Monday, May 6, 2013

Cruzin the Caribbean - My 14-day Travel Blog - A Taste of Antigua!

Day 5
"Its An-tee-GA and don't pronounce it An-tee-GWA unless you are of Spanish descent!" Those were the instructions from our guide, Trevor as he greeted us as we boarded the bus for our tour in St John's.

Trevor cheerfully announced that we were now on the island of 90,000 BEE-U-TEE-FUL black people, boasting 366 magnificent beaches! (one for every day of the year INCLUDING leap year). Trevor was so right about the beaches. They were absolutely breathtaking! Antigua is the island where I took my favorite picture of the boat that looked like it was sailing into heaven. I was speechless!! (photo is included in the slideshow)

Antigua facts:
Antigua Native name: Wadadli
Antigua parishes english
Location Caribbean Sea
Area     281 km2 (108.5 sq mi)
Ethnic groups 91% Black or Mulatto, 4.4% Other Mixed Race, 1.7% White,  2.9% Other

Antigua is the main island of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua means "ancient" in Spanish and was named by Christopher Columbus after an icon in Seville Cathedral, Santa Maria de la Antigua—St. Mary of the Old Cathedral.
The name Wadadli comes from the original Amerindian inhabitants and means "our own".

Antigua's economy is mainly reliant on tourism, with the agricultural sector serving the domestic market.

During Antigua Sailing Week, at the end of April and beginning of May, the annual world-class regatta brings many sailing vessels and sailors to the island to play sports.

The Arawak were the first well-documented group of indigenous people to settle Antigua.  The Arawak introduced agriculture to Antigua and Barbuda. Among other crops, they cultivated the now noted Antiguan "Black" pineapple along with cotton. Our tour took us to a village where we got to see a woman weaving cotton, the on to a VERY informative stop at herbal garden (Antigua grows many plants that have powerful medicinal powers such as the Soursop plant which is known to cure cancer (a fact not publicized here in the US - if the drug companies can't patent the plant and make money then they aren't going to tell you about it - simple as that!) we also toured to the black pineapple fields. (video to be posted soon)

Sugar became Antigua's main crop in about 1674, when Christopher Codrington settled at Betty's Hope Estate. He came from Barbados, bringing the latest sugar technology with him. Betty's Hope, Antigua's first full-scale sugar plantation, was so successful that other planters turned from tobacco to sugar. This resulted in their importing slaves to work the sugar cane crops.

According to A Brief History of the Caribbean, many West Indian colonists initially tried to use Indians and whites as slaves. These groups succumbed easily to disease and/or malnutrition, and died by the thousands. The African slaves adapted well to the new environment and thus became the number one choice of "unpaid labour." In fact, the slaves throve physically and also provided medical services, and skilled labour, such as carpentry for their slave masters.

Trevor told us a very interesting story about unrest among the slaves which had become increasingly common. In 1729, a slave named Hercules was hanged, drawn and quartered, and three others burned alive, for conspiring to kill the slave owner Crump and his family. In 1736, a slave called "Prince Klaas" (whose real name was Court) planned an uprising in which whites would be massacred. Court was crowned "King of the Coromantees" in a pasture outside the capital of St. John's, in what appeared to be just a colourful spectacle, but was for the slaves a ritual declaration of war on the whites. Due to information obtained from other slaves, colonists discovered the plot and suppressed it. Prince Klaas and four accomplices were caught and executed by the breaking wheel. Six slaves were hanged in chains and starved to death, and another fifty-eight were burned at the stake. The site of these executions is now the Antiguan Recreation Ground. (If any of you saw the movie Django - the slave that let the cat out of the bag is equivalent to Samuel L Jackson's role in the movie)

Great Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807, and all existing slaves were emancipated in 1834.
More info on the revolt

This is one of our most favorite islands and this was one of the best excursions we took!  Trevor was full of great stories and factual information. We would definitely go back to An tee-GA for a longer stay.

Please check out the slideshow of beautiful Antigua and our tour. Our visit to Sea Island Cotton Shop,  Cedar's Pottery, a drive to the Pineapple farm to see the "Antiguan Black Pineapple", an exciting and informative visit to Rosemac's Herb Garden and finally make our way to one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen.

I also have a couple of videos we took which I will share tomorrow.

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