When I first talked about going to Anguilla I had no idea it would become my first solo trip. It was New Year’s Day 2017 and I was talking with a friend about not going out to celebrate because I had become bored with the scenery, how I was really just focused on business, but also wanted to take a dope trip somewhere with white sand and beautiful beaches. When the Bora Bora search results listed $2500 for flight alone I scratched that and quickly thought about the last place I promised to see… ah-ha, Anguilla!Fast forward six months and I was booking a flight for one to Saint Maarten and Anguilla to celebrate my 34th birthday and the 100th Day of my Self Love Challenge. I wanted to do something major that faced fears, tested love of self, and celebrated becoming another wiser, magical, year older. Believe me when I say it was not an easy choice to become a solo female traveler who is also a mom of a 6 year old.
Overcoming Fear, Anxiety, and Mom Guilt
For the last few months including 80 something days of pure self love, reflection, meditation, and “living my best life,” I thought I had gotten pretty good at being able to quell my feelings of fear and anxiety. But the week I spent with tension and knots in my stomach, and voices in my head trying to break me down, proved otherwise. Immediately after I decided I was going, the self doubt and guilt kicked in. “Who are you to take this trip alone when you have a son (and family/friends) at home?” “This is how people go missing; you’re a woman going to a foreign country alone, it’s too dangerous.” “You don’t even own a home but you’re spending money on trips, you’re supposed to be saving and sacrificing, do you even deserve this?” Then I realized the thoughts going through my head were not my own. They were everything I’ve heard people and society say about me and others once upon a time. And it became clear that this was the EXACT reason I needed to fly solo.
I was still controlled and affected by fear, what others thought of me. I lacked trust and faith in myself. So after conversations with women I know, watching YouTube videos, and reading blogs about moms and wives who’ve traveled solo, I built back up the confidence and pushed through. I did my research and finally decided I wasn’t spending my birthday at home. I set out to humble myself by realizing that the world is bigger than me, that my family, friends, and yes, even my son, would be alright without me for just a few days. I earned and deserved this and I needed it for my self esteem and happiness.
Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin, and Anguilla
Now let’s get to the fun stuff! If I knew solo trips were this fun I would have been going! It was kind of crazy how comfortable and fearless I felt as soon as I got to Sint Maarten, but I do have to say I had the company of a mother and daughter who I just met the day before the trip at my job. The mother and I realized we were going to be on the same flight to both celebrate our birthdays, which was pretty cool. I think that helped make the experience a lot less intimidating and while we didn’t spend much time together (the daughter and I went to Club Tantra in St Maarten) it was nice knowing that if anything happened they were nearby.
I stayed at the Divi Little Bay Beach Resort in St Maarten, which was really nice, and had great customer service. The beach and their pools were gorgeous, the infinity pool being my favorite view of the trip. PureOcean Restaurant was a 1 minute walk from my room and had the best seafood Paella I’ve ever had, everything on this trip was so fresh and I appreciated that. I spent most of my time on the resort except for when I went to the club and to a grab a quick bite to eat after. It’s a pretty touristy island and resort so it was friendly. I also was able to see two beach weddings on the same day. Without a doubt, I will absolutely go back to St Maarten and spend more time so I can see more of the island, but the resort is set up well that everything you need is on site.
I checked out Sunday morning and made my way to the French side of the island, Saint Martin. It was nice to see how different the two countries were, I saw a lot more natives of the island and less tourists on the French side. My cab driver, Big Cadi, gave me a lot of the history while taking me to Loterie Farm, a tourist attraction of St Martin where you can choose from hiking, ziplining, or just hanging by the pool. I chose to hang by the pool lol! It’s dope because it’s nestled in the trees with cabanas, dining, and a treehouse DJ booth.
After spending a few hours at Loterie Farm, living the French life (yes I saw boobs!), Big Cadi took me to the ferry in Marigot Bay where I got my second passport stamp (of the trip) and made my way to Anguilla. Now Anguilla is a small, extremely quiet, exclusive island due to the fact that you can’t fly directly onto the island. You can fly from other islands such as Puerto Rico, or the popular option is flying into St Maarten and taking the ferry or a 5 minute flight.
I think that the treatment in Anguilla affected me the most and really shaped the mindset I returned to the US with. The Zemi Beach House Resort went above and beyond to make me feel special for my birthday. I’m absolutely sure it’s customary to provide high quality service but it’s nice to feel cared for even on a solo trip. The whole experience is designed around tranquility and relaxation so from my arrival they strived to provide just that. Citrus water, introductions and then a tour of the property, before they do in room check-ins and make sure you are familiar with your accommodations. The morning of my birthday I went to the tranquility pool and did the first meditation of my 34th year. Then I had breakfast on the beach where the property manager let me know that they heard it’s my birthday and would upgrade my room. Afterwards I changed and headed to get a massage at the Zemi Thai House Spa which is the 2016 winner for the “World’s Best New Resort Spa.” And boy was it unlike any other spa I’ve been to, starting with an hour long bath ritual. From changing into a fancy robe and sandals, to relaxing in the Hammam (Turkish Steam Bath,) then upstairs to the Bohique Mud Deck to soak up the sun in a soothing body mud mask, rinse underneath the rain showers then lastly into the body temperature vitality pool, which was therapeutic amongst the yoga deck aesthetics and ambiance. And THEN the 50 minute deep tissue massage which I swear I was so relaxed already I went into a deep meditative “coma” (which could very likely be sleep that I refuse to admit,) because I know I was present but somewhere else at the same time. And to top that off, when I came out they had me sit and three sweet young women brought out yummy chocolate cake and champagne and sang me happy birthday. It was such a dope birthday experience that I’ll never forget; I loved Anguilla and I will absolutely return, maybe annually for my birthday.
Meditation and Reflection
What made this trip different was that I went down slightly unsure of who I was and came back with real confidence. I always knew I didn’t accept society’s agreement that black women are at the bottom of the social and financial totem pole. We are constantly reminded that we are the least paid, least protected, least loved and acknowledged and that we are born with two strikes against us, being black and being women. But I know that is something that we are fed so we don’t ever recognize that being black and being women is what gives us our power. Rich in melanin and divine magic we can do whatever we think to do, as we are loved, protected, and respected. And let it be known that any woman, wife, mother, daughter can benefit from a solo trip. It’s all about perspective and to me, we are at the top and I will accept nothing less. I AM fearless, I AM love, and I AM powerful, and any life that I can envision is already mine.
Are you thinking about taking a solo trip? Stay tuned for tips for planning a lit trip and enjoying yourself.