The next morning I again woke at the crack of dawn, but this time it was on purpose: Sleeping in on FBI Monday would be like sleeping in on Christmas morning when you're sure Santa is bringing you a new bike.
I slipped on a beach coverup, threw on a hat to hide my bed head, and burned rubber over to FBI for the Happiest Day of the Year.
Though the burgers are always the main attraction, we were also excited to sample the AXA Ale from AXA Brewing Company.
Christian had lots of AXA Brewing gear, so we bought one of almost everything to bring back to New York. There's nothing like sending your husband to the gym wearing a brewery t-shirt to advertise exactly what he's doing there.
After lunch we hung around to chat a bit and take some photos. Though I wasn't quite expecting this when Marjorie asked Angie to smile for the camera.
Indeed, we were enjoying the company at FBI so much that we almost didn't make it to Rendezvous Bay for a swim. And in hindsight, I really wish we hadn't. It started off innocently enough:
The afternoon had gotten away from us a bit, so rather than drag our beach bag, rafts, and other stuff down the beach, we just grabbed two towels and bounded down to the beach for a quick swim.
We plopped our towels down onto the sand, then stripped down to our swimsuits and deposited our rings, Angel's watch, and our phones into Angel's baseball cap for safekeeping. Afterwards, we put everything back on in order to take a walk down to Rendezvous Bay Hotel to check out the rebuilt version of The Place.
As we made our way back down the beach, I decided to take one last dip before heading back to the car. Angel begged off, since his trunks were already dry from our walk and he didn't want to get the driver's seat wet.
I'd only waded in up to my waist when I realized I'd left my engagment ring on. I asked Angel to come get it; since he was already dressed, he waded in roughly up to his ankles and I met him near the water line to hand the ring off to him. Angel put it in his pocket, and I paddled around for a bit until it was time to leave.
It wasn't until we were halfway back to Coconut Palm that we discovered that the ring was no longer in his pocket.
I'll spare you the gory details of what happened when we pulled the car over and turned Angel's pockets inside out, but as our disbelief turned to horror, it looked something like this:
Retracing our steps, we immediately began racking our brains as to what might have happened: Perhaps Angel had missed the pocket? (He hadn't.) Maybe the pocket of his trunks had a hole in it? (It didn't.) Had the ring slid out of his pocket in the car? (It hadn't.) Or perhaps fallen out of his pocket when he'd reached in for the car keys? (It didn't.)
But none of those things could be ruled out right away . . . at least not until we'd spent three days combing the beach, the parking lot, the car, and even the roadside with a battalion of generous friends, kind strangers, and every metal detector on the island.
Two of those strangers-turned-new-friends, Rob and Julie Willsher, met us at the beach each day at 5:30 a.m. Rob spent the first part of his career as the British equivalent of a Green Beret and is an officer in the Royal Anguilla Police Force Marine Unit and the owner of Vigilant Divers, and Julie is a former Baltimore police detective, and between the two of them, they managed to calm us down enough to develop a working theory of where the ring might be, as well as a workable plan -- including grid searches, synchronized snorkeling, and a search of our car to put even the most thorough DEA agent to shame -- to find it.
That evening we understandably needed alcohol, and a hell of a lot of it. And so we set off for Dolce Vita, where we could be assured of delicious food, great wine, and a sympathetic ear.
We were thrilled to see that the restaurant had been lovingly restored after Irma, all the way down to the familiar white curtains tied with red ribbons and our beloved corner table.
We settled on a bottle of Cab, then took Abbi's suggestion of the evening's special, an excellent tuna and salmon tartare.
It was the first time I'd gone to dinner without my ring in almost 20 years, but wielding one fork in each hand for the shrimp pasta and mix-and-match gnocchi certainly kept my naked left hand occupied.
The next morning we began what was to become our new morning routine: Wake before dawn, stumble around bleary-eyed, throw on some clothes, and meet Rob and Julie at the beach to search for the ring. After several unsuccessful hours of searching, we headed over to Elodia's for some hydrotherapy.
After a long float, we shared an order of Elodia's crunchy fish bits, along with a nutmeg-topped rum punch for Angel, a creamy pina colada for me, and our usual lunch orders.
That evening we had reservations at Veya, which included walking out not with a doggie bag, but with yet another loaned metal detector. We're nothing if not classy.
As usual, we bargained hard to influence each other's appetizer and entrée choices to maximize which of Veya's fabulous menu items we'd get to try this time around.
I decided on the local leafy greens with marinated goat cheese, candied papaya, and pumpkin vinaigrette, and then talked Angel into the Vietnamese style deep-fried calamari because I have a reputation to uphold here.
For our entrées, I chose the roast chicken because it came with three of my favorite things: rice, chicken skin, and a bunch of chicken meat that can usually be traded for whatever carbs Angel happens to have on his plate.
Angel decided on the grilled shrimp with sweet corn hush puppies and coconut curry sauce.
He even got to keep one of those hush puppies for himself.
For those of you still wondering, the prevailing theory in the Great Ring Debacle is that one of the ring's prongs caught on the fine mesh of Angel's swim trunks when he deposited it into his pocket, so the ring hung there for a bit before coming loose either while he was in the water, or on his way to the car. Happily, it was insured, and new bling is on the way!