16/03/2008/3:26 pm, Little Farmers Cay
I'll add pictures later. I keep getting timed out when I try to put them in - connection a little slow!
16/03/2008/3:20 pm, Little Farmers Cay
The day started with a novel sight - even before breakfast. As I put the kettle on for coffee, I heard a motor and looked out to see a huge boat nosed up to the rock just up the shoreline from us. It was carrying fuel and because there is no dock big enough for such boats here, it went right up to the bank, let down a ramp and the trucks rolled off. Our neighbours said it came right in between the anchored boats - must have given them quite a start!
We had arranged with Ernestina at Ocean Cabin to try a Bahamian breakfast at 9 this morning, so off we went, mouths watering. The restaurant was all locked up when we got there, but we sat on the deck, letting ourselves fall into the rhythm of a Bahamian Sunday morning; roosters crowing, birds chirping, sun hot overhead already, water shimmering in the harbour, and the occasional person saying hello as he went by. Soon enough, Ernestina appeared, opened up her kitchen and went to work. The result was delicious and unusual - for us.
She made stewed fish - which was nothing like I have ever eaten for breakfast - or at any other time for that matter. It consisted of pieces of fried fish - grouper for me, snapper for Jim - served with onions and potatoes in a spicy gravy, and with Johnny cake as a side. I've seen recipes for boil fish (fish, potatoes, onions cooked together in broth) but this one was new to us. It was a "stick to your ribs" breakfast - meant to fill the stomachs of fishermen before they went out to start their day. The Johnny cake was different from what I make too - made with flour and not cornmeal. To top off the meal, we drank several cups of really good coffee.
Ernestine said the Americans generally won't try this, so we were pleased to be adventurous. I'm not sure we are adventurous enough to try the next thing she suggested - sheep's tongue, but she said it's delicious and that we wouldn't even know what we were eating. Maybe....
Lori, Dana and Nancy (Solitaire) arrived as we were finishing so we all sat around and chatted with Terry and Ernestine for another hour or two. We were the beneficiaries of their warm hospitality as well as their food. One thing we were disappointed to learn about was that the (Canadian) boat that had taken up the mooring next to us had left without paying. We were even more disappointed to learn that some cruisers do this on a regular basis. These moorings cost $10.00 per night - not a huge price. There is ample room to anchor if one does not wish to pay. We heard of people doing the same thing in the Park - where the moorings are put in to protect the coral from destruction by anchors, and the fees help to maintain the Park. It baffles me why some cruisers think it is OK to secure a mooring and not pay for it - kind of sounds like "stealing" a mooring to me. I know I grumbled about moorings back up north, but that was when harbours were filled with them and we were given no choice. This situation is different. There are many choices of anchorages and moorings, and installing moorings for the security and comfort of cruisers is one way the Bahamians earn their income. Every $10.00 not paid is money taken out of their pockets.
Jim replaced the seal in our head and it pumps much better now; we did some routine cleaning and had a swim to break the heat (32 C and very little breeze).
After a trip to the Yacht Club on the northern tip of the cay - where there is Internet - we'll shift our position around to the west side of the Cay where we think we'll be less rolly tonight and tomorrow as the anticipated wind clocks around.
We'll probably move to Lee Stocking Island on Tuesday, and then on to Emerald Bay on Great Exuma Cay a few days after that. We don't expect to have internet connections again till then.
What a day this has been! We followed the folks from Solitaire to the beach at Oven Rock on Great Guana Cay - a wee bit north of Little Farmers. Once we beached the dinghies and hauled them up on the sand, we set off on the trail at the north end of the beach. Nancy and Jim have been here before so they were really clear on the way, but it is marked well enough with rock cairns to allow visitors to find it. In a way, I hate to say a lot about it because it is clean and uncrowded; in another way, it is such a neat place to visit that cruisers coming here might like to know more about it.
