Anguilla News: July 1996

News reports from on the island, as they were posted to the Net:

[Windward Point Beach]

Windward Point Beach

One of the many beautiful beaches on Anguilla, this one is the easternmost beach, facing St Martin, just before the tip of the island. For directions, check our news item on the east and west tips of Anguilla.

Anguillian Language Lesson #5

Here are some useful verbs. From the Dictionary of the Anguillian Language: Share out - To serve, as in 'dishin-out' food.

Chefs Prepare for International Competition

Some of Anguilla's top culinary experts will be off to Puerto Rico in September to compete in the fourth annual "Taste of the Caribbean" cooking contest. In the past they have brought home many medals. They have been meeting for practice runs, since some of the competitions are devilish. One, for examples, presents each team with a surprise basket of food and gives them a limited time to prepare the best meal they can from it. Later this year in November, there will be a local competition here among all our chefs.

Anguilla Soccer Joins FIFA

The International Football Federation (FIFA) has admitted Anguilla to world soccer competition. Also admitted were Andorra, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, Guam and Bosnia.

Prickly Pear Rumors and Counter-Rumors

An article in the St. Martin Daily Herald announced that Royal Caribbean Cruise lines was going to use Anguilla's Prickly Pear Cays as a location for cruise ship passengers to day trip. The idea of 2600 people ravaging the beaches of Prickly Pear had a lot of people worried. Now the paper reports that Government has not received any applcation for a long-term lease from the cruise company, no environmental study has been done, and Executive Council has not met to discuss the topic. That doesn't mean it absolutely won't happen, but it does mean that this scheme could just be someone's hopeful dream.

What is a Travelling Post Office?

Around Anguilla you will see signs posted for the "travelling post office". Anguilla does not have home delivery of mail and many people do not find it convenient to rent a post office box in The Valley and travel to it for their mail. For these people, Anguilla has a travelling post office truck. It comes to a designated spot in each village at a designated time. Someone from each family group will come down to pick up the mail and distribute it.

Hurricane Bertha

Hurricane Bertha rolled over Anguilla today with winds reported at around 85 MPH. Compared to Hurricane Luis this was a very minor storm. The winds built up all Sunday night, culminating between 6 and 8 AM with many inches of rain that worked its way into people's houses through every available crack. Our house had puddles everywhere, but some mop work cleaned that up before it could reach the computers.

Anguilla is still green, although our banana plants were knocked to the ground and we had to harvest the bananas bunches before they rotted. The hotels look good. We found the waves at Cap Juluca impressive even after the storm had subsided, but the beach is still there and the landscaping survived. The fantastic new landscaping at Malliouhana appears to be intact. Most of the resorts appear to be in fine shape.

Telephones are working. Power was shut off just before the height of the storm and may take a week or more to restore to remote locations (this is my estimate, based on driving around the island and noting the occassional broken or leaning power pole). Cable TV reduced itself to just the Weather Channel, taking down their satellite dishes as the winds increased, before shutting down completely. Internet service continues uneffected (for those with power!). The Anguilla Lettuce operation appears to have lost some shade cloth, but the metal framework of the greenhouses is intact. A few fences and signs are down around the island, but damage to buildings seems minor.

Vince Cate's "online" system here in Anguilla at Offshore Information Services was offline for a short time but is back up (here is his announcement):

Hurricane Bertha hit Anguilla just perfectly to do the most damage. Just north of the storm the counterclockwise spin and westward movements add for maximum destructive power, and we were just north of it. Don't know of any people or houses that were hurt, but a bunch of power and phone lines have been damaged.

We lost power, ran for about 10 hours on battery, and then shut down. But about 24 hours later we are back online to stay.

We are temporarily located in the Cable and Wireless building in town. Thanks Cable and Wireless!

The Anguilla Tourist Board reports the following hotel status:

Hibernia Restaurant

This gourment eatery specializing in French-Indochinese dishes, is located in Island Harbour. Turn left at the "Harbour Ridge" sign at the eastern end of the village. The decor is attractive, with many unusual art objects and creative stencilling. Appetizers range from $6.50 to $10, main dishes $18 to $30. Make a reservation - it can be busy. Telephone: 264-497-4290. Here is a recent menu:

Sorry it was so long. I got carried away typing and couldn't decide what to cut. That is their entire menu!

