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Ringing in 2018..... Guana-Cay Style

YOU CAN’T RAIN ON MY PARADE.

The flight to Abaco had been uneventful. It was the day after Christmas and Matt and I were en route to Bikini Hut to ring in the New Year.

Flying into Abaco is interesting. There is no flight control. There is no tower. Each pilot simply communicates on the radio with every other pilot to decide who is where and who is landing when. It doesn’t matter if you are a single engine Cessna Skyhawk or a commercial jet – it’s an act of cooperation and it amazes me every time to hear tiny 4 seater private planes coordinating with turboprops and jets to see where everyone is and what order they are landing in.

“This is Cessna 41-Mike,” we heard over the radio. “Has anyone made it into Treasure Cay in the last 15?”

It was raining, you see.

The flight was uneventful until this moment. Now…we were nearing the Treasure Cay airport in a downpour and many planes were having a hard time landing due to low visibility. The commercial planes had to turn back because there is no ILS approach and they required a higher altitude for visibility to land.

Just as we were considering turning back to wait it out at a drier airport, someone responded. “Baron 32-Alpha just landed. Clear of active runway.”

That said, we knew we could make it.

Landing in the rain is not my favorite, because it means unloading in the rain, getting a taxi in the rain, and probably getting on the boat in the rain, but what other choice was there?

We landed in the rain. We unloaded in the rain. We got into a taxi in the rain.

It was still raining when we reached the Treasure Cay Marina, where our boat was waiting. Rather than load the boat in the rain, we decided to wait it out with rum punches and fish burgers tucked inside the Tipsy Seagull where it was nice and dry and where our furry children were welcome.

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A few rum punches later, the rain dissipated and we loaded the boat to make our way to Bikini Hut on Guana Cay!

We were almost there.

Sure, we arrived later than expected, but we had plenty of time to unpack, get what few groceries we needed from the on island store, and get to Grabbers for sunset, that first frozen grabber of the trip, lobster bites, and mac n’cheese.

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It felt like a Welcome Home to me.

IT’S NOT WEDNESDAY, IT’S SUN DAY.

Sure, it was mid-week but the sun was shining and the day started off bright and HOT. This was fine with me because December in Abaco can bring anything from 50 degrees to 80. A high near 80 with endless sun was a perfect first day.

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We had nothing planned. A whole lot of nothing.

The morning started with a walk on the beach with my favorite girls. Bella and Rooby were happy to be back.

Rooby loves watching the sun come up.

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Our December trips are more about “to dos” than leisure, and Matt had a list of things he wanted to accomplish during our week at the Hut. I didn’t have much to do, so I opted for a lazy day at Grabbers. I knew it wasn’t going to be this warm all week and I wanted to take advantage of it while I could.

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I grabbed one of these….

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And stared at this….

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Until I was so sun drunk I could do nothing more than roll over every once in a while to ensure I burned evenly.

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Eventually, the lure of the sun was more than Matt could take and he joined me for lobster caprese sandwiches and fish tacos.

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And then a little more of this….

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We have become friends with several other homeowners on the island and everyone had finally arrived, so we agreed to meet up at one of the houses for dinner. We grabbed a sunset, a Grabber, and headed out to finish the day with our island family.

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IT’S A PINK NIGHTMARE.

It was another beautiful morning on Guana Cay.

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Matt had plans to do something fun like pour a cement ramp to the laundry room or rebuild the shutters, so I grabbed my beach bag and ran out of the house faster than you can shake a paintbrush.

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I had no intention of spending a beautiful day painting trim, so I parked myself on a lounge chair at Nippers, ordered a spicy bloody Mary, and watched the clouds go by.

Matt joined me for lunch and we agreed to share a healthy lunch and a fried pile of delicious crap so that neither of us felt too guilty. The seared ahi tuna salad was amazing….but so was the cracked lobster with fries.

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To avoid being labeled a total slacker….I spent the afternoon painting shutters.

Mainly because I had to soften Matt up.

You see, it was the night of the annual Guana Cay Christmas Golf Cart Parade.

We discovered last year that the golf cart parade is the most fun that can be had at 3 mph. Everyone dresses up in tacky Christmas attire and meets at the Lumberyard. From there, about 50 decorated golf carts roll through town, making stops at each of the 3 main restaurants on Guana where food is served and drinks are bought….ending the night at Nippers for a tacky Christmas dance party.

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“I look like a deranged Easter Bunny,” Matt said.

“You look AMAZING!” I lied. (actually....he DID look amazing....)

Matt’s favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story, but I still couldn’t believe he had agreed to my costume idea. He did, however, require a small dose of liquid courage.

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We met up with our island family first so that we could all head to the Lumberyard together to ensure we were lined up in succession during the parade.

I love these people.

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We made our way to the Lumberyard and waited for the parade to start.

Now….Matt might have been wearing the world’s largest pink onesie, but I was wearing HIGH HEELS. I never wear heels on Guana. High heels and Guana Cay go together like Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna.

And much like Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna, mixing the two leads to a greater than average chance of violence, bodily harm, ripped fishnets, and tears.

I proved this point when I got clever and decided to hold one leg up under my lampshade, you know, so I looked more like the one-legged lamp from the movie?

Rather than looking like a MAJOR AWARD…I got my heel caught in my hoop and immediately took a hard dive to the gravel.

This broke my fall:

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At that moment, I would have given anything to have been wearing a pink fleece onesie.

Instead, I brushed it off and screamed, “And she’s up!” I guess I am not so FRUH-GEE-LAY after all.

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FRI-YAY!

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The next morning, Matt had to make the Bunny Walk of Shame.

He had gotten our golf cart stuck at Nippers the night before, you see. Late nights, drinks, bunny suits, and golf cart parking do not mix.

With the golf cart secured back at the Hut, we decided it was a nice day to get the boat out. It was sunny, but the wind was acting up a bit, so we decided not to go far.

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Our plan was to simply hop over to Man-O-War and grab lunch and pick up a couple of new bags from the sail shop to add to our ever growing collection.

We stopped in at the Dock-N-Dine where we enjoyed the beautiful views and ran into more Guana friends.

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I like any restaurant in Abaco that veers from the traditional menu of: 1) Cheeseburger, 2) Fishburger, 3) Cracked Conch…all served with fries, peas n’rice, or mac n’cheese.

For starters, we enjoyed the black bean and lump crab cakes topped with goat pepper salsa and served with citrus yogurt. For lunch, I had the triple seafood pita club: a warm pita filled with fried lobster, shrimp and crab along with crispy lettuce, tomato, and bacon. Matt dove into the amazing Tommy Burger which is topped with crispy onions, spicy apple jam, white cheddar, and a rosemary BBQ sauce.

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We meandered through the sunny streets of Man-O-War until we reached Albury’s sail shop. This is a must stop on most trips to Abaco. We love their canvas bags and simply can’t get enough of them.

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In order to get Matt to knock off half a day and play on the boat, I had agreed to spend the afternoon working on the shutters.

That night, one of our island friends hosted dinner for the group and we all gathered for the end of another beautiful island day.

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MEET ME AT TAHITI

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After our morning walk on the beach with the girls, I convinced Matt to take a full boat day. We’d been working all week (in between having a little fun) and it was a beautiful day to be on the water. The sun was shining, the water was calm, the wind was down….it was a perfect day.

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We made our way to Elbow Cay and anchored at Tahiti Beach to watch the sand bar arrive.

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What we didn’t expect was an actual SAND BAR.

This floating bar showed up just as we were leaving, so I didn’t get a chance to try it. That just means something new for next time!

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I had my heart set on Lunch at Firefly. Without a reservation, you better get there early or you won’t be eating. We pulled in right at noon and scored an amazing waterfront table. By the time we left, they were literally turning people away telling them the list was too full to add anyone else for lunch.

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Firefly has the best cocktails and food around, so a meal there is always something to savor.

