Anguilla News: January 1996

News reports from on the island, as they were posted to the Net:

Sonesta Beach Resort

Casablanca Reopens as Sonesta Beach

Casablanca Resort on Rendevous Bay has been refurbished by new owners and reopened as the Sonesta Beach Club. The new manager last worked at a Sonesta resort on the Red Sea in Eqypt, so this is quite a change. They have a full-page ad in the St. Martin newspaper promoting the resort to locals: "Your magnificent island of St. Martin bustles with action and activity. But if you want to totally relax and do next to nothing, your friendly neighbor Anguilla is the place to be." 809-497-6999.

Lucy's Harbour View Open

Lucy's Harbour View is a restaurant on the "backroad" cliff overlooking Sandy Ground and Road Bay. Because of the great view and exposed position, it was damaged in the hurricane. But it has now reopened. Open for lunch 12-3, dinner 7 til whenever. 809-497-6253

Hidden Anguilla: Rainforest Hike

You may not believe it, but Anguilla has a jungle. You enter a path from the beach, skirting the edge of a spooky swamp through dead grey trees (victims of Luis), then enter lush greenery. As the plants close over you, cutting off the sun, you notice the cool shade and the birds. Regular Anguillian plants that you expect to find at 6" to 24" high are now 6' to 12' high. I won't spoil the surprise by telling all the details of this hike--only suggest you wear good runners or hiking boots, be prepared to climb a hill, and take a flashlight.

To experience the jungle, go to Katouche Bay beach (between Crocus Bay and Road Bay/Sandy Ground on the north side). From The Valley, go up Coronation Blvd to Crocus Hill. Turn left at Lloyd's Hotel (the old Cottage Hospital is on the right). Follow the paved road until it ends, then continue on the main dirt road to Masara Resort. Drive through the resort, down a steep one-lane road to the beach and park. Walk down to the beach, go left about 40 yards and turn left away from the beach. You should find a path that skirts the right edge of a large pond. Good luck. Anguilla has many more hidden delights.

Scilly Cay Rebuilt

Sandra and Eudoxie have rebuilt their restaurant on the tiny islet of Scilly Cay in Island Harbour. They held a private wedding on December 31st and opened to the public today. Hours are 11am to 5pm, closed Mondays. 809-497-5123. Just stand on the beach in Island Harbour in front of Cyril's and wave - a launch will come over to pick you up.

Tuesday Happy Hour at Uncle Ernie's

There is live music and fish fry happy hour at Uncle Ernie's on Shoal Bay, every Tuesday after work. Swim and party. Nice combination.

Anguilla Lettuce Returning

It may come as a surprise to some people that Anguilla has hydroponic gardens for growing lettuce. We were used to having excellent lettuce in the stores at all times--we even export to other islands. Since Luis we have had to do with hard heads of imported iceburg, with the occasional limp romaine. Good News: Anguilla Lettuce should be back in production by mid-February.

Fast, Tasty, Cheap Lunch

There are many places in Anguilla that the tourist may not know about.

Anguilla is known for its gourmet restaurants, but what if you have things to do? Lunch can easily stretch to two hours in our elegant eateries. If you want good food, served quickly, at a very reasonable price, do as the locals do. It doesn't advertise, there are no signs directing you there from the West End, but lunch at the Hill Street Restaurant is the best bargain in the Caribbean (according to the Blanshards). Hill Street is located next to the Fairplay Food Center in The Valley. A substantial lunch of Chicken, Beef, Goat Stew or Fish, with rice, vegetable and salad, runs from 16 EC to 20EC. You could easily split one of these meals between two people. They also make hamburgers and salad plates (ask). When available, the meat loaf is delicious. They also cook a lot of meals for take-away, and serve dinner. Give them a try.

Ronnie's Seahorse Resort Is Open

The intimate Seahorse Resort on Rendevous Bay has been re-opened after Luis and is welcoming back many of its loyal repeat guests. 809-497-6751.

Where Can I Buy Pop/Beer/Wine By the Case?

Help! I am addicted to the soft drink TING. Where can I buy it by the case? Go to the Tropical Flower wholesale outlet in The Farrington. 809-497-4315. They also sell Heineken and Coors Light and a nice Glen Ellen Chardonnay and the case prices are very reasonable. To find it, head east on Coronation Blvd toward the gas station in The Valley, continue east through the traffic light toward East End, when you see the Caribbean Beacon Radio Tower on the left look for Tropical Flower wholesale on the right. Service is fast and friendly, the ambiance is "shady, cool, West Indian warehouse". More shopping.

