Saturday, May 19, 2007

Little Farmers Cay, Exumas, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: NE-E 5-10 knots, gusting over fifteen in the occasional thunderstorm

We ended up going ashore again yesterday afternoon with our new Australian friends on Pegasus, the couple from the ketch that we met racing in almost no wind. It feels great to actually have some social interaction again. Today we went over to their boat for breakfast and ended up hanging out for much of the day, talking and watching a movie. One thing that makes their boat so comfortable is their awning--something we don’t have!

It also gives us an excuse to go to land and mix with the Bahamians while, for me, at least, feeling like I have another girl to hang out with. Karl can mix with the big gangs of Bahamian men that seem to hang out at the docks, but it’s harder for me as a female. There’s a different dynamic. Especially in these towns where there’s a lot of divers and fishermen and construction workers building the estates on the neighboring cays and there’s not a lot of women around. We found out later the town had fifty inhabitants, ten of which were women.

But we had a great time. Dee, my new Australian friend, and I hung out at the Ocean Cabin restaurant with two schoolgirls and exchanged e-mail addresses. (Chavelle, shout out, if you’re reading this.) Then we wandered down to the local hangout place in front of the grocery store and ended up being taught to play dominoes. Delroy, one of the Bahamian men, was an old fisherman, and was teaching us what we could do with fish--how to cook a ray or a barracuda, which kinds of shark are good to eat--and ended up showing us the game. It seems to be the national game of the Bahamas. Guys in Black Point were always trying to get Karl to play. At first I thought an attempt was going to be made to hustle me out of some hard-earned cash, but it ended up just being a friendly, if uber-competitive game, with different levels of strategy none of which I fully grasped. I was just beginning to get good when we quit.

They put on some Bahamian music, and everyone was excited that I knew about rake and scrape, and had favorite Bahamian songs from listening to the Radio Bahamas. They even showed me the rake and scrape dance, which I participated in enthusiastically, although they didn’t want to teach Karl to play a washboard. My favorite song is “Mama Don’t Want No Rakin-and-Scrapin in Here,” which is evidently played by the band CBS. I hope I can find a CD before we leave the Bahamas.

All in all, though, it was the best experience we’ve had actually hanging out with Bahamians so far. They welcomed us with open arms, and I felt like an equal. The community’s a very isolated island one, so just having visitors of any kind is probably exciting to the town. I think everyone in the village was hanging out with us on the porch. And the construction workers make $130 a day to build the huge resorts and houses on neighboring islands. A group of them is working on building David Copperfield’s house, which is actually on a cay farther south, and another group is building a house for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Kevin Costner’s also supposed to have a house around here, and we met someone who had worked on the house we had anchored off the other day, owned by a rich Austrian. I’d be happy if we could make that kind of money for a couple of months.

A group of fishermen took Karl out with them to gather his fish traps this afternoon, after he put another layer of fiberglass on our dinghy with the help of James, one of our friends from the night before. Karl still gets a different level of entry into the culture because of his gender, but I’m happy that I was able to break in a little. I do realize that we’d have to stay in one of these areas for at least a month or two in order to really get to know people. What’s cool is that we could, if Karl could get work doing construction or fishing. I would have loved to tutor those girls or help them with their schoolwork or just work on my own writing. They had mangroves on the island, and they were convinced that they could even help us haul our boat so we could do the bottom work we need to. It’s nice to know that we could stop in any of these villages and become functioning members of the community, at least to some degree. I was tempted to stop right there. But Georgetown beckons, and the trade winds draw us south, ever south. How can we stop when the wind is blowing?

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