I started off with a smoky mezcal old fashioned, which was a nice change from the sweet tropical drinks I had been sucking down for the last few days.

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The lobster quesadilla with mango pineapple salsa was calling our name. Drizzled with chipotle sour cream, it was the perfect way to start lunch.

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Matt had the panko crusted fish cakes (which looked more like balls….just sayin’) served with mesclun greens and fruit salsa.

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I had what was quite possibly the best salad of my life: the naked cobb salad with coconut panko crusted lobster. Yes, I realize the bacon, blue cheese and deep fried lobster destroyed any chance that salad had of being healthy, but it was so delicious I did not care.

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After lunch, we hopped over to Hopetown Harbour where we walked around for a bit before relaxing with a drink at the Reef Bar at Hopetown Harbour Lodge. I never get tired of these views.

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With the shorter winter days, it was time to head back so we could make it in before dark.

We wrapped up the day with a blazing sunset at Grabbers and a pizza at Orchid Bay.

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THE PERFECT STORM.

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It was Sunday Funday at Nippers. It was New Year’s Eve. And it was the day the famed Bucketlust yacht group and their Bravo film crew had decided to descend upon our tiny little island.

It was the perfect storm.

We headed to Nippers early so that we could enjoy the beach bar before the crowds arrived. I admit that I am one of the instigators when I am with a group, but when it’s just me and Matt, we keep things low key. We were just there to be spectators today.

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The calm before the storm….

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The place was empty and beautiful, just the way I like it. We had some frozen Nippers, dipped in the pool, lay in the abundant sunshine, and shared a cheeseburger.

When things went from this:

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To this:

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We knew it was time to call it a day.

We did what old people do on New Year’s Eve….we went home and took a nap. How else am I supposed to stay awake until midnight??

Then it was time for NYE dinner.

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I tried to dress fancy for the occasion, but it had turned cooler, and within minutes, I decided to ditch the dress for jeans and a long sleeve shirt.
In case needing a nap in order to stay out late isn’t a sure sign you are old, another one is trading in a cute, sequin mini dress on NYE for jeans because it’s more comfortable.

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Normally, we spend NYE at Nippers, but we simply couldn’t resist the lure of being eyewitnesses to the debauchery promised by the Bucketlust NYE party at Grabbers.

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From what we gathered, Bucketlust is an international group that puts together outrageous party vacations for young schmucks who like to spend a week wearing inappropriate costumes, throwing garbage into the ocean, consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and dancing while partying aboard a flotilla of 25+ catamarans as they sail through some poor, unsuspecting island chain.

It was our lucky day. This ghastly group of people had chosen the Abacos as their NYE destination and had chosen Guana Cay as their first stop to host their extreme NYE party.

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In a very short period of time, our sweet little Grabbers was transformed into a den of debauchery, loaded with 300+ partygoers dressed in their best porn versions of your favorite Disney characters. They proceeded to litter the beach and ocean, tear up the hammocks, throw crap into the pool, and drink until they vomited or took their clothes off in front of strangers – which ever came first.

It was quite a show.

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One of the Bucketlust staffers actually approached us before midnight and advised that we leave just after midnight because ….”It will really get bad after that.”

At midnight, we left. We’d had enough. If what I saw was only the beginning….I didn’t need to see any more.

Sign 3 that I am getting old? Sure. After watching those young people, I wear my age with pride.

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ABOUT LAST NIGHT...

On our way to walk the dogs, Matt and I stopped at Grabbers because I wanted to get a look at the boats in the harbor (they had arrived after dark, so it was our first chance to see this massive group of boats).

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What I didn’t expect was the amount of devastation they left in their wake. Plastic cups, Styrofoam plates, straws, flip flops, and the remnants of costumes littered the beach, hung from the trees, and worst of all….floated all in the harbor. You could still hear the electronic dance music eurothumping from their boats AT 6:00 a.m.

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(Sign 4 you are old – you are up at 6:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day)

I’m sure the homes nearby loved listening to their music all night and into the morning. I’m sure Grabbers staff loved trying to get their dirty underwear out of the palm trees. And I’m sure the sea creatures loved swallowing their plastic straws and dodging their plastic cups in the ocean.

I sincerely hope Bucketlust was a “one and done” as far as the Abacos are concerned. The Abacos are family islands. I love a good party as much as the next girl, but these people were not respectful of this island, it’s people, or the environment. I say take your garbage and bare butts to Ibiza or Mykonos. Go to Cancun for God’s sake, but don’t bring it back here.

(Sign 5 you are old – you give a lecture to young partygoers for partying too hard on NYE)

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I will now climb off my soapbox and tell you about how we spent our last day on the island taking the girls on a boat ride to the lagoon.

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We drank strawberry daiquiris and ate chips and wasted the day away.

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We ended the day with a quiet dinner at Nippers – seafood fettuccine for Matt and grilled lobster for me.

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ARRIVE IN THE RAIN. LEAVE IN THE RAIN.

We had amazing weather while we were down, but we had arrived in the rain and I’ll be darned if it wasn’t pouring when we woke up to leave.

I have to brag on Matt here. The man is a saint.

We had to take the boat back to Treasure Cay. This meant loading the boat in the rain, driving the boat to Treasure Cay (an hour) in the rain, unloading the boat in the rain, loading the taxi in the rain, unloading the taxi in the rain, and loading the plane in the rain. He put me and the dogs in the dry and did all of this by himself so we wouldn’t both be wet.

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He’s a good man.

We arrived home to unreasonably cold temperatures, but with the warmth of our island home still in our hearts.

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Next up – we couldn’t handle the cold, so we ran off to Key West! Stay tuned!

Posted by vicki_h 13:25 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands caribbean tropical bahamas abacos abaco guana_cay Comments (5)

Guana Cay: This is my happy.

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When we bought a house on Guana Cay, I think we both secretly worried it would turn a place we love into a place we felt forced to visit. We were so afraid that ownership would make us feel like we HAD to go there instead of WANTING to go there and we would start thinking about all the other vacations we could have taken with that money. We worried it would turn a joy into an obligation.

Sort of like having a package of chicken thawed out in the refrigerator at home that you know you should go home and cook, even though your heart really wants to go out for pizza.

I didn’t want Guana Cay to become old chicken.

We couldn’t have been more wrong.

I literally can’t wait to return to this place.

Maybe the “new” will wear off at some point, but right now, Bikini Hut and I are tangled in a deep love affair. When I am not there, it’s all I think about. When I am there, I am in heaven.

I guess Guana Cay has become my “guilty pleasure” destination. You know, the one that offers little in the way of new experiences or cultural enrichment, and at times (think Nippers Sunday) might even be a little on the tasteless side, but it’s entertaining and cheerful and just feels really good. Like watching an episode of the Real Housewives in your sweatpants while eating an entire box of ice cream sandwiches.

It might not be the most chic and refined, but it makes me happy.

So, at least for now, you will be subjected to repeated photos and descriptions of the same things. Go ahead and say it.

“Are we really going to Guana Cay AGAIN???”

Yes, friends. Yes we are.

Saturday, July 2:

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The flight from TN to Abaco seems to get easier every time we make it. Maybe that’s because Matt’s doing all the flying and I am doing no more than watching the sun rise over the Great Smoky Mountains and sleeping in the back of the plane.

It seemed like only minutes before we were landing in Marsh Harbour, picking up the boat at the boat yard, and speeding towards that happy little cottage on Guana Harbour.

Hello, Bikini Hut!!

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We were welcomed with open arms (and more than a few millipedes). We quickly shook the travel fugue off, changed into something breezy, and made our way to Grabbers for the first frozen goodness of the week and a spectacular sunset.

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It was a beautiful night and the sunset did not disappoint. Because it was the height of the visitor season, Grabbers had gone “fancy” and had a special surf and turf buffet set up.

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We surfed. We turfed.

And then we called travel day quits.

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Sunday, July 3:

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It was a beautiful first morning on Front Street.

