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Anguilla

Everything I Need to Know About Anguilla, I Learned From a Wall

Everything I Need to Know About Anguilla, I Learned From a Wall
Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett
Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett

At Uncommon Caribbean, we prescribe learning the idiosyncrasies and specialties of your destinations as a means to get the most out of your trips. Luckily for travelers to Anguilla, it’s easy to get schooled on this island’s culture without ever going to school… Well, sort of.

Pop quiz, hot shot!

What’s the national bird of Trinidad?

Time’s up!

If you answered the Scarlet Ibis, you’re correct! If you answered “who cares,” you’d be missing out.

How? Well, if you didn’t know about the iconic scarlet ibis, there’s a good chance you’d never look into going on the serene safari Steve experienced earlier this year where he witnessed, in his words

a natural spectacle the likes of which I have never seen.

The highlight being an

awe-inspiring performance… put on by the marvelous scarlet ibis.

(And that’s not even mentioning this other fine feathered representation of the Trinidad national bird.)

OK, now that we all agree that knowing national symbols is an important way to get the most out of your travel dollars, you may think that learning these details might include poring over an encyclopedia or digging through wikipedia or something. Nope! Well, not on Anguilla, at least. Learning all you need to know about the national symbols of Anguilla, is as easy as driving by the Orealia Kelly Primary School in the Stoney Ground section of the island. Or more specifically, driving by the brightly painted wall that surrounds the school.

Depending on which direction you’re driving (we were driving from the lux Ani Villas), the first symbol you’d see would be the shield.

Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett
Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett

Those three fishy (shrimpy?!) looking things in the middle are actually dolphins. They represent Anguilla’s motto of “strength and endurance,” plus one for unity and are arranged in a circle to represent continuity. The background is white to symbolize peace and tranquility. And finally, the turquoise-blue base stands for the island’s crystalline surrounding sea.

And truly, these magical, turquoise waters surrounding Anguilla are not to be missed. No trip would be complete without excursions to nearby islets like Sandy Island for an incredible lobster lunch, Scrub Island for hiking… Or you could enjoy these waters by just limin’, continually, on the beach for a true taste of “peace and tranquility.”

Next up is the national flower: the white cedar.

Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett
Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett

Sure, the white cedar is a beautiful, trumpet shaped flower, but it’s importance to Anguilla is more than skin deep. This island native (that also doubles as Anguilla’s national tree) is quite at home on the Caribbean sea making it an integral material in an important aspect of Anguillan life: boat building.

Like Carriacou, there’s a long heritage of boat building on Anguilla. For travelers planning a visit, there’s no better time than during the annual boat races in July that lead up to August Monday — the biggest fete of the year! (Recently, our friends, the sexy sailors, captured the experience.)

Further down the wall is the national dish: peas and rice and fish.

Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett
Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett

When traveling, it’s sometimes hard to know when you’re having an authentic dish at an authentic establishment, but armed with the knowledge of Anguilla’s national dish, you’ll know just what to look for!

But remember, West Indians can be a little lax with names (especially in Anguilla). So, when they say “peas,” they really mean practically any legume — actual peas like pigeon or cowpeas, plus kidney beans and everything in between could make the cut. Whatever you get, it’s sure to be a better choice than a burger and fries!

Finally, the national animal: the ground lizard.

Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett
Anguilla National Symbols by Patrick Bennett

If you’ve been to any Caribbean islands, you’d probably say “psshh, that’s just another lizard! They’re all the same!” But you’d be wrong! The ground lizard of Anguilla (or Anguilla Bank Ameiva) is only found on Anguilla and its satellite islets! Amazing, but true!

Like the ground lizard, many islands within the region may at first seem identical, but with a little knowledge you can discover one-of-a-kind experiences wherever you decide to explore in the Caribbean… But especially on the little, unique island of Anguilla.

Now you know.

And knowing is half the battle!

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