Small and Special
01 April 2010 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
Beth / lovely day
We were lucky enough to arrive in South Side Bay, Ragged Island in time to have Linda and Peter (Asylum III) act as our town guides before they left for further travels. Marilyn and Bruce (Reflection) were kind enough to take us ashore and we all went to town together. As we passed the dinghy dock in town, we met up with Michael and Carol (Kanaloa) so the 8 of us wandered about together.
Our Explorer Chart book says of Duncan Town, "About the only service of interest to cruising visitors is the BTC office." but it is SO wrong. Even without our guides we'd have loved the place, although their introductions made it easier to find our way around and meet some of the local folks. We took the path from the beach up a little road that led to the runway, crossed it, turned left on the next road leading up the hill and into town - dropping our garbage at the dump on the way.
Over the course of a few hours, we met Myron, who would be able to fix our outboard if we were able to get the bevel gear sent from Nassau. We visited the sweet little bakery to purchase freshly made guava duff and chocolate chip cookies. We then returned to the open air gazebo in the centre of town to plug in our computers and tap into free wifi. Next stop was the Administrative Office to say hello to Charlene who is the person to contact for just about anything - and who also bakes the goodies at Locos Pastries. Jim talked on the phone with Phil, who is our contact for all things outboard motor- related. Phil was working on his boat in the harbour. We stopped at Maxine's grocery store to say hello and buy a big bag of rice and some onions. On the way back up the hill, we turned off at Sheila's Fishing Lounge for a cold drink - and to say hello.
There is a construction boom happening here right now. There has been an infusion of money for widening the runway, improving the streets, building a new dock, and establishing a Bahamian Defense Force base. Big road grading equipment rumbled up the main street and out along the runway. Piles of brush were burning where land had been cleared there. Goats wander freely. Chickens cluck and squawk in almost every yard. Hammocks made from fishing nets hang on many porches. The house colours are bright greens and yellows and blues and the inhabited ones are well maintained and tidy. Fewer than 100 people live here, and those we've met are well spoken, hard working, friendly and helpful. A sense of pride permeates this whole town.
Because the street down to "Locos Pastries" was torn up, we ducked down through driveways and around outbuildings to find the tidy little blue building. Inside, we found Jerard selling the muffins and cookies and guava duff that his mother had made early that morning. We remarked on the pictures hanging on the walls - Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Che Guevera, Fidel Castro, Bob Marley.
Maxine's store has the same look that stores in other islands have in the last couple of days before the mailboat comes in. Cans and dry goods, but precious little produce. Huge pieces of conch meat were drying in rows on lines behind the store, and I remarked that back in Nova Scotia, we can see fish drying too.
Sheila makes bread and cooks meals at the Fishermen's Lounge, but likes to have as much notice as possible, and we told her we'd call her and make plans to come in for lunch some day. She is making Easter dinner for all the construction workers this weekend.
Marilyn and Bruce headed for the school where they had dropped off boxes of books a few days ago (more about that in another posting) but the 9 students had all been dismissed early that day. They are off to Nassau on a school trip over the long weekend.
The gazebo in the centre of town near the Administrative Office is a work of art. It's clean, tidy and brightly painted in the colours of the Bahamian flag - aqua green, yellow and black. Several round tables and chairs take up most of the floor space, and benches are built in around the walls. There is a bar in one corner that may dispense drinks on other occasions. A couple of plugs were available, and the connection is the best one we've seen in weeks and weeks. The big metropolis of Georgetown has nothing to match this! (We have, however, come to find out that just like everywhere else in the Bahamas, it doesn't always work!)
We could look down to the Salt Ponds (still being worked but on a more limited scale than in the island's heyday) on one side of the town. On the other side is the small local harbour. Out ahead was the long dredged small boat channel that leads from the town dock to the larger harbour. When the mailboat comes, it anchors out and all the goods are brought ashore by the local people in their small boats. The only drawback to Duncan Town is the distance one must come to get into it - either a walk of a mile or so from South Side Bay, or a longish dinghy ride from Ragged Island Harbour. That will change with the building of the new dock.
Speaking of the mailboat - when the Captain C arrives on Saturday, we'll be among the anticipatory crowd. Our motor part was not available in Nassau, so we decided to upgrade motors earlier than planned and ordered a new one. I'll tell you that whole story in another posting. Suffice it to say that there are many services and good people here. We have been helped enormously by the folks of Duncan Town.