon our umbrella and chairs and head to a less populated area of the beach. I find myself falling in love again. The beach is sparsely populated down here. The beach completely disappears under water. Sure enough, sun poisoning. Who knew all the places you have to protect in such unrelenting sun?
And that evening we are treated to a magnificent sunset, one that just goes on and on. The kids and I just order some light fare, Caesar salads and French onion soup. Mark orders the fish and chips, and it is delightful. Lightly battered and full of flavor. I decide we need to come back Friday for happy hour. For now, though, we are all exhausted. We head back down the short stretch of beach to the villa. We crawl into bed a very tired troupe of travelers. The view from our terrace; the flamboyant tree not quite in bloom.
I force myself back down. And manage to stay there at least twenty minutes before I give in. Since we picked up coffee on our shopping trip, I can now enjoy a cup on our terrace to start the day. My intention is to write in the journal I have vowed to start, and maybe read a bit, but all I manage to do is stare at the hummingbirds in the flamboyant tree. And contemplate my chances of successfully procuring a coconut from the top of those trees. I am excited about our trip to Meads today.
Mark and I spent a lot of time watching boat races there on our honeymoon, enjoying its soft, white sands. It was one of our favorite beaches. Like Melinda and Bob, my husband and I too run a specialty foods business, and of course I dream of starting s business in Anguilla someday, as they have so successfully accomplished. Also, I was stunned to find that their son and I had attended the same small college in Walla Walla, Washington. What are the odds of that?! I wait patiently for my family to drag themselves out of their sundrenched dreams.
My husband is the first to stir, and joins me on the terrace, coffee in hand. I stare at him incredulously. Is he not aware of the overabundance of beaches and the torturous lack of time? But as the benevolent monarch, I must allow my subjects a modicum of say in governing matters, else I appear a dictator.
But it turns out this will be one of the best days, thanks to dinner that night. We spend a leisurely day, dividing time between lounging on the beach and resting in the villa. In spite of the glowing reviews I have read, I am slightly underwhelmed by the appearance of the place, and wonder what all the fuss could be. It is like a magic wand is waved before my eyes, and suddenly the restaurant comes to life. Abbi is the picture of charm and style, and although the reservation book is rather full, still manages to find room for our family of five.
A magic wand, I am telling you. We are treated to another glorious sunset that evening, and toast it with a glass of wine on our beach.
Abbi, dressed in a fabulous paisley dress shirt with striped cuffs, greets us graciously, and leads us to a table in the center of a packed house. Would you believe this is the only picture I took that night? The bread is delicious, but more importantly it is a vehicle to the extra virgin olive oil and the aged balsamic vinegar. Our waitress graciously brings us a second basket. The gnocchi Gorgonzola we order as a starter is a plate of absolute heaven.
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