Hidden Anguilla: Fantasy Snorkelling

Jobsie Bay

Anguilla has many hidden delights. Try Jobsie Bay for snorkelling in protected, quiet, shallow waters. Swim or wade over to the right side of the bay and enter a small cave with a "hot tub" and an opening where you can stand up and view the coast line. Re-enter the water and look for the underwater bridge. This is snorkelling on an intimate scale. Go slow and wear reef shoes or old runners and you will have an unforgettable experience. There are no houses nearby (and no shade or protection from the constant wind either, so this is not a major sunbathing destination) -- you will probably be the only people in the entire area. The bay is protected by a pair of reefs offshore, so the big waves are usually reduced to tiny ripples. The water is shallow and is clear on most days.

This tiny crescent bay is directly across Long Pond from the Caribbean Beacon tower. You turn right 100 yards past "Tropical Flower" wholesale in the Farrington at the road down to Long Pond Bay (if you reach the roundabout you went a little too far). Continue on the track through the seagrapes across the ithmus of Long Pond. Since the hurricane, this "road" ends in a 100 yard stretch of sand, only to resume on the rock on the other side. If you have a 4WD, just drive across. If not, consider parking and hiking the rest of the way (1/2 mile or so). The road goes to the right along the southern edge of Long Pond, then turns left and runs directly to the coast.

42 Inches of Rain in 1995

The Agriculture Department in The Valley recorded 42.25 inches of rainfall for 1995, but there were only 90 days when it rained. This is almost double the 1994 figure of 22.4 inches, spread over 60 days. Most of the rain fell in September during Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn (16+ inches). The island was extremely dry up to the end of August with only 14.7 inches to that point.

Anglec Applies to Raise Electricity Rates

General Manager Errol Hartley asked customers to recognize the need for this increase due to large losses sustained by the company from the onslaught of Hurricane Luis and also the need to put the company on a firm commercial footing, so that shares could be offered to the public in the near future.

Recent News Items from St. Martin

The news from Anguilla can be unexciting, so here are a few news items reported during the last week in The Daily Herald from neighboring St. Martin:

Coccoloba Still Rebuilding

In answer to a query from New Jersey I called the Coccoloba to see if they were open. No one answered the phone (809-497-6871), so I talked to the Tourism Department. They report that Coccoloba is still busy rebuilding. They hope to reopen in February, but a firm date has not been set. Reportedly the beach at Barnes Bay was eroded by the hurricane (as were several others), but has already partially restored itself through the natural action of winter storms. Neighboring Sea Grape Beach Club (809-497-6433) is open again and La Sirena (809-497-6827) has been open for a long time (the gardens look very nice again--the bougainvilla up the sides of the buildings are in glorious bloom).

Le Bon Pain Bakery and Pastry Shop

Bernard and Yvonne's french bakery in Island Harbour reopened this week. We had incredible chocolate croissonts and apple pastry for breakfast today. They also have wonderful french bread and desserts. 809-497-8090, open from 6 AM to late at night. Then can also bake a delicious pizza. Le Bon Pain has moved to a new location further into Island Harbour, on the right, watch for their sign by the road. More Shopping.

VISA Card Mystery in Anguilla

Recently when I eat out at restaurants in Anguilla they have been converting my bill from US$ to EC$ for the VISA charge. The story going around is that the EC Central Bank has made a rule forcing all credit card bills to be denominated in EC$. (This is not as much like being forced to use Mexican pesos as it sounds because the EC$ is tightly linked to the US$, but there is a slight spread of EC$ 0.02 between the buy and sell price. So your restaurant bill will go up a tiny bit when it is converted back to US$ by VISA.)

However, "informed" sources tell me that the Central Bank never made such a rule. Another source tells me a story that sounds feasible: charges on the new local EC$ VISA cards must be written in EC$ or the merchant doesn't get paid at all. Tourist VISA charges can still be written in US$, but the message has not gotten through very clearly. And some places may have made a policy of writing all charges in EC$ so as not to miss any EC$ VISA cards (even though there are only a handful of these likely to show up at a tourist restaurant).

