July 13th AM Pics up on Flickr
Yesterday’s sunrise was spectacular, but I think spectacular sunrises are just a nearly everyday occurrence in this part of the world. Of course, I’m the only one of our little group that’s seen them, but no matter.
Since we were unable to dive, and we discovered that trying to get to Iggie-Biggie was going to be more trouble and expense than it was probably worth, Brendal took us snorkeling and out for another beach party. I have to tell you, we saw probably as many little fish and cool things snorkeling as we do on a full-tilt-boogie dive. Smaller, yes. No 100 pound tarpon. But there were probably too many things to list. I’ll try anyway. On a little wreck in about 10 feet of water, there where a bunch of sergeant majors, parrot fish, more lion fish, a moray eel, jacks and tiny little neon fish … the place was just teeming with them. Off in the sand a grass, a pair of stingrays cruised around. We followed them, but not so close as to risk a Steve Irwin repeat. On the second snorkel site, we saw big schools of jacks, and a school of thousands of tiny colorful fish that I didn’t recognize. Jenni and I saw a small southern ray … a lot like a stingray but without the long barb on the end of it’s tail. I woke him up from a nap. He looked like a piece of coral buried in the sand until I moved some of the sand away and he flailed around a bit. There was also a big sea cucumber and a little nurse shark having a rest under a rock. And silly me. I didn’t buy a fresh roll of film for the point-and-shoot. I won’t make that mistake again.
Then, it was back to the island for another of Brendal’s World-Famous Beach Cookouts. There was plenty of rum punch, good food, laughing, swimming, and just relaxing. That’s what a vacation is supposed to be about, am I right, people? Scenes like the one at right, which kind of just scream “tropical island”, or the curly-tailed lizard above who was not shy about posing for the camera. A couple of the swimmers were bringing up more fun things from the sea. A big starfish, sea biscuits, sea cumbers …
None of us knew what this ugly, docile, slow fish was … until we got Brendal’s attention. “Batfish”, he said with authority. Then he said ” wish I had my camera”. Well, on a dive boat full of tourists, there were no shortage of cameras. The batfish may have felt like Brittany Spears not wearing panties the way cameras were going off. It was finally allowed to go back and find another rock to emulate … but it just points out how many weird, interesting things live beneath the surface of the ocean. I think that’s one of the reasons I love to dive. I never know what I might see, and I always see something I’ve never seen before. Today, however, I didn’t have to strap on all the gear … and still was not disappointed.
All week long, we’ve been looking out at the little island just off shore, and Andie and Jenni have been hatching this plan to “claim” the island … and dub it “Patton Island”. Well, you can’t claim an island without a flag, right? So after getting back from the beach party, and knowing we were going to Nippers with Brendal today, we decided yesterday evening was our last, best opportunity to conquer the island. We didn’t know how difficult it would be.
Jenni and Andie made the flag out of construction paper and masking tape we found here at the house. But how to get it to the island? Well, there are two sit-on-top kayaks here at Tranquility, and we decided that was the way to go. Now, keep in mind that we didn’t DIVE today because of the huge waves being kicked up by Hurricane Bertha. They’re making even the little lagoon here darn rough still this morning. But, undaunted, we drug the kayaks down to what remained of the beach, struggled to get them in the water, and struck out for the island.
I sometimes think I’m in pretty good shape until I try something like this. I paddled alone, because I knew neither Jenni or Andie would have the strength to do it. The waves were choppy and 2 feet high, breaking over the coral on the beach. Still it gave us enough clearance to get the boats out into the slightly deeper water and strike out for the island. About 20 yards into the paddle, I knew I was in for a challenge.
We did make it across. The waves were breaking over the little beach on the island, but there was just enough sand to pull up the kayaks, get our shoes out of the hulls, and heave them up onto the sharp coral that makes up most of Patton Island. And I mean SHARP coral. The waves were crashing up onto the island, sluicing up over the tiny beach, and the boats would have gone without us had we not gotten them all the way up out of the water. Once “safely” ashore, we picked our way up over the jagged surface to find a place to plant our flag. We finally found one, and staked our claim. I know, the Bahamian Government might have a little something to say about it, but what-everrrr.
I don’t know if you can see the tiny speck of color in the middle of that capture, but that’s our flag on Patton Island. When I get everything linked up on Flickr, you’ll have a much better view. That’s the longest lens I have, and I shot it from back at the house.
Getting back was not as challenging as getting over to the island, as we rode the waves back and didn’t have to paddle quite as hard. It’s really not more than about 75 yards over to the island, but it felt like we’d paddled a mile. Or I did at least. Surfing the final wave back into the beach was a little exciting and a big relief all at the same time. Of course then, exhausted, we had to drag the kayaks back up over the dune to put them back under the house. Tired, wet, yet somehow invigorated … we showered and got ready for dinner.
Dinner was at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar in New Plymouth, which claims to be the home of Goombay Smash. I can see how they might lay legitimate claim to that title. That’s me standing in front of the bar entrance wearing my old “improvJacksonville” T-Shirt. Since the troupe disbanded, I’ve tried to wear it in as many exotic locations as I can. Sorry Scott. Sometimes I even remember to take a picture of me wearing it. Andie actually took this one with her camera. When we got there, we were told it would be about 45 minutes before a table would be available. There were a couple of big parties already seated, so we put in our orders and went off into town.
Which takes about 10 minutes. We managed to stretch it to 30.
Anyway, The place was very interesting. Multiple personalities. In the bar area, the walls are lined with business cards, dollar bills, and just writing. People have wanted to leave their mark at Miss Emily’s. Names and dates from hundreds of people who have managed to find this little slice of almost paradise. Hanging from the rafters are dozens and dozens of t-shirts and yacht pennants … mostly people who have made a crossing on a boat and wanted to show the world that they, too, have found the home of the World Famous Goombay Smash.
Miss Emily’s was running on Island Time. We were pretty hungry, and it was getting very late, and I’m afraid I let my ugly Americanism show just a bit. I wasn’t as patient as I could have been, but we did wait an hour for the food to come out. When it did, it was worth the wait.
I had grilled grouper, mac and cheese, and pigeon peas and rice, all island staples. Fresh vegetables are difficult to get, and frozen ones are expensive, so there are not a lot of veggies on menus on the island. We haven’t had a lot of roughage this week. Mac and cheese and rice with pigeon peas are staples on the island, and I expect almost everywhere in the Bahamas. But one of the things I truly love about coming here is that it’s not all Americanized, homogenized, same old thing. I really enjoy eating what the natives eat … until it starts being bugs and scorpions and stuff. Here, it’s just good food simply prepared and served, if somewhat slowly. When I mentioned to John on the dive boat yesterday that Bobby Flay might show up and challenge he and Brendal to a conch salad throwdown, he said “Who’s that?”.
It’s kind of refreshing.
So that was our day yesterday. Our flag is still proudly flying on Patton Island this morning in spite of an apparent rain shower last night. Today, we’re off again with Brendal for a wild dolphin encounter (we hope) and more snorkeling, then Nippers on Guana Cay for lunch. That place is supposed to be a little wild, but we’ll see. Tonight, it’s packing, and tomorrow, back to civilization.
And while I do love it here, I don’t know that I could live here full time. Part time, yes. But every day? I just don’t know.
The subject of another post.