A trip through Antiguan lanes
A home to a few great cricketers, Antigua and Barbuda is heavily dependent on tourism, writes Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.Updated: Apr 09, 2007, 01:42 IST
A land of just 80,000 and home to a few great cricketers, the country of Antigua and Barbuda is heavily dependent on tourism, just like many of its neighbouring island nations. And the tourism department of the government is working overtime to uphold its image to the cricket media by exposing them to the several attractions this place offers.
A bus trip from Jolly Harbour at the northwest coast of the country to Devil’s Bridge at northeast on one of the non-match days this week was a memorable outing. The day was bright with the sun lighting up the greenery around and the unadulterated blue overhead made things picture perfect.
It was a drive past some of the 365 beaches this country has an official announcement, though a list confirming it is hard to come by and some of the landmarks like the English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard. These were significant points in the days of ships and sailors, who are incidentally referred to as pirates by locals.
Apart from the landscapes, seascapes and patterns of hills against the backdrop of a mesmerising sky changing designs with the fast floating clouds, which all constitute some stunning subjects of photographic interest, Antigua has a few other things to draw attention as well.
Chelsea chief and Roman Abramovich’s yacht was stationed at English Harbour. It is a huge liner that according to tourism department official Mario Browne, is the Russian billion baron’s temporary residence during the English winter.
This island also has something to do with Eric Clapton. The legendary singer has a mansion at Mamora Bay and pointing towards that direction Browne added it was a work of art worth “four million dollars”. Clapton runs a drug rehabilitation centre at a place called Crossroads where he himself had spent time to get rid of the problem.
Other places of historical interest were on the way too like the Liberty Village where slavery was officially abolished in this country in 1874. This village is known for producing a rare variety of green limestone and hosts the island’s biggest festival commemorating the end of slavery in the form of a carnival every July.
Fading signs of the once flourishing sugar industry were strewn all over with eroding storehouses of sugarcane plantations standing alone like lonely remnants of the past. Antigua produces a lot of bananas these days and such trees are called fig trees apart from pineapples, though tourism accounts for around 75 per cent of the annual income.
They say here that this place inhabited by the Arawaks centuries ago has seen the influx of people from other islands and other countries like Spain, France and England apart from the sugar labourers from Africa. They also say that while many have left them, the sun has not. It continues to shine bright as ever, making this country happy and beautiful.