Laundromats on Anguilla

I know, I know. Anguilla is marketed as a high-end, luxury travel destination to which you can fly in on your private jet and stay at lavish resorts where your every whim is catered to night and day…and it definitely is, if you have the money to spend on that kind of experience.

For those of us, though, who love the island and aren’t quite able to adopt the lifestyles of the rich and famous, there are more mundane things we need to think about when we travel, like how to avoid airlines’ checked-baggage fees and how to get the barbeque sauce stains out of our shirts in the hotel sink. (Interestingly enough, dark rum does not appear to permanently stain clothing and if you just let the item dry out, the alcohol will evaporate and leave no lingering scent behind. Don’t ask me how I know this.)

On my last trip to Anguilla, in December 2012,  I managed to pack fewer items of clothing than I needed for the length of my stay and I needed to do some laundry around the middle of my visit. I am fortunate to have some friends on-island who are kind enough to offer their washers to me whenever I need them, but I don’t always like to bother them while they’re working or when their families may need to use the machines.

So, I went in search of laundry services on Anguilla and was happy to find a few places that I will definitely be using on future visits. Now, many hotels will wash and dry your clothing while you’re off enjoying some time on the beach, so if you’d prefer that on-site convenience, you should definitely take advantage of those offerings. If, however, you’re willing to spend some time going off the beaten path, one of the following laundromats might be of interest to you:

R&R Services Laundromat in Island Harbor

(Convenient to the Shoal Bay East area and the Eastern side of the island)

R&R Services Laundromat in Island Harbor

R&R Services Laundromat in Island Harbor

Directions to R&R Services Laundromat in Island Harbor: Driving east on the main road to Island Harbor, turn right on the road just in front of the white church with blue shutters pictured below (onto Rupert Phillip Road). Continue along the winding road and bear left when you get to a sharp left turn on the road. (At this bend, you will see a supermarket on the right.) R&R Services Laundromat, pictured above, will be a couple of buildings down on your right. See Island Harbor at the eastern end of the island on an Anguilla Map.

Hours: Currently Mon-Fri 5pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 9am-9pm, but expanded hours may be added soon. In the meantime, call the number below if you need to use the facilities outside of normal operating hours and the owner will try to accommodate you if at all possible.

Services offered: Self-serve washers and dryers (US $5.00 per load to wash, US $5.00 per load to dry) and laundry drop-off service (US $7.00 per load to wash, US $7.00 per load to dry). Note that these prices are those listed as of December 2012 but prices are subject to change. Please call to confirm current prices.

Contact: Rocklyn at 264-476-4388

 

Turn at this Anglican Church in Island Harbor onto Rupert Phillip Rd to get to R&R Services Laundromat

Turn at this Anglican Church in Island Harbor onto Rupert Phillip Rd to get to R&R Services Laundromat

When I was asking around about laundromats, one of my friends gave me the vague directions of “Try the one in Island Harbor. Turn at the church.” Now, for a local, this might be enough information to get them to the right place, but I had to make a few wrong turns and stop and ask for additional directions before I found it (which I didn’t entirely mind – adventure!). I provided more detailed directions in the box above so you are able to find it more easily than I did.

When I arrived at R&R in the middle of the day on a weekday, it was closed. As I stood outside the locked door wondering what I should do next, a young gentleman who happened to be walking along the road asked me if I was looking to use the laundromat. When I said that yes, I was, he walked past me a bit more, tilted his head up in the air without breaking stride and yelled “Aaay Rock! Da lady wanna use da laundry!” in no particular direction.  I hadn’t seen anyone else around so I was surprised to see another guy walk out from behind the buildings to meet me. I waved thanks to the passer-by and, while I shouldn’t have been surprised at how he helped me, I was. This is why I love Anguilla.

Rock (short for Rocklyn) said that he’d be happy to open the place up for me since he happened to be working around back that day. Usually, they are open M-F 5pm-9pm and Sat-Sun 9am-9pm, when he and/or his wife are off from their day-jobs, though he does plan to have it staffed full-time during the week at some point soon. In the meantime, he said that anyone interested in using the laundromat outside of their regular business hours can give him a call at 264-476-4388, and he’ll open it if he is able to do so.

