Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vacation Archives: Antigua part 3. Nelson's Dockyard and Shirley Heights

   Knowing absolutely nothing about Nelson's Dockyard except that it is Antigua's  premier tourist attraction and that it is a restored Naval yard, James and I excitedly set out in a hired taxi to go check it out.  when we got there, again we were the only tourists in the whole dockyard.  (see figure a. below for full effect. Here you will see James, the only person in sight, in front of the Copper Lumber store. Built in 1789, it was used for.... you guessed it! Storing copper and lumber which were used to repair the ships.  It now functions as a hotel.)  We told the cab driver to pick us up in 4 hours, not knowing that all could be seen in a matter of 1/2 hour.  Don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful area. The Yacht marina was very picturesque. The splendidly restored Georgian stone buildings along with the scattering of antique ship anchors against the backdrop of the electric blue water brought us back to another time.  but after an hour, we had walked around twice taking our time and admiring the scenery. there was only one thing left to do....

                                                                      figure a.

So we headed past the massive pillars that once belonged to the old Boat house and Sail loft and over to the Admiral Inn, which used to be the Pitch and Tar Store.  Here we drank the most Amazing Banana Daiquiris amidst the most peaceful (partly because we had it all to ourselves) patio bar overlooking the lush greenery, crystal blue harbor, and the only remaining Georgian Dockyard in the world.  When we decided it was time to call the Cab driver to pick us up early, he told us that he had been waiting in the Parking Lot because he knew that we would be sooner than 4 hours.

I wish I had remembered this cab driver's name. I can't really even call him a cab driver, he was more of a tour guide really. He told us all about the history of Antigua as well as his personal history as he drove us past all of the houses in which he used to live.  After Nelson's Dockyard, he brought us to Shirley Heights, an old Military complex and lookout, which stood high above English Harbor and Nelson's Dockyard, to shield it from attack.  As you can see from the photo below the view was like none other and this photo does not even do it Justice.

Below Shirley Heights is Blockhouse Hill which overlooks the south side of the Island and contains a large gunpowder store.  This area is a National Park and has been left wild. Above you can see our guide/cab driver explaining the Century plant to us. You can see one in this picture in the distance between James and our Guide. It is a relative of the Agave plant and was named "Century" plant because it was believed to flower every 100 years. Later it was found out that they actually flower about once every 28 years.  I happened to be almost 28 while the one in the background was flowering.

Blockhouse Hill also had many wandering goats or so I thought. It turns out that these are actually native sheep although they closely resemble goats.  You can tell the difference because the sheep keep their tails down while the goats keep their tails up.  Thank goodness for this because I have very bad luck with goats as I was once chased half a mile on my bicycle by an angry goat when I was twelve-years-old.  This was the day that I discovered my amazing knack for Goat imitations. While stopped with my bike to see the animals at the farm down the street from my house, I called the goat over to pet him with my very best "bah".  This "Bah" must have been a very bad word in Goat-speak as it angered him to the point that he came charging towards me, leapt the fence, and chased me down the street while I pedaled like I was training for the Tour de France all the way back home. We did not have this experience in Antigua and as James was aware of my experience with goats, i was given strict orders to keep all animal noises to myself.

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