Six weeks on from the article describing the challenges of foreign travel to the Caribbean, I can now tell you I did indeed get there and home again. In spite of increasing Omicron and subsequent confusion about lateral flow tests or PCR, I filled in all the correct forms at the right time and duly made it through health checks, temperature checks, Covid passes and what you will.
When I arrived in Antigua, there was practically no Covid. No wonder, it is mandatory to wear masks in all public places and each shop either has a small sink with a foot operated tap and liquid soap to wash your hands, a temperature check, or someone at the door to make sure you sanitise them.
Omicron made its inevitable way into Antigua, most likely on one of the many yachts coming into the ports. However, it didn’t appear until just before Christmas, so the only things cancelled were any remaining Christmas fairs and the new year party in Nelson’s Dockyard at English harbour.
I found it blessedly peaceful – no screaming headlines with endless numbers and the general overall hysteria that I left behind. Yes, it was serious, yes, you must follow the regulations – and I certainly had no desire to mess with the police or door security – but no need for mass panic and general mayhem. Boosters were available (Pfizer) and easy to access. Isolation is required. From three days if there is contact but no symptoms, seven days if symptomatic.
Antigua is beautiful, shown in the gallery below. Parts of it are very poor, but they know how to party! Food is expensive in comparison to England, so perhaps the price increases here are inevitable and we have been fortunate in the UK. Some of the vegetables and fruit are grown locally and there are lots of little local stalls, as most householders have a backyard where they subsistence farm. Part of the Antiguan school curriculum covers this, growing veg, looking after chickens and other animals, and lots of families live in houses in a sort of compound, where each family will have property.
Obviously, there are very rich people on the island, Eric Clapton has a compound here, for example, and a most amazing variety of architectural styles, A lot of expats live in gated communities but my family and I most emphatically do not. My son and his family are integrated into their local village and my six year old granddaughter has an Antiguan passport.
Shall I go and live there permanently? I’m really tempted, but temperatures of 40C in June, July and August are not for me. The lifestyle is relaxed, never expect to get things done quickly and realise that white English men and women are in the minority. A very interesting and informative cultural shift. I understand better that experience now. And don’t say you only want to read about Rye. We travel from Rye to enlarge our horizons and learn new things. Or just don’t read this article.
Image Credits: Gillian Roder .