I made the decision to visit my friends in November last year, at that time I had no idea where in the world they would be. Claudia said to me it will probably be somewhere in the Caribbean and I said OK see you there.
This is how March 5 I found myself in a plane going from Johannesburg to Heathrow, one of those overnight flights for which you pray they won’t be full with children, sorry if I offend parents but this is what 99.9% of the people do. They pray, even if they don’t believe in any Gods or if they have children.
At Heathrow a taxi was waiting for me, yes I know I could have taken the shuttle bus but was not bothered to carry my luggage full of pro Nutra -I was asked if I could bring some- and wait in a queue… so got into my taxi to my way to Gatwick. Had to spend few hours in Gatwick and frankly I was happy to have to finish few things for work as the airport has nothing nice to offer (not even good shopping and I normally find shopping to do everywhere) and then got into my final flight to my destination Antigua. A long flight (9hours) but I was sitting near a lovely old lady that was on her way to meet her son, who was travelling from Canada. She had come alone as her husband, being old and in not such a good health was worried about the Covid19. I have to admit the covid19 was not in my mind I was just so looking forward to meet with my friends and spend some quality time with them!
So 9 hours and a book later, I landed to Antigua, actually we landed with 1h advance so the flight was only 8 hours! Going through security was a breeze and here I was with my luggage outside waiting for my friends to arrive. Obviously after the cold I had in London the heat was just extremely welcomed on my skin!
What a joy to see all of them coming to pick me up…. You know that feeling where you heart is just about to burst! What I have done to have the privilege to have such amazing friends? I met Claudia through work 8 years ago when I arrived in South Africa… met her and then she was gone on maternity leave for few months. I actually don’t really know how our friendship blossomed but I remember vividly the first time I spent at the farm, she had invited me to spend a weekend and I do think something, that I can only qualify of magical when I look back, happened during that weekend as since then it feels like we have known each other all our life. We talk about it whilst I was on the boat with them, how our friendship is a bit weird, it just happened and how we feel just at ease together. I feel like being a member of the Jennings family when I’m with them and they are members of the Pave’s family for sure! Actually I would say it is better than being a family member. As the say said “you chose your friends but not your family”. It is a French say though so not sure if you have the same in English. Nevertheless they know me better than my own family and more importantly they understand me better!!!
So here we are at the airport and first I get one of this big hug from Andrew, you know the Bear hugs. The one that make you feel truly welcomed and cherished…. Bowdie has made me a card, a little basket with a shell and a necklace. Erin, always a little shy at the beginning is saying Welcome Vava. And finally the piercing eyes of Claudia that welcome you with that real sincerity
We all hop on the taxi and we are on our way… but where is that, I actually don’t have a clue. I just know that I will be sharing for the next 9 days their life on the yacht and this is what is important.
Before I know it we are on a beautiful beach, it is the beginning of the sunset so we have that charming light and we can see the Yacht….. and now it just down on me, we need to get to the yacht, from the beach… yes maybe I should have thought of all these practicalities before going on holiday but clearly I did not! Let me also explain that my kind of holidays are more like a 4 to 5 stars hotel, in a beautiful place where very little or should I say no effort is requested from me.
The bags are emptied so we can put them away, a nice shower and we are having a nice drink and chatting away like if we had seen each other the previous night. Don’t you love these moments when there is no awkwardness. The flow of the conversation is there, mind you I was deprived of sleep so not sure I made a lot of sense, I also have a tendency to have French words creeping in an English conversation when I’m tired. And it is time for my first night on the boat!
So we get into the dinghy, let me be honest, Andrew carries me into the dinghy and we are on our way. Before I know it we are by the yacht and now we need to get out of the dinghy and with all the swings due to the waves (I know they were practically no waves at all… ok I agree the sea was like a lake of oil) but trying to get your balance is not the easiest and I don’t want to look to gauche which I probably did anyway .Finally we are all on the Yacht and I’m shown my room! Yes a bedroom just for me which I clearly thought I would share with one of the girls. In my bedroom await for me an amazing pareo, a welcomed card written by Erin which I still have in my kitchen in South Africa, some olive oil soaps that I love and a guava Jam that I ate with parsimony to make sure it last as long as possible.
I’m still amaze at how quickly the day goes by, even though you don’t really do much. I have to admit though that the first 3 days I had a siesta… I even drooled on a cushion one day and Bowdie very nicely, informed everybody… don’t you love the candor of the children! How is that to feel embarrassed especially when you are a 2! (for the one that don’t understand the 2 google enneagram).
Did I sleep well! Woah like a baby which I wasn’t expecting. The bed is so comfortable. My second day was a glimpse of what my days will be on the boat. Two cup of coffee (I need two to feel awake) a swimming suit a pareo and I’m ready, I loved that, not having to decide what you have to wear in the morning or putting make up and finally not worrying about your hair as for me the moist and the water means curly hair! Lots of sun cream, that the girls help you put with a little extra massage from Erin. And here we are swimming in the water.
We decided to move from Dickenson bay to go to Deep bay…. Well when I say we decided, Andrew thought it will be nice to spend the second night somewhere else, and I guess this is the beauty of having a boat, you can just move when you feel like it. Now the second night was something else… We went to bed quiet early and let me tell you I was exhausted, we had gone for a little walk to see the remains of a “castle” and I had my first snorkeling session… we were to see an old ship that had sunken. So back into the dinghy to reach the place where we are going to snorkel …. And now we need to get from dinghy into the water, I let your imagination show you that picture it was a bit panicking in trying to breathe through the tube, I guess I have some claustrophobia and not knowing where you are going as you are so keen to see the ship I felt completely disorientated. We did see some of the ship but overall the water was not clear enough…. The girls still managed to get shells (there are a lot of shells on the boat) by just diving to get them…. I can tell you I did not dive…. Then come the exhausting action of trying to get back on the dinghy and oh my! do I remember that time. I did tell you earlier that my kind of holiday is a 4 to 5 stars hotel where very little effort is requested. Well my type of beach holidays is to sit on a transact with a good book and if possible a nice cocktail at hand length… and here I’m trying to get back on the dinghy after my first snorkeling session. I did manage to get in and shouted “Holiday with the Jennings!!!!”
