Kristen here - First of all, by the time I finished writing this post, Chris has put a bunch of pictures together and posted them below, so be sure to keep scrolling down after this post for PICTURES!!!!!
Georgetown has been a well....interesting place. There are a lot of people here, a lot of things to do, and a lot of things to see.
Yesterday morning I was chomping at the bit to see town. That was the only thing that got me out of bed to run that morning. I donned my running clothes and jumped into the dinghy to cross the harbor. It's quite a ride to get to the dinghy dock. I would say it's at least 1/2 a mile or so. The winds were out of the east, so the ride to town is downwind. It was blowing quite a bit and the ride was bumpy. I looked at the map before I left, and asked someone on their boat close to the western shore where the dinghy dock was. After being pointed in the right direction, I went through a small tunnel and entered an inner lake. Mine was the only dinghy there at 7:30 AM. I'm guessing cruisers and Bahamians aren't early risers. I got a good view of town, the local restaurant area, and the hotel district.
The ride back (into the wind) was a whole other story. The waves were crashing over the dinghy and I had to go slowly to keep from getting drenched. Since then we've found out that when the winds are up, this is just the way things go. We now all wear our bathing suits whenever we cross the harbor!
Later in the morning the kids did school. They too were eager to see town, and had a hard time getting through their schoolwork. Once they were secure in the knowledge that all the other kids were doing school too, and they weren't missing anything, they felt a bit better.
After school, we made the mad dash to check out Georgetown. The dinghy dock is right next to the Exuma Market. This is a small scale grocery store with just about anything you would need. We headed to the area where food vendors had set up shacks to get some lunch.
By the time we had perused all of the food vendors, we realized that the races were about to start. The kids were getting cranky, so I just got some mutton curry from the nearest vendor and found a spot on some bleachers. I wasn't even sure what mutton was, but the kids ate it and were quite happy. We watched the start of the 12:30 race while enjoying our lunch.
These races have a very unique start. All of the boats sail up to the starting line and anchor before the race starts. There is a one minute warning gun, which is when everyone on the boat gets into place. Then at the starting gun, they pull up the anchor, raise the sails and off they go! The problem occurs when boats have anchored too close together. Many times, the wind takes the boom out, which then swings into the boat next to it and consequently takes out everyone on the neighboring boat. The people on the neighboring boat are hiked out on a board extending from the hull, so generally they all get wiped into the water. We saw one race where two masts got tangled at the start. It's all very exciting stuff!
After we ate lunch, our friends from Side By Side showed up. They have been to Georgetown before, and so they showed us all of the sites. We saw the $2 conch fritter stand, the Library, the VoIP phone stand and Internet cafe and $.35 slushy shack. OK, that last one deserves and explanation. There is a small 20x15 foot wooden shack with three shelves of groceries, a refrigerator and a shelf with chairs at it. Apparently you can use their Internet phone for $.15 a minute. While you are chatting, or using the Internet, you can open the freezer and pull out a dixie cup of frozen juice for a mere $.35. And here we were missing WalMart! They showed us the cheaper grocery store, the corner Laundromat which is not on the corner, and about 4 liquor stores. There is definitely no shortage of booze down here! Rum, depending on the quality, will run you $8-$12 a bottle.
After the sightseeing, we all headed back to our dinghies to watch the 3:30 races from the water. We got out of the protected lake and started bashing into huge waves. Not wanting to spend the next hour getting soaked and tossed around, we skipped the races and headed straight for our boat. That was the wildest ride we've ever had in the dinghy. We had to bail out the dinghy several times on the ride back so we would still be able to plane. Everyone was soaked to the bone and cold from the wind.
Side by Side came over for dinner on our boat that night. I had purchased some tamarind paste from a vendor at the festival and was feeling adventurous. The tamarind tree grows here (if you remember Willie showed us some in his garden in Black Point), and they just take the fruit and mash it up and sell it in small cups. Most of the natives just eat the stuff straight. It has a bitter citrus taste. I mixed it with some sugar and soy sauce, and to my surprise it was absolutely delicious! Tossed with some meat, broccoli, carrots and plantains it was a nice meal.
Yesterday, we left the kids on the boat to do school, and walked to the top of monument hill with Mark and Angie. It's a steep hike to the monument, but the view at the top is quite rewarding. We walked back down on the ocean side of the cay and along the beach for a bit. We shared stories with Side By Side and had a great time while getting some exercise!
