Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Driving on Antigua

While Antigua is filled with lovely beaches, soft ocean breezes and lovely friendly people, it does have one large, glaring mark in the unpleasant column, the roads.  They are very narrow without benefit of shoulders nor center line markings, add to this for the American of driving not only on the wrong side of the road, but the wrong side of the car!


There was no way at all that I was going to drive, none, nada, zip!  TH got into the car with a bit of worry but confident that he could do this, as he drives on the right at work, abet with the workings on the "correct" side of the truck.  Our delightful taxi driver the previous day gave us a hint about how to navigate the traffic circles, she said, "If you keep the drivers door against the inside of the donut, you'll do fine!"  Later on that hint was helpful as the desire to turn the usual way was quite strong.

Within a few miles we found a giant flaw in our map.  Here look at the map a moment and then I'll continue on.


See all the delightful road names?  Ahh yes, well the funny thing is while they are named on maps, they AREN'T labeled in reality!!  No, really.  For some odd reason, the only roads with street signs were small residential roads, which when trying to get across the island shockingly enough, isn't all that much help!

At one point we decided to turn around and head back to a gas station hoping the other turn would prove more fruitful.  We turned off the "main" road onto a street lined with houses, and turned again onto an even smaller road to find a quiet place to turn about.  When we turned onto this small quiet road, a man was digging about in his fan and he looked up, saw us and his face split with a wide grin.  He came up to the car and said, "Ya lost man?  Where you be headed?"  We told him Jolly Harbor and he laughed like crazy, "You be way off your route!  Here follow me and I'll get you back on the right track!"  He waves his arm, jumps in his van and takes off.  We follow him thru several turnings and then he pulls over, waves us up even with him and tells us to, "Stick tight to this road and you'll be ok!"  We thanked him and after a little bit the road sorta kinda maybe-ish bent into 3.....  We didnt find Jolly Harbor itself, but did find a great place for lunchies!

The waiter kinda bothered TH, sorta.  S/He was tall and thin, and very very pretty, with large earrings, false eyelashes and drawn on eyebrows, long hair finely braided and done up in a bun sorta affair.  I'm not sure if waiter was trans, gay, dressed for a later gig at a drag show.  Whatever, waiter couldn't have been sweeter and more helpful.  The funny thing about this restaurant is there is one, count em one menu.  Written out on a large blackboard they have to carry around and prop next to the table.  With full tummies, and a revived but misguided sense of optimism we headed back out to the wild roads.

People park just willy nilly along these narrow roads, making them even more tricky to navigate.  In a particularly narrow portion of some road, there were cars and pick up trucks and a large truck parked alongside of both lanes of this road.  Making an already narrow road, nearly impossible.  Now people will stop for you, and when they do, they flash their lights, telling you 'tis ok to go.  We were behind the parked delivery truck and were awaiting our turn to go, and TH saw his moment, and started to creep forward, slowly, slowly, slowly and then he gunned it! 

                                                      CRASH ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Our mirror didn't make it around the truck. 

TH was horrified that he had damaged the rental car in only about 20 minutes worth of driving.  We continued on, he was worried that he would get arrested, but was worried about calling the police.  After about fifteen pull off to the side of the road to look at said cartoon map, we finally figured out that all of the important crossings have gas stations on them, and are duly marked upon the map that we finally managed to find our way to Nonsuch Bay Resort.


After my trip to the hospital TH had to return to pay the bill as their system was down and couldnt take any form of payment.  The taxi driver as she pulled passed our car asked if that was our car.  TH sighed and agreed as how it was, causing her to laugh like silly.  Turns out her cousin was sitting on the porch of one of the houses there and saw the whole thing happen.  Small island, yeah?

Armed with a sense of how to read the map, and with firm instructions from the taxi driver who took TH to pay the hospital bill, we found the airport without any wrong turns, raised blood pressure, nor leaving any of the cars bits and bobs along the road.  When we return we are bringing Martha (my GPS wife) with us, hopefully she will work a treat there!

Luckily the price of the mirror wasn't outrageous, only $375.00 USD, or $1,012.50 EC.   The lady at the car rental place acted as if it were no biggie, and we were in and out of there in quick quick time.



                            




5 comments:

  1. Hi Biki,
    It sound like a wonderful time there in the Islands, mon. I guess the Internet works well enough to work on your blog. I am trying to catch up on mine and I owe you a note too.

    Enjoy the time and have a lot of fun for us all!

    Roger

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  2. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    Sorry. I just think it's funny you decided to drive down there! What a hoot.

    I was asked if I intended to "hire" (rent) a car in England. I told them "NO" in no uncertain terms! And after riding around with others there, I am so glad I didn't!

    Glad it only cost $375! That's cheap!
    Can't wait for more stories, this is too much fun!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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  3. If it were me, I'm sure my accident would have been much worse. Glad you had a great time there!

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  4. It was not boring was it?
    Sounds like a good trip, even with the mishaps.

    Funny thing about streets. In Miami we lived just off SW 72 Street, which was also called Sunset Drive and was also called Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Blvd.

    Explains why I let Carlos do most of the driving when i first moved there!

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