No matter how much I want to sleep in, my eyes pop open the minute the sky begins to turn pale. My internal clock wakes me up (or maybe it was the incessant puppy kisses begging to be taken to the beach). I can’t help getting out of bed while the sky is still a cool gray. I have to see the sunrise.

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It was our first day of a long week and we didn’t have any ambitious plans. The only plan was to have a relaxing week.

We spent a lazy morning at the house before heading toward Nippers for lunch.

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The Sunday before the 4th of July is usually a pretty lively day and this one was certainly shaping up to be a crowd pleaser.

Even though it had been a month since Matt’s birthday fiesta in the British Virgin Islands, we were still recovering from a 7 day hangover from Jost Van Dyke, so, for once, we were the quiet ones at Sunday Funday.

See….I can be calm if I choose. To be frank, it was just too HOT to do much more than sit limply in a chair. Dancing in that heat would have had disastrous effects on a person my age.

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The weather was gorgeous and boats came from every direction. It was fun watching from the beach as scruffy little boats with 17 drunk 20-somethings sidled up to $400,000 cruisers and attempted to anchor with about 3 feet between them. I have never seen an overindulged, middle aged man move as fast as I saw one move when a small boat filled with kids literally got right next to his mini-yacht and drunkenly threw a bean bag over the side to serve as a bumper.

A bean bag.

$90 cigar be damned. He tossed it aside as he ran through the water faster than Paula Deen at a butter sale.

We watched as another boatload of people put a large bottle of Fireball on the beach, partially submerged in the sand, and sat on their boat with a fishing line tied to the bottle.

Eventually, some poor drunk clown would walk past it, stop, and reach down for it. That’s when it would get jerked back into the water with the speed and force of a barracuda.

It was all fun and games until one poor girl did a face plant in the sand.

Oh, the things you see at Nippers Sunday Funday when you are the sober ones.

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When our fingers started to prune, we dried off and headed to Grabbers to see if Steel Daddy was still playing.

We caught the tail end of his show and a beautiful sunset, but the horde of people clamoring for menus convinced us that we should probably find dinner elsewhere.

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We headed inside for a quiet, air-conditioned meal at Fish Tales.

Not only did they have a/c, they had patriotic jello shots!

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And whatever this delicious little thing was.

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After a crisp Caesar salad with fresh caught fish, some gooey nachos, and a seafood pasta, we made the short walk back to Bikini Hut to call it a night.

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Monday, July 4th:

My favorite part of each day is walking the beach at sunrise. It’s that much better when my 2 favorite sidekicks are with me.

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It was Independence Day back home, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with some good old fashioned picnic food and a day on the boat.

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We made our way to the lagoon where the tide was exceptionally low, making for some amazing sand bars and shallow pools.

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We did it up right with hot dogs, pasta salad, potato salad, cheese and crackers, chips and salsa and chilled oreo parfaits for dessert!

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NOTE TO SELF: Always be mindful of what your face is doing when your photo is being taken. Always.

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Then it was time for sun, fun, and a whole lot of relaxing.

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Even the dogs got into the action. I had a moment of panic when Rooby leapt off the boat like a flying squirrel, all splayed legs and bugging eyes when she spotted me about 100 feet from the boat.

The good news? We discovered Roobs can swim.

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After that, we put them on a float and paddled them around. If they want to be in the water, they shall be in the water!

We left when a massive number of boats showed up and decided to plow their way into our peaceful lagoon. We probably could have tolerated the company, but it was the superfluity of Gator flags that finally did us in.

We played them a little Rocky Top as we made our exit.

Everyone needed a shower and a little down time before the fireworks anyway.

We took in the sunset with a frozen Grabber and made our way to Nippers for the fireworks.

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There were “FIREWORKS IN YOUR FACE!” and a beach bonfire to finish off the holiday. We could see folks getting a little crazy as we made our way through the crowd to head back home. This was a low key trip for us, so there would be no sweaty midnight dancing for our group.

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I’m sorry. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, July 5th:

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Apparently, this guy did too much sweaty midnight dancing. Or at least too much sweaty midnight drinking, because something made him think it was a good idea to drive his golf cart onto the beach. Where it will probably live forever, much like that giant ball that made its way down the beach some years ago.

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Maybe it will be discovered hundreds of years in the future by a race of very smart apes.

That cart was STUCK.

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We noticed the Tervis tumbler in the cup holder bore the name of a very large yacht that was docked at Orchid Bay.

Rich doesn’t always mean smart.

After my walk, I scored a loaf of fresh baked bread at Guana Grocery and we had amazing egg sandwiches and fresh mango while we tried to figure out what to do with our day.

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We decided it was a perfect day for Lubbers Landing.

First, we made a snorkel stop at Fowl Cay.

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I couldn’t help but feel nervous when I looked at the choppy water remembering that only days before, a diver had been swept out by the current at Fowl Cay and had to be rescued by Dive Guana.

I nervously bit my nails as we slowly and carefully made our way to a mooring ball.

I was trying to decide if I should fake a cramp, when I looked over and saw the Dive Guana boat on the next mooring ball.

Whew.

The currents were fine and the snorkeling was glorious. I was glad I didn’t wimp out.

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Once we were sufficiently exhausted from swimming, we headed to Lubbers Landing for island burgers and saltwater margaritas….the single best lunch in all of Abaco!

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Lubbers Landing was SLAMMED with a huge group of at least 50 people, but that didn’t stop the amazing staff from supplying us with cold drinks, crispy hot cauliflower bites, and juicy ground tuna burgers with hand cut fries in mere minutes.

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As I was wiping the ketchup off my chin, I noticed a guy walking toward me with a really cool guitar.

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It was Jimmy Parrish http://jimmyparrishonline.com/ a trop rock singer/songwriter from Jacksonville, FL. Jimmy had contacted me months before and requested the use of one of my photos of Abaco for a special wrap he was having made for his guitar. He also let me know he’d be in Abaco over the 4th of July and we had agreed to meet up so that I could see the finished product.

If I say so myself, it was pretty spectacular!

I was surprised (and honored) when he handed me a sharpie and asked me to sign it….like I was the famous one.

Folks, let me tell you….if you want to suddenly silence a room filled with drunk vacationers….hand a girl with a southern accent wearing a pair of cutoffs, sunglasses, and a trucker hat a sharpie and ask her to sign your guitar.

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The entire room spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out who I was.

I spent the rest of the afternoon pretending I was famous and trying to score free drinks.

After lunch and a few too many saltwater margaritas, we headed over to Tahiti Beach for the sandbar party.

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When Fireball invites himself to the party, it’s time to go home!

We cleaned up a little and headed to the Abaco Inn for dinner.

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We might have lingered over one Conch Pearl too many, but we still managed to make it home just before the last of the sun was gone.

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Wednesday, July 6th:

Are you guys bored yet?

Seriously, some trips are for the party, some for the adventure, and once in a blue moon even I take a trip solely for the relaxation.

This had been a wonderfully low key week so far. As I walked the beach with my two favorite buddies, I felt stress free. We didn’t have any plans for the day and I was absolutely fine with that.

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My morning was spent searching for sea glass, chasing Bella into the edge of the waves and watching her run, and watching Rooby stalk this very large bird.

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I don’t think Rooby is aware of her own size limitations.

We did nothing more than laze around the house all morning. At least until we got hungry.

It was such a beautiful day, we decided to do lunch with a view at Grabbers. Now that I think about it, is there actually anywhere you can eat on Guana Cay that doesn’t have a view??? Grabbers was spectacular on this particular day.

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A wedge salad, a coconut crusted fish burger, and a few Grabbers later and it was time for a nap.

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Seriously, you’re getting bored, aren’t you?

I may as well be an old lady at an AARP convention telling you about my knitting and sciatica, but you’re still here, so we’ll carry on.

After naps, I packed up a wine and cheese picnic and we took the boat over to Shell Island for sunset.

