Ray De Man Anguilla, Purveyor of the Caribbean’s Most 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 beach umbrellas from Ray de Man 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. This is much to their chagrin of the restaurant staff. I learned this out the hard way when I stopped in at Madeariman back in June 2012 and asked:
How can you get something painted on one of your umbrellas?
Yeah, that was a bad idea.
I was told in so many words (the majority of which I can’t print here) 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. Needless to say, though, these umbrellas are not at all liked by the folks at Madeariman. The ill feelings aren’t unique to the bar either. Those who recall the early days of Shoal Bay especially hate them.
Shoal Bay Back In The Day
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 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 still is 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, in fact, that complaints have been made to the government. Obviously, though, the gripes have come to no avail…so far.
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 before I left. De Man, though, was nowhere to be found.
So, what do you think: Are Ray’s umbrellas eye-catching, or an eyesore..?