Posted by
Kennedy
• 12.11.12 07:00 am


This shit is wrong. If you can do math, Antigua Outdoors, it’s actually more than 400 meters. Maybe brush up on Antigua?

Every man has his Everest. Though every man will not climb Mount Everest in his lifetime, each of us will pursue some whimsical dream that many consider foolish and unattainable. Simply believing it can be done is what makes it possible.

This is the belief Dave and I had about summiting Mount Obama, Antigua’s highest peak at 1,319 feet. Antiguans don’t even call it Mount Obama; they call it Boggy Peak. (In 2009, the Prime Minister of Antigua renamed the mountain.) It’s been called Boggy Peak for hundreds of years and it’s where runaway slaves used to hide out. We didn’t see any slaves, but we did accidentally roll up on a domestic dispute.

For many Americans, little is known about the tiny island nation of Antigua. That’s probably because the resort staff is way fucking better in Jamaica (and so is the weed).

After a few days on the beach with drunken UK tourists, we decided to brave the world outside the hotel grounds. There were plenty of local tour guides who told us they could take us there. For $50 USD per person, they would bring us to Boggy Peak. Don’t these fucking guys realize we have iPhones? I could see on the map it was six miles total from the hotel. If we were feeling frisky, we could walk the whole thing both ways. I talked to a cabdriver, who offered a ride to the trailhead for $25. We ended up taking the bus for $2.

Taking a public bus in Antigua is a lot like taking a bus in my hometown of New Orleans; the driver will be pissed if you ask him a question, you will be the only white person, and you won’t be able to understand shit. The buses don’t look like buses, either; they look like Hyundai minivans from the 1980s (the kind of shit you would see in an early Jean-Claude Van Damme movie).

The driver let us out at an old farm road next to a pineapple plantation. “Is this the way to Boggy Peak?” I asked. The driver gestured in the affirmative, too annoyed with my simple question to speak. After a few hundred yards of dirt road, we reached the trailhead. The trail to the summit was blazed by AT&T decades ago so they could put antennas on top of the mountain. Though semi-paved, the path was steep and tiring. We brought some jerk chicken in a plastic bag, but we should have brought twice what we rationed for water.


The famous sign that online climbing guides told me to disregard.



A view of Cades Bay from near the summit. You can’t really see anything from the actual peak because it’s covered in jungle and antennas.

To follow our thirsty journey, we took a bus from Jolly Harbour to Cades Bay, then hiked up the blue trail to the summit. Why didn’t we take a bus to Jennings and take the red trail through Christian Valley? Because the hotel staff warned against it. In fact, they warned against climbing Boggy Peak entirely and made me promise I wouldn’t be going by myself.

There wasn’t any real danger. We hiked to the top, drank all of our water, smoked a bit, then hiked down without ever touching the chicken. We did see a few abandoned trucks on the side of the mountain, but there was not a soul around.

Then, on the way down, when we were almost back to the farm road, we heard some yelling. We got very quiet and listened to what sounded like a Rasta yelling at his wife. We passed their mountainside shanty without glancing over at all. Goats and dogs were strewn about the dirt road in front of the hut, but we weaved past them while the arguing escalated. She yelled back in their incomprehensible Caribbean patois. Dave and I felt it was best to mind our own business and let the domestic abuse carry on “island-style.”

After 10 minutes or so, we hopped a bus back to Jolly Harbour. Later, while we sipped draft Wadadli on the beach, we daydreamed. Perhaps a woman had been murdered that afternoon on the slopes of Mount Obama, Antigua’s highest peak.

 

—KENNEDY

 


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