I failed to mention in my last post about the grocery situation and economy here in the Exumas. You hear a lot about islands being uber expensive and many probably think they just want to gouge foreigners for all of their hard earned, or not so hard earned money. So check this out. The shipping, duty, and other customs type taxes often costs even more than the cost of the product itself. Getting food, materials, and vehicles here ain’t cheap people. And everyone has their hand in the pot. Check out the picture below. Those four items cost $13 here, likely twice what you would pay in America, perhaps more. I spent $100 on 4 bags of groceries. And trust me when I say the grocery store is not something you would ever find legally operating in America. But I love the heck out of it. Not only are products expensive here, labor is too. Makes perfect sense if you think back to your high school economics class. The residents of the island have to pay exorbitant prices for products, but they wouldn’t be able to afford them if their wages didn’t support it. Thus, skilled labor is extremely expensive as well. Luckily, tourism helps spur this local economy but it still needs help. Unfortunately, I’ve heard the Bahamian Government is involved in terrible corruption practices which is having a detrimental effect on the funding availability for some islands.
So back to my trip. I knew that rain was coming our way this week so wanted to get as much exploring and kayaking done as I could before the storms. I opted to keep the kayak for one more day and check out some areas I couldn’t make it to yesterday. The kayak was still sitting on the beach where I left it yesterday (which is a testament to the crime rate here). Dallas, the kayaks owner, didn’t seem to be concerned with leaving it overnight unattended. Although I woke up a little sore and sunburned, I was excited to get at it again. Dallas emailed me that the wind would be a bit stronger today but nothing I couldn’t handle. So off I went super early in the morning (about 7:30) because the time change got me all jacked up.
Sure as shit, Dallas was right and I was nervous as hell. It was a
bit lot breezier today and I knew based on yesterday that I was going to go nowhere fast. That’s one thing about kayaking that will humble even the most skilled athlete. You get nowhere fast, especially against the wind/current. Kayaking across Elizabeth Harbour is a total mind f*ck. My Colorado friends can understand when I compare it to the Incline. You approach it with arrogance as it looks fairly close and then about a quarter of the way into it you wonder who’s stupid idea it was to do this in the first place. In the middle, the angel and the devil on your shoulder are in a massive knock down drag out fight about whether or not to turn back. But then just as reach your max, you see the finish and realize that just a few more steps, a few more strokes, and you’ll be there. The problem with traveling by water is that you essentially have no depth perception. What looks like 100 meters might actually be a mile (like this harbour).
I got over the hump and crushed it in about half the time I did yesterday even though it was windier. Pulled right up to Chat N Chill and frolicked on the beach for an hour or two as I was the only one in the area since it was so early in the morning. Hopped back in the kayak and went south along the shore of stocking island stopping at a few beaches here and there. Found a really neat reef (marked on the map) right on the shore of the island. It was teeming with fish and not too deep that I would fear reenacting the scene from Jaws. But all alone. Gone without a trace.
I made my way down the island to see if I could find any other gems. Just white sandy beach and Exuma blue water forever. It never gets old though. After about a half mile, I headed back to Chat N Chill for lunch and a Goombay Smash of course. Couldn’t for the life of me decide on eating the pig roast plate or getting conch salad which I was deprived of yesterday. Annnnnnd since the pig roast is only on Sunday’s I chose that route. As it turns out, the f-ing conch salad guy WAS there yesterday. I told Shephard he was on my shit list. No cute British kids today at the bar, but tons of people to watch. Sunday’s are a big day at this beach and as sarcastic as I have been in my pictures about the crowded beaches, today WAS fairly crowded at Chat N Chill. Probably 100 or so people and about 10 boats anchored to the shore.
I watched in horror as annoying American after annoying American came to the bar. One couple sat at a table in the bar expecting to be served. Trust me, if you saw this bar, you would know that homie don’t play that. It’s not that kinda place. They asked for menus. Again, it’s just not that kinda place. The menu that looks like it was written in 1992 is leaning against the entrance to the bar. Then the chick went on about what she can and can’t eat, then complained about the prices, and on and on. Another guy asked for a Miller Lite, “no, we only have Bahamian beers here”, Shephard says. So that means either a Sands or a Kalik for your information. So his wife asks if they have Corona. Seriously people?!?!?! I am embarrassed by your actions. Shepard just gave me the “stupid americans” look. I laughed out loud.
Next on my agenda was to swim with the sea turtles. I was determined to find them and make them like me and get amazing video and pictures that I could show you. Apparently I’m not the turtle whisperer after all. Turtle Lagoon is directly behind Chat N Chill and a short paddle away. I saw one come to the surface yesterday and again on my way into the lagoon and knew surely this would be the turtle gold mine. Didn’t see a damn thing. Snorkeled around that lagoon for no less than an hour staring at sea grass (by the way, turtle food) but not a turtle in sight. I kept holding out hope that one would pop out of nowhere and swim right up to me thinking I had scraps of squid or conch but nope. Saw a little barracuda and lots of other cool random fish hiding in the mangroves (which are awesome by the way from underwater) but noooooo turtles. Mangroves provide a fantastic environment for smaller fish and reptiles to hide from their predators. It’s like its own little ecosystem in the roots. Super interesting and I dorked out on that for awhile before heading out. Packed up my stuff and headed back to Chat N Chill for one final swim, to watch the social experiment on the beach, and soak up the rest of the sun for the day. On my way out of the lagoon….yep…..saw an f-ing turtle swim right past my kayak. Son of a bitch.
Parked the kayak at Chat N Chill again, played with the stingrays a bit more, and ran into Dallas and Tamara Knowles (Out Island Explorers). Chatted with Tamara for quite some time and then headed back home. Another great day on the water but I’m kayaked out. Blisters and sore thumb bones are no bueno. Giving it a break for awhile and plan to visit Exuma Foundation tomorrow to see if I can help with any volunteer opportunities while I’m here.
My windows are open, the cool harbour breeze is whirling around my house, and I can hear the water crashing on the shore. I just can’t get enough of this place.
Until next time…
“All of us are connected to this limitless power and most of us aren’t using but a fraction of it. ” Jen Sincero, You are a Bad Ass.