In December 2012, everything in R&R Services Laundromat was immaculately clean and looked practically brand new. There were two washers, two dryers and a large folding table in the middle. Additional amenities included baskets for use in the laundromat, seating, a TV, a fan, and a restroom.

Inside R&R Services Laundromat

Inside R&R Services Laundromat

Also available for purchase are laundry detergent, fabric softener, and bleach but you can bring your own if you prefer. To use the machines, you’ll need to buy tokens from the person behind the counter – one for each washer load and one for each dryer load. In December 2012, it cost US $5.00 per load to wash (self-serve), and US $5.00 per load to dry (self serve). R&R also offers a drop-off service, for US $7.00 per load to wash and US $7 per load to dry, where they will wash and dry your clothes for you and you can pick them up at a later time. I would highly recommend that you call ahead to make sure they will be staffed for this service at the time you’d like it done.  Note that all prices are subject to change. Please call to confirm current prices.

Token, Price list & Token Acceptor at R&R Services Laundromat (put the token in short side down) - All prices are subject to change.

Token, Price list & Token Acceptor at R&R Services Laundromat (put the token in short side down) – All prices are subject to change.

I’d consider my experience at R&R to be a pretty good one…well, aside from the slightly embarrassing moment when I couldn’t figure out how to put the token in the machine, that is. That’s why I included the token acceptor photo above – so you can avoid the same moment of minor humiliation. (Remember: put the token in short side down!) To his credit, Rock was so helpful and polite that he didn’t even laugh at me even as I stood there cracking up at myself. (Hmm, I wonder if he thought I was a lunatic…not unlikely, and not entirely inaccurate.)  Rock was very accommodating, the machines worked perfectly and my clothes were clean afterward. What more could I ask for? I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend R&R Services Laundromat to anyone in need of wash & dry laundry services.

Laundromat at Tackling Apartments in Stoney Ground (aka Tackling)

(Convenient to The Valley and the central part of the island)

Laundromat (& Internet Cafe) at Tackling Apartments

Laundromat (& Internet Cafe) at Tackling Apartments

Directions to the Laundromat at Tackling Apartments: From the Valley, travel east on the road to Shoal Bay East into Stoney Ground Village (aka Tackling). Turn left at the large “Grillers” sign and the building pictured above will be on your right. See Stoney Ground Village in the central part of the island to the northeast of The Valley on an Anguilla Map.

Hours: Sun-Sat 8am-10pm

Services offered: Self-serve washers and dryers (US $5.00 per load to wash, US $5.00 per load to dry), laundry drop-off service (US $7.00 per load to wash, US $7.00 per load to dry). Note that these prices are those listed as of December 2012 but prices are subject to change. Please call to confirm current prices.

Contact: 264-498-4544

 

I didn’t actually use the laundromat at Tackling Apartments myself, only because I found R&R first, but it was recommended to me by several friends and it seemed to have everything you’d need to get your laundry done: Four washers and five dryers (including one commercial sized dryer).

Four washers inside the Tackling Apartments Laundromat

Four washers inside the Tackling Apartments Laundromat

Five Dryers Inside the Laundromat at Tackling Apartments (one not pictured)

Five Dryers Inside the Laundromat at Tackling Apartments (one not pictured)

The machines at the Laundromat at Tackling Apartments were a little older than the ones at R&R, but most of them were in pretty good shape. This laundromat also requires the use of tokens which you can buy at the desk right inside the front door, where detergent and fabric softener are also available for purchase.  The young lady who was working on the day I visited in December 2012 said that they charge US $5.00 to wash (self-serve) and US $5.00 to dry (self-serve) one load of laundry. They also provide a drop-off service for US $7.00 to wash and US $7.00 to dry. Again, you may want to call ahead, at 264-498-4544, to make sure they’re staffed when you need drop-off service. All prices listed are subject to change. Please call to confirm current prices.

