By Damian G. K. De Silva
“A lovely descriptive piece” – JUDGE
While many may argue that Antigua is an island that lacks the natural beauty of its Caribbean neighbours, I am disinclined to concur with such a notion. The island receives considerably less rainfall per annum relative to Montserrat and St. Kitts, for example. Nevertheless, the southwest of the island, being somewhat wetter than the local average, is able to sustain some a lush forested area. Being someone who is very much a fan of quiet and lush foliage and having a love for all things geographical from an early age, I have a special affinity for this little paradise. By virtue of the area’s topography, the area is served by a single road, leaving much of what I refer to as the ‘empty quarter’ of the island largely unsuitable for development. This topography spared much of the area from sugar cane cultivation as well, and those parcels that were so utilized have largely returned to the natural lushness I am so fond of.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the area is the stark contrast between itself and the hot, dusty and often noisy capital, St. John’s, which itself is only about a leisurely twenty minute drive away. It’s almost as if one gets their first whiff of the rarefied countryside air when passing Buckley Line on the way to Wallings. The temperature seems to drop ever so slightly as you make your escape from the hustle and bustle barely a mile to the west. Making that right turn at the roundabout, you continue straight ahead for several hundred yards before you make a rightward arc into Buckley’s Village. You continue for a few minutes winding your way through the quiet, largely linear community until you look out towards the right. You’ll be greeted with some of the most breath taking vistas in the land as the ridge upon which Buckley’s sits unveils the stunning Body Pond Watershed two hundred or so feet below. Nature treats you to a visual feast of stream, fertile farmland and rolling hills clothed in lemon grass almost making you forget your final destination as you fondly ponder the notion of purchasing a hillside house plot nearby.
You rouse yourself out of your reverie as you remember that your journey is yet incomplete. Winding your way through the remainder of Buckley’s, you make your descent into Swetes. On past the Follies area, you note that the area is more open, airy and closer to nature. To the left before the final ascent, you notice a small pool of water, and would likely be surprised that you’d have just laid your eyes on the spring that is the source of Body Pond. The air takes on a new crispness here as you pass below the sandbox tree to ascend into John Hughes Village. You’re now at Fig Tree Drive.
You pass the primary school in two minutes and you look around you and see steep hillsides and lush foliage, with hog plum, kapok and mango trees bigger and taller than you may have thought possible in Antigua. You crane your neck to see their tops, likely deciding not to miss a golden photo opportunity. A minute’s drive ahead and you see the entrance to Wallings Forest Reserve on the left. Make your way in and park. Onward you go. You turn right and sit at the edge of the reservoir, debating whether you should sit there or hike. No matter the choice, either option is thoroughly satisfying. If only all of life’s dilemmas were this sweet. Inhale, sigh and repeat.
Author’s bio: Damian G. K. De Silva is an avid reader who has special interest in economics and current affairs, politics, travel and journalism as well as all things automotive. The Ottos native is the third of five children for his late mother and was, he said, raised in a lower income household. He has been a teacher for eight-and-a-half years and is an honourable mention for the first Wadadli Pen Lead by Example Teachers Prize. As of 2014, the year this prize was introduced, he was a teacher at the Antigua Grammar School.
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