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For dinner, Forest and Edmond at Kidd’s Cove whipped us up some lobster. It may not have been lobster season, but a frozen lobster is better than no lobster in my book!

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Thursday, July 7th:

It was my favorite kind of morning, where the sky is lit up in pink and blue and then erupts into gold as the sun makes its way into the day.

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We needed to run some errands, so today was going to be Marsh Harbour day.

I no longer get excited about shopping on Marsh Harbour, because I know I am going to come home with things like a $60 blender that should have been $19.99.

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Our goal was to come home with a washer and dryer that didn’t break the bank.

We managed to score a scratch and dent set, which suited me just fine considering the fact that within 11 months it would be rusted out from the salt air anyway.

We grabbed lunch at Curly Tails. Bahama Mamas and burgers hit the spot.

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It was a gorgeous afternoon and it seemed like a shame to just head back, so we made a short detour to a little uninhabited island I had seen a thousand times, but that we had never stopped at.

But first....dolphins!!!

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Today was the day to try a new spot.

It had the clear, shallow water that I have become accustomed to…but it also held a little surprise. A hidden tidepool!

The water was bath-warm and the views out to the ocean were magnificent.

Another reason I love Abaco: No matter how many times you go, there is always something new.

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Like any old couple, we fall into routines. For some old people, it's warm milk and a rousing game of canasta. On Abaco, it’s sunset at Grabbers. I can’t stand to miss a single, sizzling, blazing one.

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When the sunset had cooled and the water had turned to glass, we headed to Orchid Bay for wing night.

We assaulted our bodies with hot wings, gooey mac n’cheese, and loads of sugar. An all brown dinner with nary a vegetable present.

Don’t tell my mom.

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Friday, July 8th:

We always wake up happy on Abaco.

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It was a great weather day, so we decided to take the boat through Tilloo Pond and down to Pete’s Pub. As we neared Elbow Cay, we were thrilled to see the day’s regatta sailing past. We knew it was regatta week, but we hadn’t really been keeping up with the schedule.

We sat still for a while and watched the boats race.

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Then it was on to Tilloo Pond, where the water was insanely blue and so clear you could see every starfish and stingray that passed.

Before long, we were pulling up to Pete’s. Most people like the Blaster, but I prefer the Caribbean Breeze. Made with 151, it packs more of a punch than the Blaster.

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And when you are wearing a redneck fabulous shirt like this one, you need a punch.

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Before long, we made our way back to Guana with a quick pit stop for snorkeling at Sandy Cay and a beach stop.

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For some inexplicable reason, ever since I got my own beach house, with my own beach kitchen, I have found myself wanting to cook on vacation. I want to learn to bake Bahamian bread and do creative things with mangos and pineapples. I want to make coconut cream pies. Lots of pies.

I’m not sure where this sudden inspiration came from, because, while I love cooking at home, I don’t think cooking and vacation can coexist. Not only do I typically have an aversion to doing anything more than heating up a cup of water in the microwave on vacation, I also have a beach kitchen with an apartment sized fridge, a miniscule stove, and counter space the size of a postage stamp.

So why did I keep finding myself wanting to cook?

Maybe it was the pleasure of doing something I love in a place that was MINE.

Or maybe, it was just, well, PIE.

Whatever the reason, I found myself in a cooking frenzy.

We had dinner in that night, Bikini Hut style.

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Saturday, July 9th:

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Sunrise, sunrise, sunrise. Blah, blah, blah. I realize this is getting repetitive, but it seriously is awesome.

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I still hadn’t gotten the cooking out of my system, so we hung around the house doing some odds and ends and I decided to make lunch.

Yum!

I should try this cooking on vacation thing more often.

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I also have to highlight this AMAZING "Murphy Bar" my Dad made for me. Because Bikini Hut is so small, we just don't have room for a bar, but I needed some place to put everything. I showed my dad a photo I found online and next thing I knew...VIOLA! Amazing Murphy Bar.

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It had been several years since we had stopped at what used to be my very favorite spot in all of Abaco: the beaches at Bakers Bay.

Back when there wasn’t a house in sight, no mega yachts pulled up to shore, and no celebrities cavorting around on shore forcing the Bakers Bay security guards to attempt to chase off any and every beach goer no matter how illegal that is…..it was just a pristine and beautiful beach with the most amazing water imaginable.

I had a hankering to see it again. (I apologize to all you “yankee folk” that may not know what a hankering is, but that’s what Google is for)

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Despite the McMansions that are stacked as tightly as 19th century tenement housing, it was still beautiful.

Despite the mega yacht that was literally pulled up to shore, it was still one of the prettiest spots in Abaco.

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I grabbed my pineapple cup (just to increase the tacky factor), thumbed my nose at the Bakers Bay security guy, and hopped on my float to enjoy the beautiful water.

I think Rooby and Bella enjoyed it too.

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I couldn’t believe it was our last night. I hadn’t once scarfed down an entire bag of Doritos, cried over an empty Nippers cup, or danced badly to the Cha Cha Slide. I had actually behaved like a civilized adult and had ended the week rested, relaxed, and completely rejuvenated.

We enjoyed a final sunset, a final Grabber, and a final dinner at Orchid Bay before closing the door on another week in Abaco.

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It may be boring, but THIS IS MY HAPPY.

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Posted by vicki_h 15:29 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands caribbean tropical bahamas abacos abaco guana_cay Comments (9)

Abacoholic

Another rum fueled trip to Guana Cay

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Signs that you have a possible Abaco Addiction:

You drink your morning coffee at work out of a Nippers 16 oz tumbler.

You know the difference between a Nipper, a Grabber, a Blaster, and a Shotgun.

The smell of boat exhaust combined with the scent of sunscreen and dead seaweed makes you mildly aroused.

You own at least one really ugly bracelet/anklet/necklace made out of beads/shells/hemp that you bought after drinking one too many nippers/grabbers/blasters/shotguns/goombays which made you think it was really pretty at the time.

You believe that souvenirs are fleeting, but a good scar from a fall at Nippers will last a lifetime.

You know exactly how long it takes to go .7 miles in an electric golf cart with 3 cases of Kalik in the back.

You read the Abaconian online for fun.

You have showered with a lizard in the bathroom more than once. And you liked it.

Your screensaver and/or computer desktop are of North Guana, Gillam Bay, or Tahiti Beach.

You know all the bartenders on all the Cays on a first name basis.

When you are thinking of making a purchase, you automatically think of it in terms of how many days on Abaco that would be.” A new TV? That’s 2 days on Abaco! Let’s buy this one. It’s only worth 1 day.”

When someone asks you about your hobbies or interests, it always includes the word “Cay.”

You know how to operate a generator and you don’t own one.

You have alerts on your smartphone to remind you when the Cracker P’s Full Moon parties, the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party, and the Barefoot Man Concerts are. Even if you aren’t planning to be there.

Your house is on fire and you only have time to save one thing, so you grab your Dodge Guide and run.

You know all the words to Thong Gone Wrong.

When someone asks you for a key you automatically think of an island instead of a small metal thing that opens a door.

You keep your passport and a pair of flip flops on you at all times….just in case.

You have a playlist on your iPod called Treasure, Guana, Elbow, or Green Turtle.

Each time you cross something off your list of things to do on your next trip to Abaco, you replace it with at least 10 new things.

When someone asks you the question, “When are you going back to Abaco?” you always have an answer.

Hello. My name is Vicki and I am an Abacoholic.

We have returned to this tiny outpost in the Bahamas 9 times. Guana Cay is only about 6 miles long and less than ½ mile at its widest point, but there is something about this tiny speck in the sea that keeps calling us back.

With an endless chain of cays, some inhabited with quaint settlements and gorgeous beaches, and others home to nothing more than blinding stretches of sand and a few curly tailed lizards, it’s easy to return to the Abacos again and again and never feel like you have visited the same place twice.

