I just returned from photographing the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and the long flight home gave me lots of time to think. Here are a few reflections that I want to share.
First, I love driving in Antigua. Though I have adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road, it is a much more relaxing experience. There is no road rage—the bumpy, narrow roads means the maximum speed is limited. And besides, where are you rushing to anyway? You are in the islands, after all! Nobody in a pick-up truck runs up your tail, using their vehicle as a weapon and putting your life in jeopardy. That gets really old, doesn’t it? Instead, in Antigua (and some other islands I have visited), the rule of the road is common sense. If there is a person walking in the road—and there are always lots of people walking in the road—you slow down and shift lanes when there is a clear opening against incoming traffic. There isn’t the “zero sum” attitude we see with aggressive American drivers. Horns are honked constantly—but these are not warnings or expressions of anger. Instead, short taps are used to say hello to friends in other vehicles, or to thank someone for letting your car proceed first. I’ve never seen anyone use their car as a weapon. And let’s face it, a car is an expensive and valuable resource, and there probably isn’t a fat insurance check arriving to replace your damaged car if you live in the Caribbean. So people drive with an entirely different attitudes than those aggressive American drivers that annoy us all.
Second, I missed my photographer buddy Ed. After a day of shooting or flying in a helicopter, we would grab dinner together in Antigua. We’d discuss all kinds of things, from photography to investments and even his love of watches. He always knew the little, out of the way local places to eat. One of our favorite places was on the front porch of a home that had no menu but served great West Indian curry. Earlier this year, news came from England that Ed had a brain tumor and the whispers around the yacht club in Antigua weren’t terribly hopeful. I loved being back in Antigua but I kept looking for Ed, and found myself praying for his health.
Lastly, the ocean has a way of unifying people. I wouldn’t call it an enemy, but the ocean is a worthwhile adversary that challenges us, and forces us to work together. It is amazing to watch the sailboat crews—men and women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and nationalities—working as a team. Twenty year-old women pull halyards alongside 60 year old men. Experience isn’t a function of age, but of time at sea, of mistakes already made, of disasters avoided. In Antigua, I’ve seen young members of the permanent crew direct guests twice their age crewing for the race weekend. It is one of the things I love those aspects of sailing—people working in unison, sliding along on the wind using the energy of Mother Nature alone to carry them to their destination.