Saturday, June 23, 2007

Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: calm in morning, rain, thunderstorms, and waterspout in the afternoon, SE-S 10-15 knots

On the VHF this morning, we made plans with Gypsy Rose to go visit the monument, the big concrete obelisk on the highest mountain surrounding Elizabeth Harbor. The beach in front of it is one of the most beautiful in the Bahamas, called, aptly, Monument Beach. Jennifer of Gypsy Rose has been telling us since they got here that she wants to go for a hike up it, and we decided to avail ourselves of their offer to buzz us across the harbor in their motorized dinghy

It was the grandest plans we’ve had for our day for a while. Things didn’t turn out so auspiciously, however--when we made our way into the path in the woods, mosquitoes attacked. They came down out of the trees in a cloud and attacked our little party viciously. No one had even thought to bring any insect repellent. We don’t even have any. So we all ran down out of the jungle in our flip-flops and bathing suits and gave up on the monument hike.

Instead we went for a little swim and a snorkel, my first for any purpose other than scraping the bottom for some time. I’ve been really missing the snorkeling aspect of our time here in Georgetown. There’s nowhere to go swim, and the diving is one of my favorite parts about the Bahamas. About the beach, period. So it seems a shame to be missing it. Not that there was anything good to see at Monument Beach--I went out for a little while and all I could find was sea cucumbers. The one animal that I have a morbid fear of, aside from the hippopotamus, is the sea cucumber. My rational mind is perfectly aware that they are harmless creatures that do nothing except sway about on the ocean floor, collect algae, and be ugly. They’re not even poisonous. But I loathe them. A shark could come up and bite my on my butt and I wouldn’t even care. Snakes and spiders make me happy. But a sea cucumber? Kiss your grits goodbye.

So I ran away and hid on the beach instead, dangling my feet off the nearby dock and trying to avoid the leering glare of the nearest oblong sea cucumber (oddly, I don’t like to eat cucumbers, either), which was when the first of the afternoon raindrops began to fall. I didn’t think much of it, since the Peace and Plenty Beach Club and the Chat ‘n Chill were both nearby--I was still hoping I could talk Karl into buying me a splurge burger--but then Jay and Jennifer began to notice what looked like two horns coming down out of the bottom of the thundercloud. The things began to swarm and merge and lengthen, and slowly they erupted out of the bottom of the cloud into a waterspout, a huge one, just on the other side of Great Exuma Island. We stood and watched the gray water swirl up and down the spout. The water mist was clearly visible, curving up and down in a spiral.

There was nothing we could do but watch and hope that the island’s land mass would stop the spout. Which it did, which is what it’s supposed to do, which is why we’re anchored here. It was still a scary moment, though. Jay and Jennifer wanted to race back to their boat in the motorized dinghy, but it didn’t seem like the best idea to me, not when we could get caught out there in a waterspout. The waterspout dissipated, though, and we raced back to their boat and then rowed back to ours, so they could batten down their hatches. We did too, but the storm didn’t end up being that bad. So we spent another afternoon doing little to nothing on the boat.

The day ended with another after-dark swim, my favorite prebed ritual in these days of oppressive heat. One little swim in the inky black water, hanging off the swim ladder and watching the lights of the Peace and Plenty and feeling around for phosphorescence. Last night there was a live band at the Peace and Plenty, and I could hear every word, like a waterfront concert where I get to stay in the water. Tonight was the Junkanoo Festival down at the Fish Fry, and though I could hear little, the beat was still there, rounding out the night.


Awakened said...

Jay and Jennifer...remember them well. What they up to?

Melissa Jenks said...

What *are* they up to? I think of them often. Is this them, by chance? I remember lovely days with Gypsy Rose, and I still have Jennifer's dreamcatcher tacked up on my cork-board in Chattanooga...