Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Caribbean Week: A beach in Anguilla.

This will be only the second Christmas I have not spent with my family. I don't get upset about Thanksgiving. It wasn't as a big a deal in our house. We still had an amazing dinner but my parents are West Indian and did not celebrate that holiday growing up. Christmas on the other hand was pretty special and my siblings and I always went home.

Christmas is two weeks from tomorrow and I am trying to get into the spirit. I do realize that my siblings are married and have their own traditions. This is when being single and far from your famliy f*in sucks. I never knew I would miss hearing really bad soloists during Christmas service. My brother, sister and I would try not to laugh. My dad would glare at us from the choir section. Once we got in the car he would tell us our behavior was not appropiate. I'm sorry, if you bring a boom box and sing some weird uptempo carol no one has heard of at 11:30 p.m. when everyone is already restless you might get some reactions.

I miss the crazy ornaments my sister bought from her elementary school's Secret Santa shop. My parents still have them (she is now in her 30s) and treat them like they were purchased at Cartier. I am shocked I miss my mom's brother who always argued at the Christmas dinner table with my dad about politics. He felt Nixon was misunderstood. My mom would try to bring peace to the table but my dad was not having it. Dad supported JFK.

No matter was going on during the year, I always looked forward to Christmas. I would see my family, eat well and get one or two nice presents. Once my parents moved back to the Caribbean we started a new tradition of going to the beach after church.

Anguilla has some of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean. I'm not saying that because both grandmothers were born there. "Conde Nast Traveler" and "Travel and Leisure" editoral and their readers have said it as well. Anguilla, named by Christopher Columbus, is Italian for eel. I suggest going to the long skinny island before it becomes over-developed. There isn't much to do except relax. If you are looking for nightlife her neighbors St. Maarten or St. Barths are a better choice. St. Barths is a more in your face scene. Think the Hamptons in the Caribbean. Many celebs and fancy types go to Anguilla but they keep it low key. Anguilla can be very expensive but if you check out some of the laid back places to eat you won't kill your budget.

When I was a kid we used go to my aunt's for a couple days during August Monday. The holiday is on the first Monday of the month and there are boat races, parties and lots of good food. She made us herd the goats. Those are some freaky looking animals. Only after chores (hello, we were supposed to be on vacation) we could go to the beach with our cousins. There are more hotels/villas now but the island has retained most of it's charm.

Last year when we went to see family, it was the middle of the day, high season and the beach looked like this. The hotel in the background will be the Viceroy (the same owners of the Viceroy here). I hear the prices are outrageously expensive. I didn't have my digital camera yet. I wish I could post photos of the Villas at the St. Regis. The prices there are quite high as well.

This is the view of the other end of the bay. The hotel at the very tip is Malliouhana. It was one of the first hotels on the island and sits on some of my maternal grandmother's property. Too bad I can't go back in time and look at that lease. The hotel is very nice. Here is their photo gallery. Anguilla used to be so off the beaten track that when the owner started building the hotel his friends in England asked him why he was building in Angola which was in the middle of a civil war.

Anguilla is part of the British West Indies, so be careful when renting a car, they drive on the left. You will have to stop for goats, cows and locals who like to talk to each other and tie up traffic. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I hope you can find a way to make the holiday feel easier. It is hard to be away from family.

Your memories were fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

J.Doe said...

Those are very pretty beaches, although after 2 years of me living in a desert near the middle of the Us, a big puddle might be impressive to me.
I never celebrated Christmas before but being away from family during holidays can be hard. Those are times to stop thinking about their traditions and make your own.

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Strange the funny things you miss, eh? Those pics of the beach are fantastic....I can't believe I need to be bathing-suit ready in a week...so not ready.

Giulia said...

Yes, thank you so much for sharing such lovely memories with us!

sognatrice said...

