A Travellerspoint blog

January 2019

Anguilla, Part 1: Let's Make Some Waves

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of good luck, it was the age of bad luck, it was the epoch of human kindness, it was the epoch of utter stupidity, it was the season of juicy cheeseburgers, it was the season of tough ribs, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had beaches and blue skies before us, we had metal detectors and grid searches before us.

But let's start with the best of times, shall we?

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We arrived on a picture-perfect August day, collected our rental car, and made a beeline for Coconut Palm Villa on Mead's Bay.

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The larger of two separate villas comprising Twin Palms Villas, Coconut Palm has three full ensuite bathrooms, one half bath, two outdoor showers, and a private pool, and if all of that is not enough to keep you sand-free, then I don't know what is.

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The living areas were accented with colorful pops of lime and turquoise, and lots of doors, windows, and skylights to let in air and light.

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And did I mention the roof deck with the panoramic view of Meads Bay, and the umbrella and lounger setup on Meads?

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But all of that paled in comparison to having three bedrooms: One to sleep in, one to store my clothes and shoes in . . . and one for ironing in.

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I decided that the upstairs bedroom, in its own pod across from the main house, would be my hair and makeup prep area. Angel loved the idea, figuring that if I was tucked away in a separate building, I wouldn't be able to yell out every five minutes for him to bring me something I'd left in the main house or downstairs. And he was right; I didn't yell. I texted him instead.

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After depositing our things in their designated bedrooms, we quickly changed into swimsuits, then popped down the road to the island's cutest little beach bar, Waves.

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I mean, even the bathrooms are cute.

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These squishy, oversized beanbags are perfect for napping, or for passing out after a few of Waves' colorful rum punches. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

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You should always match your drink to your dress . . . and to that pillow you will need after a few rounds.

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We sipped our way to sunset, then finally headed back to Coconut Palm to take in the view and get ready for dinner.

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I'd made dinner reservations at Picante, our go-to choice for a warm, welcoming first night on island.

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We'd decided to keep our reservation even though the owner, Chloe, had messaged me beforehand to let me know that, because it was their last night of the season, they would not have my beloved seafood enchiladas. We compensated accordingly.

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You've gotta love a place that sends you a Code Red when they're out of your favorite dish.

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And you have to love it even more when the chef magically whips up a batch for you anyway.

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Toward the end of our meal we met the lovely Stacie from Maine, who can vouch for the fact that I was grinning like a loon after finishing those margaritas enchiladas.

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I awoke the next morning at the crack of dawn, an annoying, only-on-vacation habit if ever there was one. Just ask Angel.

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I used the time to do some unpacking, then rewarded myself with a leisurely walk through the gardens behind the house.

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It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, so we decided to take a drive up to Zemi Beach House for lunch.

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If you can think of a view more spectacular than the one that awaits you on the patio at 20 Knots, you are taking way better vacations than I am.

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We snagged a table in the sand and ordered up a round of cocktails, the excellent Tiki Old Fashioned with Mount Gay XO for Angel, and a caipirinha for me, made to order with vodka instead of cachaça.

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The bread at Zemi is toasted to a crisp and comes with an addictive roasted garlic spread and, if you gobble it up the way I did, will also come 1,000 tiny cuts to the roof of your mouth.

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After lunch, we splurged on a second round of cocktails -- for digestion, of course -- which we enjoyed on a couple of loungers on the beach.

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The day was really windy, so we finished the afternoon Zemi's spectacular aquarium pool.

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That evening we had plans to meet up at Roy's with Renee and Mike, two online friends whom we'd had yet to meet in person.

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Anybody can lose a shoe when it's a flip-flop. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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Have you ever had the potent rum punches at Roy's? It took just one for me to decide I liked Renee and Mike enough to invite them to join us for dinner at E's Oven, and another half of one to accidentally walk into the house next door to E's when we arrived . . . and compliment their living room decor. I'm not a complete animal, you know.

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There, we feasted on the famous coconut-crusted grouper and a pile of cheesy au gratin potatoes. At E's, that is. Though I'm sure my new friends would have whipped something up after I raved about their fancy vases.

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I even managed to get into the right car at the end of the night.
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Posted by TraceyG 04:58 Archived in Anguilla Comments (9)

Anguilla, Part 2: Ain't Nothin' But a Bling Ting

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.

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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.

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Though the burgers are always the main attraction, we were also excited to sample the AXA Ale from AXA Brewing Company.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We settled on a bottle of Cab, then took Abbi's suggestion of the evening's special, an excellent tuna and salmon tartare.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Angel decided on the grilled shrimp with sweet corn hush puppies and coconut curry sauce.

