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Published: January 12th 2018
I had visited Antigua back in the day. At that time we stayed at an all-inclusive resort and only ventured out for any evening at the Casino, which we dubbed Casino From Hell. But that’s another story. Now I had the opportunity to appreciate what a lovely island Antigua is. As we pulled into dock we counted four other ships arriving. Since we were one of the earliest it was not too crowded. We boarded our van and fought rush hour traffic until we left St. John’s, the island’s main town and capital. Our guide Anita pointed out places of interest and told us of the island’s culture and history. Our stops today related to the time when the island was mainly sugar plantations and ruled by England. There were fourteen forts built to fortify against French attack. In addition to sugar, there was a sheltered cove that was perfect for careening ships and provided shelter from storms. It was heavily guarded.
At age twenty-six, Horacio Nelson commanded the military here and was a real martinet, He was so loathed by his men that he stayed aboard his ship instead of living in relative luxury on shore. He
hated the island. It was too hot, too humid and had too many mosquitoes. As soon as he could he left Antigua behind and found glory as a hero of England.
Our stops included Shirley’s Heights were men were stationed to raise a flag if they sighted a ship. It is said that the entire island could be alerted in fourteen minutes from the first sighting. On Sunday, the heights come alive with sounds of steel bands and reggae music as people come from all over the island to party.
We stopped at points along the way, saw a light and sound presentation about the island, listened to the park ranger give her speech. At each stop we were joined or we joined dozens of our fellow sightseers.
Our final stop was Nelson’s dockyard where Horatio was commander and now is a haven for yachts from around the world. We were treated to a rum punch, relaxed in the shade with a cooling trade wind and then we headed back to the ship. Anita sang us the Antiguan Nation Anthem in a strong contralto voice and soon were were all singing
along. Such is the power of rum punch,
It was an interesting tour and actually made me want to return for a longer stay.
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