==Day One:==

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We awoke at the inhuman hour of 2:30 a.m. in order to be in the air by 3:30 a.m. It was still dark out and seemed like a ridiculous time to depart, but when we landed in Marsh Harbor at 9:00 a.m. and realized we still had an ENTIRE DAY before us…it all became worth it. Travel day was over and we hadn’t even had breakfast yet.

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Not to mention that back home, it had been hotter than 400 hells for weeks. Used to temps in the 100s, we didn’t know what to do with temps in the 80s along with a delicious breeze.

Nice.

We easily made it to the ferry dock in time for the 10:30 ferry and even had time to grab a little breakfast at Curly Tails.

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A bahama mama and conch fritters can be considered breakfast, can’t it?

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In a place where a triple order of macaroni and cheese and a beer can be considered lunch, of course it can.

We were on Guana by 11:00.

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We were in Bella Vita by 11:15.

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We were at Dive Guana and on the boat by 11:30.

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Gotta’ love Guana.

The weather was stupid beautiful. Water as calm as glass. Only a few puffy white clouds in the sky. It seemed like the perfect day to visit the most beautiful beach in the world – the north end of Guana Cay.

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We were distracted along the way by giant starfish. Our friends had never seen a giant starfish party, so we stopped to introduce them. They thought the spot was so beautiful and the starfish so magnificent and the boat so fun that they really didn’t see how this trip could get any better.

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My goodness. They had no idea what they were in for.

We spent the next few hours showing them some of what they were in for.

The beach on north Guana is still as beautiful as ever. Baker’s Bay has not managed to ruin it. Yet.

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I was in such bliss, floating in the clear water, that I didn’t notice how quiet everyone else had gotten. I looked around. Where was everyone? We were just going to float around for a bit and then head back for an early dinner. Where did they all go? Did they leave without me? Oh my goodness…..WAS I MISSING THE MACARONI AND CHEESE???????

That’s when I saw the bodies on the beach.

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Do you know what happens when you wake 3 people up at 2:30 a.m., rush them around for about 12 hours, then deposit them in heaven and lay them in the warm sunshine?

I know it appears alcohol was involved, but what you see here my friends is nothing more than bliss and sunshine induced exhaustion. They all literally fell asleep on the beach.

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Like a good friend, I photographed them all while they weren’t looking, in their various stages of awkwardness. It’s the risk you take when you travel with the Vickirazzi.

Although, being photographed in unflattering positions is not the worst part of falling asleep on the beach. It was trying to all that sand out of places God never intended it to go.

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By the time we got back to the house and cleaned up, our friends were literally dead on their feet. Matt and I sent them off to bed and wandered over to Grabbers.

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It was a beautiful night. The sun was setting, colorful lanterns were bobbing around on the breeze, and there was live music. I got my first Grabber of the trip, kicked off my flip flops, and dug my toes deep into the sand.

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I thought things couldn’t get any better, but that’s when the waiter told us it was Rib Night. I don’t know if you have ever had Grabber’s ribs, but they are so good they make you want to swallow your tongue afterward just to get the last bit of taste off your tastebuds.

I promptly put in my order and was told I had a choice of sides. Oh my. He started the list and I stopped him as soon as the magic words came out of his mouth, “macaroni and cheese.” I have an obsession with Bahamian macaroni and cheese. I never eat the stuff at home. In the Bahamas, it’s an entirely different animal. It’s a giant wedge of baked cheese and noodle perfection that you can pick up with your hands and eat. I mean, if you wanted to. Not that I have.

“You get two sides,” he said.

And indeed I did.

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Two sides of macaroni, that is.

Not only is Grabber’s rib plate delicious, but it is HUGE. He brought us 2 plates that held enough to feed Pharoah’s army. We ate until we nearly burst. Our attempt to finish 2 rib plates with potato salad and double mac n’ cheese was an EPIC FAIL.

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Look away, folks. It’s not pretty.

==Day Two:==

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I woke up with a macaroni hangover. Have you ever eaten so much the night before that you wake up still full?

But it was Sunday and I had a buffet to work up to later, so we hopped in the boat and headed over to Shell Island.

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Shell Island, properly known as Spoil Bank Cay, is the product of some dredging that was done in the late 80’s to create a cruise ship channel. Today, it is the perfect uninhabited cay to look for countless seashells. Or swim in the shallow water. Or drink beer.

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It’s also incredibly beautiful.

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By noon, the macaroni monster was back and it was time to head to Nippers.

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I don't think there is any room for neutrality where Nippers is concerned. With Nippers, you either love it or you hate it.

I love it.

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I love the colorful surroundings.

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I love the view of the ocean.

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I love the frozen Nippers.

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I love watching the crazy people (and sometimes being the crazy people).

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But most of all…..I love the buffet. I can have all the macaroni and cheese I want.

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I had read that there was going to be a full moon while we were on Guana, but I didn’t expect to see it on Sunday afternoon at Nippers.

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You never know what you are going to see at Nippers on a Sunday.

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We had some good, clean fun, a few Nippers and a lot of sun. We all headed home for a much needed afternoon nap.

I woke up later with my mouth tasting like the bottom of a birdcage and I think I still had sand in my shorts, but I had survived another Sunday at Nippers and no one had a black eye. We’ll call that a success story.

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Dinner took us back to Grabbers. What can I say? When there are only 3 restaurants on the island, you do find yourself at the same places again and again. Grabbers just happens to be our favorite for dinner. We split a pizza, drank a lot of water, and called it a day.

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==Day Three:==

The boys had decided to try their hand at bonefishing on this trip, so I found myself being dragged out of bed at 5:30 a.m. so that we could be on the boat by 6:00 a.m. in order to make it to Green Turtle by 7:00 a.m.

Watching the sunrise from the boat was worth getting up so early for. The water was calm and peaceful, turned golden from the sun as it climbed higher into the sky.

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We pulled into New Plymouth right at 7:00 and sent the guys off with Rick Sawyer while we walked around town a bit.

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I think New Plymouth is my favorite settlement. It just has so many colorful cottages and boats. There are picket fences with flowers peeking through and quaint porches littered with seashells.

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We also stumbled upon the New Plymouth Feral Cat Morning Association. These guys gave me a look that said, “Move one step closer with that camera lady and we will eat your head.”

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We grabbed us a cart from Kool Karts, who has always been incredibly accommodating whenever we have shown up without a reservation and said, “You got a cart for the day????”

We decided to take in all the sights by driving all the way to the Green Turtle Club for some breakfast. It’s a good way to take in all of the sights.

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At the Green Turtle Club, I saw a breakfast item that intrigued me. Always one to try something different, I went with the “Traditional Bahamian Breakfast: Tuna and Grits.”

Tuna and grits? I like tuna. I like grits. I like shrimp and grits and tuna and grits wasn’t that different. I mean, it was some crap out of the ocean served with some grits. This had potential. Besides, it was a TRADITIONAL BAHAMIAN BREAKFAST. That was cool, right?

I learned that there is a reason we don’t eat tuna with grits at home.

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Tuna and grits is not a breakfast food just because they say so. Just because the cat had kittens in the oven doesn’t make them muffins.

After breakfast we made our way over to Gillam Bay. It was obvious that Gillam Bay Beach had taken a beating.

The beach has definitely sustained some damage since I saw it last, but it was still beautiful.

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We lounged in the glorious sunshine, walked waaaaaaaaay out into the bay looking for shells, and splashed in the clear, cool water.

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We were having such a great time, we almost didn’t notice it was time to go get the guys.

When we got back to the New Plymouth dock, expecting the guys to be waiting because we were already late, we saw them out in the bay….still fishing.

That’s never a good sign. When you’ve had a successful fishing trip, you’re back at the dock on time. When you haven’t….you’re out there in the bay in town trying for that one sad, last ditch attempt to catch something.

When they finally came into the dock, they rambled off something about the moon and weather and blah…...blah..blah….…fish feeding at night….blah…blah…blah….a shark ate the one bonefish we hooked…blah…blah…blah. That’s about all I caught, because I’d sooner have a conversation about the Norwegian krone crisis of 1992 than I would about fishing.

