Anguilla First Exposure
As a very naive small-town girl from the US Midwest, I was plopped down in the Caribbean by VISTA, frequently referred to as "the domestic Peace Corps." I was assigned to a Pre-School program in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, where I met an Anguillian, Nat Richardson. He invited 3 of us volunteers to travel with him during the Thanksgiving holiday (November 1970), when he went home to visit his family.
We landed on St. Maarten first, and stayed the night with his brother and family in Hammer du Pont near Marigot. I had my very first lobster there. We went to Marigot wharf and bought a 6-lb lobster at the grand price of US $1.00/lb!
But, it was the trip to Anguilla that stands out in my memory.
November of 1970: Anguilla was "occupied" by the British. When we landed at Wallblake, the first thing I remember was the tent and a soldier bearing a rifle, right in front of the little terminal building.
We stayed with a wonderful family in the Pond Ground, Pola and Daisy Richardson. In those days there was not much electricity on Anguilla. Basically, just The Valley area, as I recall, and a
few personal generators here and there. I remember hanging around the porch with oil lamps lighting up the Scrabble game that everyone either played or coached in. There was a real "family" feel to everything. Three total strangers were treated as though we were long lost family come home. They even butchered a goat for us. We were invited to watch, but I decided that I could pass on that one. The meat once prepared was wonderful.
Later, we walked down to visit Nat's parents. They lived then in one of the small 2 room cottages that, in the 1970s, still scattered the island. Nat told us that after a bad hurricane in the 50s, "Mother England" had supplied the cottages for those who lost their homes in the hurricane.
Nat's mother still cooked outside back then, and that is how I met her. She had a pot on the fire, steaming some sweet potatoes that she had just picked. On a big log next to the fire we were handed sea grape leaf plates with the small white sweet potatoes. They were absolutely delicious. This is a memory that I have treasured for many years. Eunice Richardson was a true Anguillian mother and an absolutely wonderful woman.
That night I fell in love with Anguilla. The moon was bigger and brighter than I have ever seen before or since. I was so amazed. The white dirt road gleamed as it reflected the moonlight.
There was no need for a flashlight. It was magical. We looked down along the road to Sile Bay to see the moonlight reflected on the sea. The stars dangled just barely out of reach. I couldn't imagine a more beautiful spot.
Nori's Reply: Only a hand full of people have shared fascinating memories with me of Anguilla, back in the day when people cooked over fires, and electricity was sparse. How I would love to have seen the island back then... untouched, unspoiled and so raw. Thank you for sharing this wonderful memory, Alice! I wish I could have seen Anguilla the way you have.