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Mar 8, 2017

Antigua - February 2017 - Part 1 of 2

Antigua

A few weeks ago we got the heck out Dodge and headed to Antigua. It's an island that we had never thought of visiting before, mostly because it seemed so expensive. But then a rockin' deal came through last October so we jumped on it. This was new for me because, 1. We rarely book so far in advance and 2. I like to mull over a purchase for a while - comparing, researching, etc. (Shopping with me is a pain.)

But here we were - in the middle of February and in the middle of a snowstorm - the perfect time to go. In fact, it was snowing so much that our flight was delayed for 3 hours, but not cancelled thank goodness. We sat on the tarmac for most of that 3 hours - I actually watched an entire movie before takeoff. After travelling through the snow and then all that time spent on the plane, seeing the green grass and palm trees was a bit of a shock. When on vacation in the winter I'm always wondering, "Is this real or a dream?"

Antigua Jolly Beach Resort

Do you know Antigua? It is a two-island country - Antigua and Barbuda - located south-east of the US Virgin Islands. It's an independent state within The Commonwealth (i.e. a former British territory.) It's known for its sailing, and we saw plenty of multi-million dollar yachts and super-yachts. Hopefully these two bumpkins didn't stand out too badly. :-)

We stayed at the Jolly Beach Resort next to Jolly Harbour. It's a lower-priced hotel in relation to others on the island, but we were pleasantly surprised by it. Great food, nice room and view, and the grounds were really pretty.

Antigua Jolly Beach Resort

Antigua Jolly Beach Resort

Antigua Jolly Beach Resort

Antigua Jolly Beach Resort

We chose it mostly for the beach - it doesn't matter how fancy your hotel is if you don't have a great beach, amIright? This beach is awesome. Really deep (plenty of room for everyone) and about a mile long. And the pool was just steps from the beach so you could go back and forth easily.

We wanted a mix of relaxing and sight-seeing and that's just what we got. This is the view from our room -

Antigua Jolly Beach Resort

and a view down the beach in each direction -

Antigua Jolly Beach Resort

Antigua Jolly Beach Resort

It wasn't all beach and pool though - we went ziplining with Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours on Valentine's Day. This was my first time really ziplining. We've done high ropes challenges before with a zip line down to the ground, but never high up from tree to tree. So much fun!

Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours

Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours

The staff members (aka rangers) were great too - always polite and patient. The equipment is very safe and they give full instructions with demonstrations. After ziplining we continued on to their high ropes challenge which involved crossing expanses on highwires, rope bridges, and plank/rope combinations. Not quite as challenging as the course at Blue Mountain - but still a good time. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to bring our cameras so I have no shots of the ropes challenge.

Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours

Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours

Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours

Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours

Antigua Rainforest Zip Line Tours

There are 5 or 6 dogs living on the tour property, so of course I had to have a visit with each one. There was one that looked a bit like our Chloe and one like our Sasha, so we informally adopted them (i.e. in our minds). We even stopped back on two other days just to see them again.

Antigua Dadli dog

Antigua Dadli dog

The next day we rented a car to drive to the PAAWS animal shelter in Parham. That day was the 20th anniversary of the day Tom and I met, so we celebrated by doing our favourite thing - playing with dogs.

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs

PAAWS is a no-kill shelter on Antigua that cares for and re-homes abandoned and neglected animals on the island. And there are A LOT of abandoned animals on Antigua. Dogs are rarely seen as family pets like here at home - they're just another animal like a pig or goat, so there is a lack of interest in spaying and neutering. This leads to an abundance of unwanted puppies - called "Dadli dogs" after the original name of the island (Wadadli/Waladli). Visiting the shelter was wonderful and yet sad at the same time because it operates completely on donations and sponsorships with no government assistance. At any time there are up to 80 dogs at the shelter waiting for a forever home.

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
Chloe

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
the newest arrivals

We didn't just go there to visit, we wanted to help however we could, so we offered to walk dogs for them. The dogs need to develop leash and socialization skills, but the employees are so busy that they don't always have time to walk them all. We walked the dogs two at a time and went for 7 walks that day. I was so tired! But it was fantastic. Just the best day ever. I wish we could have taken a dog (or two, or three...) home with us.

Here are the dogs we walked that day (all except Princess are available for adoption):

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
Frankie and Princess

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
Barney and Freddie (they've been there for 8 years!)

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
Iggy and Libby

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
Zac and Unity

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
Baldric and Lance

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
Brindle and Flynn

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter - Dadli dogs
Quincy and Archie

After saying goodbye to our new friends we went looking for lunch. Unfortunately the gas station wouldn't accept our credit card so we spent all of our cash on gas before finding a restaurant. It's a good thing I always have snacks! We drove out to the far eastern end of the island to see Devil's Bridge - a natural rock arch formed by the ocean waves eroding the limestone cliffs.

Devil's Bridge Antigua

Devil's Bridge Antigua

The history of the area is heartbreaking as it was a place where slaves would jump from the cliff edge, either to commit suicide or in hopes of swimming back to Africa, but would end up dying in the rough water.

Devil's Bridge Antigua

Tom walked across the bridge but I was too much of a chicken. There is a big crack in the rock and it's going to give out one day - I don't trust my luck. I did wear out my camera battery though. I love taking pictures and video of breaking waves - the sight and sound of them is soothing to me.

Devil's Bridge Antigua

Devil's Bridge Antigua

Devil's Bridge Antigua

It was getting late by then and I was HUNGRY, so we made our way back to the resort for dinner. I'd like to say that we stayed up enjoying the entertainment, but the truth is we just collapsed into bed. We did a lot of walking that day!

I'm going to stop here because I know I've talked enough. Tomorrow it's on to the south end of the island!





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