Monday, June 18, 2007

Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: E-SE 10-15 knots

At the grocery store today, we discovered that the mail boat actually comes every Tuesday and Thursday, so another part of our inexplicable delay has been negated. We could’ve gone in for our order twice last week. We’ve straightened it out now, and we’re planning to head in tomorrow when the produce is unloaded. The nice Bahamian lady in the office, prim with a bun, even took a copy of our list and said that she’d have them keep the cases of vegetables we requested separate. The market is definitely the major economic institution in this town.

So that left us with the rest of the day off. All the Batelco phones in town are down because of the rain, meaning that I still haven’t been able to call my parents, other than the two-minute cell phone call that let them now I was alive. We should have made an effort to use the internet, but we were informed, erroneously, that the internet was down too. We did wander through the straw market and bargained for a beautiful orange sarong emblazoned with hibiscus. I don’t have a sarong, so I was enthralled and we splurged.

We decided to splurge again and go out for dinner. Not that we really should have. I was aghast when I tallied up what our provisions are going to cost us. Not that I really should be. We spent much more than that for our full provision in Massachusetts, and almost as much as that for not very much in Miami, and we’ve been dropping about $100 every two weeks on groceries the whole way down. We haven’t spent anything on provisions since we’ve been to the Bahamas, so that’s two months of wearing down our food supplies. Still, spending that big chunk of money all at once makes one gulp. Especially when it’ll probably be half of our remaining cruising kitty. We’re beginning to hatch plans for Karl to fly home for two months and harvest cranberries, or work in electronics, or sell debris lying around on his Maine farm, anything to amass some cash, while I work on my infamous book manuscript and try to get some articles published. It’s not a bad plan, aside from me having to crew the boat myself in an unknown harbor in the middle of hurricane season.

I don’t regret going out to dinner, though. We’d heard about this place called the Fish Fry, but we had heard different things from everyone and weren’t even sure it existed. It was alleged to be about a half-mile down the road, so everyone had warned us against walking down there, but we were in the mood for a walk, so we went. It wasn’t a bad walk, aside from the cars whizzing by from either direction in the dark. After contemplating it for a long time, Karl has determined that there is no established side of the road to drive on. The Bahamas is a former British colony, so it seems like left would be the preferred side, but most of the cars come from the States. It seems about evenly divided as to which side the steering wheels are on. It was especially scary when we saw a car, recently wrecked, wrapped all the way around a coconut tree, surrounded by yellow tape. So we tried to stay to the dirt at the side.

Eventually, we rounded a corner and lights sprang out of the dark, clustered around brightly lit open bungalows where men and women sat watching TV and drinking Kalik beers, the national beer of the Bahamas. We asked around for where we could find some food and were sent to a little cottage towards the water. Inside, the plastic-covered tables and chairs were completely empty, so we sat at the counter, which was a cross between an old-fashioned lunch counter and a bar. The owner eventually came out, a little surprised at seeing white folk in his establishment, and said he was only serving snacks tonight We said that was fine--I ordered the conch snack and Karl the snapper. We knew that a Bahamian snack is a full order of fish and a heap of french fries and occasionally coleslaw or a salad. I’d hate to see what a meal looks like.

Even after our conch debacle, I’d been craving Bahamian crack conch for a while. Karl’s order was a little more suspect. When he ordered, the guy looked him up and down and then shrugged, as if to say, whatever. I had told Karl about the way they serve fish in Thailand, the whole fish with head and tail and bones, and how you can dig out the really good nuggets of meat in the cheekbones. So he was thrilled when his snapper arrived and had its head on, staring up at him. He picked it up and chowed down, gnawing behind the head for the good meat there, and even pulling out the eyeballs and chewing on them for a while. I wouldn’t have gone that far, though I did steal my favorite cheek bits. When the cook came back, the fish was demolished into a pile of bones, and he even complimented Karl, saying, “Boy knows how to eat some fish!” My conch was delicious, too, though not quite an event the way Karl’s meal was.

As a benefit, we were able to watch the Red Sox get spanked by the Braves on satellite television, and Karl discovered that the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry was alive and well, even in the Bahamas. I wish we had a tape of the Bahamian men slamming on the Yankees in Creole. It was great. I felt a little out of place at first, especially since I was sporting my brand new sarong, but I’m sure if we go back we’d be welcomed with open arms.

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