I hadn’t been on a propeller plane before so I had no idea what to expect.
I sat excitedly in my seat – one of only a handful on this tiny plane. On the row in front, my parents – as well as a couple of other passengers – were being briefed on how to open the emergency doors.
To my right, the first propeller started up, spinning slowly before gradually gaining momentum.
The plane began to rock slightly from side to side, thrown off-balance by the one churning propeller.
From the corner of my eye, I saw movement. The left propeller was starting to get going.
Together the two propellers let out insistent buzzing sounds, a deafening symphony. When I tried to speak, my voice sounded distorted and robotic.
The small airline made its way down the runway outside George F. L. Charles Airport on the island of St Lucia. It had been a fun morning exploring St Lucia’s only volcano but I was excited to be moving on to our new destination – the island of Antigua.
I nearly squealed with excitement when the plane took off into the air, leaving the mountainous island of St Lucia behind it.
The flight took us north, passing over the islands of Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe before landing in Antigua an hour later.
Antigua is one of two islands belonging to the country ‘Antigua and Barbuda’. The other island is (unsurprisingly) known as ‘Barbuda’. Antigua is the largest of the two but is still relatively small in size. Crossing the diameter of the island would only take around half an hour.
Compared to many islands in the Caribbean, Antigua is relatively flat. The highest elevation can be found in the west with volcanic rocks that rise to 402 metres.
The island is void of forests. There are no rivers and springs. As a result, the island has a very dry interior, a contrast to other islands in the Leeward Island Chain.
Sugarcane production used to be the main source of income for the island. In more recent years this has been overtaken by tourism.
We arrived at ‘VC Bird International Airport’, the only airport on the island. The airport is located in the very north of Antigua, near the island’s capital of St John.
From there we had a half an hour taxi ride all the way across the island, to the very south west.
As we drove through the island’s interior, I became aware of how dry it was. Brown fields were abundant. It was a great contrast with the rich rainforests of St Lucia.
Our destination was a boutique hotel called ‘Carlisle Bay’, nestled in a secluded bay with a gorgeous white-sand beach in front.
The hotel was stunning. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed somewhere so nice in my life.
Me and my siblings had a suite all to ourselves which looked out onto the calm turquoise ocean. The interior was completely zen with a huge four-poster bed in the centre. Behind the bed was an open-plan en-suite with a free-standing bath.
It was just a shame that we were only spending one night here.
For the remainder of the afternoon I lulled on the beach, daring to put my painful pink skin in the sun, even if it was hidden behind an oversized T-shirt. My burns must have been incredibly noticeable because almost immediately a man appeared beside my deck-chair selling Aloe Vera, a natural remedy for sunburn.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d just cut some of the plant now from somewhere along the beach to sell for me, but I didn’t care. I bought some and delighted as he cut open the plant and I rubbed the sticky green residue into my sore skin.
When I told him I got burnt in St Lucia he remarked that he wasn’t surprised. He told me something about the geography made it easier for you to get burnt and that I shouldn’t worry because Antigua was totally different.
As you can tell from my vague recollection, I had no idea what this meant but he was so engrossing so at the time, I believed him. Something about St Lucia meant you could easily get burnt there. Sure.
Thinking about it now, I’m not so sure. I think I was just super silly not to top-up my sun-cream if I was going to be lying in the sun all day.
Sadly, I didn’t get to see much of Antigua.
I spent the day frolicking in the clear blue waters of the ocean, allowing the soft, fine grains of sand to wash over my toes, dipping in the relaxing communal pool and eating at the restaurant’s own delicious restaurant.
That night I attempted to have a bath. How could I not try and make the most of perhaps the most gorgeous bath I had ever seen. I nearly cried. My burns were sill red raw but I persevered. The bathwater was only lukewarm, after all.
The following morning was Easter Sunday and I was awoken by a knock on the door.
I opened the door to find one of the hotel’s staff members holding a tray of chocolate including several Easter eggs with the note’ Happy Easter!’.
I could have hugged him!
My last moments were spent gorging myself on the delicious complimentary chocolate that had been brought to our room.
I felt sad that today I would be leaving. 24 hours was not long enough to make the most of Antigua.
But at the same time I felt incredibly excited for our next Caribbean destination.