Hey all, I figured I needed to break up this trip report because I feel it would be too long for anyone to want to read. So this first part will be just about the people we met. Part 2 will be about the other typical stuff. But I feel I have to write something about the people specifically – some of the friendliest folks I’ve ever met. Oh, and I won’t include anything about the Barrel Stay folks as you can all see what happened to us there in the other post.
First off, we stayed at the Cuisinart for our entire trip but I am proud to report that we did not eat one dinner at the resort! Not one. We rented a car from Day 1 and explored explored explored. We met so many nice people. I wanted to share my experience with you, about them. I hope I can remember everyone's name but I'm sure yall will know who I'm talking about from the description if I can’t. So here it goes:
We rented a car from Andy. Though our interaction with him was brief (maybe 10 total minutes arriving and departing) he was the first and last Anguillan we had meaningful conversations with during our stay (I'm not including customs folks or GB Express folks, who all were still very nice, because they were understandably focused on their jobs at hand). Andy welcomed us with a big smile and hug. He was a great first ambassador and set a really good tone for how the trip was going to go. He gave us his card, showed us some points of interest on a map, and said we could call him any time of day if we had a question or needed a recommendation.
Wendy at the front desk of the Cuisinart was such a doll. She welcomed us, checked us in, gave us the tour and was a constant presence at the front desk for our entire stay. She was so nice and welcoming and her smile instantly relaxed us as soon as we got to the resort. She would always ask us how our day was going and I credit her for "breaking character" of a typical pleasant, non-descript front desk employee briefly when she became impassioned and gushed about the fries at Sandbar. It was so funny seeing her become so animated over fries (which were fantastic indeed).
Violet and Shane were our friendly breath of fresh air every day at breakfast at the Cuisinart. Shane was so funny and Violet was so sweet (happy birthday Violet!). Every morning they greeted us, took care of every need we had, and most importantly, were genuine when we chatted them up about what we did the day before and how excited we were to go exploring again. We ran into Shane again when we ate dinner at Straw Hat one night. I can’t believe how many of them do double duty… That’s a long day! Shane is from the Eastern side of the island so his speech was really "laid back" and just kind of chill. He was also always humming a tune while serving all the guests. These two were some of our most favorite Anguillans.
Sam....oh Sam. On two occasions, Sam was the reason why we had to push dinner back a couple hours so I could go lay down and rest. Sam, at the Cuisinart beach bar was the man. His rum punches were extremely potent and I think he took pleasure in seeing how many of them I could down. He is a professional through and through and exactly the type of guy you want in charge of a beach bar. I spent many afternoons at his bar. Even after we explored other parts of the island, we always found time to stop by Sam's bar before going up to shower and get ready for the evening. Sam's one liners are great and he had us in stitches the entire time. He is also responsible for making my wife addicted to the “Frosty Coconut” drink. I really want his IPod playlist as well. Great mix.
Garvey at the Sunshine shack was as cool as they come. He clearly takes a lot of pride in his (and his brother’s) small venture. He showed us the article that was written about his fresh Snapper. I was lucky enough to get one on the day we ate lunch there and it was fantastic. I sat with Garvey and talked for almost 2 hours after finishing my meal. He told me about the island, how he used to work the beach bar at Cusisinart, and just generally, about the wind, reggae, etc. It was probably one of the most genuine conversations I’ve ever had with someone I had only just met. It’s so funny how after just one encounter, Garvey makes you feel like you’re part of his family. He gave me his number and offered to set up a night time dinner on the beach for me and my wife. Unfortunately we were not able to take him up on that offer because of time constraints.
Hilly is the bartender at Tasty’s. But we met Hilly before we knew who he was or where he worked. Hilly was hanging out at the concierge the night we got back from our “Barrel Stay” incident. He was there when we were telling the concierge about our horrible experience. Like the concierge, he tried apologizing for THEIR treatment of us. He told us about Tasty’s and said we needed to come there for dinner the next night so he could show us how true Anguillan dining should be done. He reassured us that what happened was unacceptable and he wanted to take care of us. We took him up on his offer. Hilly greeted us from the bar as we walked in the next night and took care of us the entire night. He came by to chat, made sure everything was going well, and completely made us forget about our horrible experience the night before. Hilly looks like a young guy and he seems very ambitious and genuinely likes to make people happy. I identified a lot with Hilly because I’m relatively young myself and I appreciate all the effort he put in to making us feel welcome again. I want to gush about the food at Tasty’s but I’ll save that for Part 2 of the report. Hilly, thanks so much for everything. You really helped turn a bad situation around.
