Exuma Foundation Fun!!!

It felt great to sleep in this morning.  Until 7am.  But knowing that I didn’t have to rush to get up and prepare for a long arduous day of kayaking was awesome sauce.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE kayaking and exploring but two 8 hour days paddling in the sun is straight up rigorous.  And because I have a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out), I had to hit every possibly destination in those two days.  So today was my first day to relax and really take in the sights and sounds of Great Exuma, from the best possible porch on the island of course.  The graphic below is a brochure that I have here and I’ve put a purple star with yellow border where I’m staying.  Just across Elizabeth Harbour is Stocking Island where Chat N Chill is located.  Also over there you will see Turtle Lagoon, a mystery cave (that was a total mystery to me because I paddled right over it unbeknownst to me), Black Rock reef, and many other areas of interest.  Of course being that I didn’t have a motor on the back of my kayak, it wasn’t feasible to get to every spot without having to be towed back.

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A little blurry but you can see the purple star. Just across the harbour is Stocking Island/Chat N Chill.

I sat on the porch overlooking the Harbour this morning for a while pondering life’s plan for me and then joined Rosemary on her side of the porch while she had her morning tea and Pookie (the cat) had her morning milk.  Rosemary, as always, speaks as if she is reading a book of proverbs and with the most sophisticated accent.  A combination of British, American, and Bahamian. Although she was born right down the street, she spent most of her life in Monterey Bay, CA and London but has traveled all over the world.  I envy her experiences and can only hope to be as happy and content as she is when I’m 70.  I have a lot to learn from her and am eager to spend the next three weeks here soaking up every ounce of her being.

I told the Exuma Foundation that I would be stopping by today to chat with them about volunteer opportunities while I am here.  (Side note:  while inserting this hyperlink I just noticed the main picture on the website shows a girl picking her nose.  Awesome.)  And I was out of cash so needed to hit the ATM.  Both are in opposite directions and since I didn’t rent a car, I had to plan how to achieve this.  Rosemary, the kind woman she is, offered to take me to both since she had to pick up some items anyway.  As we pull up to the Exuma Foundation, which by the way is NOT within reasonable walking distance like I previously thought, my POC, Chris Kittel, was already standing outside.  Perfect!!!  No awkward moments poking around a strange place looking for someone I didn’t know.  Rosemary knows him well so she made the introduction.  I thought I would just poke my head in, get some info, and plan to come back but Chris immediately told Rosemary that he would bring me back.  So nice!!!  Everyone is so helpful with the transportation situation here and because I am staying so close to Georgetown, it’s almost always on the way to and from anywhere.

Chris showed me around the Exuma Foundation facility, a 6 acre property that supports many different causes on the island, from honey bee harvesting (is that what you call it?), to building gardens for schools, to providing teaching facilities for special education students and teachers.  Several people I have spoken to told me I needed to meet Katherine, one of the (or THE) major players in coordinating and physically executing these different projects.  Lo and behold she walked up while Chris was taking me on the tour.  I explained my purpose and my situation and she quickly snatched me up and showed me around the rest of the facility.  She is an environmental scientist of some sort but I’m not clear on specifics yet.  She has conch and coral projects in the works, horticulture, honey bee harvesting, and many other things on her to do list and it appears she is a one man show with a little help here and there.  So I was happy to offer my help right then and there with anything she was working on.  She gladly accepted and put me to work with a shovel and  a wheelbarrow and we spent the next hour or so moving the children’s garden around to make room for another beehive.  I was a bit unprepared for the heat I was about to experience as I haven’t done manual labor in FL type weather in a while.  Ouch.

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This beehive is on a swivel in the facility. It is connected to a hole on the outside of the building. Super cool stuff.

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And this is the hole on the outside of the facility. Cute!

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Tons of potted fruits and veggie plants that are ready to be transferred into bigger pots. But no one to do it. Enter Airie!!!!

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The two exterior beehives. Making room for one more.

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This is Katherine. She is awesome and is telling me what to do right now. I creepily took a picture while she wasn’t looking.

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The garden we were redesigning.

We finished up as much as we could before she had to run and she offered to take me back home.  Even better is that she can always pick me up or take me home when I want to volunteer.  Winning!    I am stoked to be able to participate in these projects with this foundation.  Now I just have to figure out how to do this permanently. 🙂

She dropped me off at home and I cooked some weird random food that I hastily purchased at the grocery store the first day I was here, took a nap, and then headed to the beach in front of the house.  I was bummed to see how trashed this little beach was but its right on the highway and I just assumed it was always this way.  I even considered cleaning it up but then changed my mind when I convinced my self that the locals could care less about this little strip.  Shame on me for thinking this way.  In conversation with Rosemary earlier, she mentioned that Hurricane Joaquin brought all of this to shore and how disappointed she was to see it that way.  So that became the next item on my to do list.  I headed down with two garbage bags and filled both of them up in less than an hour.  This strip of beach is no longer than 50 feet wide so picture all of this garbage in just that small area.  Awful.  But it looked great when I was done and I felt good that I could help again in some small way.

I’m taking it easy tonight and will just sit on the porch and listen to the sounds of Elizabeth Harbour.

Just another day in paradise…

“It’s not that the things and opportunities that we want in life don’t exist yet.  It’s that we’re not yet aware of their existence (or the fact that we can really have them).”  Jen Sincero, You are a Bad Ass

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