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Winter break is over, alas

We got back on Friday from a week in the British Virgin Islands at a private island resort called Guana Island. If you look at the web site, see the map because it shows how interesting the terrain is. The island is named after the Iguana lizard - there is a rock that can be seen when approaching the island that looks like an Iguana head. The island is about 850 acres with some fine beaches; the housing is up a steep hill; and there are at most 30 guests. There is nothing to do but eat and drink (the food is good and plentiful; the bar is self-service), swim, snorkel, play croquet, play tennis, and hike. No telephones or TV. In addition to being a resort, it is a nature preserve.

About 15 years ago they reintroduced some almost extinct local Rock Iguanas, very distinct from Green Iguanas. The placed 8 on the island and they now estimate there are about 400! They also have 6 Bermuda or Bahaman flamingos (I forget which), not enough to breed, but they hang around in the salt pond. On a nearby island, Anagada, they placed a larger colony and they are breeding there. They have two full time gardeners and have reintroduced many native species. Many of the birds such as the Bananaquits that attempt to steal your food are banded. There is an active colony of brown pelicans that keep you amused. In October they have Scientists month instead of being a resort.

We've been going there for 20 years, about 2 out of 3 years. There are many repeat guests so when we arrive its like being back to an old familiar community. Dining is communal - at dinner they seat you; it is very social. The people there are generally pretty interesting and quite friendly- I think its primitiveness helps keep out snobs and nasty people. It is a straight resort but we are sometimes not the only gay couple. This time when we arrived there were two others, one of which we've seen there before. Nothing much changes except every two or three years they get new managers. It is a lot of work managing such a place - they desalinate the water to supplement the natural supply, generate electricity, and must maintain lots of piping in a tough environment. The place is very hilly. They will drive you up and down the hill to the beach, but we always walk (it takes about 10 minutes and it is almost all uphill from the beach). In spite of all the food I ate, I gained no weight and my calves and thighs are stronger.

A typical day is: eat breakfast, walk down the hill to the beach, swim or snorkel, walk back up for lunch, eat lunch, take a brief nap, walk back down to the beach, swim or snorkel and play a game of croquet, walk back up, take showers, watch the sunset, go to cocktail hour, eat dinner, go to bed. The only important decision to make each day is deciding what to drink. For dinner, you eat what they serve you. There is a little museum of local artifacts - it takes about 10 minutes to see it all, but we didn't have enough time to go there this trip.

The croquet field is rough so it is quite unpredictable. The mallets are the big heavy wooden ones so you can hit the ball pretty hard. We each play two balls, simulating partners (that is common in 2-person games) with our own set of House rules derived from some experts we played with many years ago. I am better than Robert (I guess all that croquet playing at the Jersey shore when I was 4-8 did it) so the series was 5-1. He blew a couple of games that he should have won. I've always liked croquet - but this is about the only place I play it. Our place in Gloucester is neither flat nor big enough.

We came back on Thursday. In the morning we swam and snorkelled among the fish and hawkbilled turtles and then left after lunch. As our plane was coming in to land in Boston, the pilot explained "The reason why we can't land yet is that they are still plowing the runway; thank you for your patience". This was a bit of a shock after the morning tropical paradise. We had dragged along our winter coats and were wearing shoes, unlike some of the other people on the plane. We had a great time and will go back again, although probably not next year since that would be 3 in a row.

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Sounds like great fun! Though, I shudder to think about the cost.

I'm sure you could think up rules to enable croquet at the Summer Palace.

That sounded really lovely.

Gorgeous beach in the shots on their website. I sailed past there 10 years ago when we sailed from one end of the BVIs to the other and then back. Was diving a year ago in Tortola which is much more built up but still beautiful.

We're going to Bonaire for a week of diving, next week. Only one beach (but it's *pink*) but who cares, underwater it's astounding...

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