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He even got to keep one of those hush puppies for himself.
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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!

CLICK HERE to read Part 3!

Posted by TraceyG 05:18 Archived in Anguilla Comments (6)

Anguilla, Part 3: A Sauvignon Blanc-Out

By Day 4 of the Case of the Disappearing Diamond, we were emotionally drained from getting our hopes up each day, only to have them dashed, and physically exhausted from the 4:30 a.m. wake-up calls. Confident that we'd done everything humanly possible to find the ring, we reluctantly called off the search and vowed (heh-heh) to enjoy the rest of the trip.

We started with a morning swim, followed by a leisurely stroll through Coconut Palm's lush garden.

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And although we ultimately did not find my ring, we actually wound up finding a lot more: The kindness of strangers. An outpouring of similar "lost ring" stories. Concern and well wishes from nearly every Anguillian we encountered for the rest of the trip (apparently word travels fast, especially when you're a Cheeseburglar). And the knowledge that even though the ring held immeasurable sentimental value, in the end it is just a thing, the loss of which could never change how we feel about each other.

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And we finally found out where the police station is.

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It was shaping up to be a gorgeous day, so we headed over to Ocean Echo for a little R&R.

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And maybe a couple of cocktails.

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Soon the smell of curry began to waft our way, so we headed up to our usual corner table for lunch.

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The smell of regression might have drifted our way as well. Don't judge.

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The rest of the afternoon passed in a happy haze of sun, sand, and sea.

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That night we drove up to Island Harbour to stuff our faces full of (pre-ordered) lobster.

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And we weren't the only ones.

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Full of lobster, $5 rum punch, and Falcon dip, we enjoyed a midnight swim before turning in for the night.

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The next morning was another beauty.

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After coordinating our schedules, we'd arranged to take Rob and Julie to lunch to thank them for helping us with the ring search. We agreed to meet at Straw Hat, with Rob warning us that it was going to be a "Five-Bottle Lunch."

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That's right: Although Rob may look like the kind of guy who pounds Budweiser and then smashes the empty cans on his forehead, he actually favors a delicate Petit Clos Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

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We snagged a large table by the water's edge, ordered an endless succession of icy bottles of wine, and enjoyed an afternoon of food, fun, and fantastic new friends.

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It was hard to part ways -- Rob and Julie have more crazy adventures than I have hairs on my head -- so we made plans to meet up later in the week before Angel and I drifted down to the beach for a late afternoon soak.

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That night it was back to Ferryboat Inn, since I had a hot date with a lobster Thermidor.

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To answer some of your questions: Yes, I'd just had lobster the night before at Falcon Nest. No, you can never have too much lobster. Yes, Marjorie's Thermidor should be on your bucket list of things to eat before you die. Yes, you have to call ahead for it. No, they won't give you extra of that creamed spinach thing that I've raved about before, even though I have suggested that, like Wing Night Wednesday and FBI Monday, it be designated its own special day ("Spinach Saturday").

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I didn't give the dogs anything to eat, and I think these photos prove it.

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I mean, when the Thermidor is as good as Marjorie's, they'd be lucky to even get a shell.

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Click here to read Part 4!

Posted by TraceyG 05:21 Archived in Anguilla Comments (8)

Anguilla, Part 4: You Come at the King, You Best Not Miss

The next morning we spent a few hours in the pool at Coconut Palm to start the day.

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We decided on lunch at Tropical Sunset, if by "decided" you mean "planned months in advance according to a color-coded agenda." We arrived early to claim our spot and enjoy a swim before lunch.

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I'd tried Tropical Sunset's sticky, fall-off-the-bone ribs on our last visit and couldn't wait to have them again.

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But like so many things I've looked forward to that have turned out to be disappointing -- bottled coconut water; the series finale of The Sopranos; every jumpsuit I've ever purchased -- the ribs this time around were underwhelming. But anybody can have an off day, and when the manager messaged me later to apologize and invite us to return, I gladly accepted (and will of course report back).

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We whiled away the rest of the afternoon in that brilliant blue water.

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We'd worked up quite a thirst from all that floating, so we took a walk down the beach to Zemi for a round of their expertly crafted cocktails.

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For dinner that night, it was back to Dolce Vita for some garlic bread with a side of Caesar salad, a decadently cheesy lasagna, and a mound of seafood fra diavolo.

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As usual, I was feeling so full after all that pasta that I really wished my belly button functioned like the plug on a beach ball so I could deflate it at will. Also as usual, Abbi ignored my pleas for mercy and brought over a slab of chocolate cake, which I insisted I could not eat . . . and then proceeded to devour.

