Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chuck Meets His True Love at Antigua's Darkwood Beach

Darkwood Beach in Antigua in all its glory

           But had Chuck really changed?

How many of us make New Year’s resolutions--quite sincerely--only to break those very resolutions--just days later?

Not that I believed that salamanders on Antigua were in any real danger from Chuck.  But the heart of the resolution that Chuck had made centered on being better behaved--showing respect for others.  

We could only wait to see if our rascal cat had learned his lesson.

We were only visiting Antigua for a week, but one of the things we were eager to do was tour the island, get to know the people, and see the sights so we hired a guide to take us around.  

The best tour guide on Antigua . . . his name was Almond Peters and he was the founder/owner of Pelican Safari : www.pelicansafari.com

           He picked us up at our villa and took us around the island--showing us not just the usual touristy sites, but introducing us to the local people so that we could get a feel for the island.

Chuck, of course, came along -- peering out the back window of the van, mesmerized by the sights and sounds of this beautiful island.  

Our first real stop was Darkwood Beach.  Now Antigua has over 365 beaches on the island, one for every day of the year, but Almond said this was his favorite.  He declared this beach to be the most beautiful of all the beaches on Antigua.  We stepped out of the van and couldn’t believe how pristine white the sand on the beach was, how greenish blue the water was, how crystal clear the sky overhead was.  The place seemed almost surreal.  

The white sand, the blue green water, the perfect sky

Now I’m a Jersey girl and I’m used to the Jersey shore, but nothing on the Jersey coast can compare with Darkwood Beach.  

The gentle waves slosh onto the beach

I was almost afraid to blink.  Was it some kind of fantastic illusion created that would disappear if I broke my concentration?

But, no, it was real enough.

There's a restaurant with a bathroom and changing area

That visit to Darkwood Beach was my first clue to the magic of Antigua.  The beauty of the island can seduce you into wanting to live there permanently.  

Almond wasn’t just a terrific tour guide--in that he knew everyone and knew all the facts and figures of the island--he also was an interesting person.  He’d had the opportunity to live in the United States.  In fact, he’d spent time in New York City, working construction, but although the economic opportunities were greater in the states, he’d chosen Antigua because he felt his life style would be better. 
As I sat on the beach and gazed out over the water, I was beginning to understand his decision.

Rustic but also convenient and if you miss the tourists who arrive from the cruise ships, you can have the beach all to yourself . . . 

          And I guess you can say I was so mesmerized by the beauty of my surroundings, I forgot for a moment that Chuck, the rascal cat, was with us.  Now Bob is a beach person, too, but not as much as I am.  He can't sit for hours the way I can and just gaze out at the horizon.  He's a bit more restless.  And, Chuck, well, he was a bit picky when it came to putting his paws onto the sand.  

          Chuck loves the New Jersey beaches because, well, there are always interesting things washing up on shore.  Here, the beach was so pristine there was nothing but sand.  Well . . . almost nothing because I saw Chuck become instantly focused--not on the water or the sand but on the restaurant behind us, and the buildings which lay just off to the left.  There were bathrooms and changing areas.  And . . .

         Chuck saw her before I did it and before I could issue my usual warning about interacting with an Antiguan cat, Chuck took off across the sandy area toward the restaurant, past it to that very area.  

         Cat fight?

         But no.  Luckily, this little beauty was more a lover than a fighter.  Chuck stopped a respectable distance away and then proceeded more slowly.  Eventually the two of them moved closer together and after the requisite amount of sniffing, Chuck sat down next to her.  

         Had Chuck made a friend?

         I thought this was truly remarkable until I approached this exquisite brown and white tabby, and she began to purr.  

         One of the guys from the restaurant explained, "She's Lady.  She lives here."

         Of course.  Thankfully, not a stray cat.  And when I looked at her more closely, she did have a rather regal air about her.  

         "Well, Lady, you certainly do have a beautiful home."

         We could have been in  garage for all Chuck noticed.  He was happy and content.  The waves sloshed on the beach.  The sun shined.  The breeze blew, but Chuck had eyes only for Lady.  

         We stayed for awhile until it was time to go.  Reluctantly, Chuck purred goodbye and climbed back into the van.   Heart broken??  He's a handsome cat.  Cat in every port???  Almost.   Such a rascal.  

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