Matthew Town - Great Inagua
"Guineps! You want to try some local fruit?...It's free." I stopped setting the table for dinner and stepped outside to find a man and his daughter offering a leafy branch which was bending under the weight of several small green fruits. Steve and his daughter, Keva, showed us how to bite back the thin outer shell and suck and scrape the sweet tangy fruit off the large white seed. We sat on pallets and old tires conveniently tossed around the small harbor wall alongside Fezywig. They visited with us for a couple of hours. We played music for each other.
The first thing we learned about Steve was that he loves country music like his father before him. He was also a former mayor of Matthew Town, but spent most of his career as a captain piloting in big ships into local waters. Keva is pursuing a masters in ceramics. "It's a fine art that keeps you humble." With country music playing all evening, everyone had a chance to dance with Lily. She was thrilled to have new people to hug and hang on. Steve and Keva brought a little unexpected sweetness into our lives...and some guineps.
Georgetown – Great Exuma
We only went to Georgetown to find our people. We found them at the grocery store. Nobody lights up when discussing laundromats like cruisers...and there was a teenage girl, so we introduced ourselves. It turns out we had anchored next to two kids boats for a sum total of four new teenagers to meet including two boys - which was on every Fezywig kid wish list.
Daystar and Palantir from Virginia and Alaska respectively, had sailed together from Florida and let us join them for a couple of days of late night conversation and sandy water fun. Of course the girls were happy to make new friends, but I think Eli was the most thrilled because those teenage boys wrestled him in the water, threw him around on the netting and even played chess with him. Eli’s exact words as they dunked him underwater were, “This is living life!!!”
That grocery run also yielded two pints of sorbet, one for me and one for Erik. Don’t worry. We brought spoons. We scored a shady picnic table next to the yacht club to dig in when a PYT in a bikini strolled up and said, “Hi. I’m Amanda.” I can’t remember if we offered to share our sorbet. I mean, we wouldn’t even share something like that with out kids, but Amanda shared her story with us.
She was raised in the artist colony on the Abacos. Her family cruised for a year and believed deeply in sabbaticals and meta-spaces. Amanda freelances as a mega-yacht stewardess, but her heart is in her studio space in Fort Lauderdale where she combines works made of salvaged metal with multi-media, food, and hammocks. She could write a dissertation on the various philosophies behind hammocks, but she only carries one – her spiritual core- with her when she travels. She offered to let us borrow it for the evening and we received her gift with gratitude. When we returned it the following day, Amanda gave me a goodie bag of all the shi-shi London toiletries guests on the mega-yacht receive. I smelled better that night than I have in quite a while. This Bahamian bohemian showed us that a little giving goes a long way.
Black Point – Exumas
You never know who you’ll meet at a Laundromat. In Black Point I met Edwin. He has eight brothers and nine sisters by various mothers. He remembers when the entire island shared a community well where they drew water daily. As a child, the all ages school could not contain him. He wanted to work and earn, so he regularly cut school to take odd jobs.
His uncle refused to take Edwin as part of his crew on a multi-day fishing trip so Edwin snuck aboard the night before and nestled into the furthest bunk. In the morning, he pressed his body against the hull when the crew came in with to leave their bags. They never noticed him. He didn’t surface until it was too late to turn back. His uncle had to put him to work diving for conch and fishing. Edwin only had to do that one more time before his uncle gave in and hired him. You cannot hold a determined person down. Now Edwin is in construction and you can see his work on a variety of private Bahamian islands – should you be so lucky. Or wait a year or two and stop into his future restaurant/beach bar and vacation villa complex. He says, “It’s going to be awesome!!”
Chub Cay – Berry Islands/Cat Cay – Bimini Islands
Perhaps the fewer people there are, the easier it is to make friends. The mosquitos were doing their best with only six of us on the Chub Cay beach front that night. It’s no wonder after the squall we had just passed through. Some pads had ripped off the lounge chairs of the unfinished hotel with a fully functional infinity pool. Erik said hello and before you know it we were friends with the Merryacht family. We put our kids on a boat for a lot of the same reasons, but these people also rock climb and ski and fish. Well, we don’t fish, but we do all the other stuff.
The next day we kept in touch through a four hour squall that plagued our crossing to the Bimini islands. I called it the Pea Soup Rodeo, but it wasn’t really a named storm. It was reassuring to know we weren’t out there alone. The next day the kids met, after some chores. Merryacht took them inner-tubing and snorkeling while Erik and I had the pleasure of buying a few groceries, checking emails, and fixing a fuel clog in the starboard engine. Yummy! The Dad’s trolled for a tuna, but came up with a barracuda which they set free. The Mom’s talked holistic healing. That night our potluck included a scrumptious hog fish Merryacht’s 18 year old son had wriggling on the end of his spear that afternoon. For those of you keeping track at home, yes, that was our first seafood of the entire trip. I sure hope we run into these people again.
People are amazing!