England in the Caribbean – 6th February 2019

So it’s good bye to Antigua and the St.James Resort. I’ve left many places over the last quarter of a century convinced I’ll never return only to do so ten or a dozen years later. But I’m pretty sure there will be no return to St.James. Hopefully I’m wrong.

I’ll miss the tiny, brightly coloured birds which have become outrageously emboldened by generations of existence alongside humans, no matter how fat and old they are. If people are eating burgers and tortillas next to the pool or on a beach, it means crumbs – and they have no problem making flying visits to your plate, before you’ve finished if necessary.

They have also developed quite a taste for punch – and aren’t fussy if it’s the rum or fruit variety. Perhaps that explains their courage.

Prices for ‘luxury’ items in the Caribbean are all high, especially in tourist spots. And there are many ways to make money – like when we drove up to Shirley Heights to enjoy the view of English Harbour only to be met by a man at the car-park explaining that it was US$10 per person to enter. I’ve always had a problem with charging for nature, especially when it’s $4 for a small beer and $25 for a piece of grilled chicken when you’re in. Sure, people pay for the cable-car up Table Mountain but there’s no charge to walk up there.

But Antigua relies on tourism for its livelihood and the vast majority of tourists can afford to pay – especially those on the yachts I’ve shown you. But what do the ‘poor’ tourists do, where do the back-packers eat? And the visiting locals, for that matter? They find out where the nearest ‘street cookin’ spots are head for them. “Mama’s Kitchen” is one of the best in English Harbour, I’m reliably told. If I do return to Antigua, and this part, I will be heading straight there. Without the costs of a restaurant’s overheads, you simply take your plate or take-away box plate along, pay a third of the price for twice the quality, and happy days.

Attention returns to the Test series tomorrow. Not that it has ever been completely ignored during the unscheduled two days off. Not completely.

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