Jolly Hall Beach, Turtle Chasing, and Fish Fry

Another day in this paradise is food for my soul. I continue to meet the most interesting and kindest people, eat the most delectable food, and set my eyes on the most captivating beaches I’ve ever seen. And it just keeps getting better. My day started a bit later than normal but I packed up to spend the day at Jolly Hall Beach and the Fish Fry. I had yet to visit either during my previous trips to the Exumas and was eager to see what all the fuss was about. It would also be my first time walking down the highway so I braced myself for the unexpected. Rosemary has been sweet enough to take me everywhere I’ve needed to go or let me hop along if she needs to go to town for something. It’s a thing here. Because there is only one road that goes North and South (locals call it East and West because the island is turned at a diagonal), it is quite common to “thumb” a ride or pick up strangers off the side of the road. In fact, Rosemary and I have done that three times just since I’ve been here. You meet some fascinating people doing this – sure teaches you a lesson about judging people that’s for sure.

I was looking forward to my hike to Jolly Hall Beach so I was hoping no one would stop for me. And they didn’t. But I also didn’t look like I needed a ride. I was a woman on a mission and likely had a pretty sweet bitchy resting face that I can’t seem to shake. Walking down the highway isn’t exactly the safest thing to do here as there are obviously no sidewalks, hardly a shoulder, and some occasional speed racers. Which is ironic given this is an extremely slow paced island. A short 20 minute walk and I arrived at the beach access for Jolly Hall beach. A small faded sign indicates it is Jolly Hall beach.  Signage seems to be an issue here. Even stores don’t have signs. You just have to know it’s a hardware store, a grocery store, a salon, etc. Too funny.

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Kidding mom! But I totally would if I needed to. It’s what everyone does.

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Access to Jolly Hall Beach. Can’t you read that little faded sign?

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The path to Jolly Hall Beach

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Another crowded beach. Jolly Hall

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Just wow.

Again, I had the entire beach to myself. It. Was. Unreal. The water. THE WATER!!! I just can’t get over how beautiful these beaches are. One after another after another. In every nook and cranny on this island is a new gem. So I laid out for a bit, took some selfies (as I’m getting to be a pro by now), and walked down to the other end of the beach. When I got close to the end of the beach, I spotted a gang of 7 staring at me through the bushes. Once I got too close for their comfort, they all jumped up and took off down the beach. Here is the gang:

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Hard to see but it’s a pack of 7 wild dogs.

They reminded me of a canine version of the Little Rascals. All different shapes, sizes, and breeds. Even a little pup. Sadly, there are quite a few wild dogs on the island. Most of them are scared of people so they either run or bark and growl. These did both. So as I strolled back towards my towel, flip flops and other belongings, I noticed they decided to make my towel THEIR towel. The little shits were laying right on my damn towel. Ticks and all. Ugh. Again, once I got close enough they all ran. And would you believe as I approached my stuff, the most boisterous one barked at me, ran over to my coverup and stole the damn thing! I was laughing out loud but at the same time seriously concerned with how I would walk down the highway in just a bathing suit. I screamed at the little shit and he/she dropped my dress. Sheesh, that was a close call.

I sat and stared at the ocean for a bit longer pondering whether or not to go snorkeling and up….pops….a….TURTLE. Scoooooore!!! Thank god I brought my snorkeling gear or I would have just died. An adorable little sea turtle kept poking its head and fins out of the water over a dark patch just off the shore. Makes perfect sense since turtles hang out in sea grass so I was just elated that there was at least one in the area and such a small area at that. I threw on my gear, packed up my belongings (in the event the Little Rascals decided to come back), and went turtle chasing. It was a bit windy and visibility wasn’t great but I was still determined to find myself a damn turtle. The minute I get to the sea grass, a huge barracuda swam by. That was cool. A little spooky but still super cool. If you don’t have experience snorkeling or diving, it is quite a humbling experience, especially when visibility is low. You have to practically be on top of something before you actually see it. Not a big deal if it’s a rock or a grass bed. But when it’s a living breathing animal, it can be frightening when it catches you off guard. And to also realize that you are but one small speck of life amongst a massive underwater world of millions of species is daunting. Especially when some of those million include large animals with sharp teeth.

