It was supposed to be my last day in Antigua and after running around doing errands, I went back to Acedia, sea trialed the new autohelm, tied up to the fuel dock and topped off all my tanks, with water, gas, and diesel. Once I got back to anchor, I jumped into the nice,
clear water and began to scrub Acedia’s very dirty, nasty waterline. I learned that Mikey was correct that with snorkel gear you can actually pretty easily reach most of the underneath of the hull and I got most of the bottom pretty much spotless! If you know me at all, you would agree that this is a huge accomplishment. I don’t like to dive under my boat. Just like there were monsters under my bed growing up, I am sure that there is an under the keel monster hanging out ready to take off a toe or a limb! The water was clear, pretty blue, and no fish seemed to be in sight; with fins and snorkel, I was seemingly invincible out there in Pigeon Bay! I tackled cleaning Acedia’s bottom for the first time in the water. Finally, I even got a swim in to the reef where waves had crashed off in the distance off my beam for the last week.
I made my way back ashore to be social that night and grab my last $5 cappuccino martini with Dave, the bartender at Skullduggery. Dave’s friendly face would always light up when he saw me so I always made it a point to stop and chat with him for a bit. Since I loved the martinis and Dave was a friendly face, I made it a point to stop by before I left island. On my way back to the boat that evening, I ran into one of the boat neighbors that was competing for Capt Green’s services that week. He asked me how all the work went and what my plans were. I met his friend Joe who I started a discussion with about my goals and mission and my hopes to still get out of the harbor in the morning. Though, at this point, certainly not at 6am because I still had needed to clear out at customs.
After hearing my story, Joe insisted I meet his wife Dana who had an organic farm in Maine. I immediately was taken to be introduced to Dana who was a lovely Antiguan born woman who asked me lots of questions, including if I was the Canadian girl out on her boat alone? Funny, the confusion, I immediately thought there were two of us solo lady sailors or someone very flatteringly confused me as Canadian. It was me she was referring to. She asked because she knew of some guy was looking for the lady who was on her boat alone. She gave me kudos for my valor and I told her the story about the guy who wanted a lift out of Antigua. It was now that I was beginning to realize that people talk MORE ABOUT ME than actually TO ME. The sketchy guy knew about me. Dana knew about me. Dana knew some guy was looking for me. Who else was hearing about me and what were they saying?! Hopefully now the talk about me is how I’m on my boat sailing solo and I’m JUST FINE that way.
Dana’s conversation turned more and more interesting to me. She explained how Antigua does indeed have organic farms and that the meat is grass fed; because the farmers thought-how else would you feed them? Since I was so tied up with my boat work, I didn’t so much research and investigating of farms to visit on the island. Dana discussed the correlation of disease prevalent on Antigua within the last few decades that had resolved itself with an up rise in local agriculture. It was due to the presence of local produce available to the entire population, not just those that could afford imported fruits and vegetables that Antigua found its population less disease ridden.
I was amazed as this was what I was seeking- positive impact of local farming! And yet I was so eager to leave the next morning again I was feeling conflicted, do I stay to investigate further? Dana went on to discuss my goals and suggested that I go to the market on each island I visit. What a great way to find out where the produce comes from. I hadn’t even thought about local markets on each island as I actually had never visited one or had heard of them, but clearly visiting them made sense! I was instructed that I couldn’t leave Antigua without going to the Saturday market in St. John and certainly that I needed to try the Antiguan Black Pineapple, the sweetest pineapple known to man grown only on Antigua.
The next morning I got up and made my way to St Johns early to check out this market I had heard so much about. I got to St. Johns around 8am and the market was bustling. It was big. There were so many umbrella-covered tables up and down the street with all sorts of colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, and homemade sauces. I didn’t know which direction to walk! I would walk by and observe the colors and what comprised of the pretty visual patterns of produce laid out, but if I stopped too long, I would get numbers shouted at me. If I picked something up and asked what it was, I was yelled a price and a plastic bag was whisped out like I had already agreed to purchase said item. I would walk on, as we clearly were lost in translation; I was disappointed because yelling numbers and waving plastic bags is not the way to win my business. I was completely overwhelmed.
I made my way inside the market shelter where I found a few very nice, friendly women working their stands that actually talked to me about the different root vegetables (provisions) and how to cook them. I could ask all sorts of questions and the women were very happy to answer them for me. I learned that some of the produce came from Dominica and some was Antiguan grown. I made a point of buying most of my market items from the friendly women. I did not take plastic bags and filled my own instead. I avoided the produce that was prepackaged in plastic bags and took that was out in bulk display. I finally found a black Antigua. I was very excited about it. With the one I chose, I was advised not to cut into it and eat for 2 days. That meant that I would likely be eating that mysterious pineapple in Dominica. I was certainly going to leave the very next morning!
I went into the meat market, which was a bit rustic. I held it together as I don’t really have a strong stomach for cut up animal parts out on tables. I’m mostly a fan of mutilated meat; sausage, burgers, the like. Though, I found some local pork and purchased a chop of it as I inquired about ground beef for a burger to grill with no luck. The pork chop purchasing was…So. Rustic. I loved it!!! Walking back up the street, I found some homemade sauce that was meant to season meat and some breakfast goodies. I got a battered fried egg and some vegetable fritters and a meat empanada; I was really hungry by this time!
Once my bags were full and my wallet just about empty, I jumped on a bus back to English Harbor. On the bus ride, a man sitting behind me noticed my bag full of fruits and vegetables and claimed if I ate only what was in the bag, I would live a very long time. He was impressed and very happy with my grocery choices. He was a farmer. Again, my buying power at work for good!
Later that day I did end up clearing out of customs where I was met by some kind Customs Agent who couldn’t help but be amazed that I was the sailing out of Antigua on my boat alone. With concern he assured me that if I ran into any trouble, Antigua was there for me and I would be very welcomed to come back. Even comments with no real substance like that can mean a lot. It was assuring as I was always in very good hands in Antigua.
Later I was at Skullduggery and I ran into Joe and one of his buddies. Dana had gone out for the Race Around Antigua and was just around the corner on sv Liquid, a J120. I saw Dana and she was excited that I had stayed to check out the market as she suggested. I met Pamela, another single lady boat owner who was excited to meet me as well. It was a brief meeting as the crew was putting the boat away and trying to get ready for the prize giving ceremony at the Yacht Club that evening.
I was making my rounds and later at the Galley Bar, I was skyping my aunt when a rum punch was sat down next to me out of nowhere. I look up and Mike’s friend Darren had bought me a drink-what a great treat on my last night in Antigua! After my conversation with my Aunt, Darren and a few of his buddies went out for dinner. It was nice to have friends to celebrate my last night on Antigua with. Darren passed on Mike’s concern for a few items left on my boat that needed attention and we discussed how to handle any issues that could possibly arise. At this point, nothing was stopping me as I was definitely heading south toward Dominica the next morning!!!