We couldn't see the opening until we were right at it - and then we just stepped down into it as a bat made a quick exit. (We didn't see any others) This cave is much different from the Rocky Dundas or Thunderball Caves - this one is inland and you don't get wet unless you want to - there are no fish either. But the cave is spectacular - complete with stalactites and stalagmites. A bucket with a little cup sits under one of the drips and we tasted the water - clear and pure - not all minerally like I expected. It is interesting even if all one does is stand on the rock. It is especially rewarding to go for a swim. Most of us took a dip in the pool, and Nancy, Jim and I swam around the corners to explore as much as we could. We were fascinated to swim slowly around, gazing upward at the stalactites, and downwards through the crystal clear water. The water was coolish but felt good, and Nancy's waterproof light was handy to have.
After our refreshing dip and exploration, we headed further along the path to the beach on the Sound side on a hunt for sea beans. We were all successful scavengers and came back with an assortment of sea hearts, hamburger beans, various other nuts and seeds and beads. It was a lovely little crescent beach; the sun was hot, the water turquoise and there was plentiful wrack to poke through. Mind you - whenever a beach is good picking for sea beans, it also has its share of garbage and this one was no exception. It is so sad to see the numbers of plastic bottles. There were enough plastic forks to have had a dinner party, and there are a whole lot of people walking around with only one shoe.
On Nancy's suggestion, we gathered up all the fishing buoys we could find and brought them back to the Little Farmers Dock for the local fishermen to reuse.
Then it was time for a quick change of clothes and we were off to the School Fair. This community has about 70 full time residents, and 9 students in the K-9 school. We talked briefly with Miss Wallace who has been the teacher here for over 20 years. The local women had been busy cooking, and we bought dinners for $8.00 - ribs or chicken or fish, served with peas'n rice, macaroni and cole slaw. We also had the chance to try another local dish that I've been wanting to taste - Guava Duff. It is like a bread pudding with Guava filling and a custard sauce poured over. Mmmmmm. With full stomachs (again - we never go hungry here) we stood on the lawn to watch the school children sing their national anthem, recite their pledge, and then sing the Little Farmers Song. There is quite a bit of local pride here - they have their own island flag and their own song. The Little Farmers Steppers performed a couple of drills, and during one, a little boy - age 3 or 4 joined them and we all got a chuckle out of his attempts to keep up. It was sweet to see this little guy playing with John (Last Paradise) later - one so fair, one so dark - both absolutely gorgeous children.
The event was well supported by both the cruising community and the local parents. We were interested to hear the MC extend special thanks to the cruisers. He commented that tourism is the lifeline of the Bahamas and that our support for such events as this is valuable. Jim and I agreed that although we all know cruising dollars are important here, we have never felt anywhere we have visited on this trip that people are just after our dollars. There is far more of a sense that folks welcome us to their beautiful islands, and want us to have a good time. There are often offers to take us fishing or exploring, but it has never been pushy. The children invariably say hello (often it is "Good afternoon, Ma'am") the drivers wave, the walkers ask us how we are. Interestingly, when we return the greeting and say, "How are you?" the answer is something along the line of " I am just fine - the sun is shining and I'm glad to be here." We have yet to hear anything remotely like - "Getting by", "OK", "Not too bad".
We went for a stroll around town and then back to the boat. In advance of the northerly front coming, the weather is hot (30 C) and humid. We had little energy for anything very active so it was swim time and then settling in with our books and a rum punch. At dusk, when it got a bit cooler, I cooked up some of our lobster into that excellent curry dish from Embarrassment of Mangoes.
Quite a number of boats have joined us in this corner - last night there were 3 of us, and tonight there are 8 - 3 on moorings and the rest anchored. I guess we were not the only ones to think this is a good spot to ride out a northerly. Speaking of riding out the fronts, we have had a few more of them lately and we're not sure if this is typical spring weather, or just a run of northerlies. Either way, we make our choices in how we consider them. If schedule is important to a boater, they could be considered problems. For us, and for most of the boats we hang out with, it is just something to watch and give consideration to as we pick our destinations and plan the length of stay. We have yet to be seriously inconvenienced.
As Jeffery said when we left the dock today - "Stay a while and enjoy yourselves". That is exactly what we plan to do. For us, that is one of the major learning experiences. We don't try to control the schedule. We build it around Mother Nature. It works a whole lot better that way.