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How to really go exploring in the Caribbean Dec 21

These instructions apply specifically to Antigua, but you’ll find similar situations on other islands. I have seen scooter rentals on several islands. And at least one cruise line offers Harley rental excursion, but it’s an expensive option, and scooters fit the island motif better anyway.

BTW—I have heard that some people don’t like the roads—too many potholes. Humbug! (to use a seasonal term) I had a fine time on the roads. Of course, I’m not a little old lady who drives only on Sundays…

  1. As you walk off the pier, grab one of the fairly nice road maps they hand out. You’ll especially need the enlarged view of town.
  2. keep an eye out for a kid holding a Handwritten “scooters for rent” sign.
  3. Express interest, and he’ll lead you through (clean) back streets, parking lots, and alleys to a short street with several 150cc motorbikes. Find out the rate and schedule before you agree. The guy will explain the operation of the vehicle–they have automatic transmissions, they’re low-slung, light, and powerful enough to climb any hill and break any speed limit on the island, which appears to be 40KPH. I think the requirement is that you have a motorcycle endorsement on your drivers license, but I don’t think the guy actually cares. He’ll explain everything you need know about operating the bike, and answer any questions you have.
  4. You need to return the bike with the tank full. The helmet is a laugh, but wear it. In fact, wear jeans. If you take a tumble, you don’t want any road rash. You pay any damage you cause to the vehicle. They have insurance, but it’s a laugh; $1500 deductible. Don’t waste your money.
  5. Remember that map? Have the guy show you how to get back! Town is full of narrow, crowded, one-way streets, and coming back is different from leaving.
  6. This is your chance to participate in the casual style of driving so common on the islands. People in town will be pretty tolerant of you scooting around. Remember:  In Antigua they drive on the LEFT. Actually, they drive down the middle in the country, and swing left when someone approaches. Watch the traffic circles. They’re tricky.
  7. You’re off! The bike is not likely to be stolen, but take the key with you when you get off.
  8. You can stop about anywhere and ask directions. People like to show off their knowledge of their island, and give you advice about good spots. Only the professionals expect tips.
  9. Remember to plan enough time to get back, drop off the bike, and get to your ship. If you get an escort back to the pier, give the kid a tip.

I forgot to get a photo of my scooter or the scooter rental guy. Sorry. You’ll see plenty of nice pictures in the next set of posts. They’re about what you can see on a scooter in Antigua.

So. Have you gone off on your own like this? How did it go? Tell us!

The Antigua the tourists don’t see Dec 20

The official language of Antigua is English. Heavily accented, but English. This reduces the likelihood of running into someone who doesn’t understand you if you decide to go roaming around this fairly good-sized island, then get a little bit lost and need to ask directions (re-read that. You’ll get it). Not that it would be a problem (getting lost)—the island is less than half an hour across.

Suppose you had $50 in your pocket and didn’t feel like going shopping. Again. You could do worse than rent a motor scooter and go looking around on your own.

Just remember to give yourself half an hour to get back to the ship. Instructions on how to do this and maybe some of the adventures you’ll have coming up in the next few posts.

Personal note: I’m just coming off the worst cold I’ve had in a decade—three days in bed, and I’m still weak. Hence the dearth of posts this week. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. Antigua is a pretty interesting place.