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MY ANTIGUA ADVENTURE
Thursday 7th April 2011

By JCH
(exclusive to Antigua Nice, only reprint with author permission and with credit to both author and Antigua Nice)


He’d seen, he said, a whale twice the size of the boat on which we currently drifted – and it was a good sized boat; he’d seen dolphins wave hopping as they trailed said boat. It sounded magical, and it was just the kind of experience that had lured me out to sea on Adventure Antigua’s eco-tour this sunny Friday.

We left Jolly Harbour nine-ish and returned sometime after 4 with stops for pick up of additional passengers at Deep Bay and Dickenson Bay; we ventured off the coast of offshore islands like Jumby Bay, Maiden Island, and Guiana Island, and docked and climbed at Great Bird Island; we saw birds nesting and soaring…but alas water water everywhere – and such beautiful turquoise water at that – but no whales or dolphins.

I told the captain of a Caribbean author I’d read about who’d had her children’s book about whale watching rejected by an American publishing house because it was deemed unrealistic; no whales in our waters, they insisted. He responded that we were perhaps not known for it, that they were certainly more plentiful off the coast of Windward islands like Dominica and St. Lucia, but we most definitely had whales and dolphins in our waters – he’d seen them with his own eyes. But, he reminded, nature is her own mistress, and, often when you’re most anxious that’s when she’s shyest.

Keep your eyes peeled, he suggested, you never know. We did so as we walked the trail to the top of Great Bird Island, and back, hoping to catch sight of the rare and one time on-the-brink Antiguan Racer snake. But I’d held a Racer before so I wasn’t too disappointed; though I admit to being discomfited by the incongruous sight and sound of vendors on the once lonely island. The guests peered into the shallows as well for stingrays and starfish, Hawksbills and Leatherbacks having been schooled on the long running turtle watching project and the life in and around the mangroves by our well informed guide. But I’d done the whole turtle watching thing, had seen the eggs laid and the new ones scurry towards the light of the moon reflecting off the water – a thrilling sight to be sure. But what I yearned for on this day was more of the hump backed and bottle nose variety. 

Well, I never did catch sight of dolphin nor whale, but what a full day it was nonetheless. For one thing, keeping your eyes peeled – not to mention being at sea on a boat with someone else at the helm and uncertain of your swimming legs – forces you to stop and just take it in. I was the only non-tourist, save Eli Fuller’s three person crew; a fact that reinforced for me how little we, islanders, stop to take in the bounty nature lays out before us daily.

There were clear blue skies, and clearer waters; there were Frigates and Brown Pelicans; the lazy lapping of the water against the side of the boat while some snorkeled amidst the coral as we anchored somewhere between Exchange Island and Rabbit Island; the raging of the Atlantic on the other side of Hell’s Gate…there was time to feel, the sun and wind on your face and even the sea spray goose pimpling your skin.

No, Antigua isn’t perfect. But nature’s beauty in this sun-kissed space cannot be denied. Not on a day like this.

On a day like this, on a day like this, well, dolphins and whales would have just been frosting on a well-made-and-good-for-you cake. But then, who doesn’t like frosting? Eli has extended the invitation for me to go dolphin and whale watching (seeking?) again. And, like I told him, I’m tempted.


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