In Which we Didn't Plan for Santa Surprises, and yet Somehow, they got Delivered!
With the cold front coming down at us, we had to make a decision, and fast. Where were we going to spend the Christmas holidays, whilst keeping out of Winds Way. But the biggest question was, was Santa going to find us?
was certainly the one who'd received some serious gifting lately. New Canvas, New Anchor Chain, Dinghy Repair, WaterMaker parts, and the list was growing, daily! Which had us in a Scrooge Type of Mood.
This is how we decided that we would do the Sensible Thing, the Financially Wise Thing, the Bah Humbug Thing...
"So we Agree to Agree to not Exchange Gifts this year?" we said. We planned to not plan. We chose not to buy. We looked at each other seriously, into the deepest depths of our eyes, squinted and didn't blink, and agreed. Pinky swore in fact.
So we hung our stocking by the wall with care. We sang some Christmassy tunes as we decorated our home.
It was all sparkling and pretty, but something in our heart of hearts was missing.
The winds were forecasted to arrive with a vengeance, winds that would keep us in one place for the better part of a week. Where would we go? We had just enough of a weather window to get to Staniel Cay, and bonus we could overnight in one of our favourite places: Warderick Wells.
We were there before the onslaught of Christmas Arrivals, and received our assignment of Mooring Ball Number 6, with the clear instructions to stay in the Deeper Darker Waters as we came into the horseshoe shaped reef. Roger That. It's always a bit daunting to navigate the narrow area of waters, and a boat arriving after us, went hard aground a few mooring balls behind us.
Once they were safely pulled off, we dinghied ashore to pay for our one night stay. The Ranger asked us if we had Christmas plans, and we both shook our heads no. Didn't want to dampen his spirits by telling him we weren't exchanging gifts either (wink wink).
Before we knew it, he was telling us that we should consider staying. That the Rangers and Bahamian Defence Force put on a Christmas Feast and we just needed to show up, with a side-dish. We were feeling kind of blah as our kids had cancelled their holiday vacation with us, and this sounded like it might lift our spirits a bit. Before we knew it, we had signed up for the entire few days of holidays.
We stayed ashore for a Happy Hour Meet and Greet, meeting new cruisers, and we were just about ready to head back to our newly decorated home,
when the Rangers came out bearing aluminum trays of food, whoa, what a delicious surprise!
As we were heading out for a walk the next day, we asked the Rangers if we could check on the trails for them. They eagerly handed us the trail map, some machetes, and some cans of yellow spray paint.
So we spent the next few hours and the next couple of days trying to locate the existing trails,
hidden from view and obstructed by Hurricane debris, clearing the fallen trees and dried palms, and spraying yellow circles on the trees to help circle the way to future hiking enthusiasts.
So we spent a few evenings Happy Hour'ing on the beach, festively decorated,
with even the reclusive Hutia's making an appearance,
and Christmas Day had us waking up to sunny skies, a great cup of java and some EggNog Cheers to be had.
The depths of emotion of missing our families dampened our spirits, yet, wait, what was this? A package lay there for me to find.
"It's not for you" said the Capt'N. "It's for the Boat!"
And so it was that Banyan
received another present, this one for her library collection. The Reef Fish Identification
book by Humann & Deloach. If you're a snorkeller, and love to identify the many colourful species of fish you're swimming with, then this is the perfect book for you!! Beautiful glossy photos, and brief descriptions. Banyan (and I) were happy!
We headed ashore to the Ranger Headquarters just after lunchtime. Chatting some time away before we were all asked to gather in the main room and participate in the Elephant Gift Exchange. Thanks to the organization of a couple of the cruisers who return here every year for the holidays, there were over 80+ wrapped items under the Christmas tree. We spent the next few hours, waiting for our number to be drawn, a gift collected from either under the tree or someone else, until hours later, everyone had something.
One of the hottest items on the take was a bag of ice. Second to a free nights on the mooring ball. And some were just stuck with stuff. Like the young boy with a hair brush, desperately trying to find girl with hair to take it from him.
I myself was eyeing some martini glasses and nudged Dave in the right direction to swipe them, only to promptly lose them three numbers later. Then it was my turn and I got them back, and promptly lost them myself. When all was said and done, we had two more presents for Banyan
. Clothespins and a plastic egg container. What a fun bunch of Laughs!
The Exuma Park Staff provided trays of Cooked Beast, that along with the several tables laden with pot luck side dishes, had everyone feasting to their tummies content.
The next morning we decided we were in no rush and opted to stay an extra day of R&R before dropping our mooring ball lines, thinking that it was time to head to Staniel Cay for New Years Eve celebrations. When we went to pay our bill, we were given a free night's stay, thanks to the volunteer work we did. Another nice surprise!
We didn't plan for Christmas, yet it came anyways. We didn't exchange gifts, yet they appeared anyways. We gave some of our time to the Island, and received the gift of time back.
I guess somewhere in there lies the True Meaning of the Holidays?