Steel Drum West Indies Night

Last night we went to Anguilla Great House for the regular Thursday night Steel Drum buffet. This resort is located on Rendevous Bay and was known as the Pineapple Beach Club for the last two years. It is still owned and operated by the same friendly people, but they are now doing the marketing on their own.

We took four house guests with us to thank them for their big help in mopping up the floors. They arrived in Anguilla on on Sunday, just before Hurricane Bertha. The evening was a real bargain. About $15 buys you a typical West Indian buffet dinner of ribs, chicken, salads, Johnny cake, baked potato and desert, plus all the live Steel Drum music you could want. The evening was rounded out with dancing, walking on the beach, looking at the lights of St. Martin, a limbo contest and a conga line.

Will Fleming, the host, managed to involve everyone in the activities. Lots of fun. Recommended for an evening of Caribbean music, food and dancing. I have heard that Saturday night can be even better, with more local people showing up.

Call for directions and reservations: 264-497-6061.

Power Back from Anglec

Since Monday night we have been programming by generator. But Anglec (the Anguilla Electric Company) has repaired the damage from Hurricane Bertha in a hurry. Our power came back on Saturday, so no more filling generators from cans of gasoline in the middle of the night.

Vince Cate reports that he was back on line even faster, on Wednesday:

They restored power to our usual address, "Old Ta", and we have now moved back there. So power was only out for 2 days. Anglec is doing a great job of restoring power. Thanks again to Cable and Wireless for letting me setup there till power was back here.

Storm Email. A lot of people were worried about Anguilla. Here is a typical email that I got on Tuesday after the storm.

My wife and I visited Anguilla recently. We stayed at the Sonesta and to be honest, we had the time of our life. Since we live in Puerto Rico we travel frequently throughout the Caribbean and we found Anguilla to be the friendliest island that we have visited. To update you on your local news we were told in the Sonesta that they will expand the number of rooms. We visited Sandy Island and we found the snorkeling superb (we were the only ones in the island}. Shoal Bay East is as beautiful as you said it was and we enjoyed Uncle Ernie's barbecue. Good luck and we were very happy that Bertha did not cause major damage to your island.

Governor Alan Hoole had this to report last Wednesday (drastically edited for space):

I believe that early prepartion by most of the inhabitants resulted in damage being kept to a minimum. Reports for Anguilla indicate that there was no loss of life or serious injury. There was isolated light damage to a few buildings. The worst affected were the power station, the Governor's office and the hospital. Cable and Wireless are to be congratulated on maintaining telephone communications throughout the hurricane and all facilities are still working satisfactorily. The power station was damaged and water entered the alternators. These have to be dried out slowly. A few poles were damaged. Power has now been restored to government offices and the central Valley area.

To end on a humorous note. Many Anguillans obviously believe that everything is back to normal. I toured the Island yesterday by car with the Deputy Governor, Hon. Harry McCrory, and we interrupted a cricket game being played at Island Harbour in the middle of the main road! It is good to know that some people have their priorities right.

Anguillian Language Lesson #6

Some nouns, pronouns, and prepostions. From the Dictionary of the Anguillian Language: We - Commonly used instead of us. E.g. 'All a da wuk fuh we?'/Is all of that work for us?

Caribbean Commerical Bank - New Building

Anguilla's first indigenous bank has moved into a new building in The Valley. The structure is very modern and impressive, with a 3 story atrium in the middle and beautiful landscape. You may be worried that Anguilla is quickly on the way to the manicured high-finance look of the Caymans, but you don't need to worry. The bank is still on a dirt road.

Caribbean Commerical Bank

Copper Hole, A Hidden Spot

Another fun nature excursion in Anguilla is to visit Copper Hole on the North Coast near Blackgarden Bay. This is a natural blow hole in the coral shore line, with waves exploding up through the hole. Best on a windy day. Only a few yards from the end of the road.

