Finding the sun on Guana Cay
06.03.2015 - 09.03.2015
It was February 2, 2015. Punxsutawney Phil climbed out of his little hole, saw my excessively white body covered with a nice layer of winter fat, screamed with terror, and ran back inside, thus dooming us to six more weeks of winter.
That was it. I’d had enough winter.
The winter doldrums had set in and Matt and I were both getting cranky. It was 18 degrees and we’d just endured 2 weeks of repeated snow and ice storms, which is UNHEARD of in Tennessee….the state where mere snow flurries force thousands of winter weary citizens to flock to the nearest grocery store to stock up on milk and bread and cause entire cities to shut down.
10 Signs I Needed a Winter Break:
1) I needed a reason to put down that cupcake.
I don’t know about you, but in winter, the caveman part of my brain takes over and I start storing up fat like I am in danger of going for months without food. I eat without abandon. Knowing that a bikini might be in my near future makes it harder to curl up on the couch with that half gallon of ice cream.
2) I needed a reason to paint my toenails.
I was sporting a half grown out gel pedicure from November in “So Hot it Berns” Red and my feet were rough enough to sand my coffee table. Something had to give.
3) I was pretty sure I had Rickets.
Laugh if you want, but lack of sunshine can cause Rickets. And I was pretty sure I had it. Just like some orphan in a Charles Dickens novel, I just knew my serious lack of Vitamin D required an ocean view room for a cure.
4) My tan had faded to the point that I was translucent.
Which would be awesome if I was a VAMPIRE. It had gotten so bad that I was considering using a self-tanner. Lest I end up looking like a giant Cheeto, I needed tan lines. Fast.
5) The last frozen drink I had was because it was 12 degrees outside and my latte iced over on the way to my car.
Matt and I did try making some tropical drinks one night. We turned on some Caribbean tunes, mixed up some coconut rum and mango, and then cried. Because it was snowing outside.
6) The only umbrellas I had seen recently were the kind for rain. Which sucks.
There are so many uses for umbrellas that are SO MUCH BETTER. Like garnishing my Pina Colada. Or blocking the sun from my burger at Nippers.
7) I was obsessively checking my airmiles.
Like 4 times a day. To see if some had magically appeared and I now had enough to run off somewhere exotic. Unfortunately, I only had enough to make it to Detroit. On a Tuesday.
8) The last beautiful sunset I saw was on a Lifetime Movie.
I had literally been trapped in the “dark when I go to work” “dark when I go home” zone for so long, I was pretty sure I would need some of those sunglasses they give you when you have your eyes dilated the next time I actually SAW the sun.
9) The last book I had read was the Handbook of Compensation and Benefits Formulas.
I needed a fluffy, pointless novel in the worst possible way. Possibly something with a shirtless man on the cover.
10) The only salt I had in my hair recently was when I fell asleep on the couch on a bag of Doritos.
Which takes us back to reason #1.
It was a bone chilling 14 degrees with a wind chill of 5,000 below when we left Tennessee on a Friday morning. By 9:00 a.m., we were stepping out of the plane into the bright sunshine of an 80 degree day.
Does it get any better than that?
This was Rooby’s first beach trip and she traveled like a pro: sleeping through the flight, navigating her way politely through customs without peeing on the clean tile floor, and riding quietly in the taxi.
All of that was lost when we put her on the boat.
We were lucky enough to have our boat waiting for us at the Curly Tails dock when we arrived at 9:30, so no need to wait for a ferry. Yay, Darvin!!
We loaded our luggage into the cuddy cabin below, tossed the dogs into the boat, and went down to change before heading to Lubbers Landing.
That little gate thingy (is it obvious I am not the boat Captain?) that is between the inside of the boat and the platform on the back of the boat was missing.
"Watch her," I told Matt as I went down into the cuddy cabin to change.
"She won't go off the boat," he said smartly just as we heard a loud SPLASH!!!!
Poor little widget had never seen a large body of water. She thought she could just step off.