I would probably do my laundry at this location if it was closer to wherever I was staying. They’re also open more hours during the week, so it may be convenient to some for that reason. The staff members that I spoke to were very helpful and happily answered all of my questions.

Some might consider US $10 for a load of laundry (wash & dry) to be a bit high, but when you consider how much it costs to check a bag on an airplane these days (often US $25+ per bag, one way), taking only a carry-on and doing a load of laundry or two during your trip turns out to be much more economical. You might also consider doing as the locals do it and hang-dry your laundry after washing, if you have the space wherever you’re staying, to save even more money. Remember that both water and electricity are both precious commodities Anguilla and anything that you can do to conserve both is appreciated by all (do full loads, hang dry when possible etc.).

I did find a couple of other laundromats on island, but some were un-staffed with broken token machines and some full-service-only places were not able to provide a price list. I’m sure there are other good laundromats that I haven’t found yet, but I will update this post if I find new ones to recommend. For the time being, though, I hope that the suggestions above are helpful to anyone who wants to save a little bit of money on their next trip to Anguilla.

Rebuilding IslandObsessions.com

Dear friends,

Some of you may have noticed that IslandObsessions.com has been down for the past few days. Over the New Year’s holiday, the site was hacked and was essentially wiped-out. As a result, I had to rebuild much of the blog from what backups I had and the rest had to be done from scratch. The site is almost back to “normal” but you may find that some parts are missing or not functioning exactly as they did in the past. I hope to get things completely straightened out in the very near future, so please bear with me!

Some subscribers may have received some older duplicate posts via e-mail and I apologize for that annoyance. It should not continue to happen from this point on, but if you do continue to receive old posts, please let me know in the comments below and I will fix it as soon as possible.

Believe it or not, I have actually found this rebuilding process to be a rewarding one. I was devastated to find that my blog had been attacked and that all of the content into which I had put so much time and effort had just vanished into thin air just like that. With that, though, came the realization of just how special writing all of these posts have been to me and how passionately I feel about the subject matter:

I love writing and I looooooove Anguilla.

So I have worked painstakingly hard over the past few days to bring back every word of every post, every image and every link contained on these pages. IslandObsessions.com is just too special to me and I couldn’t let it disappear.

I am so thankful to everyone who has come to read my ramblings over the years and I am especially appreciative of those who have let me know their thoughts on my writings via comments, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. It means a lot that there are people who return time after time to see what’s new and who even deem my posts worthy of sharing with others.

Thank you all for making this blog so worthwhile to write and I hope that you continue to find it enjoyable!

-Patty

“Whelks”: A Local Favorite In Anguilla

One afternoon on a recent trip to Anguilla, I was hanging out on a quiet beach with a group of friends enjoying one of my favorite island pastimes: just lounging around enjoying happy conversation, tasty food and some nice cold drinks.

At some point one of our buddies disappeared and we couldn’t figure out where he had gone. After a short search, I spotted him in the distance out on a rocky part of the beach. He was bent over, pulling things out of the water and putting them into a bucket of some sort.

I asked my friends what he was doing, but they didn’t even really look to see. They just shrugged and said he’d tell us when he came back. Since I haven’t even come close to developing the level of patience that my Anguillian friends have (working on it, really I am…) and because I just couldn’t contain my curiosity, I decided that I had to find out right then. So, I walked down to the rocky beach area and asked what he was up to.

A Rocky Beach in Anguilla

A Rocky Beach in Anguilla

It turns out that he was collecting what he called “whelks” (or “wilks” as it is sometimes spelled), which are a type of sea snail, to take home and cook up.  (Please read the discussion below about what their real names are so you don’t get them confused with their poisonous namesakes!)  He had grand plans of boiling them up into a nice soup and he seemed really excited about the prospect of the delicious meal he was going to make.