Directions: Take Coronation Blvd up Crocus Hill toward the old Cottage Hospital and Crocus Bay. Turn right at the top of the hill on the road toward Limestone Bay. In about 0.7 miles, turn right and down the hill into a wide bottom (there is a new house between the forks of the road). In the center of the valley you will come to a 4-way intersection, but keep going straight. Drive another 1/2 mile and turn right on a new small dirt road just before the Dome house above Blackgarden beach. This road leads to another coastal house under construction. Park on the right and follow the trail straight ahead a few steps to the shoreline. Listen for pounding waves.

Internet Service Promoted in St. Marteen

Internation Data Limited has started selling Internet service in St. Marteen. The company claims that prices will be set at an affordable level. The basic price offering unlimited access via a locally dialed number is quoted as US$495 per year. Rumor has it that IDL will have a a 400 KB frame relay link to the States.

For dedicated full-time business connections will access their Internet node via a radio link. The radios work at a distance of up to 50 miles, so you can keep in touch from your yacht. Prices for a dedicated radio link for "one simulataneous user" and "no resale" are:

Anguilla Tourism Office in Italy

Anguilla has opened a new tourism office in Milan Italy. Alan Gumbs, Chairman of the Anguilla Tourism Board attented a grand opening party in Milan to promote the new venture. Many Italians have found Anguilla a congenial place to holiday in the past and perhaps this office will lead to many more.

Library Computer Club

The first meeting of the Library Computer Club will be next Monday at 4:30 PM. The purpose and intention of this group is to help develop the computer services within the library and in Anguilla generally. Programme of activities include training sessions on many aspects of computer technology and tips on acquiring personal computers. All computer enthusiastsare invitied to join. Sessions will be held every Monday thereafter at the same time.

If anyone reading this news would like to donate compute equipment, they can do so through the Anguilla Computes connection in the US and get a tax deduction as well.

Carnival Schedule

Anguilla Carnival '96 is scheduled for August 1st to 10th. The theme is Colour & Splendor De Right Mix. Most the the nightly activities occur at the Landsdowne bowl in The Valley (they are supposed to start at 8:30PM), plus many big boat races at various spots on and around the island.

Pigeon Wood -- Wild Frangiapani

This small tree with the pleasantly scented and beautiful white flowers is known in Anguilla as Pigeon Wood or Poor Man's Frangiapani. It grows wild in many parts of the island. In the old days, Anguillans used the sticky sap of the Pigeon Wood to seal envelopes. This was especially useful because the glue on envelopes gets moist here and sticks before you can even use it!

[pigeon wood]

To conserve water in the dry season, the natural Frangiapani plant drops all of its long thin leaves. By coincidence, a giant, voracious caterpillars with very distinctive yellow and black bodies appear on the scene at just the right time and eat all of the leaves just before they drop off. Then the Frangiapani trees go into a dormant phase and the caterpillers turn into hawk moths.

News Tidbits

The Objective Observer's web site in Anguilla has been updated with all his most recent columns for our local paper The Light.

The Financial Cryptopgraphy 97 is organizing a conference in Anguillian for the last week of February. The leading researchers and firms working on digital cash, cryptography, web commerce, and secure servers will present referred papers, exhibit wares and talk to each other informally on Anguilla's beautiful beaches. For more information, contact Bob Hettinga at [email protected] or visit their web site.

Montserrat Volcano Powers Up

Messages from the volcano zone courtesy of GEM Radio Network:

Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 15:28:05 +0400
From: [email protected]
Subject: The Day After

Ancona House - Foxes Bay Yes, well, it looks like Richmond Hill and Foxes Bay were the areas affected by last night's black cloud...and I must report that the fallout was mostly ash not the pulverized rock we have been experiencing more recently. The cloud was immense and blacked out our view of the lights of Plymouth for about 2 hours.

Because we closed up the house completely, by 10:00 pm we had to have a breath of air and some natural breeze, so Peter and I grabbed brooms and began to sweep the terrace and pool deck. It was therapeutic and made the getting up this morning much more pleasant because we could open the doors to tile rather than ash underfoot.