In short, they had a really fun time, hooked one huge bonefish that a bull shark fought them for as they tried to get it into the boat, but they didn’t catch much because the conditions just weren’t right and the fish weren’t biting that day.

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We decided to try something new, since we were on our way from Green Turtle back to Guana. We made a slight detour and headed to Treasure Cay.

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Because the conditions were optimal that day, this was a piece of cake.

Treasure Cay was OFF THE CHARTS GORGEOUS. It was so beautiful, it hurt my eyes to look at it.

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We anchored and headed in.

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We were just in time for lunch at Coco Beach bar, where one can find the most fun and delicious frozen drinks EVER.

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After some grouper and fries and a mango daiquiri, it was time to walk to the point.

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This is a beautiful beach walk. The water is clear and shallow, sandbars pop up just off the beach, and little treasures like tiny sand dollars are sprinkled about in the sand, just waiting for you to find them.

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We soaked it in until we knew it was time to head back to Guana. The boat ride from TC to Guana was equally simple. Not much to it in a small boat.

We spent the late afternoon on “our beach” at Bella Vita before deciding it was time to hit Grabbers for the sunset. This required cleaning up a bit first, because when I come in from a day on the boat and in the ocean, I look like I have been beaten with a wet squirrel.

We got ourselves together and made it over to Grabbers in time for the sunset. What we didn’t expect, was that they Regatta Party was going on that night. I have never seen so many people at Grabbers. It was a lively night and fun to sit back and watch.

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We had a couple of Grabbers and enjoyed the fun, but decided to head over to Nippers for dinner because Grabbers was so crowded. The poor overburdened wait staff had been reduced to two speeds: slow and stop.

Dinner seemed best found elsewhere on that particular night.

We opted to eat indoors and enjoy a little quiet and a little air conditioning. I loaded up on some more fried stuff and mac n’ cheese and rolled myself right on to bed.

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==Day Four:==

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With no real plans for the day, we decided to boat over to Hopetown. Our friends wanted to try to find some things for their kids and that seemed as good a place as any to do it.

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Hopetown is always fun. We sent the guys to see Gary at the Reef Bar while we shopped a while.

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It was getting close to lunchtime. We have never made it over to Cracker P’s and I decided today was the day. We boated over to Lubbers Landing and pulled up to the colorful Cracker P’s dock.

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Heck, just reading the signs on the dock were entertainment enough for me.

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I also liked the polite way they made sure you knew not to bring in your own beer.

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I started off with a shotgun and the smoked fish dip. Oh….that dip was good.

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Then it was time for a beach burger and some more macaroni and cheese.

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I was beginning to worry about what all those bricks of mac n’ cheese were doing to the inside……so I thought it best to throw a little coconut pie on top.

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The food was delicious and the atmosphere was fantastic. Breezy and relaxed with dogs at the bar. This was my kind of place.

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Since we were so close, we decided to end the day by joining the afternoon boat party at Tahiti Beach.

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We made one final stop on the way back at Fowl Cay for a snorkel before heading back to Guana. We saw the usual assortment of colorful fish and one good sized black tip shark. Every time I see a shark, I get so excited that I forget I even have a camera. Besides, I figure not drawing attention to myself by waving my camera around is a good call in those moments.

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We cruised in late and headed over to Grabbers for the final meal. We had some frozen Grabbers and cracked conch before calling it a night.

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==Day Five:==

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We headed to the 8:00 ferry, sorry to go, but still basking in the glow of a wonderful vacation. We'd had a great trip. No one got a black eye, no permanent scars, and no one fell off a golf cart. We'd had four great days with wonderful friends and beautiful weather in the best place on earth. I wandered through the settlement to get one last look.

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As we waited for the ferry, I realized that each trip to Abaco just seems to get better. These islands, the people, the amazing beaches and beautiful water…. it’s hard to capture in words or photos just how wonderful this place is.

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Hmm.....maybe I should quit telling everyone.

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Posted by vicki_h 14:41 Archived in Bahamas Tagged bahamas abacos hopetown green_turtle abaco guana elbow_cay Comments (5)

It's Better in the Bahamas.

Trip #7 and Abaco never gets old.

Photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157626806280861/

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I could see the apprehension in my mother-in-law’s eyes as we flew toward the tiny Marsh Harbor runway, a miniscule airstrip bordered on two sides by water, not looking large enough or substantial enough to land a child’s remote control helicopter on, much less our twin Seneca. It didn’t help matters when she saw the mangled corpse of the wrecked plane in the water, just short of the airport, that always greets us when we arrive on Abaco.

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Despite her fears, it was a smooth landing and in minutes, we were opening the plane doors to the rush of steamy, hot air that rushes off the tarmac.

Hello, Abaco.

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It’s no secret that the cays along Abaco, in the out islands of the Bahamas, are one of my very favorite destinations. It’s not just because they lie nestled in the most strikingly beautiful water the eyes can imagine, nor is it only because they contain miles and miles of sugary sand beaches lined with whispering palm trees, the real thing that brings me back again and again is the sweet, gentle personality of these islands and their people.

Life moves slower on the cays. Cars are an oddity, with the preferred method of transport being a golf cart or a boat. Meals are almost always outdoors, with the salt tinged air blowing a constant breeze through your sea tangled hair. There are no casinos, no high rises, no shopping malls, no putt-putt golf or go carts. There is only you and the sun, the sand, and the sea, mixing and mingling together in a beautiful rhythm that can only be found in the out islands of the Bahamas.

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This time, we were getting to share our secret place with my husband’s mom, Jo, and our niece, Jenna. We wondered if they would love it as much as we do.

Our arrival was smooth and easy, and after landing we breezed through customs at Cherokee and were on our way to the ferry dock in no time. We arrived at the ferry dock with about an hour to spare before the 1:30 ferry to Guana Cay. This made us very happy, because a trip to Abaco doesn’t begin until we have a cold, frosty Bahama Mama at Curly Tails, located at the ferry dock.

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With bellies full of fish sandwiches and conch fritters, it was time to head over to Guana. After a 20 or so minute boat ride, we were pulling up to Guana’s happy little harbor-front settlement. Troy and Maria, our favorite Guana residents, were waiting for us on the dock with our golf cart and an extra cart to help us carry our luggage to our house. If you ever travel to Guana Cay, find Troy and Maria at www.diveguana.com. They are the “go to” people for everything: golf carts, boats, scuba and snorkeling trips, and Maria makes a pretty mean cheesecake if you ask her nicely!

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We settled quickly into our home away from home, Sea Coral Cottage, and were thrilled with our new digs. Right on the ocean, with a deck that overlooks the blue waters of the Atlantic, this little cottage was bright and airy, clean, well equipped, and oh so comfy. We were in heaven. Have you ever seen a more perfect back yard than this?

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What about this view from the bedroom?

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It was only about 2:00 p.m. and no one could wait to get their toes in the sand, so the first order of business was a long, slow walk down the beach. You can walk for miles and miles on this stretch of beach.

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Our beach fix in, Jenna and I golf carted down to Guana Grocery, Guana’s only food market that, while small, has absolutely everything you need. We picked up a few essentials, hopped over to Fig Tree Liquors for some cold Kalik for Matt, and headed to the house to relax until dinner.

When everyone had rested up, we headed to Grabber’s. Grabbers is a little open air restaurant situated around a swimming pool. It sits right on the sea of Abaco. Lined with palm trees, it is the perfect location to watch the sunset on Guana. We ordered frozen Grabbers and watched the sun sink into the sea.

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Grabbers has great BBQ ribs and I helped myself to a big plate. Matt gave me ½ of his lobster tail and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Bahamian mac-n-cheese (one of the single most perfect foods on the planet), ribs, and lobster all on the same plate.

Life doesn’t get much better than this.

