I lived in Anguilla in 1984 and 1985, when I was sent there to renovate and reopen a small resort just as the island was being “discovered.” I have extended family for life there, and today my wife and I visit our family and friends in Anguilla as often as we can.
Just a few days ago, I returned from a visit that was too short. While this particular visit was almost all business, it was “pleasurable” business in that it was focused on advancing a passion project: my five year effort (to date) to write and produce a romantic epic feature film — tentatively titled ANGUILLA RISING — whose story unfolds at the onset of Anguilla’s revolution.
During the four days of this particular visit, I had 21 meetings. They ranged from meetings with various members of Anguilla’s freshly elected government, to meeting with tourism officials and hotel general managers, to meeting with an island historian, to meeting with potential financiers, and to meeting with several revolutionary patriots who are still alive, and whose memories of the revolution are as crisp, fresh, and vivid as they were 43 years ago.
In almost all of my meetings, and especially those which were focused on how a film like ANGUILLA RISING can induce a very significant, statistically-proven uptick in tourism for at least five years, people asked me questions like: What keeps bringing me back to Anguilla after 26 years? Why am I so passionate about Anguilla? And, what is it that’s so special about Anguilla that has me yearning to return the minute I leave?
I’ll answer these questions with one word: A-n-g-u-i-l-l-a.
The capital ‘A’ in Anguilla, to me, stands for ‘authentic.’ When I discovered the island in ’84 it was, perhaps, the most authentic place I’d ever seen or visited. There was such an authenticity and genuineness to the island and its people — and the words “least fake” come to mind — words can’t possibly describe it. This I do know: Anguilla and its people were unparalleled compared to the many other islands I had visited and enjoyed. And despite all the change and development, if one seeks to see, feel, and experience it, Anguilla remains one of the most authentic places on our planet.
The ‘n’ stands for ‘natural.’ When I first pulled up to the old pier at Blowing Point, I recall how blown away I was by Anguilla’s stunning, natural beauty — for me it was like the moment in “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy steps out of her black and white, tornado thrown house into the vivid technicolor of Munchkin Land! The beaches were (and still are) among the most stunning and beautiful in the world. And yes, while some of the island’s interior is a bit more rugged and less lush than other islands, it’s stunning nonetheless in its own native way.
The ‘g’ stands for ‘gentle’ as in “considerate or kindly in disposition” and “not harsh or severe.” There are too many harsh, inconsiderate, and unkindly people and places in today’s world. Despite some change, which is inevitable, I still believe Anguillian’s are the most gentle, considerate, and kindly people in the world. If more visitors could get to know Anguillians the way I know them, they’d keep coming back, too!
The ‘u’ stands for ‘unparalleled.’ Unparalleled authenticity … unparalleled natural beauty, unparalleled gentlefolk … need I say more?
The ‘i’ stands for ‘independent. For many centuries, isolated Anguilla and its citizens had to “go it alone,” including the 144 years leading up to the 1967 revolution (when Anguilla was yoked to St. Kitts by England for administrative convenience). When one has to fend for oneself — for all practical purposes for as long as anyone can remember — it’s no wonder that Anguilla is so fiercely independent … and proud … and for good reason.
The first ‘l’ stands for ‘local.’ I especially enjoy the localness of Anguilla. I mean, despite how small Anguilla is compared to most places, everything is local, even on tiny Anguilla. The East End has it’s own local culture, politics, and character … as does the West End … and all the villages in between the two ends of the island. Again, I only wish more visitors could get to know and enjoy Anguilla’s “localness” the way I enjoy it!
The second ‘l’ stands for ‘laid-back.’ The ‘A-n-g-u-i-l’ leading to this ‘l’ all contribute to my ability to get laid-back in Anguilla. This is one of the many reasons I keep coming back, and why Anguilla is my number one go-to destination when I need to decompress from the pressures of an increasingly harsh and stressful world.
Finally, the little ‘a’ at the end of Anguilla really should be a capital letter, like the one at the beginning of the word. To me, this letter stands for ‘awe-inspiring.’ Having spent many hours getting to know some of Anguilla’s still living revolutionary patriots, I’m in awe of each and every one of them (including those I haven’t met). What they all did in rising above themselves to take a stand — and battle for the future of their abused and neglected island — is every bit as awe-inspiring as any battle for economic, social, and political justice in human history, including the American revolution; and this is why ANGUILLA RISING the movie MUST be made!
It’s why I keep coming back.
Writer’s Note on 9/9/2017: In late 2014, David McCullough told me to write a book, before making the movie. The book is coming soon!
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