On-Site Anguilla: Ray De Man’s Unpopular Umbrellas
Leaving your mark at a favorite place visited throughout the Caribbean is about as time-honored a traveler’s tradition as watching the sunset over the region’s amazing azure seas. We’ve certainly done it a time or two, as I’m sure have some of you. Most people’s graffiti scribbles are confined to bars like Miss Emily’s or Charlie’s that welcome the practice. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have these umbrellas in Anguilla… They’re about as popular as the sunburns they help you avoid.
You can find these umbrellas on Shoal Bay East directly in front of the Madeariman Bar & Restaurant… much to their chagrin. I found this out the hard way when I stopped in at Madeariman back in June and asked:
How can you get something painted on one of your umbrellas?
I was told in so many words (the majority of which I can’t print here since my kids are regular readers) that a) the umbrellas don’t belong to the bar, and b) they’re the ugliest, most ungodly abomination ever to sully the good and generally gorgeous face of Shoal Bay East.
I’m paraphrasing, of course, but needless to say, these umbrellas are not very popular with the folks at Madeariman. One look at this and you’ll see that the ill feelings aren’t unique to the bar, especially among those who recall the early days of Shoal Bay.
It wasn’t that long ago that the bars on Shoal Bay were shacks, the road to the beach a rugged path of potholes. There was no electricity, so generators hummed into the night. Trips into The Valley to buy ice were frequent to keep the beers cold.
Back then, the beach was the thing. To be there was to be in the know on something truly special. Those who came often were trying to escape the bustling resort beaches in nearby St. Maarten, filled as they tend to be with lounge chairs… and umbrellas.
To me, the beach is still the thing at Shoal Bay East. It’s remarkably beautiful with sand so incredibly soft and white it defies description.
To many, though, Ray’s umbrellas are ruining the place, so much so that complaints have been made to the government, but obviously so far to no avail.
I didn’t get a chance to ask Ray what he thinks about the controversy. I happened past his concession shed right behind Uncle Ernie’s Bar next to Madeariman before I left, but he was nowhere to be found.
So, what do you think – are Ray’s umbrellas eye-catching, or an eyesore..?