Friday, July 13, 2007

Long Bay, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: E-SE 10-15 knots, gusting to 20 (???) at midday

Do you know how much the uber-hip French vacationers pay per person for a week at Club Med Columbus Isle? $3500. That’s $7000 for two. I have a tendency to be too frank about our financial situation (I see no logic behind the American reticence about finances), but I will say that that is enough to fund our lifestyle for a full year. Believe it or not.

Still, we manage to live like Club Med vacationers. We’ve always shaken our heads in disbelief about it. Back on the trail days, we used to say our motto was, “Our life is your vacation,” and it holds true. Somehow, living out of a tarp, carrying around our belongings on our backs, and eating Liptons and ramen for months on end allowed us to afford a gourmet dinner at a miniscule French bistro we discovered in the heart of the high desert on the Pacific Crest Trail, with a jazz pianist tinkling the keys in the corner and a steak so good Karl called it “meat candy.” When we were biking, camping in the briars and human feces off of roadside rest stops, we discovered that we could wander into deluxe Napa Valley wineries and taste the best artisanal wines the US has to offer. When we needed to shower, we were given ridiculously low rates at a oceanfront Mendocino County resort, with in-room champagne, cheese, and an ocean view hot tub.

It’s ridiculous. We’re paupers. We shouldn’t be able to do what we do, but still we do. Today, for instance: Karl thought he spotted our friend Jason, the Club Med chef, on the beach, so he decided to row over to the San Salvador pavilion. I took a long swim, exploring the vast gardens of fan coral on the reef and stalking giant grouper in their shady holes. I ended up swimming all the way to shore (600 yards!) to meet Karl and the gang of Club Med folk on the beach, cooking up a storm on the day off. Jason wasn’t there, but we met another crew of people from the kitchen, who had brought out a case of lobster tails, probably twenty pounds of steak, and foie gras. These were guys who spend ten hours a day cooking the best food money can buy for French people, and here they were, cooking a feast for themselves on a giant charcoal grill, beach-side.

They invited us to join them, astounding us, and served us an unbelievable repast: jumbo shrimp charred on the grill with garlic and lime, steak as tender and rare as any I’ve eaten, grilled tomatoes, lobster tails grilled with olive oil and fresh tarragon, and Bahamian lobster salad with hot peppers and about a dozen limes. It was as good a meal as I’ve eaten ever, relished on the perfect white beach with the sun going down. We were enjoying better than what the Club Med folk do without having paid a cent. Better than Club Med--even they don’t get a private feast, prepared oceanside by three gourmet chefs.

They told us that they didn’t want to take any food back to the resort and that we could have whatever was left, so I thought that we might end up with the loaf of bread they had sitting there and some hot dogs. Instead, they gave us the half of the case of lobsters that were left, about eight pounds of steak, and untouched box of about 100 gourmet hot dogs. It was far, far too much food for us, especially without ice, so we gave half of it away to our Bahamian friend David, who had joined the party after dark. Still, though, in our icebox right now we have more steak than we’ve ever had on the boat, about fifteen lobster tails, and more hot dogs than we’re going to be able to eat.

It’s like a gift from God. I wondered when the next time was that we were even going to be able to afford fresh meat, and here it is, a gift. We must be doing something right.

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