I snorkeled around a bit but didn’t see anything exciting. Just a few fish here and there and lots of sea grass and garbage that likely washed in with Hurricane Joaquin. So I decided it would be the perfect time to take snorkeling selfies. I’m even embarrassed to say that. Ugh. So I turned my GoPro around and smiled at the camera a few times and would you f-ing believe that damn turtle was sitting in the sea grass right below me staring at me from the side of his adorable little head. Shit shit shit. How was I going to turn the camera at the end of my selfie stick back around without scaring him off?!?!? Instead of keeping my composure like a normal human being would, I panicked and jerked the camera into my hand, turned it around, pushed it as close to the turtle as possible and off he went. Hmph. At least I managed to get one shot of him. I saw the direction he swam but quickly lost sight of him (apparently turtles are men in my mind so I will continue to refer to it as he/him). I snorkeled around for another 20 minutes hoping to catch a glimpse of him again but no luck. Again, just a lot of sea grass, sand, little fish, and nothingness. Time to resume the snorkeling selfies once again. I flipped the camera back towards myself, smiled a few times, looked right, looked left and OMG THERE HE WAS AGAIN!!!! It’s like a sick version of déjà vu!!! Twice now, I start taking pictures of myself after giving up on turtle chasing, and then the turtle is sitting there laughing his ass off at me for taking underwater selfies. You bet your ass I did exactly the same thing but failed at getting any pics of him this time. Or video. Dammit. I can’t even believe I just admitted to this happening. Don’t judge. Please. I assure you I am not narcissistic or consumed with taking pictures of myself. I have an ulterior motive for doing this. But I can’t friggin believe this happened. TWICE. Hmpppphhhhh.

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The elusive man turtle.

Oh and another funny part of the story is that all the while I am turtle chasing up and down the shore, a newly wedded couple came to the beach with their photographer and they had to carefully aim their camera away from the rogue snorkeler in the background. LOL! I apologized afterward and we’re besties now.

The rest of my morning at the beach was magical. But it was getting to be lunchtime and I had my heart set on going to the Fish Fry to eat as well as stop at some of the hotel bars along the way to see what kind of atmosphere they had to offer.

Hideaways at Palm Bay, Exuma Beach Resort, August Bay, and Frankie Bananas are all situated side by side on the way to the Fish Fry. So I stopped at the tiki bar at Exuma Beach Resort. I was the only one there but enjoyed the view, the music, and a Goombay Smash. By this time I was starving so I decided to make my way to the Fish Fry. The Fish Fry is a collection of several shack-like restaurants and bars, all with similar food but each has their own character. Rosemary told me to eat at Shirley’s and so that’s exactly what I did.

Shirley’s is quite a nice little place right smack on the water. Shirley, herself, was sitting at the bar eating a fish head. Snapper to be exact. I was the only one in the place and I took a seat across from her at the bar. The food was just as delicious as Rosemary assured me it would be. Shirley is the chef and the bartender/waitress so we didn’t get to talk much as first. I had her blackened grouper, cole slaw, and mac and cheese. Sooooo good. She is from Nassau but was recruited to be a chef at what used to be the Four Seasons (now Sandals). Once that closed, she opened Shirley’s at the Fish Fry. Once she finished cooking for me, we got to chat a lot and I really enjoyed hearing her stories. The people here don’t have it easy but they don’t even know it. And that’s why they are so wonderful to be around.

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Bad pic of Fish Fry. Lots of tiny little shacks on the water.

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Shirley’s!

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Blackened Grouper, Cole Slaw, Mac and Cheese. Get in my belly!

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Shirley and I

I bid farewell to Shirley after my delicious meal and a few Goombay Smashes and headed for home to take a little booze snooze before heading out for a few drinks with Tamara, the owner of Out Island Explorers. Tamara was kind enough to invite me out with her and her friends to a little bar in Georgetown called Two Turtles. It is an outdoor bar (most are) right on the highway in the center of town. It was karaoke night so it was expected to draw a pretty good crowd. Bahamians looooooove karaoke. Not sure why it’s so popular but who cares. They love it. Tamara picked me up and we headed to town. I met several of her friends, recognized several others at the bar (the island is THAT small that I actually know people already) and had a great time. I even danced with Bahama Obama. Yep that’s what they call him. He is the local party starter. Literally, he goes into all the bars around town and gets people to dance, makes people laugh, and ensures everyone is having a good time. Such an awesome job huh? Anyhow, from what I remember, we had a blast. I swear the alcohol is stronger here. Or maybe it just tastes better. J

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Bustin a move with Bahama Obama.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

“Watching someone else totally go for it can be incredibly upsetting to the person who’s spent a lifetime building a solid case for why they themselves can’t.”  Jen Sincero, You are a Bad Ass.

For more pics of the Exumas, “like” my Facebook blog page at My Solitairie Assignment (it’s at the top right of every page).

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