A quick cup of coffee and then the hose came out. (We shoveled some piles of ash created the night before.) Depth of ash was only 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch, but every surface was covered. All the roofs in view are light grey no matter what the color of the shingles. Those of you in cooler climates might equate it to a light snowfall or heavy frost -- oh, that ours would just melt away with the rising of the sun. Within 2 hours, the floor surfaces were cleared out the back way and the front stoop was swept. The outdoor furniture and terrace banisters were hosed down but the pool of course is black -- that will be siphoned later.

It is 3 pm as I write this. The morning and afternoon have been marked with periods of continuous eruptions of ashclouds over the volcano. They rise thousands and thousands of feet into the air in great fluffy billows and drift out to sea. I think that the height of the eruptions is what is keeping them from depositing (much) ash on the island but wonder what will happen tonight when the winds change.

The volcano does not frighten me. As Susan Edgecombe in her "Olveston view" reports, there are so many other parts of the world far more dangerous and so many man-made threats to fear that the presence of ash pales in comparison. Those of you who have been to Montserrat know of her beauty; the ash dulls it for awhile and sets us to grumble. I share grumbles with you -- not whines -- so that you can experience a slice of life with an active volcano.

Until next time...Karen Collinson

Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 23:57:01 -0700
From: David Lea [email protected]

Today we were seeing our son off to St. Kitts, and as usual the plane was over an hour late. But it was an interesting wait since the volcano was doing her pyroclastic thing again. We got some great footage for vol. # 3, if there's going to be one, and were just leaving after finally getting Sunny on the plane, when the action really picked up!

I mean, this was BIG!!! And we could see that for the first time since Mother's Day it was going all the way to the sea again! It just kept expanding with convection and spiralling higher, further out, and further down than we'd ever seen it go. Outrageous stuff, this pyroclastic action! As some scientists and friends were actually up there, around Tar River and Whites, we were very concerned for their safety, but everyone got out alright, thank God. Cars were speeding out of the danger zone, horns blowing, and big excitement, as nobody really knew just HOW big this thing was going to get! They said on the volcano update that it went 9,000 ft. high, but it looked higher than that to me. We had to get off to the north just to fit it in the camera lense!

The combination of the setting sun later on, the full moon, blue sky, and the rich green of the island (since we've had so much rain), with the purple-grey to white billowing ash and steam eruptions made for some truly spectacular video and photography! I agree with Susan. There are definately worse places to be! In fact, I wouldn't choose to be anyplace other than right here right now. And yes, Montserrations are incredibly resilient folks who, in spite of their apparent resistance to change, really know how to roll with the punches and adapt when necessary. Hats off! Who knows what tomorrow will bring? We all wish we did, but God's the only one who has that part together. And so we wait... to see... until... Clover Lea

Date: Tue, 30 Jul 1996 08:30:20 -0300
From: Susan Goldin [email protected]
Subject: The biggest yet. . . .

I have now had a whole night to contemplate the events of July 28 and 29. I still don't know if I can describe what I saw with any objectivity. My thoughts are jumbled -- awe, a touch of fear and wonder at the power that lies beneath our feet.

On Sunday, the 28th, I stood on the cliffside at my home in Woodlands, watching the towering plumes of ash rising into the sky. My heart pounded, my eyes refused to blink, not wanting to miss anything that was happening. I thought, "Is this the big one?" as I watched the ash flow over the sea.

Then came Monday. Around 3 PM, I stood with Mike and Donna Emmanuel on their terrace watching the plumes rising even higher than they did on Sunday. I left in a hurry, wanting to get home to Butch, so we could share this experience as we share everything else. I loaded my camera with a fresh roll of film and we drove over to St. Christopher's on Foxes Bay Road, where our view of the volcano is such that we are going to rename the property "Volcano View Villa." Climbing the hill, I couldn't take my eyes off the roiling, rapidly growing growing ash plumes that were boiling up and up into the bright blue sky.

I climbed up onto the huge cistern that stands behind the house. Standing up there I watched and shot photo after photo with no other thought in my mind except how awesome it was. Whenever I thought that the boiling ash and steam were going to stop, another burst came out of the mountain. I could hear thunder and see lightning in the clouds of ash rising higher and higher into the sky. The ash rolled down over the fields, blocking out everything in sight south of the Richmond Hill ridge, rolling out over the sea, laying a carpet of ash over its surface as the wind carrried it to the northwest.