I took a look at some of the “whelks” up close:

Whelks up close

My friend was picking them off of the rocks. The white arrows in the photo below point to some kind of shelled creatures on the rocks under the water, but now that I’m looking at it closely, I realize that I can’t clearly see the characteristic black and white/light markings as the ones above, so I can’t be 100% positive that these are the same as the “whelks” above. It’s possible the ones in the photo below have something covering their shells and that the ones above were washed off. (If you have any info, please let me know in the comments below!) In any case, the snails that were being collected were situated much like these in the photo below:

"Whelks" (maybe?) in Anguillian Water

“Whelks” (maybe?) in Anguillian Water

And in no time, my friend had filled his jug:

A Jug Full of "Whelks"

A Jug Full of “Whelks”

Satisfied with his loot, my friend picked up his container and we walked down the beach to return to our original spot.

When we arrived back at the group and the others saw what was in the container, some kind of jubilant frenzy ensued! Someone grabbed the jug from my friend’s arms and got all excited about a WHOLE entire bucket full of whelks! and “Let’s eat ‘em right now!”. The poor guy who collected the snails had to chase people around as they played keep-away and hide-and-seek with his precious whelks. He tried to convince them that they would absolutely NOT be eaten until he cooked them at home in that soup he was still dreaming of, unfortunately to no avail.

“Come on. We gonna put ‘em on the fire, tssss! tssss! They gonna be nice!” exclaimed one of the other friends. (Where “tssss! tssss!” is the sound of whelks getting grilled, of course.)

The best deal that the snail-collector friend could manage was to tell them to leave some for him to take home. Poor guy. With that, about two-thirds of the jug was immediately emptied and the snails were put on the grill.

Grilled "Whelks"

Grilled “Whelks”

I’ll tell you, I’ve never really been a fan of even the thought of eating snails but…well, did I mention that the drinks we were having that day had alcohol in them? (Kinda goes without saying on a beach trip, right?) You may also know, from previous posts, that I am…ahem… somewhat susceptible to the powers of some Anguillian friends’ peer-pressure (but they’d never steer me wrong). So, yes, I tried the “whelks”, and they actually tasted really good! We pulled them out of their shells with toothpicks and the tines of smaller forks. They’re tender and a bit salty, which makes sense having just come out of the sea. Like some other seafood, the overcooked ones do tend to get a little rubbery but they’re still really tasty.

I’m told that these particular “whelks” can also be eaten raw, after being washed off with seawater. I’m sure there are endless other ways to serve them as well, but I haven’t heard about them yet – I hope to, though!

From what I understand, these “whelks” are not as easy to come by as other seafood in Anguillian restaurants and stores, so the common mentality is “If you see them, buy them, because you probably won’t see them again for a while”. Apparently, they do show up as specials in restaurants from time to time, so keep your eyes open!

The next time I got to a computer and was thinking about them, I looked up “whelks” online to find out more information. When the first article I read said that whelks are poisonous, I nearly had a heart attack! After I regained my composure though, I realized that it had been quite a long time since I had eaten them (several months), and that since I had had no ill effects since then, I was probably going to live.

I asked an Anguillian friend of mine about what are known as “whelks” in Anguilla, and he said that the real name for them is the “West Indian Top Shell” (Latin name Cittarium pica). The whelks that are poisonous are from an entirely different family, Buccinidae or “true whelks”, whereas the West Indian Top Shell are in the family Turbinidae. The two are not even closely related and the “West Indian Top Shells” are not considered to be poisonous. Phew!

Unfortunately, because of their popularity, these West Indian Top Shell snails are also suffering from being overfished, and so the populations in the Caribbean are decreasing.  As a result, some islands have strict regulations on when they can be collected, i.e. not during their reproductive season between June and November and some islands do not allow collecting them at all.  I have asked around and have been told that it is not illegal to collect West Indian Top Shell snails in Anguilla. Since, however, they are endangered, I have chosen not to identify the specific beach where these whelks were found, but I can confirm that they were not collected during the reproductive season.

Now, I do not recommend that a novice should just go out, pick some random mollusks off of some rocks in the sea and try to eat them, especially since there are similar looking ones that could really harm you if you do! (I don’t know for certain if the poisonous varieties exist in the waters of Anguilla but I, personally, wouldn’t take the chance.)  If, however, you know someone who can accurately identify the correct species or you come across whelks as a “special” on a restaurant menu in Anguilla, you should definitely try them!