Might as well start things off with a BANG!
The good news: Rooby can swim! After that, she had to wear her life jacket.
It was a challenge getting changed.
First, it is not our boat, so we are not in control of the condition it is in when it comes to us. This time, the bottom 2 feet of the cabin were filled with water. So, our luggage was piled on top of the bed thing (again, I am not a "boat person," I do not know the proper names for "boat things"). Every woman knows that putting on a swimsuit under the most agreeable conditions is not easy. It's like trying to put an elephant inside a rubber band. In this case, I was balanced precariously on top of our luggage, a chip bag shoved up my butt crack, while trying to get out of 19 layers of winter clothing without exposing my girl bits to the luggage boys on the dock or falling into the fuel infused water that filled the cabin floor, complete with 12 sodden life jackets in varying stages of disintegration floating about.
Somehow, I managed to get changed without getting arrested for indecent exposure or pulling a hamstring and climbed out of the cabin, sweating profusely and cursing, so that the next unlucky person could go in for a turn.
It was time to get this party started.
Within minutes, we were at Matt’s favorite place in the entire world: the dock at Lubbers Landing. It gets our vote for Most Relaxing Spot, Best Drinks, and Best Food. You simply can’t beat it.
And they even had a friend Rooby’s size! Well, almost.
Honey is Austin and Amy’s super sweet Chihuahua. The Roobs is only 5 lbs., but next to Honey she looked like a GIANT. I think this did a lot for Rooby’s confidence.
Lubbers Landing has the coolest Bohemian Chic vibe going, thanks to Austin’s flair for building and Amy’s flair for decorating. It has an exotic, yet casual feeling that immediately puts a smile on your face and a Reggae wiggle in your booty.
Okay, the drinks might have something to do with it.
AND........It’s the perfect place to spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing.
Which is exactly what we did.
Except sample nearly every drink from the bar and gobble up some delicious island burgers and cauli-wings.
As the sun dipped lower in the sky, we reluctantly pried ourselves off the deck so that we could boat to Guana Cay before sunset. We hadn’t even been to the house yet. We still had bags to unpack!
The views from the house were almost so good we stayed to watch the sunset from the deck.
But I always look forward to that first sunset with a frozen Grabber in my hand, so we got the bags unpacked and the dogs settled in with plenty of time to catch the sunset at Grabbers.
There is nothing like watching the sunset with a frozen grabber in your hand.
Okay, maybe watching it with a lobster bite in your hand.
Or a conch fritter.
Or a lobster dinner afterwards.
Or playing the hook and ring game.
Okay, it was all good.
The next morning, we woke up early to take Rooby and Bella to the beach for sunrise. It was Rooby’s first time to see the ocean.
She was an immediate fan.
One of my favorite things about the Bahamas is that you can take your dogs on the beach. Without a leash. And there isn’t even anyone there for them to bother.
There is no way to describe the joy of a small house dog that has been turned loose on a beach. With a ball.
This must be how people with kids feel on Christmas morning. Except that I didn't have to clean up 7 bags of wrapping paper while listening to the unholy noise of a new Barbie Microphone accompanied by screams of "MAKE ME SOME PANCAKES!!!!"
I could just take my kids home, spray them off with the garden hose, and put some food in the floor.
The sky was cloudy on one side and clear on the other, which made for a spectacular morning sky.
The day looked beautiful, and we had never taken John and Teresa to Treasure Cay, so it seemed like a good plan for the day. The boating from Guana to Treasure isn’t the easiest, so a good weather day is essential.
The ride over was gorgeous…..crazy blue water as far as the eye could see, the color of the water growing more and more intense as we got closer to Treasure Cay.
The water was a dazzling electric blue as we motored slowly toward the dock at Treasure Sands Club.
We had never been to Treasure Sands and decided today was the day. Partially because I had heard good things about the restaurant, but mostly because they had a dock and I was tired of wading in with my clothes wrapped around my shoulders and my bag on top of my head.