Words are so inadequate. How can I describe the feelings? How can I tell those of you who haven't had the opportunity to see the power and the beauty -- yes, beauty -- of those clouds climbing into the heavens what it is like? How can I describe the colors rising out of the earth? How can I paint a word picture that would tell people what it is like to watch Mother Earth in all her glory? I can not.

The scientists tell us that yesterday's pyroclastic flows and resulting ash plumes were the biggest yet, bigger even than the ones on Mother's Day. Was it because of the full moon and its gravitational pull? That's one theory and one that I tend to agree with as most of the really active periods of the volcano have coincided with full moons. I am not a scientist, I am an artist and will always see in my mind's eye the incredible beauty of the mountain's activity.

I wouldn't miss any of this experience. I have always felt myself very fortunate to have wound up living in Paradise. The volcano hasn't changed that except to enhance it. It's economically very difficult at the moment, but that's part of the price of Paradise. We will get through this period of tribulation and be stronger for it. Being on Montserrat and seeing the fortitude and resilience of everyone here is is the best thing that I have ever experienced. Thank you, Montserrat and Montserratians, for taking us into your hearts and sharing your homeland.

"The Bike Lady"
Susan Goldin
"Come Ride With Us!"

Article on Sonesta Hotel Chain

If you are curious about the people behind the Sonesta hotel chain which bought the Casablanca on Anguilla, turn to page 67 of the July 29th Forbes magazine. Sonesta is a family operated company that operates 17 hotels around the world, including the Red Sea and Aruba. It plans to stay in its "unique niche--medium size hotels one step below luxury, in resort areas where the competition from giant chains like Hilton is not so overpowering. Who wants to vacation in an 800-room hotel? We don't want to end up being a cookie-cutter hotel. We want to be distinct."

Flamboyant Tree

[flame tree]

About this time of year the flame tree (also called the flamoyant or poinciana) bursts into bloom with bright red flows and long feathery, fern-like green leaves. In the winter, when most people visit the island, the leaves drop off and you notice the distinctive flat seed pods up to 2 feet long that hang from the bare branches. The one pictured above is in Blowing Point, but there is a nice flame tree across the street from Koal Keel restaurant in The Valley.

Second Meeting of the Computer Club

With five PCs set up around the meeting room in the new library, 27 Anguillian computer enthusiasts learned basic Windows skills: Drawing a picture with Paint, writing and enhancing a short message with Write, clicking and double clicking the mouse, dragging the mouse, and Alt-Tab to switch applications. Congratulations to our club members who each accomplished the challenging skill session. Helping the students were Leroy Hill, Roy Tabor, Vince Cate, myself and Keith an exchange student from Manhattan who is working on the heritage project in the library.

Meetings are every Monday at 4:30 at the library, but the next one is August 12 due to Carnival. Future topics include ways to get your own computer, word processing, database, Internet, taking a computer apart and putting it back together, resources in our library for learning about computers, and much more. Anyone with a laptop computer who would like to help is encouraged to show up at about 4:00 for the pre-meeting set up.

How to Order "Under an English Heaven"

Ron Harris wrote:
A most wonderful web site, with a really nice amount of unexpected information... I've just finished reading Donald Westlake's Under an English Heaven -- an amazing story. An Anguillian web site mentioned that the book was available on Anguilla. Is there a mechanism in place for an American to order it directly from the island? Aside from wanting my own copy (vs. the library copy), I think it would be appropriate to purchase it from an island business. It sounds like Anguilla is definitely worth a visit.

Under An English Heaven is the story of the Anguillian revolution, told by the best-selling author Donald Westlake. For a sample, there is an extract available on the Web. I checked with Amazon Books because they will sell you any book in print. They did not have Under an English Heaven in their database, which means you probably cannot buy it in the USA, except from a used book store.

You can order a copy from Olive Hodge at the Anguilla Drug Store for $12.95 US plus postage. Just call her at 264-497-2738 and she takes VISA.

. . . continue virtual vacation (preceding month)

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