I had 72 hours to reconcile the fact that I was heading to Antigua, with my partner, on Sunday morning. Sure, we had discussed this being a possibility as he needed to return to the island and nurture relationships for his evolving website, which was launched 2.5 years before while he was living there. Bestantigua.com was growing, as was the apparent desire from potential customers and travellers to the Caribbean, so it became obvious more content was required to move things to the next level. Content that could only be gained from a personal perspective.
And so we were going to Antigua. In 72 hours. On a big plane and everything.
The departure from reality in the UK could not have played out better. Starting with a 4.30am wake up to leave for Gatwick airport at 5.30am (neither of us do dark o’clock with any real grace), the roads dusted with snow and the temperature dropping steadily by the minute. The drive was straightforward, the in-car banter and Costa hit welcome, the transfer from the parking lot seamless and check-in pretty pain-free (excepting the automated boarding pass collection points, which didn’t work).
The flight was slightly delayed, but we were so buzzed about the trip (and possibly from the early morning hit of a beer with breakfast – tradition according to my partner, so it would have been rude not to, no?) that we didn’t mind. I have to admit to being somewhat peeved that the guy to my right on the plane appeared to have a full blown cold, which was shared liberally throughout the flight with his frequent hacking coughs and splutters. But again, we were heading to Antigua baby, so it was all good.
A couple of glasses of wine and a good movie later, the delay and germinator forgotten, we were descending onto Antigua. This was by far the most romantic flight I have ever experienced. As a little insight into me and mine, my partner and I had only been together a few short weeks, with our relationship moving along at quite a rate. So this trip was both a business opportunity for him and a romantic first holiday for us. We held hands, chatted animatedly about the week ahead and generally enjoyed being together without our beautiful children.
When we landed in the new airport terminal, Cal (my partner) collected the hire car that he had arranged through a new local contact and we headed to our resort in Dickenson Bay, at Halcyon Cove. We were met with our all-inclusive wristbands (colour coded to represent newbies, returners, leavers and day passes) and a drink of punch. The holiday had officially started…
Day One (arrival day) started with the usual room critique, view and accessibility assessment. I am happy to say Room 351 passed. After changing into something weather appropriate, it was a very pleasant 28 degrees with blue skies and wispy clouds, we headed down to the Lobby Bar and then onto Shirley Heights. Wow, like seriously, wow. We missed the sunset part of the experience as we arrived late, but we were reminded that the sunset was not an additional charge for entrance, so no discounts were given for late arrivals. Hilarious! The atmosphere was fantastic. There were people dancing and grooving everywhere, from couples to groups of friends and even the occasional enthusiastic single person throwing some shapes. There was a total mix of ages and cultures, with everyone fully immersed in their own bubble of joy. The music was live, loud and great quality, offering a Caribbean twist on songs we all knew. Before we had arrived there had been a steel band, which I am reliably told is fantastic and sets the mood for the rest of the evening.
There was a BBQ available to those interested and a bar, as you would expect. We danced our jet lag into submission, aided by a few rum punches and fully embraced the atmosphere and culture in this most stunning of settings. What an amazing start to our week.
We ended the evening sitting on sun loungers on the beach back at our resort, looking up at the stars in the clear skies, remarking together about this beautiful gem of an island.