Paradise Found

I found Paradise last week.

During February “ski week”,  most of the families at the American School of London lug their unwieldy equipment bags to frozen Austria and populate the slopes of Lech.   I’ll happily trade those sleek “S” tracks in the snow for my bare footprints in the sand.

For the moment, we have abandoned all our expat exploits in which we traipse through European cities, dog-eared guidebook in hand, ready to see and experience everything.  In Anguilla there is glorious little to do.  The days unfold in a lazy pattern interwoven by walks, swims, naps, exercise, and meals.

We had some unexpected excitement mid-week when a tempestuous sea surged with such force that it seeped into our living room!  Thunderous waves crashed loudly against the glass doors dividing the house from the outer patio – it sounded like we were under attack!  Despite the stormy seas, the weather remained warm with clear blue skies.  The hyperactive ocean became an exciting backdrop of kinetic energy that contrasted our relative inertia and total relaxation.

Waves crashing into the outer windows beyond the pool

We ventured off campus to take a sunset cruise one evening.  Pelicans swooped into the ragged terra-cotta cliffs, turtles popped up in a splash of ripples, and waves lazily lapped into a cove.

The simple palette of azure sky, turquoise sea, pale beige sand, and white soft foam lulled us into tranquility.  As dusk approached, we watched the sky transform to tawny orange, shocking fuchsia, and cool violet; colors that ended our day with a “bang”, a bold celebration of beauty.

Early one morning Katie, Jeff and my Dad took a fishing trip in search of tarpon and tuna.   They left in fading darkness and watched the sun rise over the waves.  After hours of trolling in the swaying sea, they were rewarded with a big barracuda that was reeled in by all three in succession.  The prize made Jeff’s sea-sickness worth it and provided fish tales to fill the afternoon.

A family bocce tournament brought out the competitor in each of us one evening.  The old game reminded me of the family reunions at my Uncle Don’s house every July.  My Uncle Primo dominated over the bocce games, acting as an overbearing officiator who would elicit covert eye-rolls from my many uncles.  These old men would sport their plaid shorts, white T-shirts, and tall black socks and get into the game.  The aunts would drag out the plastic lawn chairs and sit back to enjoy the spectacle.  Most of these characters are gone now, and the memory made me smile as I played with my parents, my husband, and my daughters.

Meals provided the greatest entertainment and diversion each day.  Anguilla has a surprisingly vast array of options.  We dined in lovely tropical gourmet restaurants, quaint seaside lobster shacks, casual road-side taco cantinas, and smokey BBQ joints on the beach.  I believe everything tastes better when washed down with a margarita.  James Bond can keep his “shaken not stirred”, I’ll take my “rocks and salt”!

The world’s biggest margarita…no match for us!

As this lazy week or warmth and sunshine came to an end, the damp cold that gripped me in London finally let go.  I am thawed out, tanned, and ready to head back into the last vestiges of winter in London.  I am hopeful that it will be an early Spring.

Though we returned this morning to a sunny mild London, I still feel longing for a Paradise Lost.




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