When we got back to our boat, it was noon and I still felt bad that Casey hadn't seen any racing action from the water. I told him that if we hurried we could still cross and watch the 12:30 start. We called Side By Side, and Mark wanted to come with us. So back we went to pick up Mark who was quickly shoving some lunch in his face. We made it just in time to catch the start. It was a totally different experience watching from the water. You could anchor your dinghy 30 feet from the stern of the racing boats and get quite a view! We stayed in the same place to watch the boats round the mark. That was kind of scary. So many boats coming right at us! Mark directed us to pull up close to the rounding point. He said they come so close to the mark that you don't have to worry about them hitting you. Thank goodness he was with us, because I would have kept much more distance between us and the action! Casey snapped a whole bunch of pictures. Unfortunately most of them had his thumb over the lens. Chris is working on salvaging what he can at this very moment.
Then it was the familiar bash back to the anchorage *AGAIN*. We met everyone else at volleyball beach, home of the Chat and Chill restaurant. As soon as we got to land, all of the kids jumped off and ran into the woods. Apparently Parker and Sabrina from Side By Side knew of a fort and they all wanted to check it out. I don't think we saw them more than twice for the rest of the afternoon! The adults all sat in chairs provided by the restaurant and chatted and chilled. It was a great afternoon. By 3:30, I was about to pass out from lack of food and exhaustion (I never grabbed lunch after our hike and before the races), so we went back to the boat. We ate some food and Kaitlin and I went to our bed to read. That lasted about 5 minutes before the both of us fell asleep. OK, I must admit that a bit of teasing happened because Kaitlin took an actual nap. At about 7:00 I woke up and heated some leftovers for dinner.
There was going to be a dance on Hamburger Beach at 8:00. So we ate dinner and set the kids up with a movie. Chris and I headed to the beach. It was quite and interesting ride through multiple anchorages in the dark and with a strong wind and a flashlight showing the way! We made it to the dance and hung out for a couple of hours. There wasn't much of a crowd, probably because of the wind.
*PHEW* Finally on to today, which was the best yet! We mellowed out this morning on the boat. I love no school days as much as the kids do. Kaitlin and I did a bit of fishing from the boat. Once again the Barbie fishing pole caught two fish while mine caught none. I persuaded Kaitlin to go out fishing on the dinghy, so she motored while I trolled with the pole. We had no luck though :( I think the fish are avoiding me for some reason!
We found out that because we are on a mooring, we could use the water shuttle from the hotel that owns the moorings for free! YAY, we can go to town and not get soaked. Today there was going to be the Bahamas Police Youth and Adult marching bands in town at 4:30 and we didn't want to miss that. I started making some bread and granola bars. We were told that the water taxi was leaving at 2:30, so I started making bread. I was eager to try out Mark's hint of adding oil to reduce the crumbliness. At 1:30 I put the loaves into the oven. Fifteen minutes later Chris said that the shuttle was now leaving at 2:00. Hmmmm...that doesn't give my bread time to finish baking. So, not wanting to waste my effort or the ingredients I stayed behind. Casey also stayed behind to keep me company. No dry water taxi for us :(. Casey and I were rewarded with an awesome turtle sighting when we finally headed out on the dinghy. We looked over and could see a lighter green circle in the water. After a few seconds, the 1ft diameter circle surfaced and a white head with black spots poked up. It was the cutest turtle ever!
Once everyone was in town (Side By Side came with us) we and most of Georgetown lined the streets to watch the marching bands. The kids went first and they were amazing. They played some traditional tunes and even some Bob Marley. Mark turned to me and said, "My high school band never played Bob Marley!" There was the band, a group of dancers, and then some smaller children who marched as well. My favorite was the drummers. They did a solo in which they played and threw up their drumsticks and danced all at the same time.
The adult band was no less amazing. They started out looking very serious. The leader was dressed in uniform with a leopard skin draped over him. He was holding a large golden staff. They did some lighter pieces as well. Then the leader, who was not exactly a young person, handed his staff over and started break dancing! You could tell that these people all had a serious love of music, and they loved to have fun with it.
After the festivities, we all headed back to our boats. Tonight we had a relaxing dinner and a movie. It was actually nice to take it easy for the night.
Oh, the other exciting bit of info is that I seem to have found the poison wood tree. My chin started itching two days ago. I didn't pay much attention to it. Then I woke up yesterday with an itchy rash on my hip. Today it also showed up on my belly, legs, wrists, chest, fingers and jaw. And here I thought I would be done with poison ivy! In fact, this stuff is pretty much the same as poison ivy. It gives you an itchy rash of clear liquid filled bumps. Now begins the search for where I got it from. My best guess is that I got it from carrying shoes to get them out of the rain. Either that or I just touched some when on a run in the woods. I have a funny feeling that it will get worse before it gets better. We'll have to wash our sheets and all of my clothes to get rid of the oils, and I don't see that happening anytime soon! Also a full body shower (not one in my bathing suit) won't be happening soon either. *scratch* *scratch* *scratch*