So having an early night was necessary for me but I woke up thinking that somebody was on the boat talking with Andrew and Claudia and the music was on… was I missing something? Well some people inland decided to have a party and what a party. It kept us awake most of the night! In the morning, Claudia and Andrew did mentioned that they had seen posters for a Rave party….. I guess this is what the noise was all about! I certainly wasn’t imagining when you anchored in a stunning bay with an idyllic scenery that you are going to be kept awake by a Rave Party but hey I was on holidays so it didn’t really matter!
One of the key activity, I forgot to mention, on the boat is just watching the ocean and spotting these little turtles heads that come up to take a deep breath…… so cute! You can find yourselves watching for more than 1 hour. We actually saw a turtle swimming with Claudia when we were snorkeling but that was a bit later so let me come back to my story.
We left Deep Bay and went for a sail …. What an experience, I did listen very carefully on all the explanation I was given on how to take the anchor out, how the sails work but I will be honest I do not remember much, I’m just so thrilled I have friend that can sail and I can enjoy the experience! I have been “OSW-ed” so I don’t feel guilty anymore of enjoying my luck! I’m in awe though on how Andrew built a full desalinization system so we can have pure water on the boat. I got the basic of how it works and gosh it is just amazing.
From our sail we arrived in Pinching bay where we spent 2 nights, a little paradise. We were the only one, a small beach where we had a beautiful aperitif. I think you cannot have a more cliché picture of what heaven could look like. We spent our days walking by the beach, snorkeling (yes I managed to get the hold of it) swimming just enjoying peaceful day doing some homework, I believe I helped a little Erin on her reading. And obviously we talked a lot… about life, about friendship, about…..yes where are the Jennings going to live after their boat expedition. Very selfishly I want them to come back to South Africa but at the end it doesn’t matter where they will be I will just go visit them!!!
We left Pinching Bay and went to Joly Harbour . When we got there I discovered all the logistic needed to go on shore to get some grocery shopping and get the waste out from the boat including all the paper from the toilet. You don’t flush the paper. Yes you are imagining it correctly! Even if you believe it is gross think about what will happen if you were flushing it …. That will be gross…. all these daily tasks that we don’t even think about, now need a bit of organization. Where do we go shopping, well in Joly Harbour there was only one shopping centre so that was not difficult, but imagine now getting the shopping in dry bags, putting everything on the dinghy then going to the boat … it requires a bit more planning that what we are used too. And I have to say these two little angels Erin and Bowdie are just super stars in helping!
In Joly Harbour Andrew saw some crayfish and I was so looking forward to eating some but they left before he could catch them!! Well maybe another day
We left Joly Harbour and went to Carlisle bay but stop the boat near a tiny little highland on our way there. Here we are snorkeling again to reach it. The snorkeling was pretty hard as the highland was surrounded by lots of rocks. But we saw amazing fish and shells. Claudia even saw a shark thank God I didn’t see it and knew she saw it. I don’t want to even imagine what would have happened with my snorkeling!
The last two nights were spent at English Harbour and this is where we met Simone
That night we had an amazing fashion show from Erin and Bowdie…. I tell you what, these girls are just stunning. They managed to get some silky skirts and scarfs from my wardrobe, some make up and music and here they were walking on that boat doing a fashion show. I told them a model never smile when they walk (have you noticed it is just ridiculous) and I think that was the hardest for the girls!
I got used to have my coffee near by her in the morning but I guess my negotiation skills were not that good and Simone is not in the sea anymore! Now don’t ask me why I feel we need to put Simone back on the sea when I had no problem whatsoever eating the crayfish Andrew got the following day! Gosh they were good and I did not feel one bit guilty for eating them.
We went snorkeling one morning and Erin found the most beautiful shells, huge, I called her Simone, now please do not ask me how I know she is a female my knowledge of shells is extremely limited. We had two days discussion, whilst Simone was in a bucket if we should let her go back to the sea or if she should be a souvenir from the Caribbean.
I did managed to swim with a turtle and I saw a Huge ray …. So big was actually a bit scary. Just amazing
We had a lovely diner and the view was just stunning. A band playing music, big long table outside where people after getting their food just occupied. Just the perfect holiday. But we did take a taxi to get back to the beach!
Our first evening in English Harbour we decided to go to have dinner at Shirley heights… up on a little mount. We are all set for a little walk to get to where our diner will take place well let me explain, not a little walk, I actually think we took the long road. Then we took the wrong turn and it was high and exhausting but worth the walk. Claudia did manage to break one of her sandal on her way up yet continued like if itwas a walk by the beach. The girls were real troopers and just kept going and me, yes out of breath but did not struggle as much as I thought I would!
My last day with the Jennings was bitter suit as a last day can be… we spent a lovely time in a resort, Claudia went to have a nice pampering time, it was her birthday present, we then had a lovely lunch and enjoy playing games with the girls. I was leaving the following day and was already feeling the sadness of saying goodbye. Well I’m not good at saying goodbye and I cried when I had to do it.
Another 9 hours, another book and I was in Heathrow waiting for my fight for SA not knowing with the Covid 19 news if they would let me enter in SA.
They did let me in and I have now the memories and the pictures of these days I have spent with the Jennings!