Abby (sp?) is the owner (I think) of Dolce Vita. We LOVED this place and it was the only place we ate at twice our entire trip. When Abby found out we were on our honeymoon he made such a big deal of it. He wished us a lifetime of happiness and seemed to be so honored that we chose to celebrate our honeymoon at his establishment. He truly made us feel very special. My wife was just loving it. What a great guy. Abby may not be Anguillan but it’s clear to see that he’s been there long enough to adopt the warmth and friendliness that exudes from all Anguillans.
Captain Rollins and Deon of the Chocolat – We scheduled a day excursion with Captain Rollins to go to Prickley Pear and Sandy Island on his catamaran. I heard some mixed reviews about his personality but I didn’t see anything wrong with him. He definitely has a dry, kind of quick and almost sarcastic personality but I can be that way too so I thought he was really funny. He definitely cares about safety and it was evident when we were all snorkeling. He sat perched the entire time on his boat watching us, ready to dive in and help us if we needed it. For someone like me who doesn’t have a lot of experience with boats and water, Captain Rollins and Deon made us feel very safe and looked-after. I got to talk with Deon a little bit when we anchored into Sandy Ground at the end of the day. We were treated to a sailing practice that was going on next to the boat, by the sailing school. I think the kids were all 13 or 14 but they were moving those little boats around like professionals. It was truly a treat to see. Deon told me about the sailing competitions the kids do and how they get the opportunity to learn how to sail at a young age. Always having the Blanchards incident in the back of my mind, I thought it was funny when he said that the sailing school is good because “it keeps the kids out of trouble.” And lastly, I found it really hilarious when we were coming in on the pontoon. The engine stalled out and Captain Rollins just said “uh oh, we are out of gas!” I knew he was kidding buy my wife’s face just got white and I could see shear panic setting in. I don’t think I laughed harder the whole week. He was really amused by it too. My wife, not so much. He just re-started the outboard and we landed safely on the white sands of Sandy Ground.
The Anguilla Flemings – We stopped at a local craft shop to buy some souvenirs. I can’t remember the name of the place or the street but it was at an intersection with a traffic light. We hung around here for about an hour but not because we were shopping the whole time. There were two women who ran the store that also made a lot of the pottery pieces. And I can’t remember their names. I just remember “Anguilla Flemming” because that’s what’s signed on the bottom of the pottery. The one woman was an art teacher and/or principle at a local school and she creates these pieces to sell in her free time. They, like all of the people we met, were so friendly and they talked to us about teaching in Anguilla and having students occasionally make some things for the store. It was a great little stop and I’m glad to have spent some money that would stay on island.
Bankie, Crusher, and Miss Rose… These are probably familiar folks to a lot of you. We had the chance to get to know them a few times. I found it funny that literally everyone on the island either knows or has heard of Crusher. He’s an interesting guy and seems like he keeps rather interesting company. It seems like no one loves Anguilla more than Crusher but I could never tell if his euphoric feelings for the island were truly him or if they were influenced by…something else. Miss Rose was so sweet and she seemed really genuinely happy for my wife and I when she found out we just got married. Bankie was Bankie… I don’t think any more detail needs to be provided.
Everyone we met was so welcoming and extremely nice. There are some other folks that I can remember, but I forget their names. I want to shout out to the gentleman who took me out on the hobby cat at the Cuisinart for our conversation, and the manager at Straw Hat who made the experience very special (we also ran into him dining with his father and another lady [his wife?] at Dolce Vita). There was also the lady who worked at Elodias that talked with my wife for the better part of the afternoon while I was snorkeling. I don’t know what they talked about but it looked like she was having a good time. Looking at this list, I find it amazing that we made such personal and genuine memories with people we’ve never met before, in the span of a little more than a week! Anguilla truly is a one-of-a-kind place.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the report.