That’s what the big sign on the dock said.
At least there were mooring balls we could tie up to nearby, but I still had to wrap my tunic up around my shoulders and balance my 18 lb. beach bag on my head like a Sherpa toting a load up Mount Kilamanjaro.
As we approached Treasure Sands, I heard music playing, I saw brightly colored curtains billowing in the breeze, I saw colorful drinks carried on trays, I saw a sparkling pool surrounded by loungers with candy colored cushions.
Treasure Sands was a little more South Beach than Abaco, but in a place where paper plates and faded picnic tables are the norm, it was a fun change of pace.
As I sat down to lunch in my rubber flip flops and sun dress, I noticed another patron walk by in skin tight jeans, a long sleeve silk blouse, more jewelry than the display counter at Cartier, blonde extensions, and 5 inch platform Perspex stripper heels. I watched with a mixture of horror and giddy expectation, waiting for the moment when she would fall over and sand would stick to her super tight jeans and her ankle would expand to the size of a beach ball……….or her enormous silicone breast. Wait, same difference.
Why, why, why, why, oh why must women wear stilettos at the beach? For that matter, why skinny jeans? Or Night at the Roxbury makeup? Isn’t it bad enough that we have to fall to these masochistic trappings in “real life?” MUST we bring them to the beach? Isn’t that the one sacred place where a ponytail, flip flops, and a little lip gloss is enough?
I looked at Matt, “We’re not on Guana anymore….”
Sure, it was a little pretentious, and the hamburger cost $25, but the drinks were strong, the lobster club was to die for good, and we got to waste our afternoon beside the pool listening to superb DJ tunes.
Worth. Every. Penny.
I just gotta’ remember my stilettos next time.
It was around 2:00 p.m. when we noticed the sky had started to darken. It also happened to be one hour from low tide.
Anyone who has made the boat trip from Treasure Cay to Guana knows that these were not ideal circumstances.
We debated staying or going. Staying? Going? Staying? Going?
Every 15 minutes, I’d look at Matt and say, “I think the sun is about to come out.”
When it failed to make an appearance, Matt said, “I think you can stop saying that now.”
The sky continued to get darker. We could not see any end to the darkness creeping our way, so we decided to hurry home before we ended up boating back in the rain or the dark. Power boating on the ocean in the rain just plain sucks.
Now it was actually low tide.
And the wind was picking up.
Matt was a tense bundle of nerves as he carefully piloted the boat back toward Guana. He was white knuckling it as the waves soaked us with water again and again. I could tell he wasn’t having a lot of fun, so I thought I’d lighten things up.
“You know what……” I ventured, as the waves rocked the boat again and again, water spraying into our faces and soaking our already wet clothes.
He looked at me and unleashed all the fury he wanted to hurl at the ocean and the sky and the wind and the waves.
“What I NEED is for you to be quiet. All of you. TO BE QUIET. You’re all laughing and giggling and having a grand old time while I am trying to drive this boat. Do you want to drive this boat? Huh? Do you?” he shouted as I sat still and quiet as a statue.
“I’m sorry. This is intense. What did you want to tell me?” he asked.
I pointed at the sky, completely filled with ominous black clouds in every direction.
“I think the sun is about to come out.”
And we survived.
The sun never did come out, so we got cleaned up and headed to Grabbers for a NON sunset, which, with a frozen grabber in your hand, is just as good as a sunset.
We discussed where to have dinner. When you only have 3 restaurants, it should be easy. Right?
(There are actually 4 restaurants, but we don’t really like the 4th one…so we don’t count it)
You already ate at Grabbers on the first night without planning things out properly. Now, what about the other two nights? Do you do Grabbers, Grabbers, Nippers? But you’re having lunch at Nippers on the 3rd day, so that doesn’t work because you’re double Nippering.
Double Nippering [duhb-uh l] [nip-er-ing]
the practice of eating a sequential lunch and dinner at Nippers
Fine then. What about Grabbers, Nippers, Grabbers? No, lunch on Sunday is at Nippers, so you are still double Nippering.
