I’m about to actually leave Antigua. I’m sat here at the airport, having tried really hard not to labour the goodbyes and cry. Ash almost set me off this morning when she came to give me a hug, but we avoided eye contact and just hugged each other tight.
But as I’m at the gate, now I’m sat here in floods, PSA crying at an airport is never a good look, but in the middle of a pandemic when everyone is anxious, big snotty tears when wearing a mask are not a great idea. I am just emotional not ill honest I protest!
This little island has been my home for the past 3 months. I never thought I’d spend three months in the Caribbean but feel very blessed to have done so. Without the world stopping, I could never have justified it, but now I’ve done it and kept the wheels of work whirring, I hope to do it again sometime without borders closing as the trigger.
When I arrived, I wasn’t sure my Uncle B would still be around by the time I left, but his heart is very much beating and to have had this time with him has been beyond precious. So, it’s not right to be sad, I am truly very thankful to have been able to listen to more of his tales, look through old pictures and just be here when I wanted and needed to be.
My uncle B was the one who searched so hard to find us all, all those years ago, the one who helped bring us back to Antigua and connect us all with this island. I feel close to my mum here, this was a place where she found herself and her family, a place she returned for one last trip, when she got sick, that turned into at least 3 last trips. Each one soothed & healed her more than any chemo ever did. I’ll maybe be able to write about that one day.
I’ve also got chance to live as part of a big family again and I’ve loved it. Having my cousin worry about me as I run home just in the nick of time before curfew, those cheeky sundowners with his wife, my partner in crime, hanging out with my nieces and getting to know them better as incredible young ladies. Being fed and loved and embraced as part of a family unit, it’s been 20 years since I’ve lived like this and I’ve missed it.
The last few weeks have been pretty sweet, in that special spot between lockdown easing and the first tourist plane arriving. It’s felt like we’ve had the island to ourselves and have been embracing going outdoors with impunity. Once work is done, at the weekends I’ve gone sea fishing, caught 3 Mahi Mahi and battled a barracuda. Hiked up to Shirley Heights and around Mermaid pool and gone foraging, discovering so many weird and wonderful botanicals and plants.
I spent last Sunday on the boat with my other cousin and his family, drinking Scotch and coconut water, listening to tunes, eating Pelau, jumping in the sea whenever it got too hot. I’m old enough to know how precious these amazing days are and drink them up in in the moment not just look back on them fondly.
And now it’s time to go. It’s been the longest time away from my husband ever, I missed his birthday for the first time in 19 years. We need to say goodbye to Granada and move into that new flat in Madrid we signed up for 3 months ago and start our new lives together.
The next chapter of the adventure awaits.