An Anguillian Driving Lesson
Click to enlarge pictures
Should you rent a car and drive? Sure, Anguilla is spread out, taxis cost $10 to $20 per trip and rental cars cost $40 per day. Now the adventure starts. It isn't difficult, but you do drive on the left. There is really only one main road, but there are no street names, street signs or house numbers. You must get a $10 drivers license at any rental company or at the Treasury in The Valley - just show your drivers license from home.
Sleeping policemen. Anguilla has speed bumps
to discourage speeding at intersections and in villages,
but all the warning signs blew down in Hurricane Luis.
This is hazardous for new visitors. Coming from
the hotels in the West, watch out at the
South Hill Plaza on the main
road, where there are two bumps. Another is near the
hospital on the road to Shoal Bay. The rest are on secondary
Getting Lost. If you get lost, find a paved road. Then spot the mountains or lights of St. Martin -- that direction is South. Anguilla runs East-West so either turn left or right. Most paved roads either run to The Valley or deadend at the beach. You can stop and ask directions, but that does not always help (remember that "above" means East and "below" means west). Unfortunately, most of Anguilla looks the same: flat, no distinctive large trees or buildings, and houses spread out evenly over the entire country.
If you think I am exagerating, consider this:
The brochure for Hibernia Restaurant is 3/4 dedicated to a map and directions for getting from your hotel in the West to them in the East (travel time is 30 minutes). You actually would have a hard time getting from the West End to Hibernia in Island Harbour without these directions.
Take the main road east [my additions are in italics], then:
Driving a Scooter.
Sam Spagnolo asked "We would like to rent a small motorcycle or scooter for getting around the island. Any info you can shed on the subject is greatly appreciated!" You can rent a scooter from Harry's Taxi in Island Harbour (264-497-4336) or C&C Enterprises (264-497-5954) or Boo's in North Hill, and probably other places. The rate is about $25 per day, plus a temporary drivers license. When you call Harry's Taxi, you talk to Harry's mom, who doesn't drive! But she will pass on the message for you (about the license, she said "the people show my son a card with their picture on it and they get a license.") However, we can't honestly recommend you do do this. The cost for two scooters is more than renting a car and the danger of injury is extremely high, considering the goats, the pot holes, and the fast drivers.
Defensive Driving: There have been 3 bad accidents in the last 3 years on the Long Road from the The Valley to Sandy Hill through the Farrington. Most recently a driver demolished Drak's barbershop in front of Connell's Cash and Carry--luckily no one was inside at the time.
They don't mention that on the way back in the dark, you will miss the right turn in Stoney Ground, because you don't have to stop. Next thing you know you will be at the light by Albert Lake's Market (and Albert's Wholesale, Albert's Dry Goods, Albert's Gas Station, etc.). Go straight, turn right at the airport, go straight through the roundabout and continue on the main road back to your hotel.
Speed. The official speed limit varies from 25 MPH to 35 MPH, but drive as slowly as you need to feel comfortable. Anguillans with new cars often drive extremely slowly. In this way you can avoid scaring the goats and pedestrians and you can see more of the island. Drive defensively and wear your seat belts-- some people on Anguilla drive much too fast and pass on blind corners.
Waving. You will notice that many people wave to you. It is considered polite to wave to people as you drive past them. Give it a try-- you don't want to be considered hoity-toity.
Honking. You will hear a lot of short-snappy honking. This is not directed at your driving. It is just people saying hello to their friends and relatives. No one honks because of a driving problem or situation. Honking is only for greeting purposes.
Roundabouts. Go slow and yield to the right.
Driving at night. There are no shoulders and fewer sidewalks, so there are often people walking on the road, especially on Saturday night. Landmarks at night are the few traffic lights, the lights of St. Martin to the South, and the Caribbean Beacon Radio Tower in the East. The most difficult spot is in the West End where everything looks alike in the dark -- memorize a few landmarks when you go out for dinner.
Headlights. Does it seem like everyone is driving with their high beams on? Not true, but since 99% of cars in Anguilla are US-style and US headlights aim slightly to the right to avoid blinding drivers coming the other way, driving them on the left side means your headlights shine directly into oncoming traffic.
Hitchhiking. It is okay to pick up hitchhikers, but is certainly not required or expected. Anguillans do not stick up their thumbs to hitchhike. Instead they will gently wave their wrist, or even just sit under a tree and whisper their desired destination quietly in your window as your drive past. Be sure you are not in a hurry when you pick someone up. ,Besides doing a good deed, you may see parts of Anguilla you never suspected existed. Don't be surprised if your passenger expects you to go out of your way to their destination, then asks you to wait while they get the baby, and continues on to their home with you. Many visitors find this a great way to meet people, have fun conversations, and see some interesting back roads.
Visitor Feedback on Hitchhikers
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 97 From: John and Karen Leyburn ([email protected])We are from Vancouver, Canada and we really enjoy your newsletter. My husband, 3yr old daughter, and I have spent our last two vacations on that charming little island. The first visit lasted almost 3 months and we were privileged to get to know quite a few people and to explore a lot of the island, both above sea level and below it. It holds a special place in our hearts and even though we only recently discovered your website, we are already addicted to it and can't wait for each new update. What you said about picking up hitchhikers was very true. It brought back memories of the time we stopped for a very wonderful old lady, who made us wait at a couple of stops, but paid us back in spades by holding our little girl's hand and singing beautiful gospel songs to her as we drove along. Such dignity and beauty! The loveliness of the beaches can't hold a candle to the loveliness of the people.
Looking to rent a car on Anguilla? Here is some excellent info on Anguilla rental cars
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