My boyfriend and I recently returned from a wedding in Anguilla. Anguilla is an eel shaped island (Anguilla actually means “eel” in Italian) 16 miles long by 3 miles wide, just east of Puerto Rico and directly north of Saint Martin in the Caribbean. The island has a population of roughly 15,000 people, 6 monkeys (as we were told by one restaurant owner), and a whole lot of free-minded goats. By comparison to other highly trafficked Caribbean destinations, Anguilla still feels remarkably secluded and low-key. Well, apart from that brief moment of publicity in 2005 when Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt headed there to try to save their marriage.
Good food is a way of life for the islanders: local cooking is full of fresh seafood like grilled crayfish (technically a caribbean spiny lobster), mahimahi, conch soups, and crab and fish cakes. The flavors of lime, banana, and avocado are never too far away. The waters are as turquoise as a travel agency poster might advertise and the sand a pure ivory like soap. People are extremely friendly in Anguilla; greetings and salutations are heard all day long. When we asked a cab driver why people seemed so uniquely good-natured, he replied, “We are a small island! everyone knows everyone here.” As a guest, you are welcomed into the fray.
Anguilla’s rainy season is from July to November, and their annual precipitation is quite low – about 35 inches. So we were all caught off guard, none more so than the bride and groom, when a tropical storm struck on the night of the wedding – good luck by the buckets! Perhaps cloudy gray weather wasn’t what we had all envisioned, but it turned out to be spectacularly awesome in the original sense of the world. I found myself awed by the spectrum of stormy colors before us. It was a rarer feast for the eyes than the postcard blues and greens. The sheer gray-purple mists in the sky and the ever-changing emerald and onyx of an ocean in tumult were stunning to see. The sideways rain pummeling the beach was a thrill and the double rainbow that appeared as the storm cleared the next day was a lifetime first for me. We danced into the night celebrating the beautiful couple and when the rain finally paused, the guests took to the beach to light floating lanterns that burned even brighter against that dark moody sky.
Two days later the sun reappeared and we got our postcard views. Anguilla is beautiful when the sun is out – don’t get me wrong. But what I took away from the trip was a prized glimpse into a raw natural world, and the beautiful colors of that tempestuous palette.
Here comes the sun…