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Day One: A Nippers Kind of Day

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Sunday on Guana Cay always means Nippers. Nippers was just a short walk down the beach from Sea Coral Cottage and sat bright and cheerful, high on a hill overlooking the ocean, painted in bright rainbow colors and blasting happy beach music. We found a table, grabbed a frozen Nipper, and sat back to watch the fun.

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People show up from all around on Sunday for the famous Nippers Beach BBQ. We saw throngs of people (and thongs on people) walking down the long sandy lane from the ferry dock. We saw people walking down the beach from their beach houses. We saw boats arrive, filled with laughing faces. Everyone was here.

Sunday is Funday at Nippers.

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We just took it easy. We had lunch, enjoyed the pool, drank a few frozen concoctions, and watched the colorful characters that seem to gravitate to this place.

We always meet someone interesting at Nippers. Last year, it was Fast Eddie, #3, and Fat Calves. This year it was the boat captain with the Crocodile Dundee hat and the electric blue speedo.

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Compared to some of the Sundays I have spent at Nippers, this was a calm and uneventful one. We were responsible for a 16 year-old, after all, so we kept a lid on it. No one got in a fight. No one passed out. No one ended up dancing on a table. We enjoyed just sitting back and watching everyone else cut loose.

When we’d had all the sun we could take, we went back to Sea Coral for a break until dinner.

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At dinnertime, I was reminded why you should always give a 16 year-old girl AT LEAST 90 minutes notice of any event that involves leaving the house and being seen in public, despite the fact that “public” probably meant about 4 patrons, in varying stages of inebriation, at Nippers late night dinner.

An hour and 10 minutes after announcing it was time to grab some dinner, Jenna emerged, primped and perfect.

There were literally about 6 other people eating dinner at Nippers that night. But I am certain that they appreciated the extra time she took to get ready for her public.

We ate at Nippers indoor restaurant. I had the fried Mahi-Mahi with mac-n-cheese and peas and rice. I was in grave danger of overloading on mac-n-cheese, but I couldn’t stop myself. It’s like an obsession. Much like my driving need to have pizza with every meal in Italy, I had a maddening urge to have mac-n-cheese with every meal in Abaco.

You have to understand, this is no ordinary mac-n-cheese. It’s super-special, top-secret Bahamian mac-n-cheese. Okay, maybe it’s not all that top-secret, but it is super special. It’s baked and is so thick with cheese and peppers that you can pick the square up with your hands and eat it. Delicious.

Sun weary and full of fried food, noodles, and cheese, we crashed.

Day Two: Hoping for Hopetown

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We rented a boat from Troy so that we could show Jo and Jenna our favorite places. Our standard “boat day” for newbies always involves a trip to the beach on north Guana and a visit to Hopetown for lunch.

The sea was a little choppy, but we made our way carefully over to the north tip of Guana. We saw the obscenity that is Baker’s Bay Golf Resort– what I consider to be a blight to the pristine beauty of this gentle island. Despite their claim to the most beautiful beaches on Guana, despite their gates and locks to keep anyone from arriving by land, despite their attempt to litter this gorgeous stretch of sand with as many houses as they can sell, all to put money in someone’s greedy pocket, this is still one of the most beautiful spots on earth and I still love it.

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If you can arrive by boat, they can’t stop you from going to the beach, as all beaches are public. Thankfully, in this economy, the development has been slow, so the beach has not yet been lined with homes.

It remains, to date, a tranquil oasis. The beach stretches to a point, long and blindingly white. The water is electric turquoise, as clear and cool as a swimming pool. I hope it stays that way for a long time.

We anchored the boat, popped in some tunes, and floated the morning away.

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I learned another lesson about 16 year old girls. They won’t get in the water, because they don’t want to mess their hair up.

So, as Jenna sunned on the boat and Jo relaxed in the shade, Matt and I swam in the beautiful water and lay in the warm sand. It was pure joy.

For me, there always comes the beach moment when I am pulled between my desire to do nothing more than rock on the waves and soak in the sun for the rest of the day and my desire to head to some great outdoor restaurant for a post-beach lunch. For me, the food eventually wins.

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Besides, we wanted to show them the beautiful settlement of Hopetown, with its colorful cottages, bougainvillea lined streets, and the tall candy cane striped lighthouse. We pointed the boat in the direction of Elbow Cay.

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Before we knew it, Hopetown was welcoming us like an old friend.

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We tied off at the public dock and headed toward Hopetown Harbor Lodge and their fantastic Reef Bar and Grill. This is one of our favorite stops in Hopetown, partially for the views, partially for the great drinks and food, but primarily because we love to see the smiling face of Gary, the ever present bartender.

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We were shocked and dismayed to find out that Gary actually DOES take days off….and this was one of them. I wasn’t sure how I could endure a trip to Abaco without seeing Gary at least once, but a cold rum punch was definitely helping me endure the pain.

The views from this place are just beautiful. We sat and enjoyed the swaying palms, sipping cold rum punch, as we waited for our food.

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And there it was. Chicken in a bag.

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I made it sound so good, everyone got it.

Jenna looked at the white paper bag in front of her.

“What is it?”

“Duh. Chicken in a bag,” I said. “Just what you ordered.”

“It’s in a paper bag,” she said.

“Um…yeah. Just what you ordered,” I restated.

She tentatively opened the bag…..hesitantly….expectantly….I’m not sure if she expected a live chicken to jump out at her or what….but she made it so dramatic the next table even stopped their meal to watch.

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Ta-Da!

There it was. A fat, tender fried chicken breast, all crispy and juicy, laying on top of a mess of french fries…and the whole lot of it covered with ketchup and hot sauce.

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She smiled.

Folks, we had a winner. Even the 16 year old was happy.

I’m not sure what we enjoyed more, the food, the drinks, or the incredible setting, but eventually we had to pry ourselves up for fear of just lapsing into a sleepy chicken-in-a-bag coma right there at the table.

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We wandered through the quaint streets of Hopetown, went high at the Jib, wandered in and out of a few shops, and found ourselves at Vernon’s Grocery. We looked at the key lime pies, but we didn’t buy. I’m not sure how we resisted…the smell was intoxicating.

We walked out past the beautiful Methodist church and the view of the ocean was more than Jenna and I could bear. We stripped off right there and plunged into the cool water.

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After a short swim, we dried off and made our way back to the boat.

Bye-bye, Hopetown! See you next time!

We got back to Guana with plenty of time to read or nap or just watch the waves crash behind the house before dinner. That was a good thing, because the kid needed at least an hour and a half to get ready.

Not wanting to miss the sunset, but not yet hungry, we headed over to Grabbers to watch the sun go down with a frozen Grabber in hand.

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I introduced Jenna to the ring and hook came and it became a quick obsession. I am happy to report that on my 7th trip to Guana Cay, I FINALLY figured out how to do it. Yay for me!

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With only a handful of restaurants (well….not really even a handful…unless it’s the hand of a guy that lost a finger or two in a shop accident….), there are only a few dining choices on Guana. We don’t mind this, because we love them all. However, there was one we had never tried….. Pirates Cove Tiki Bar on the corner as you turn up the sandy lane to Nippers.

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We’d had drinks there before, but we never realized they served dinner too. We decided to give it shot.

Oh boy, am I glad we did.

They only had 4 offerings: Fish, Shrimp, Steak, or Ribs and each came with cole slaw, peas n rice, and …oh yeah….mac-n-cheese. The atmosphere was fun and relaxed. They had a movie playing outside on the big screen across the yard. People laughed at the bar. The smells of bbq from the grill were making my mouth water.

The food was FANTASTIC. I think it might have been my favorite meal of the trip.

We went back to Sea Coral and spent the night watching movies, playing cards, and eating Oreos and wondering if life gets any better than this.

Day Three: Green Turtle Here We Come

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This was Matt’s birthday, so I had tried to plan something special that I thought he would enjoy. You know what they say about the best laid plans.

