Today we reached the island of Antigua. The people here speak English (with an accent) and there are about 85,000 on this small island. The currency they use is the Eastern Caribbean dollar but the U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere.
We decided not to take an excursion on this island but walk around the downtown area instead.
From the cruise ship, I could see the towers of a large church. We decided to walk towards this building.
The weather was really nice and perfect for walking around. Below are some of the pictures I took of the area where we walked before we reached the church building.
There are many small shops in the downtown area. This particular area must have had 40 shops crammed into small places the size of office cubicles. The people were friendly — sometimes too friendly. But they have a very short time to make an impression on the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of tourists that descend upon them. And they are all vying for the business.
As I mentioned in a previous post, there are jewelry stores recommended by the ship for special discount shopping. Most of these stores leave their doors wide open so the air conditioning comes out into the street. I thought it was a waste of electricity but perhaps they make enough money selling jewelry that it doesn’t matter.
While hunting for free internet service in Antigua, we came across this casino sign. Outside the casino there were a few people with their laptops open. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our wi-fi to work. The ship does offer satellite internet service but it’s slow and expensive. (But not as expensive as when you use your cell phone. That would be a very very large phone bill!)
This Cola Cola sign made me smile and not because I believed what they were trying to get people to believe … that you are in paradise when you drink Coca Cola. Having said that, I did try a Coca Cola and it tasted quite different from the ones I’ve tried in the United States. It seemed less sweet. When I read the ingredients, the difference seemed to be that they don’t use high fructose corn syrup but plain old sugar. Who would’ve thought it would make a difference? It was really good!
We finally reached the destination we had headed for — the local church which is called the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. The Cathedral and its churchyard are surrounded by a brick wall and the iron gates at each entry were erected by the Vestry in 1789.
The present Cathedral was completed in 1847. The twin towers are 70 feet high. The south gate which is the original main entrance is topped by two figures representing John the Baptist and St. John. They are said to have been taken by a British man-of-war cruising the Caribbean in 1756 from a French ship that was destined for Martinique during the Seven Years War between Britain and France.
The building is being restored as it is pretty dilapidated.
In the front of the church is a graveyard but the upkeep has not been the greatest. The view from the front yard looks toward downtown Antigua.
It’s really not strange to walk through graveyards, is it? I mean, I didn’t walk to the church expecting to find a graveyard. Perhaps that is more common on these islands than in the United States mainland. Here’s another grave marker. I wonder who this person was and why he had such a large marker?
He died so young at age 44 and the marker says he was an affectionate brother. Hmmm … I wonder what they’ll put on my tombstone. Nothing! I hope to be cremated but I hope someone says I was affectionate.
As I was leaving, I stepped into a small building where a woman and man were sitting. I asked questions about the church and was told that the Cathedral was severely damaged in the last major earthquake in 1974. The public gave funds to help with essential repairs. Today, termites, minor earthquake tremors and general wear and tear have taken their toll on the church and now it needs major restoration.
In December 2009, someone fell through a crack in the stone floor and engineers examined the building and concluded that the floor was unsafe. The building has been closed for worship and to the public.
An old schedule still hangs outside the church.
They anticipate that it will cost about $5 million U.S. dollars to restore and enhance the Cathedral. There is a website that you can visit to get additional information if you choose to donate to this project. www.stjohnthedivineantigua.com
On our way back to the ship, we passed the local museum but did not visit it.
We also came across a woman who was standing with a pineapple on her head. The sign says she will dance for you so you can take a picture of her IF you put money in her basket. I decided I didn’t need to see her dance and took a picture of her from afar.
Seems like it was a long day but it really wasn’t. We probably took 3 hours walking around before we headed back to the ship. Sometimes you get to see more of the culture of the island when you walk around instead of taking excursions to beaches or other places of interest.
Back on the ship the afternoon activities included (the list is not all inclusive):
- Card Making
- Wine Sampling
- Afternoon Tea
- Seminar on Arthritis pain
- Afternoon Trivia
- Ping Pong Challenge
- Salsa Dancing Basics
As usual, we just hung out, read and watched everything that went on around us.
Dinner came soon enough. We decided we would arrive “late” at 6:00 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m. It didn’t really matter since our table was reserved. I’ll talk more about the food in a different post.
The evening entertainment was called “Caribbean Caliente” which means hot Caribbean. It consisted of the cast dancing different types of dances. Again — it was okay if you like Las Vegas style entertainment.
Back in our cabin, with chocolates waiting on our bed, we laid down for the night.
Day 4 of our cruise was now completed.
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