At sunrise, the tradewinds riffle across a sea of leafy green cascading down the headland at Long Bay. The forest reverberates with melodious but unfamiliar birdsong. I spy a hummingbird neatly inspecting each flower of an acacia tree while deftly avoiding the pipe organ cacti below. A trio of pelicans wheels past.
The chatter of birds and the strum of the waves are my only companions at sunrise as I sit on a hand-hewn burled wood bench and contemplate the new day at the aptly named “Relaxation Station.”
Surprisingly, I am the only one taking advantage of this perfect perch, a front row seat to sunrise, surrounded by nature, atop a hill that’s the quietest corner of Pineapple Beach Club, an all-inclusive resort in Antigua.
Perhaps beachgoers don’t rise with dawn. The light seeping through our curtains and the warbles through the screen caught my attention, drawing me outside. We found the hilltop yesterday, since the stairs are just past our room.
I’d never thought I’d feel satisfied with an all-inclusive resort, a foreign concept to me. The idea of a cruise ship on land springs to mind, complete with the temptation of tours coupled with a constant flow of libations, hydrations, and snacks. But like a cruise ship, there is a gift that comes with being in one place, walking everywhere, not having to think too hard.
For most vacationers here, that’s the allure, albeit unspoken. They’ll talk about the free flowing rum punch, the endless buffets, the difficult choice of whether to swim in the sea or splash in the pools. But rarely do you hear them speak of time.
And yet. There are those like myself – mainly women, I note – who slip off to a quiet corner of the property with a novel or a notebook in hand, eager to embrace this foreign thing in their lives, an unscheduled block of time. They are adrift from their workaday routines, the pressure of a job, the hours spent commuting, and the need to clean up after everyone. Even better, they don’t need to make dinner.
As I sit atop this rocky headland, listening to the scurry of a mongoose in the underbrush, watching the rising sun illuminate the tangled fibers of the cacti downslope, knowing that my day will unspool with a parade of new sights and experiences while we tour the island, I’m grateful to have this little corner of Antigua to myself this morning. It awakens my senses to Caribbean sensibilities. It gives me a chance to recharge.
And even though for us, it’s a working trip, isn’t that what a vacation is for?