Whatever the reason, this is a bad sign on an island that promotes itself as having no currency restrictions. It is confusing for the tourists and will no doubt lead to clerical mistakes with some bills going through in US dollars that should have been EC (this multiplies your bill by 2.7 times!), and vice versa (this divides your bill by 2.7, much nicer). And it probably means that the waiters don't get any extra tips added on to the VISA slips since the customer is not as comfortable with the EC$.

Hidden Anguilla: The Ice Cream Truck

Continuing my series on "Anguilla delights" that the tourist may not know about.

If you drive by a small blue and white truck that says "El Gelaterooo" parked on the side of the road, stop, stop immediately. You have been fortunate enough to spot Ranny and Joe's travelling Anguilla Ice Cream emporium. For a very small fee you can have a cone or a quart of the best home-made ice cream I have tasted in years (Italian style, but just a bit less "icey" and a tad more creamy). They also sell from their plant behind Norman B's (closed monday) and may soon have a retail outlet in The Valley. 809-497-3317.

"Fire Fire, and other stories of Anguilla"

I bought this fun book (really a booklet) for EC$ 16.90 in the Antigua airport transit lounge and have never seen it for sale in Anguilla. It contains newspaper articles written by Henry Howard, a British expat who was building a house on Sandy Hill Bay at the time of the Anguillian revolution. Here's an excerpt from the title story set on May 30th, 1967, the day the Anguillans kicked the St. Kitts policemen off the island and repelled police reinforcements:
Suddenly the pilot gunned the engines and we started climbing again. Goats, I thought, on the airstrip. A well known Anguillian phenomenon. We made a wide circle and banked into a tight turn on our second aproach. The whole airstrip became visible to me across the aisle through a portside window. The picture was quite clear. Oil drums had been laid across the airstrip. Two bulldozers strategically sited on the runway defied anything to land except a helicopter. Cars and trucks were racing parallel to airstrip towards the little airport building where a large crowd was assembled. Later on a Kittian passenger complained that he had seen people with "rock stones in their hands ready to throw at us if we landed", but neither my eyesight nor my imagination could corroborate this. The Captain's interpetation of the situation was, I think, the correct one. He came over the blower again. "Ladies and gentlemen, it seems to me that the good people of Anguilla don't want us to land. I am taking the aircraft to the Juliana Airport, St. Martin. Flying time about five minutes." And with that he gunned his engines again and off we went.

Harbour Lights Open in Island Harbour

Yesterday I went over see how they were doing at the Harbour Lights efficiency apartments on the waterfront in the picturesque fishing village of Island Harbour. All the windows facing the water were blown out by Luis, but have been replaced and the damage repaired. Kathy, the manager, still has a small crew there repairing her house, but the studio units are open and booked with the people who usually come every February. This looks like a real bargain for Anguilla, $70 to $100 per night, depending on the size of the apartment. 809-497-4435.

Red Stripe Cricket in Anguilla

The big cricket match between the Leeward and Windward Islands started at Ronald Webster Park today. If I could understand cricket I could give you some informed details since it is covered exhaustively on Radio Anguilla. I do know that the match lasts 3 days and very little work gets done on the island during the match.

Valerie New Manager at Arawak

Valerie Patanella, who used to manage Harbour Villas, has been named the new manager at Arawak Beach Resort in Island Harbour. The resort has reopened, although the pool and restaurant are still closed (of course you are right on the ocean and Cyril's and Smitty's restaurants are just a short walk down the beach). The distinctive octagonal guest units suffered very little damage from the hurricane, even though they are made of wood and have shingled roofs. Perhaps it was the shape. The rooms are renting at the off-season rate of $100 per night this year and guests we had staying there found the Anguillian owners and staff extremely friendly and nice. Call Valerie at 809-497-4888 to book a reservation or to arrange a scuba diving package.

Don't Miss the Police Week Fashion Show

Police week starts tomorrow with a special service at the Anglican church. There are activities almost every night. The one I enjoyed most last year was the Fashion Show, with live music, barbecue, bar, children wandering around, entertainers, and of course, fashion modeling by pairs of police officers: male and female. Not like any stuffy fashion show you ever attended in the States. Don't miss it, Tuesday night January 30th, at the Police Recreation Hall next to the government offices. Music is supposed to be by the Mussingtons. Other nights include calypso show, Gospel concert, guest artist night, and a dinner/dance. The climax of police week this year will be on Saturday evening with free entry for everyone to a block-a-rama on the police grounds with music provided and drinks, barbecue, and fish fry for sale.

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