Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Goodbye Friends

Kristen here – today is Sunday 5/17/09.  We have just arrived at Alabaster Bay on Eleuthera Island.  Our past few days have been spent in Governors Harbor, also on Eleuthera. 

Governors Harbor was one of my favorite places so far on this trip.  And, no, it wasn’t because of the awesome ice cream!  When we were all around Rock Sound Harbor, everyone was debating where to go.  Governors Harbor is said to have poor holding, so we weren’t so sure about it.  After being there for three days, I can say that the holding was just fine.  Our original anchor attempt dragged, but once we found some sand, we were fine.

Governors was just like a Bahamian version of a quaint New England town.  There were many old and beautiful houses, and still intact.  One of the people we met said the Sloop John B, from the song was built behind a house he pointed out to us.  Hoist up your John B sails, see how the main sail sets… 

The day after we arrived there was going to be a kids fair to support a local school.  This turned out to be quite the interesting event.  It took place outside next to the baseball field.  There were about five permanent booths set up there.  For the event they had a barbeque with chicken, pork chops and fried fish which we saw them catching in the bay.  There was a bake sale, a ticket booth, a peg board game and a ring toss.  When I asked at the ticket booth for a ticket for the ring toss they had no idea what I was talking about.  Instead of ring toss, they called the game Hooplah.  There was also a bouncy castle for the kids.  Mark treated the kids to a ride in the bouncy castle, and I bought everyone a ring to toss in the Hooplah game.  I won two lipsticks and a cup, and Parker won a cup too.  Kaitlin used her own money to play the peg board game and she won some sort of plastic toy.  Later on that day she gave it to a local girl who didn’t have any prizes.

The booth that was last in line housed a DJ.  Next to his booth were 6 huge speakers blaring music.  Each speaker was at least 3 feet high and 2 feet wide!  When you walked in front of them, you could feel the vibrations in your chest.  This seems to be the norm in the Bahamas.  At the Family Island Regatta in Georgetown, they had the same speaker setup.  Bahamians like the loud music!

In the evening there was a fashion show and Junkanoo band.  We were all debating what the fashion show would be.  It was either going to be adults in tight pants, or children in tight pants.  We’ve noticed that children tend to “shake it” a bit more here than in the states.  At the Family Island Regatta there were many children wiggling their hips in the marching band and during the stage performances.  So, sure enough the show started with the music blaring and 8 year olds started strutting their stuff across the stage (actually the stage was the trailer end of a tractor trailer).  Even the boys were involved.  All of the “models” were moving and strutting in ways children eight and younger really shouldn’t move.  It was kind of uncomfortable to watch.  To the locals all of this was completely normal and acceptable and even encouraged. 

After the fashion show was a junkanoo band.  I don’t think the band got started until at least 9PM at night.  I commented to Angie that at home, all of this would be taking place during the day.  The band was half drums and half horn instruments.  In front stood three boys and the leader dressed in homemade colorful feather adorned outfits.  The leader blew a whistle to keep time and the rest of the band just seemed to be jamming the whole time.  They started out with one song, but it never stopped.  It changed and morphed into different tunes, but there were never any pauses.  They all walked and danced around the area in a loosely assembled group while they played for about an hour. The audience watched from afar at first, but as the band moved everyone surrounded and moved with them.

Governors Harbor also had the best bakery ever!!!!  You could get fresh bread (white or wheat), cinnamon rolls, donuts, cheese danishes, coconut danishes, empanadas, brownies, and scones.  We all had some of everything except the brownies and scones.  I just can’t remember the last time I had a cinnamon roll or donut!  Ok, we made donuts for Easter, but they weren’t like these for sure!

We also visited the library which was a beautiful, old, white and blue building facing the harbor.   As you enter the building, it smelled like a musty old library.  The thick concrete walls were all white on the inside as well.  There was a large section for the kids with many books and activities.  I headed for the newspaper.  There was a Eleuthera newspaper which told about a recent resort shutdown that cost the island 500 jobs.  This is a major problem in the islands.  Developers come and start a resort, the islanders get excited for jobs, they rape the land, and then abandon the project for lack of funds or interest.  We have seen so many abandoned or half finished resorts on these islands.  They are an eyesore and an environmental disaster. 

We walked on the abandoned club med property on Eleuthera which is slowly being returned to nature.  It was abandoned after being destroyed by a hurricane.  The insurance money was used for other club med properties.  The buildings were destroyed, but the concrete slabs they were built on still remained.  There were coconut trees placed around paths that were beginning to crack.  Concrete walls still stood, and we even found a water spigot that still worked.  Apparently someone else found it too and was using it to bathe because there was a bar of soap and some shampoo nearby.  I can’t decide what is worse, having thousands of people descend on a small island, using its few resources, or an abandoned eyesore.  Either way, I hope the Bahamian government gets smart fast before their beautiful islands are gone.

On Saturday we had a grand sendoff for Side by Side.  They were leaving at 3:30 Sunday morning for Florida.  We have been with them since Warderick Wells and have enjoyed every minute.  They are just wonderful people, and I learned so much from them.  Mark taught me where to find conch and how to clean them, how to make awesome chicken and fish nuggets, and where to look for good beach trash.  Angie taught me that it’s ok to wear a bikini, or nothing at all!  They also showed us that you don’t have to hover over your children while they do school.  Sometimes it’s good to leave them on their own.  Parker and Sabrina were great friends for Casey and Kaitlin.  They showed us shaker beans, conch horns, hamburger beans and sea hearts.  We will miss them so much and will secretly hope they don’t go across the Atlantic and stay on the East coast.

For the sendoff party, we started out at a tapas restaurant.  Lets see, there was Side by Side, Asolare, Aly Cat, Miakoda, Taua, and us.  We left the kids on Aly Cat.  A gentleman we met earlier in the day offered to give us a ride at 6:30.  He only had room for five, so when the time came, Chris volunteered to go with the other four women, and I volunteered to walk there with the men.  The sacrifices we make!

The women were off, and the men and I started walking.  Then Marc from Side by Side promptly sat down on a wall on the side of the road.  “He’ll come back to pick us up”, Marc said.  I was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to be back, so I suggested we start walking and meet our possible ride.  The men wouldn’t listen, as usual, so I announced that I was on my way and to pick me up if they got a ride.  Asolare had shown me earlier that day, that hitchhiking was prevalent in the islands.  So I stuck my thumb out and had a ride within the first five minutes of walking.  I was at the restaurant in six minutes, and I met a very nice local man who grew up on Exuma island.  I thanked him for the ride and told him we have enjoyed his island.  Apparently, I found out later, my ride went back into town and told the men that I was dropped off at the restaurant safely, but he didn’t offer them a ride.  Ha ha…serves them right.  When I got to the restaurant the women said we should do something to help the men, but I said that walking was their punishment for not listening to me.  As it turned out they eventually got a ride as well.  I must say there was just a little gloating on my part when they arrived about 20 minutes after me!

We all had a great time at the tapas restaurant.  The food and the company were amazing.  After dinner we went to a place called the Buckaneer.  There was a live band and we danced until the wee hours of the morning.  A few of us took some time earlier to go back to our boats and put our respective kids to bed, and then returned to the festivities.  I think we got back to our boats around 1AM or so.  I fell into bed, and Chris went over to Side by Side to transfer pictures.  I believe they were up until 2:30AM.  Poor Angie probably didn’t even sleep that night!  They did make it out at 3:30 or 4:00 that morning and were on their way back to the states.  *sniff* *sniff*

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