We have a very special guest blogger today. Shellecia Brooks-Johnson who is from Anguilla. She is here to let us know more about her. Please check out her blog, MyAnguillaExperience.com, which has tons of information about life in Anguilla. Follow My Anguilla Experience on Facebook, Instagram and on Twitter or email her at email@example.com.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your hometown.
Hi. My name is Shellecia. I am passionately Anguillian and wholeheartedly optimistic. I share my love for Anguilla and island life through my blog MyAnguillaExperience.com.
I love to smile and laugh. My favorite quote is ‘Don’t frown as you don’t know who is falling in love with your smile.’ I see each day as an opportunity to make a difference in some way.
In my spare time, you can find me spending time with family and friends, working with the Optimist Club of Anguilla and Girls Brigade, teaching classes for Personal and Professional Development or doing freelance writing.
Anguilla is 35 square miles with a population of just over 13,000 people so the entire island is my hometown. Allow me to take an excerpt from the Tourist Board’s website which captures the essence of Anguilla
‘A warm and welcoming island destination tucked away in the northern Caribbean. Embraced by unrivaled white beaches and breathtaking turquoise seas, Anguilla is casual and easy, a unique blend of high style and low-key elegance, and the best of the good life set to a slow and casual island tempo. Anguilla is an experience that captivates our visitors and creates friendships and memories that last a lifetime. You can enjoy our endless summer with near perfect weather, blue waters and balmy trade winds. Quiet, and low key, the island is yours to explore and experience’
What’s the best thing about your hometown?
I really enjoy the slow paced life that I enjoy in Anguilla. My drive to work is 15 minutes. My drive to the closest of our 33 public beautiful beaches is 5 minutes. I also love knowing so many of my family and friends are only a short drive away.
How has Anguilla changed over the past 20 years?
We are still considered a laid back and quiet Island. However over the last 20 years we have seen an expansion of our tourism product – more hotels and villas, restaurants, attractions. We have lost some of our traditions and the sense of a single community is not as strong as twenty years ago.
How do you think that food impacts your local culture? Who do you usually eat with?
Food is a big part of our local culture. Usually, when we socialize, we eat. Anguilla is known for its gastronomy, from five start restaurants to excellent roadside barbeques and food vans. Many persons also enjoy cooking and some families still get together regularly for family meals. I usually eat with my hubby but I go out for meals fairly regularly with friends.
Where do you shop for food? Do you grow any yourself?
We have local farmers who sell produce on the street side and also to supermarkets. I shop primarily at supermarkets. I try to buy fresh fruits and vegetables when possible. In my back yard we have coconut trees, banana trees, pepper and sour sop.
What are some of the favorite foods in your household?
We love coconuts and coconut water. We also love apples. Hubby is pescatarian. Fortunately, I love seafood too!
What is your favorite food-related memory from childhood?
I grew up in the same household with my grandmother. She reared goats. Every once in a while she would kill a goat and the entire family would come over to eat. I still love goat meat and I miss how my grandmother prepared and cooked its liver and lites with rice and peas.
What are common celebrations or holidays in Anguilla and what do people do on those days?
Major holidays and celebration in Anguilla include Anguilla Day, Easter weekend celebrations and Anguilla Summer Festival celebrations. We ‘lime’ as we call it. During Easter we have a big seafood festival and boat races. On Anguilla day we have a ‘round the island’ boat race and during our summer festivals we have boat races, pageantry, parade of troupes, fairs and festivals and much more.
Do you have any recipes that you can share with us? What memories do you have of these recipes?
I love to eat but I don’t love to cook! Our national dish is peas and rice and fish. When I cook my meals are pretty simple. Fried, baked or grilled snapper with rice and peas, plantain and veggies, seafood medleys or banana fritters for a quick snack are some of my go to dishes. I love things like conkie dumpling, johnny cakes and potato pudding though.
In fact I had potato pudding today from Mabel who sets up a stall with local dishes each Saturday. If you are ever in Anguilla do check her out. I also had Johnny cakes and barbeque chicken for dinner from another authentically local place in South Valley; another must try when in Anguilla.
What do you want persons to know about the real Anguilla?
For us Anguilla is home. Yes, we live on this gorgeous Caribbean life but just like others in the rest of the world, most persons go to work, raise families and have aspirations. We just do it against a beautiful backdrop while also valuing and enjoying the simple pleasures life in the Caribbean offers.
Feel free to explore the entire island as we have nothing to hide and everything to offer. We don’t put on a show so what you see us doing is authentic as we go about our day to day life. Anguilla is still pretty safe but play smart as you would anywhere else in the world. Look your doors, secure your valuables, and don’t walk alone late at nightJ.
We truly do have some of the most friendly people here so don’t be afraid to ask questions. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship.