July 11th 8:15 PM Pics are up on Flickr.
Today was the first of our two tank dive days … and the ocean was up some but not enough to keep us out of the water. We visited the same site we’d done Wednesday, called The Caverns, and also dove a ledge that was just teeming with fish. One huge green parrotfish came up out of a hole in the bottom. Andie saw a big green moray eel, and there was a nurse shark wandering around as well. I didn’t see either of those.
What we did see were lionfish. At least a half a dozen of them. Lionfish are not native to these waters, have no predators here, and are extremely poisonous. People who have had them in their aquariums and have gotten tired of caring for them have released them into the ocean, or so I’ve been told, and with no natural enemies, they’re thriving. There have been reports of lionfish sightings as far north as North Carolina. I suppose they’re here to stay.
It’s difficult to describe the diving without a few pictures to go along with it, so I’ll hold off on that until I get the film processed once we get back to the states. I’m hoping I’ve gotten at least a few decent shots out of this $99 point and shoot film camera. I jury rigged up a flash diffuser, so we’ll see if some of the backscatter problems are dealt with.
The Ledges was just flat. A 2 knot current was running with the swell, so we beat our way up against the current and then drifted back to the boat in about 65 feet of water. Jenni did just fine, thought I burned through my air more quickly than I’d wanted to. At The Caverns, both Jenni and Andie had some ear problems, but both worked through them, and we make THAT tank last an hour and 13 minutes, by my computer. That’s a good dive.
All in all, it was a good day out on the ocean. Tomorrow, we’ll dive again, and then take a day off Sunday to off-gas and get ready to fly home.
After diving, we were all starving, so we went over to New Plymouth for lunch.
The only real town on the island, New Plymouth sits at the base of a hill on a spit of land that juts out into the Sea of Abaco. It’s neat and trim and shabby and poor all at the same time.
The main street of New Plymouth is a one-way loop about a half a mile long which encircles the main business district of the town. There are several small restaurants on the loop, three grocery stores, and a hardware store. The customs office, post office, and tourist information center all in one building. There is one liquor store, which also serves food. Yes, you can have breakfast at the liquor store.
Along the main street, the houses and shops are neat and trim. I’ve never been here when it didn’t look pretty freshly painted. The streets are clean, and other than over by the ferry dock, narrow. The pinks and blues and yellows are all somewhat muted even when they look fresh. It doesn’t take very long for paint to fade in the Caribbean sun.
The ferry dock is where the commerce takes place in New Plymouth. As we had lunch at The Wrecking Tree bar and grill, we watched several of the Green Turtle Ferry boats come to the dock, offloading people and supplies. Many of them must have jobs over on Great Abaco Island, and a crowded ferry is what passes for rush hour here on Green Turtle. You can see the trucks lined up to haul away goods and people from the docks. One very loaded down ferry pulled away from the public docs on it’s way to somewhere. The boat apparently also serves as a taxi service for those who don’t own golf carts, cars, motorcycles, or bicycles. Some of the cars are in pretty bad shape. But they run, and I get the feeling the nearest repair shop is a long way away. If you don’t know someone who can fix your car, or do it yourself, you may be walking.
Still, the people here seem to be happy, or at least content, with what they have. Brendal is larger than life, but he enjoys that life to the fullest. He travels extensively in the states, and I get the feeling that after a dive show in Las Vegas or Fort Lauderdale … he’s only too happy to retreat to Green Turtle Cay. These kids were just playing quietly outside The Wrecking Tree while we had lunch. I couldn’t resist taking a couple of pictures. Happy kids with really not a care in the world. And still, their world need not have limits on it just because they’re growing up on a tiny island in the Bahamas. I hope they all do well.
Jimmy Buffett sang “I’d like to go where the pace of life’s slow, would you beam me somewhere Mr. Scott?” While we managed to slow down pretty well, I’m sometimes surprised at how fast the cars whiz by on their way to someplace not more than 2 miles away, but they do. I don’t know that those people will last on Green Turtle Cay. Honestly, I’m not sure I could live here full time. We’ve gotten so accustomed to cheap, plentiful, available everything. Groceries here are 2-3 times as expensive as at home. Electricity is very expensive, we’re told. Gasoline is something like $6/gallon, but mostly it just goes in boats. I’m guessing that with the island being so small, the cars and gas powered golf carts don’t use a lot of gas.
Our vacation is waning. We’ll dive tomorrow, Bertha permitting, and then just take Sunday to relax. Time to go conquer the little island that’s just off the beach here. And from there … Back to civilization … such as it is.