The islands of carefree kaffirs

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We continue our series of reports from RBC's Caribbean Sailing Week. And today our story is about the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, as yesterday the racing as such was not in the program, and the squadron of yachts sailed together to the island of Barbuda. Unfortunately, the lack of reliable Internet access in the islands disrupts the planned rhythm of reports, for which we apologize to readers.

Antigua and Barbuda is a small independent state in the Caribbean Sea, consisting of only three more or less large islands. The names of two of the islands are included in the name of the state, while the third island, Renegado, is virtually uninhabited. The islands were formerly a British colony, in 1981 they gained independence, and the first prime minister of the independence period received the honorary title «Father of the Nation» (about the best friend of physical education was not found out, the only stadium seen was... cricket). A huge painted sculpture of the national father stands in the center of the capital on the main shopping square and his face most of all resembles President Obama.

Life on the island of Antigua - at the first glance of a traveler - is very poor. The mass of buildings mostly resembles a scaled-up doghouse - but judging by the laundry hanging on ropes nearby, people live here. On the other hand, a huge number of new and not the cheapest cars (and car dealerships). « Shaggy» in age is practically absent. How one combines with the other is a mystery.
There is almost no industry on islands, too, and about 60% of economy is tourism. At all thus to serve tourists no one specially hurries up - local residents are not that lazy, but sincerely do not understand that there can be people who are somewhere in a hurry. A two-hour queue of passengers from one flight to the border officers is the order of the day. The speed of service in hotels is about the same. Spaniards with their «asta maniana» sigh enviously. Probably, the bent for smoking weed, forbidden in the country, to which, nevertheless, all of them indulge, puts the print. And after a good puff, what's work?
However, this careless life has its positive side - Antigua and Barbuda occupies one of the first places in the world for the absence of cancer among its citizens. Perhaps it is the local carelessness and lack of any hint of hurry?
At one time there was an attempt to establish cane sugar production on the islands, but because of the above-mentioned quality of the population this scheme did not work out. It was not possible to compete with the Cubans. However, the truncated cones of sugar warehouses are still there. «They are preserved as monuments - if, for instance, you have bought a land with the like» encumbrance, you have no right to demolish it.
So the second most important branch of the island is rum. A lot of rum is produced here, but practically all its production is monopolized by a single firm. Though, alas, I am not a connoisseur of this drink, so I can hardly dazzle you with a true story about the merits of local rum.
In those ancient times, which are now almost legendary, when the British Empire was the ruler of the seas, Antigua was an important naval and logistical, in other words, a transshipment base. Admiral Nelson chose the islands as both a British outpost and his personal residence and built a magnificent estate here. In his memory, the largest of the local marinas bears his name - I think the famous naval commander would have been surprised at the number of megayachts, not much smaller than his Victoria, filling this harbour. There are two important - in terms of flying fauna - places on the islands. One small island near Antigua is home to a large population of pelicans, while Barbuda is home to a special species of frigate, found nowhere else - its habitat has been turned into a nature reserve. The beauty and wildness of the local nature is astonishing. The most ordinary country roads lead through places where you needn't even stimulate your imagination to imagine you're in an untouched forest. The scenery surrounding the road is just like the photos from the second volume of «Africa of Dreams and Reality» Hanselka and Siekmund. Bananas are hanging from palms in bunches - you may as well eat them as you want, and pineapples, as if they were plantains, are growing right on the roadside. In general, a carefree and carefree life. It's practically heaven on earth. But we very much doubt that in true paradise air conditioners are so noisy...

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