Well, we haven’t tried that new place yet. Okay, how about Grabbers, Island Flavors, and Nippers? No, we can’t eat at Nippers Sunday night because we are eating at Nippers on Sunday for lunch and we always get Grabbers pizza on Sunday night.
(The apparent lesson here is: if you only have 3 nights and the 3rd day is Sunday, you should eat at Nippers first, otherwise, you over Grabber yourself. Write these things down, people. This is sound advice.)
We ended up at Island Flavors.
To avoid any double Nippering.
We had never been to this relative newcomer , but had heard good things about it. I immediately liked it when I saw the bathroom sign.
There were some plain tables scattered around under a garden style canopy next to a simple shack with a gas grill outside. A brusque woman who offered no greeting of any sort put several menus on the table and walked back into the kitchen without a word. She returned several minutes later to take our order. We ordered. She left to go back into the kitchen. A few minutes later, she returned with our food.
What Island Flavors lacked in ambiance and congeniality, it made up for in flavor.
The food was REALLY GOOD.
I had some loaded fries that were basically nachos with French fries instead of chips. Holy Jalepeno, they were good.
Just in case a basket full of French fries, taco beef, and cheese slathered in sour cream wasn’t enough to sufficiently clog my arteries, I also ordered the grouper sandwich.
It was a mile high, delicately fried, and unmistakably fresh.
We decided to have a late night Nipper, because when there are only 3 restaurants on the island, it just makes sense to visit them all in one night.
We took the girls for another run on the beach bright and early the next morning.
Rooby can get an entire day’s worth of exercise in one hour of running on the beach because she takes 4 steps for every one step we take and, while we walk in a straight line, she looks like a drunken sailor zigging up this way and zagging down that way, making sure not to miss a thing, with Bella as her ever-loyal sidekick.
When we felt like we had sufficiently worn them out, we loaded up the boat to head out for a while before the Nippers Sunday pig roast.
Back when we were Guana Cay newbies, we thought you had to get to Nippers at 10:00 a.m. and stake out a table. That lead to early drinking.
Which lead to early drunkenness. And we all know where that gets you:
These days, we like to boat for half a day and get to Nippers in the afternoon, just as things are getting interesting. We have found that it keeps US from being what is interesting.
It was a beautiful day to boat over to Shell Island. The tide was up, so it wasn’t the best for shelling, but it was perfect for soaking in the sunshine and amazing views.
It was also perfect for rum punch and Kalik!
And for fishing Matt’s hat out of the water!
After Shell Island, we boated over to Bakers Bay. They can keep me off the land, but they can’t keep me off the beach.
Thankfully, there are still a few “house free” stretches of beach where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful spots on Guana Cay.
But my love of the beach is no match for my love of a good burger, so we eventually made our way to Nippers to enjoy some lunch, some frozen Nippers, and some fun.
Every time we go to Nippers on Sunday, I promise myself this is going to be THE DAY.
THE DAY that I only have one or two frozen Nippers. THE DAY that I don’t get out there and dance badly. THE DAY that I just sit on my rainbow colored bench and watch the fun rather than bursting into the middle of it like a 5’4” roman candle.
It was a gorgeous day. Things started off with grilled burgers and ice cold Nippers.
Everyone was having a good time. The sun was shining. We were all laughing.
Next thing you know I’m clutching a water bottle like it’s an Oscar and screaming with toilet paper wrapped around my head on top of a table.
Maybe next time.
After some naps, we made it to Grabbers in time for sunset.
Apparently, I didn’t get the “we must all wear orange” memo.
The sunset was memorable, the pizza was just as good as it always was, and I no longer had a toilet paper turban.
It was a good night.
A bold pink sky greeted us as we piled up our golf cart and headed to the ferry.
As we rode to Marsh Harbour on the ferry, Rooby gave Guana two paws up.
It had been short, but sweet, and just long enough to get rid of my Rickets.