On this day a year ago we were driving around the island of Antigua. Why? Why not. Renting a car was easy and straightforward. The Dollar rep came to our hotel with all the necessary paperwork. She was on time, like all Antiguans working in the tourist/hospitality business that we've encountered.
Because international driving permits are not recognized on Antigua and Barbuda, we had to purchase a temporary local driver's license (US$20.00). The rep simply copied the info from our foreign driver's licenses relying on and trusting our translation of the Japanese text. I found it only slightly amusing. We were honest, but we could have shown her any piece of paper with a photograph on it claiming it was a driver's license from some odd country, and she most likely would have taken our word for it.
The car was a Nissan automatic, the traffic in Antigua is the same as in Japan, so no problem there. It was a fun day trip.
We read numerous warnings about the sorry state of the roads in Antigua, but honestly, they were no worse than some of the pitiful paths we have to drive on in rural Japan.
In many of the villages we passed, we saw either brand new or completely renovated houses. And most of them had signs about room rentals and advertised in-door plumbing, fans, and running water, plus the distance to the beach.
Roadside cafe with conch shells for sale.
The views were spectacular.
Renting a car and doing a self-drive tour was a much better idea than just sitting on the beach. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against sitting on beaches. I love it as much as the next person. But I also love to get around and see stuff.
Fortunately, most of the major sights were marked on road signs and the locals were helpful and friendly when it came to giving directions.