Part I: Antigua


What started in the snow: My Nephew on his knees in the snow proposing to his girlfriend



(…was consummated at the Beach!)
A pretty darn cute “Save the Date Card”
Well it all started last winter when our nephew proposed to his girlfriend while she was mastering the bunny slope on a ski trip to New Mexico. From the snow covered slopes to the white sands of Antigua eight months later, a great week of fun was had by all, and then some!
Antigua from the air
We missed the Antigua’s lively Carnival, which ended two days before we arrived, but the betrothed couple and my sister and brother-in-law took in the spirited festivities.
We landed on the Caribbean island of Antigua, in the West Indies, famous for Antigua Sailing Week, at the end of April and beginning of May, the annual world-class regatta. The airport itself is flanked by two, now infamous landmarks, the Stanford Cricket Ground and the former Bank of Antigua (Stanford Financial Groups Colonial Mansion headquarters) which were ground zero for the $7 Billion Ponzi Scheme masterminded by the American and former Texan, Allen Stanford, now serving a 110-year prison sentence.    
Photos above and below: The aftermath of an American in paradise and his $7 Billion dollar Ponzi scheme, the former Bank of Antigua, top, and the Cricket Stadium and Ground he built, below.
I try to read the history of a place prior to my arrival, and what I learned that Christopher Columbus named the island “Antigua” in 1493 in honor of the “Virgin of the Old Cathedral” found in Seville Cathedral in southern Spain. On his 1493 voyage, honoring a vow, he named many islands after different aspects of St. Mary, including Montserrat and Guadaloupe.
We headed to our home for the next week, an ocean side room on the Caribbean Sea in Saint John, the capital of the island.
Birds in the hotel lobby, Sampson & Delilah
This bird was carved from the remaining trunk of a long dead palm tree
Family vacations often come with pitfalls, but this week was surely an exception. We had a great time, dancing in-mass to the local traditional steel band, the Grandmother, Sister, Wife, Daughter, Niece, Nephew, and Brides family whom we’d just met, all shook a Caribbean leg (or two)!      
Caribbean architecture at our hotel
A beachside restaurant adjacent to our hotel in real island style
We dined together morning noon and night, chartered a private boat for an island tour, snorkeled over a 1900’s shipwreck, and even launched a “message in a bottle” for the Bride and Groom, a gift from my Sister, the Mother of the Groom. The “message in a bottle” is a cool gift– the Bride and Groom fill it out the enclosed form, wedding guests sign their best wishes, and the bottle is tossed into the sea. When found, the finder opens it, and hopefully follows the instructions to log onto the internet, document when and where it was found, and then tosses it back into the sea to be found by another person. The Bride and Groom can log onto the website and see just how far their bottle has traveled, who found it, and wait until the next finder logs on.
Photos above and below: “A Message in a Bottle”
MC succumbs to a beach vendor who’s already made a sale to my Brother-in-law! He made her a tiara out of Palm fronds… fitting for my little Princess.
The view from the massage table- A break from the family for a vacation essential
On our snorkeling trip in Deep Bay, we cruised by Giorgio Armani’s cliff side Antiguan getaway, a fabulous Caribbean style villa with several buildings and a private beach, which was also I’d seen a couple of years ago in Architectural Digests. We snorkeled over the ship wreck, the Andes, a ship from Trinidad that sank over 100 years ago. Its mast rises slightly above the surface and you can see the entire wreck in the crystal clear waters- but be aware of the Jelly Fish, they were plentiful!    
Hawks Bill Rock
Yachting, Antigua style
Snorkeling the ship wreck Andes
We snorkeled a 100 year old ship wreck, where the Jellyfish were out in force!
Photos: Giorgio Armani’s Antigua Digs, above, my photo, and below the photo taken by Architectural Digest… you get what you pay for!
Antiguan architecture and an original sugar mill viewed from the water
The wedding was beautiful, on the sand under a bamboo hut, with the barefoot Bride, Groom, Family and Guests. Simple, elegant and sincere, it was all we needed. Afterward another steel band greeted us as we partied and celebrated our newest family member and the marriage of our Nephew. Afterward there was a poolside dinner under a garden gazebo, which ended with dancing to a local DJ spinning classic dance music that had everyone on their feet until the late hours of the evening.
The vows officiated with local clergy
After the vows: Me, Beau Carder, Sarah Carder, MC, and Caroline
The guys hamming it up with the bride
One of the Steel band players
The pre-dinner festivities included a steel band and the entire family danced together- such fun!
The week ended with a family brunch on Saturday morning where we said our goodbyes and headed out to the airport which included a private island tour of the islands early fort, Fort James, at the entrance to the harbor of St. John’s. The fort was built in 1706 to guard St. John’s harbor and is one of the many forts built by the British in the 18th century. A powder magazine, several cannons, some of the original buildings, and the foundation of the fort’s wall remain.
 Ruins at the Ft. Berkley’s entrance
The original Ft. Berkley wall
Officers Housing at historic Ft. Berkley
A historic building at Ft. Berkley, now houses a restaurant and bar with amazing views of the island
My family unit poses for a pic!
Details of the original operable wooden shutters and stone work
Photos above and below: Artifacts from the English Fort Berkley include hand carved pipes and English blue/white china

The best view of the island and harbor are from the fort, and you have a birds-eye view of Eric Clapton’s magnificent 14,000 sq. ft. villa, Standfast Point, situated on a 45 peninsula. Side note: The villa is available to rent! Contact Barbara Japal, Caribrep Villas, [email protected], 268.463.2070.

Eric Clapton’s property, Villa Standfast Point, situated on a 45 peninsula juts into the Caribbean Sea
Eric Clapton’s magnificent 14,000 sq. ft. villa, Standfast Point, is available for private rentals

Antigua is a fairly undeveloped and rather poor island. The downtown leaves a lot to be desired and you will not find shopping like you do on the other more prosperous islands like St. Barth’s and St. Maartan.

Photos above and below: Two views of downtown St. Johns, Antigua

The Antigua airport leaves a lot to be desired, but a badly needed new airport is being constructed next door and should be operational within a few months.

Goodbye to Antigua
We left Antigua and headed off to the duel-ruled island of St. Maarten (French) / St. Martin (Dutch).
To Mr. & Mrs. George frank Carder IV, we wish you all the happiness in the world. With love, Uncle Steve
All for now!
Goodnight moon.   

Source: A Design Guy

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