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The next day was our last lunch at FBI.

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We'd just been to FBI two days before, so Angel committed the ultimate heresy by announcing that he was in the mood for something else besides the burger. (At that moment, I was actually glad I wasn't wearing my wedding ring, lest anyone think I was actually married to this dolt.) I, of course, remained in full possession of my faculties and ordered accordingly.

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After perusing the menu -- something neither of us had done at FBI since the late 90s -- Angel decided to try the chicken sandwich with FBI's homemade BBQ sauce. Sure, I figured it woud be good, but it certainly never occurred to me that a simple chicken sandwich could actually compete with the best cheeseburger known to man.

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How wrong I was. Ferryboat came for the king, all right . . . and now I have to eat two sandwiches every time I come here.

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Of course, I hadn't forgotten about Angie and Basil. But I did keep forgetting to stop at Best Buy, so we popped in to Ashley & Sons on our way to lunch to get some dog treats. Unfortunately, Ashley's didn't have any, but they did have these, which would have to do.

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Obviously I had to spoon-feed them . . . because they could get hurt with a fork.

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After everyone was well-fed, we headed over to Meads Bay to float the afternoon away.

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The loungers belonging to Coconut Palm villa are on a pristine, private stretch of sand between Carimar and Malliouhana.

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That evening we decided to relax at the house with a night swim, followed by some wine on the roof deck.

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It was the perfect way to reconnect, seeing as how I almost had to divorce him over that FBI burger betrayal.

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----------------------------------------
Check out what we're eating, drinking, and doing when we're not in Anguilla at @escape.from.new.york, or stick to flip flops, floppy hats, and fab frocks @the.beach.blonde.

CLICK HERE to read Part 5!

Posted by TraceyG 05:02 Archived in Anguilla Comments (5)

Anguilla, Part 5: The Circle of Life

We only had two days left, and though we'd fallen in love with Coconut Palm, enjoyed hours of blissful beach time, and made lots of new friends (all of whom conveniently own metal detectors), the loss of my ring had admittedly cast a pall over an otherwise perfect trip. And so we decided to finish strong with a last lunch at Ocean Echo, because if a round of Rumzies cannot cure what ails you, then probably nothing can.

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I love Ocean Echo for its great food, friendly service, fun drink list, and of course that stunning view.

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They'll even "reserve" your favorite table while you lounge at the beach.

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But most of all I love that they will make you a big bowl of Kraft mac & cheese if you beg ask nicely.

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It was our last night on island, so we headed back to the villa to get ready for another dinner at E's, this time with Christian from FBI.

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After managing to make it into the correct building this time, we feasted on the lobster spring rolls, mushroom chicken, coconut-crusted grouper, and lamb shank.

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And, of course, a side of E's cheesy au gratin potatoes for me. That bowl of mac & cheese at lunch was just an appetizer.

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The next day was departure day, but we'd lucked out with a late afternoon flight and had time for a last dip in the pool.

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And a quick breakfast at Straw Hat, where Angel fueled up for travel day with the seafood frittata stuffed with lobster, shrimp, and local fish.

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Have you had the Straw Hat egg sandwich? It comes on a Portuguese roll with two eggs; bacon, sausage, or ham; and the choice of with or without cheese, which is no choice at all unless you have a life-threatening cheese allergy (and even then I'd suck it up just this once).

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Angel settled the bill while I took one last soak in the warm, clear water.

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Too soon, it was time to get cleaned up for the flight home. We arrived at the ferry dock duly prepared: Luggage, passports . . . rum punch.

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As Calypso sped off toward St. Martin, I thought ahead to the double-cheese pizza I planned to order for the plane ride home. (Yes, still more cheese -- might as well, er, double down on your way out.)

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More importanly, Angel and I made peace with the fact that my ring had actually come full circle, finally resting where it had always wanted to be after making a break for it on Shoal Bay during our honeymoon. Naturally, we'll always have to return to visit it.

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One of those visits will be this summer, when we plan to introduce my newbie sister and her husband to the island. And that's when it occurred to me that I've been to almost every government building in Anguilla: The post office, the hospital (three times!), Inland Revenue, and now even the police station.

That just leaves one.

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Hmmm. That summer trip is gonna be an interesting one. Stay tuned.
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Check back soon or subscribe here for yours truly roughing it in the bush in South Africa (sans ironing board!!); drinking homemade hooch in the Hudson Valley; enjoying a birthday blowout with my sissy in Brooklyn; and frozen-drinking my way around Delray Beach. Cheers!

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Posted by TraceyG 06:10 Archived in Anguilla Comments (8)

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