…Getting ten people (who live in three different states) to Anguilla is no simple task. Especially when four of the ten are under the age of 8. We J-Ms stayed in an airport hotel the night before the big travel day. That put us in good shape for when our wake-up call rang in at 3:45 am! It was 14 hours of travel, including 2 van shuttles, 2 airplanes, 1 taxi, and 1 ferry…
…some of us (especially one of us) were really exhausted by the time we arrived at our villa in Anguilla.
I often hear people (in real life) and read people (on blogs) bemoaning how hard traveling with young children is. I agree, obviously, that it is challenging. But somehow Braydon and I have always found a way to take on the challenge as a genuinely fun, interesting, exciting one. We love traveling with our kids, and our kids love traveling. We all five know, and appreciate, what a privilege it is. If anything we only wish that we could do it more. And so, when we get to do it, we make the most of it. And we made the most of Anguilla, for sure!
My parents had an amazing itinerary for us. They know Anguilla well, and were superb hosts for our trip. We stayed in a beautiful villa, met many of my parents’ Anguilla friends, went to different beaches everyday, had drinks in mind-bogglingly-beautiful places (like here, and here), and ate lots of bbq and lots of seafood— at places that you’d only discover after years of spending time in a place.
We went snorkeling daily! (snorkeling = a J-M family favorite activity)
Kyle got really, really into snorkeling on this trip. Last year in the Dominican Republic, Braydon started teaching both K and O how to dive down deep without life jackets on. In Anguilla, Kyle mastered it. He stopped wearing his life jacket completely about two days in, and spent most of his time snorkeling down deep. He also spent more time than any of the ten of us snorkeling. He was snorkeling every chance he’d get. One day he found a thick palm branch in the woods on the edge of the beach. He used it as a “fishing spear” the rest of the trip – snorkeling with it, diving down deep with it, and attempting to spear fish with it.
He never successfully speared a fish, but he is one determined little 6-year-old-snorkeler! And while he never speared a fish, he did see plenty of fish (his favorites were the clown fish and the squids), and he dove to retrieve some amazing treasures on the bottom of the sea. Including beautiful empty conch shells that he dove deep for.
And Anguilla was were Meera began snorkeling (mask only). She loved it! And for a two-year-old she did very well with it!
There were plenty of other adventures too.
Like climbing for coconuts. In Anguilla, Owen mastered it.
And with a little help from a nice guy with a machete, we all got to partake in the coconut milk that Owen collected for us.
There was “playing tag with the waves.” (Sometimes really big waves!)
And there were discoveries of all sorts of new things. Like how the Anguillans fish for eels right off the beach.
And how the Anguillan kids make sandballs just exactly the same way as we make snowballs. After watching some kids on the beach one day, it didn’t take long for Kyle, Owen and Sadie to master the art of the sandball. They made many for Meera, who was regularly requesting them.
There was a hermit crab outside our villa one day. We played with him for quite a while before I finally hid him deep in the brush so that he could reclaim his peace. And there were tropical flowers that Meera found to be just perfect as cheerleading pompoms (always the cheerleader that one).
Speaking of that one…
Is there anything cuter than a two year old on the beach? I’m sorry, but I can’t help myself…
…there is nothing cuter. And there was nothing more shocking than the fact that Meera slept wherever we were each afternoon in Anguilla… on the beach, in beachside lunch spots, wherever we happened to be, she slept. Given that she almost never sleeps anywhere except her bed, this came as a big shock and a big relief to her mama and papi.
And as for K & O… these two just love the beach. Plain and simple. It is love love love love love times two.
There was really good food. And really good drink.
There was K & O’s third Coca-Colas ever in their lifetimes (this is, for them, a monumental thing to note)!
There was salt and sand and a swimming pool at the end of the day. There was a special dinner out, alone, for Braydon and I, at Blanchard’s (the restaurant of the authors of my most beloved cookbook, At Blanchard’s Table)— Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. And there were two rental cars in which we explored that beautiful island. And books read. And rum punch. And MorFar’s 64th birthday. And morning walks on the beach. And sunsets at night. There were jam-packed days that felt long and leisurely. And amazing things experienced every day we were there….