What great memories! Being away from the "traditional" Christmas is tough for me too. I'm trying out my own traditions here, a little each year, see what catches on. Can't wait till they feel second nature but awesome :)

The photos are fabulous!

erin said...

this will be our first Christmas away from family - and it is strange...I would love to visit that island one day - it looks beautiful

gibber said...

Nice pix sis. Someone with great camera skills must have taken those. Oh Wait! It was me! :)

I will send you some more things. I love Caribbean Week!

BTW, we had our office xmas party last nite. I'm wrecked.

Anonymous said...

tracey k/OH: what great memories you have & what a beautiful place to be! I hate that you'll be away from fam for the holidays :-( Maybe calling everyone on Christmas morning will make it better? It would be nice if out of no where, FH guy from Canada would suddenly knock on the door cause he was 'in the neighborhood for the holiday'& didn't want you to be alone, then Etta James starts singing At Last.... (LOL!) Just being silly!

Seville said...

nyc, now you've gone and done it... suffering here in Toronto, snow up around my knees, with freezing rain forecast for this afternoon right on time for the drive home, and you go post Mead's Bay to remind me just how miserable my life is!? Have you no compassion??? ~:-)

Seriously, though, thank you for Caribbean Week. I wish we were both in our respective islands for Christmas, making memories and soaking up the feeling of belonging completely.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jen - Thanks. Christmas day will be tought but I going to my brother's for the New Year's weekend.

j. doe- ha. I have to see the ocean or a big lake often. I could not live in a land locked state. This will be my last Christmas in L.A. so things will be better next year.

sara - you are going to have so much fun. don't worry about being bathing suit ready. take lots of photos.

giulia - you're welcome. sometimes I think who cares about this silly stuff? What's funny to me might be annoying or boring to someone else. At the end of the day it is fun to remember the good times.

sognatrice - grazie. I don't have any traditions of my own yet. We'll see what happens next year. I read your post. Your grandfather's photo is priceless!

erin - yes it is a very beautiful island. calm and not too crowded.

gibber - whatevs - the pix are aight. re: your office party, what did I tell you about drinking? :)

tracey k - haha! You are too funny.

seville - I am so sorry. :)
I know Toronto must be freezing now. One of my friends in TO is going to see her family in Nevis. Lucky her.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Gorgeous photos! I remember right before I graduated college I went to a national conference with advertising professionals from newspapers around the US and the world, and I met an advertising director from the newspaper on the island, I think it is called the Anguilla Sun (appropriately) and he told me, "Shelley, come work with us in Anguilla, after work we all go to the beach." Ah, that was tempting!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

shelley - I think you would have liked working there but then you wouldn't have met Alessandro. :)

dmarie said...

Aww--beautiful pics! I went to St. Maarten this year for the first time. Loved it! Wish I had been reading your blog back then :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

dmarie - you did? glad you had a good time. My parents live on the French side. I wish I was going this year.

Liz said...

I've never been to the Caribbean and so want to go. I used to dream about dozing on a beach like the ones in your picture and having remnants of shipwreck treasure float onto shore.

It is hard to be alone when there are traditions and memories that you miss. I hope you have something else planned with friends out here so that you aren't alone on Christmas Day.

modelbehavior said...

When I lived in Italy we ate Anguilla for Christmas!!!! My hosts chopped the eel into sections in our sink and roasted it on a spit. I was horrified, but it actually tastes delicious.

wordtryst said...

I was away from family for three Christmases a few years ago, and it was hard. I know how you feel. I love solitude and was okay the rest of the time, but I felt their absence at Christmas.

Those are some beautiful beaches. Trinidad is not famous for its beaches; there are a couple nice ones on Tobago but nothing like these...

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Liz - It's a looong trip from L.A. but worth it. I hope you do get to go some day. Thanks for the Christmas wishes.

model - you are made of stronger stuff than I. I am not down with eating eel. ha

word tyrst - I agree. I do like to have some time alone but the holidays are different.

I so want to visit Trinidad/Tobago one day.