The next day, we awoke in the comfortable cloud of our king-sized bed, having slept more hours in the past night that we typically sleep in an entire week. We flung open the drapes and were greeted by another picture-perfect day.
We listened to the waves crash on the beach. We watched the clouds settle on St. Martin's mountaintops in the distance. We luxuriated in the solitude of just a handful of neighbors. (In New York City, a place without neighbors is called Connecticut.)
We showered -- in an open glass shower large enough to hold our NYC apartment in its entirety -- then floated downstairs to lounge by the pool while lazily batting ideas back and forth as to how to spend the day. (Okay, you know that's a little white lie. Our agenda had been planned, in daily 15-minute increments, for at least the past 8 months.)
As we contemplated nothing more strenuous for the day than deciding who would get up to fetch the next round of rum punches, the next stage of Anguilla Vacation Grief, anger, began to worm its way in: What kind of suckers were we anyway, with our stupid jobs and our stupid mortgages and our stupid student loans? Why on earth have we tethered ourselves to those annoying iPhones and iPads? Who even needs material goods, when you could live in a shack on the beach and scavenge for your dinner every night? This is how we were meant to be living, dammit: Jobless, homeless, and almost certainly dinner-less. Where had we gone wrong?!?
We pondered these unanswerable questions as we made the short drive over to Elodia's on Shoal Bay East.
There, we sprinted for the loungers at the farthest end of the beach, away from the madding crowds.
For lunch, I feasted on chicken nuggets, while Angel ordered off the adult menu.
Some people like to bring their own salad dressing when they go out to eat. I like to bring my own nutmeg.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in deep contemplation of our pathetic workaday existences.
Back at the villa, we cleaned up for dinner, hoping to drown our sorrows with a round of sunset cocktails at the Viceroy (now the Four Seasons) beforehand.
The Sunset Lounge is modern and sophisticated, with a cocktail list to match.
Our bartender muddled the limes for Angel's ginger-vanilla mojito and my caipiroska with gusto, and when I admired her handiwork, she invited me behind the bar to hang out and take some pictures.
Obviously I was too busy stuffing limes and liquor bottles into my pockets to really focus on the photos.
For dinner, we had reservations at Veya, a sexy tropical treehouse perched among swaying palm fronds.
We'd carefully planned the day and time of our reservation to finally catch Omari Banks' acoustic set. Earlier that week, however, we learned that Omari was going to be in Trinidad for a benefit concert, and so we would miss him yet again.
Upon arrival, we were led to a table at the front of the restaurant, overlooking the Mezze lounge and the empty stage.
Accustomed to being tucked away at one of the tables at the back of the restaurant where I can snap photos with relative abandon, we quickly realized that if we remained up front, we weren't going to see Omari, but we likely were going to see the disapproving stares of the surrounding diners when I started shooting. Not wanting to annoy anyone with the camera, Angel found Jerry and discreetly asked if we could be moved to a more isolated table in the back instead.
Have you ever opened your mouth and stuck not only your foot in it, but most of your calf, too? It turns out that Jerry, who is familiar with this blog(!), knew we'd be taking lots of photos and gave us the best seats in the house on purpose so we'd have a front-row seat for Omari, who had unexpectedly arrived back on island just in time to perform that evening.
Open mouth, insert entire leg.
And while it's open, you might as well also toss in Veya's mind-blowing banana bread and Johnny cakes.
We devoured the bread basket in short order, which was a big mistake since we then had nothing to dunk in the extraordinary yellow-pepper soup that the chef presented as an amuse-bouche.
We couldn't decide between the Vietnamese-style fried calamari with nuoc cham and the conch fritters with a chili-lime aioli . . . so we didn't.
Angel picked an old favorite for his main course, the grilled jerk tuna with a rum-coffee glaze, caramelized pineapple, and fried plantains.
I went with something more unusual, at least for me: The tagine mahi-mahi with mashed plantains and cilantro-almond pesto. That might not sound so unusual, but I am one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap. (Fun fact: Most cilantro-haters possess a shared group of olfactory receptor genes that pick up on the smell of aldehyde chemicals, which are found in both cilantro . . . and soap. Translation: We're not crazy!) But this is Veya, where the magician in the kitchen, Jerry's lovely wife Carrie, can make even an ingredient that I normally loathe taste so good that not only can I tolerate it . . . I will choose it and happily devour it. (God only knows what that woman could do with a beet.)
The evening was absolutely perfect: Fantastic food, great company, and a front-row seat for Omari's performance.
And just when we thought it couldn't get any better, Jerry stopped by our table to chat, and to deliver this:
That is a dragon fruit, fresh from the garden of one of Veya's servers. Indigenous to Central America, dragon fruit comes from several cactus species, and its succulent stem provides the fruit with moisture in the arid climates where it grows -- like Anguilla.
Despite its Technicolor flesh, the fruit is extremely mild and reminiscent of kiwi.
There might also have been a bottle of Champagne for dessert. You know how those restaurant people roll.
The next morning we awoke feeling great, which is not normally the case after Champagne, but can be the case if you accompany that bottle with enough food to create a sizable stomach-sponge.
It was another day of glorious weather, so we decided to spend it at Ocean Echo on Meads Bay.
It was well before noon and we had the place to ourselves, so we dropped our things on the nearest loungers and jumped straight into the water.
Eventually the smell of food wafted our way, so we dragged ourselves up the beach for lunch, which turned out to be the excellent coconut curry shrimp with pineapple, along with the Asian stir fry with jasmine rice.
After lunch we decided to fight it out over who'd get the last sip of the Ocean Sand Lemonade.
Obviously, I won.
Back at the villa, I took a quick shower, threw my hair into a messy bun, sprinted to the car, and gunned it over to my favorite spot on the island, Ferryboat Inn. As you can see, I was just a tiny bit excited about the burger bacchanal to come.
Now, I have raved about the FBI cheeseburger in numerous posts on this blog, have waxed poetic about it on various online forums, and have even published handy how-to instructions for newbies here. But what I have not done is compose a proper Ode to The Ferryboat Cheeseburger. I think it might be time.
Oh Ferryboat burger, how do I love thee
With a rum punch in hand and a view of the sea.
Other burgers abound, but you are The One
Ground beefy perfection on a sesame-seed bun.
You're juicy and cheesy and too good to share
Ask for a bite? Angel won't even dare.
Delightful Marjorie and Christian preside over the place
Just don't interrupt me while I'm stuffing my face.
Oh Ferryboat burger, nothing in this world is so fine
If you still haven't had one, you're no friend of mine.
Obviously, this can be set to music as well. There's even an awkward happy dance.
Ferryboat had undergone a mini-renovation since our last visit, with new tables and chairs and a fresh coat of cheery, lime-green paint.
After admiring their freshened-up digs, we got caught up with Marjorie and Christian at the bar while waiting for our burgers to arrive.
As soon as they did, it was like one of those raucous party scenes in a movie where the parents come home and, all of a sudden, everything comes to a screeching halt and the room goes totally silent except for one drunk guy burping just off-camera.
We'd no sooner finished our burgers and were heading home when -- irony of ironies -- we happened upon these two.