Instead of a perfect planned day, this would be a day of island-time mishaps, Caribbean miscommunication, and a lesson in making lemonade out of lemons.

I’ll start by telling you what was supposed to happen.

I had contacted the famed Lincoln Jones of Green Turtle Cay about 3 weeks prior. I told him that we wanted to do his boat trip and gave him the number in our party, the date, and our names. We were given a description of his boat and told to meet him at the public dock on Green Turtle between 9:30 and 10:00 am.

I was so excited. For many years, Lincoln has been taking people out on his legendary boat trips. Most people say its their best vacation day. Lincoln picks you up at the Green Turtle Dock and boats you out to Munjack Cay. On the way there, he fishes and lets anyone in the group that wants to fish join him. He’ll include a snorkel stop if you like. Once you get to Munjack, a very small uninhabited cay off of Green Turtle, he takes you to the beach and sets you up with rum punch while he cleans the fish that have been caught and fries them up with potatoes for a fantastic beachside picnic. Because he has been tossing his “fish parts” in the shallow bay for years, people say the sting rays and small sharks nearby know the sound of his boat motor and show up to feed on his cast offs. The brave ones in the group can wade out in the shallow water to mingle with the docile rays and sharks.

This was going to be a lot of fun.

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Now let me tell you what actually happened.

We got up early, jumped in the boat, and headed north to Green Turtle. This was not a short trip or an easy trip from Guana. The sea side is very calm and makes for easy boating, but the recommended passage included about 15 minutes on the ocean side of the cays. As we crept along the ocean side, it was anything but calm or easy. The swells were as tall as the little boat and we went up and down, up and down, up and down. Anyone prone to sea sickness was a goner. Add to that the fact that on every down, a wall of salt water washed over the bow of the boat and drenched us all. It was misery.

As we mounted wave after wave, chilly and wet, and fought to keep our breakfast down, I was standing up, hanging onto a vertical pole to keep from sliding off the seat, Jenna was mummified inside several towels, and Jo was huddled into a heap on the front seat, soaked to the bone, eyes closed tightly, and…I’m pretty sure….praying.

Eventually we crossed back over to the calm side and made our way into the harbor. We were sort of shaken at this point and no one was really paying attention to the boating guide or the channel markers…which would have been difficult anyway given that we couldn’t really see because our sunglasses were covered in sea spray. Next thing I know, Matt is swearing under his breath and it feels remarkably like we are sitting on the sand. We are. We managed to ground the very front of the boat on a sandbar barely submerged beneath the water.

Cursing and grumbling, Matt climbs into the water and uses the rope to pull us back into the deeper water. No one really noticed but me, though, because Jo was still hunched over praying that God not let her die today…at least not on the boat, and Jenna was buried under 7 inches of purple terrycloth.

Freed, we made our way to the ferry dock.

I was instantly smitten with the adorable settlement of New Plymouth. How cute was this?

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We tied the boat off and waited, certain that Lincoln would arrive any minute. It was right at 9:45 a.m.

So…we waited. And we waited.

We waited.

And we waited some more.

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Maybe we were in the wrong place? I went and asked some guys at the end of the dock where Lincoln Jones picked up passengers. They told me I was in the right place.

So we waited. And waited.

Finally, one of the guys jumped on his cart and said he’d run see if he could find Lincoln.

Seriously, where else are strangers this nice?

A few minutes later he came back and said he didn’t find Lincoln but he found his son. He said he’d be there in a few minutes.

So we waited. And waited.

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Finally, someone came down the dock and asked if we were waiting for Lincoln. I told him “yes” and he said that he was Lincoln’s son and that Lincoln had already left to take a group to Munjack.

Wha???

We were seriously bummed. I could not believe we had come all the way from Guana and he just left without us. I know folks say good things about Lincoln, but my experience was that he’s fairly unreliable. My advice is, unless you are staying on Green Turtle, don’t book a trip. Chances are, you’ll come a long way for nothing.

Still shaky legged and slightly waterlogged, none of us could bear the thought of getting back in our boat and making that soggy, rocking and rolling trip back to Guana just yet.

Not one to let this ruin our day, I quickly came up with Plan B. We were on Green Turtle, let’s spend the day on Green Turtle.

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I spied a happy little pink building at the end of the dock with a sign that read, “Kool Karts.” I went inside and asked for a golf cart for the day. Five minutes and $35 dollars later, we were breezing through New Plymouth in our very own kool kart.

Plan B was a go.

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We took some time to see the settlement, driving up and down the narrow streets lined with flamboyant trees and plumeria creeping over white picket fences. Bordered by the Sea of Abaco in bright blues and greens, New Plymouth was a picture perfect delight.

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Since we’d never seen Green Turtle, we decided to just do a long drive. We passed the settlement and headed toward Gillam Bay, passing what might be the most beautiful flamboyant tree I have ever seen on the way.

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I loved the fact that Green Turtle had lots of signs, making it easy to find everything, but this sign made me laugh – particularly because the only other direction you could go dropped right off into the ocean. Maybe that sign is for those folks that have had one too many of Miss Emily’s Goombay Smashes!

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We pulled out to Gillam Bay and oooh’ed and aaaah’ed. It was gorgeous.

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Back on the road we buzzed along until we saw a sign for Ocean Beach. We ooooh’ed and aaaah’ed again.

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Then it was back on the road to find the Green Turtle Club because the seasickness had worn off and we were RAVENOUS.

The Green Turtle Club had a fantastic waterfront restaurant and a very cool indoor bar lined with money. Who doesn't like things that are lined with money?

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A cold drink and a lobster salad sandwich later, and I had almost forgotten that this wasn’t our original plan, we were having such a good time.

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We decided to head back to Gillam Bay and spend some beach time before heading back to Guana. Gillam Bay was gorgeous in the afternoon sunlight. The water was so shallow that it seemed you could walk all the way to the small island that sits off shore.

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When we’d had enough, we decided it was time to head back.

Apparently, Joe the horse had a different idea.

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This old horse planted himself in front of the cart and really didn’t want to move.

We pleaded. We begged. We cajoled.

Nothing.

He was very stubborn.

He did, however, like crackers, and a few persuaded him to let us on by.

We did have to make one last stop, however. We couldn’t leave Green Turtle without a visit to Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, birthplace of the Goombay Smash.

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I went inside and Jenna followed me. “Can I have one, please? Please? Can I have one?” she begged.

I gave her my best “Do I have Boo Boo the Fool written on my forehead?” look.

“PUH-LEASE?” she asked again.

Miss Violet looked at me and asked, “How old is she?”

“Sixteen going on 30,” I said.

“Oh, come now, she can have a Goombay Smash…” Miss Violet said with a big warm smile.

“Not on my watch,” I said. “Make her one that is all Goombay and no Smash.”

One Goombay Smash and one virgin Goombay Smash later, we were back on the boat, white knuckled, with our game faces on, ready for the romping ride back to Guana.

About halfway back, I looked at Matt and said, “I feel like I’m riding a mechanical bull in a fish tank,” I said wearily as Jo sat in her resumed desperate prayer huddle and Jenna had again disappeared under her pile of towels.

Somehow, by sheer stupidity, luck, and the grace of God, we made it back, wet and worn, but in one piece.

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We spent a little time on Nippers Beach and in their pool before calling it a day.

Matt chose pizza for his birthday meal and we had a quiet night, ending it sweetly with Maria’s chocolate coconut birthday cheesecake.

It hadn’t been the day I had planned, but it had been a very good day.

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Day Four: Home Again, Home Again.

It was a short trip and it was time to go home. As we flew over the jeweled ocean, I realized what a joy and a comfort I have in this place, this small group of islands in the Bahamas. They feel like a second home to me and I can never wait until I can see them again.

Until next time, Abaco. Until next time.

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Posted by vicki_h 15:47 Archived in Bahamas Tagged bahamas abacos hopetown green_turtle abaco guana elbow_cay Comments (5)

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