Antigua: Market, Donkeys & Devil’s Bridge

Today’s route does a little zig zag around the center of the island.

Todays travel route.

We started our route around 8:00 am. First stop is the Saturday public market at Saint Johns.

Back to our little car with the steering wheel on the right, driving on the left side of the road.

Today’s Driving Dilemma: Everything was going great until I came upon a row of parked cars. I followed a motorcycle around them and to my horror after passing about 10 cars, I discovered that they were not parked — the drivers were on the right side and they were all waiting for a traffic light. Embarrassing. We waved and smiled and went slowly. Some kind soul let us pass through the intersection. For the most part, Antiguan drivers are very courteous and will often stop, blink their lights and allow you to cut through their lane to accommodate a turn during backed-up traffic.

Gas is sold by the gallon, not liter. We paid $5.13 per gallon and spent less than $40 on gas for the entire week. We were required to purchase an Antiguan Temporary Driver’s License.

In Antigua & Barbuda, those travelers wishing to drive must have a temporary Driver’s License. It is purchased from any car rental and costs about $20.
We passed this very pink church a few times during the week … it’s very stunning against the blue sky. It is Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Roman Catholic Church.

Antigua and Barbuda is a predominately Christian nation. The Anglican Church accounts for about 17% of the population. Adventists and Pentecostals follow with about 12% each. The Methodists, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Moravian, Church of God and Weslyan Holiness churches account for about 10% of the population. Other religious groups claim around 12% of the population and include Rastafarians, Hindus, Bahia’is, Muslims and Jews. (Information taken from Antigua and Barbuda A Little Bit of Paradise.).

Driving in Saint Johns is a challenge. Many of the streets are one-way and the cruise ships bring in countless pedestrians. We were directed to park in a pay lot which was only open until 2:00 pm for whatever reason. The first thing we came across was a pedal-pub full of cruise ship tourists … yet another driving obstacle that made us glad we were parked.

Pedal Pub — probably a cruise ship excursion.

Saint Johns Market

A big old statue of V.C. Bird stands prominently downtown Saint Johns next to the public market. He was the first prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda and held that position from 1981 — 1994. In that time, he took the twin island nation from a British Colony to an independent nation.

Next to Bird’s statue is a black pineapple, a type of fruit that is said to be a delicacy and unique to the island.

A bird poses on top of VC Bird’s statue at the triangular intersection of All Saints Road and two busy streets.
The public market streets are crowded with vendors, pedestrians and cars.
There are many street vendors selling everything from fruits and vegetable to socks and underwater.
More vendors inside the public market building. We bought hot sauce here.
Black pineapple is on the ‘must try’ list.
Nesetta and her mother Lucy pose with their “Trensetta” (trend setter) shirts which is the name of Nesetta’s hair salon. The shirts resemble the design and colors of the Antiguan flag.
In side the Handicraft building there are several tailor shops.
This gentlemen said his wife makes all of the sandals he sells.
Sugar Cane man had a hard time keeping up with the demand and had a line of customers waiting for him to chop up sugar cane into pieces. He took time to give each of us a piece and said they chew it like gum. So we got in line.
Sugar Cane man’s assistant bagged the pieces and handled the customers.
This vendor has seafood stew.
The stew smelled wonderful and looked very enticing.
The meat market is part of the public market.
Very interesting to watch.
These two dudes were selling pipes and bowls carved from coconuts.
We posed with pipes and a carved bowl filled with dums.
Steel drum music added to the Caribbean vibe of the market.
We took a break and had a refreshing icy cold mango drink.
This is the main shopping area by the cruise ship dock.
Lots of little shops and good ‘people watching’ here. The individuals in gold shirts help cruise ship guests find taxi transportation.
The mid-day heat is hard on everyone. Time to move on to our next stop.

Donkey Sanctuary

A dirt road full of potholes led us to the donkey sanctuary where it was hot and dusty. There are about 150 or so stray donkeys that have found a good home in this sanctuary operated by the Antigua & Barbuda Humane Society.

The decline of the sugar industry has contributed to the abandonment of donkeys and has done little to curtail their population. While some continued to be used on farms and to lug produce to and from market, they were largely left to fend for themselves after the doors closed on the last sugar factory in the 1970s. Most people have little use for donkeys these days.

The 43-acre site is home to 150 jacks, jennies and foals. It is estimated that up to 400 more are roaming wild, breeding at will. They cause a lot of trouble for farmers and crops, they also break irrigation lines, crash through people’s gardens and overturn garbage bins looking for food. The vagrant lifestyle is tough for the donkeys too.

Takeeta welcomed us to the sanctuary and gave us each a brush. She sent us in with the elderly donkeys who were gentle and calm.
Meet my friend Pumpkin. She loves being brushed.
These poor old donkeys look like they’ve had a rough life.
The darker donkey is Eeyore. They all wear a collar with their name on it.
Goat in a bathtub? The goat is the best friend of Bruno, a donkey that had to be isolated because it has a hernia and needs care.
Donkeys once held an important role in the growth of Antigua and the sugar cane industry. Now the Humane Society is caring for them and helping to control the population. (Information taken from and Antigua humane

Devil’s Bridge

Our next destination is Devil’s Bridge near the town of Willikies. This National Park offers a stunning glimpse into Antigua’s natural formation.

Composed of limestone rock, the rugged terrain of Devil’s Bridge is the result of millions of years of ancient reef formation. A rough natural outcrop of limestone has been eroded by many years of Atlantic waves crashing into it and forming a bridge. I wouldn’t recommend walking over it but there are some who have.

A woman standing on Devil’s Bridge. Photo from

Back to Pidgeon Point Beach

We need to get back to Falmouth Harbour in time for a swim and sunset at Pidgeon Point beach. It’s Saturday evening and this is the first time we’ve seen a crowded beach. There were a lot of locals and kids enjoying the water and sunset.

It was a spectacular sunset tonight.
We walked down to Flatties for chicken. It has a nice Caribbean vibe and did not disappoint.
On the way back to our apartment, we crossed paths with some ladies wearing costumes to promote Carnival as part of a music and dance event.

Antigua’s Carnival does not coincide with Mardi Gras. It was first celebrated in 1957 with the purpose of attracting tourists and to commemorate the emancipation from slavery.

It is a summer festival with artistic and cultural talent, music, steelbands and calypso. The streets come alive with parades, music bands and troupes with a multitude of masqueraders in colourful costumes. Held during the last week of July, and culminating on the first Monday and Tuesday of August, the event attracts locals and visitors alike. (Information taken from and

Tomorrow we’re planning to snorkel and explore Shirley Heights.

Published by

Jane is a resident of Browndale neighborhood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: