It was our last full day on island, so a morning swim was in order. We jumped in the car, bumped down the path to the main road, and made the short drive over to Angel's favorite beach, Maunday's Bay.
The beach was deserted, and the water was glorious.
And thanks to the early hour, we were spared the pitying eyes and pointing fingers of the resort guests, whose sixth sense for an interloper like myself is stronger than that kid who sees dead people.
Soon it was time to clean up for lunch at Straw Hat.
Do you know what's better than the lobster mac & cheese at Straw Hat?
That's a trick question -- nothing is better than the lobster mac & cheese at Straw Hat. But it wasn't on the menu, so we were left to order soup and sandwiches containing cheese instead.
We later learned that Straw Hat's new chef took the mac & cheese off the menu, which I find highly suspect. I mean, what kind of chef doesn't want to make mac & cheese?!? It's like a race car driver who finds driving around in circles kind of boring.
Luckily, hardly anything is boring when accompanied by passion fruit coladas and ti punch.
After an extended visit to the Petals boutique at Frangipani -- where I spent an ungodly amount of money on a bunch of dresses that even I have to admit look exactly like a bunch of dresses I already have -- we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and sunning at Mead's Bay.
Oh look, my ride is here.
Back at Sweet Return, we enjoyed one last afternoon swim before cleaning up for sunset cocktails and dinner at Malliouhana.
Built in 1984 as one of Anguilla's flagship luxury resorts, Malliouhana was reborn last year after an 18-month, $80 million renovation. And as is usually the case, we kind of missed the old place . . .
But really loved the new place, too.
Indeed, our only quibble with the new design is that it's like the Odessa Steps up in there, with people tripping, slipping, and tumbling about on what seems like dozens of steps, most of which are steep, dimly lit, and downright dangerous for anyone old, infirm, wearing heels, sipping rum, or (ahem) all of the above.
I'd arranged for Angel to enjoy a surprise rum tasting before dinner, which I hoped would distract him while I took 3,000 photos of the sunset. And I'd timed it perfectly: Rum tasting at 5:30, dinner at 6:30; sunset at 6:50.
My plans were almost foiled, however, when Malliouhana tried to delay our rum tasting by half an hour in order to accommodate another couple who'd also reserved the 5:30 tasting, but decided at the last minute to first get massages instead.
That's right: There are at least two people on this planet who would rather spend an hour getting rubbed down than liquored up. Like I always say: There's no accounting for taste.
Luckily, the manager noticed our confusion and quickly stepped in, and after we explained in the nicest way possible that we didn't give a flying fig about anyone else's last-minute change of plans, we carried on without them at the appointed time.
After the rum tasting, we successfully completed the obstacle course from the bar to our table, rewarding ourselves with a round of cocktails, including this vibrant Caribbean Hibiscus made with Mount Gay dark rum, hibiscus nectar, slivers of fresh ginger, and lime.
We sipped our cocktails and studied the menu as the sun began its slow descent into the sea.
The offerings at Malli are unusual and delicious, including the white garlic gazpacho with Guadaloupe melon and almonds that I ordered, and the curried goat sausage with whipped bananas and sweet potatoes that Angel was allowed to have some of.
That was followed with Angel's choice of the yellowfin tuna paillard, a carpaccio-style presentation that served as the base for artichoke, pickled fennel, roasted garlic, arugula, tonnato sauce, and crispy veal sweatbreads.
I decided on the gnocchi cacio e pepe, which was studded with caramelized cauliflower and brightened with a bit of lemon.
As the sky deepened to an inky blue, I was forced to contemplate how I was going to make it up 28 flights of stairs in heels, in the dark, after a rum tasting followed by, well, more rum.
Truly, it was like the blind leading the blind.
The next morning was our last before departure, so we lounged around the pool for a bit, then took a final walk along the beach that first captured our hearts almost twenty years ago, Rendezvous Bay.
We had time for one last lunch before departing, and if you think I was leaving the island without one last visit to Ferryboat Inn, I've got some Flat Earth Society literature that may be of interest to you.
Plus, is there any better sound in the whole wide world than your car tires rumbling over that little bridge?
As we sipped our rum punches -- more slowly than usual to make them last -- reality slowly crept back in as we confirmed our flights and checked our email and carried on other important work, such as posting photos of French onion soup on Facebook.
Or, at least one of us did.
Soon our food arrived, and it was time to get down to some real work.
We'd dragged out lunch as long as possible, but eventually it was time to depart. We said our good-byes to Marjorie and Christian and made the short hop over to the dock.
As our boat sped away toward St. Martin and Anguilla grew smaller and smaller in the distance, I would like to tell you that my thoughts turned to the island's peacefulness and tranquility, or the kindness and generosity of its residents, or the talcum-powder sands and crystalline waters of its incomparable beaches.
But really, I was just thinking about cheeseburgers.
Are you tempted to share these Anguilla blog posts with your sister-in-law, best friend, next-door-neighbor, or mailman so they, too, can discover what's so magical about our favorite island? If so, step away from the keyboard and contemplate this:
And remember, if anyone asks . . . you were in ANTIGUA.