Since day one arriving in the Islands we have learned alot. Most importantly the things we will forever appreciate, things that before may have gone un-noticed. We “planned” to stay only one night at Bimini Sands Marina. Well, you know how those plans go – they don’t. Filled with happiness and excitement 1 night turned into 3. Thirty dollars turned into ninety. But it didn’t matter. These islands are here for our exploration, with nothing but time and only funds to turn us back. Needless to say we took our sweet time soaking up the facilities the marina had to offer.
Let’s start with the Bahamian people. They are truly something. Welcoming us spoiled Americans with open arms and smiles. Each individual waves and smiles and makes you feel as if you deserve to be there. While walking around Alice town, North Bimini, even the middle school kids waved as you walked passed ” Hi there! How are you today?” After leaving Coconut Grove, Miami, I was pleased to receive a returning smile. Coconut Grove felt similar to Los Angeles. No one really gives a rats ass who you are or why you are there. While walking in the park at Coconut Grove I went out of my way to smile at every human I walked past, just to see if they would smile in return. Nope. Not even fifty percent. Ahh, it is so refreshingly different here. Thank you Bahamians for the love.
After 4 days in Bimini we finally made a move. Just south of Bimini is a strand of tiny islands, one being Cat Cay, where we are currently anchored. My surroundings are hard to put into words. If you could just see it with your own eyes. But you can’t. We are anchored right next to a tiny airstrip on a private island that we are technically not supposed to be on. Louise sits in a dark blue hole with plenty of water underneath her keel. Not even 75 feet in all directions is a sand bank that shows itself only while the tide is low.
While the tide is low, you can walk 1/2 a mile to the island just south of here that is completely uninhabited. The 4 of us (our greatest boating friends Bob and Madeline of “Betty L” whom we met back in Illinois) spent the day gathering conch. The first one I saw I was terrified to pick up because I swear to god it had massive woman eating claws. At least in my mind it did. Sure enough you can pick them right up and they suction themselves into their shell and hide. Reggie did a fine job of gathering conch himself. After he got a good look at what it was we were gathering, he dug up several conchs that put all of ours to shame. With sinking kayaks due to conch overfill, we went back to our boats which were rafted together, to begin the never ending “battle of the conch”
We had recently heard that if you hang them on a string, they eventually get too exhausted to stay suctioned to their shell, and muscle begins to give out. The most common way is to hammer a hole in the top of the shell, another way to destroy its suction. We hung them all from strings until it looked like Christmas. Wow, are they stubborn. They are slimy, and smelly, and secrete disturbing juices while trying to rip them free of their home. We had spaghetti for dinner instead. Next time I eat conch chowder, I will appreciate every bite knowing that 4 of us could not even get the damn meat out of one of them.
Today Katie and I explored alone until the sun no longer allowed us. We decided to dedicate the day to gathering all items vegetarian. I carried the hawaiian sling by my side – just to feel cool because I barely know how to use it. Eventually Katie, Reg, and I paddled on our single person kayak to some rocks far, far, far from land. We had been informed that these reefs are some of the most spectacular dive sites in all of the islands. It was kind of freaky. There is something comforting about having other people around, or a man maybe? Just the three of us, paddling out to sea in the tiny kayak. I swam for quite a ways, and could not help but dwell on the fact I had become shark bait, and was trolling myself behind the kayak. I imagined my body like the tuna we caught after it’s tail had been ripped off.
The reef we paddled to was well worth it. No need to explain it’s beauty, for once again – my description will give no justice. On the way home we gathered one too many coconuts with plans to crack em open for their goods. Have you ever tried to climb a coconut tree? Well, it hurts and I do not recommend it. Have you ever tried to open a coconut and get to the milk? If you do not have power tools, it hurts and I do not recommend it. Haha Katie and I spent the evening in the cockpit trying to open the freakin coconuts. Holding the coconuts in-between our feet like monkeys, using a machete, hammer and pry bar. We looked absolutely ridiculous. Eventually we got to taste what we worked for. Anything containing coconut will forever be appreciated by these gals. We later learned that it is the ripe green ones that are easily opened, not the brown dead ones on the ground which are a joke attempting to open. Lesson learned.
Katie gathered shells to make jewelry, I gathered leaves to make bikinis? No rush to attempt our next projects knowing that the ones we’ve tried so far are nearly impossible. For now I will enjoy this very moment and this dark blue hole upon which Louise is anchored. The cockpit looks as if it’s lived through a hurricane after our coconut party. My hair is close to dread locks if I neglect to brush it any longer. The hair on my arms is so sun bleached I look like an old man. The salt water has dried my skin to a point of no return. Not to mention every square inch of my body contains a bug bite. At this point I have more bug bites than freckles. And I have a lot of freckles. It’s only been one week. I am exhausted. Today, the sun won. Finally it has set behind this little island of palm trees. Nothing good happens after sunset. Bedtime.