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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)

CAKE BY THE OCEAN: A 50th Birthday Bash in Paradise

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I have found out there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them” – Mark Twain

It was a cold, gray day in December 2014. Matt and I were drowning our Seasonal Affective Disorder in a pitcher of top shelf margaritas at our favorite Mexican dive. Somehow, the conversation turned to Matt’s 50th birthday. I mean, if you’re already depressed, you may as well dredge up every miserable topic you can think of, right?

Despite the fact that it was still a year and a half away, it was already weighing heavily on his mind.

“Why don’t we plan something fun for your birthday, like when we took all my friends to the Bahamas for my 40th? You should look forward to your birthday, not dread it,” I said, through a mouthful of tortilla chips.

We started visualizing what such a trip could look like….where we would go…..who we would invite….and the more tequila we drank, the more amazing the idea seemed.

Why should he sit at home and bury his head in misery? Instead, we thought about going big and planning the trip of a lifetime.

By the bottom of the pitcher, we had solved all of the world’s problems, had figured out a cure for cancer, and had planned a birthday trip for Matt’s 50th. We had decided to rent a villa on Jost Van Dyke and invite our friends.

With 4 bedrooms, we could invite 3 other couples, but who? How to decide? We loved all of our friends and there were 12 of them.

“Let’s just invite them all and see who can come,” Matt said through the tequila haze.

It was a perfect plan.

What better way to turn 50 than do it with all of your favorite people in paradise?

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We invited 12 people.

12 people said “yes.”

This was an unanticipated turn of events.

Of course they all said yes. They have heard us rave about Jost Van Dyke for years.

Jost Van Dyke is simply one of the best places on earth. Not only does it have one of the most famous beach bars in the Caribbean, the Soggy Dollar Bar, a veritable rite of passage for any beach bum, it has TWO of the most famous beach bars in the Caribbean with Foxy’s just a stumble away. Jost Van Dyke is an island of pure magic; a bubble of happiness and perfection, an oasis of sunshine and rainbows fueled by painkillers and rum punch. It is Caribbean utopia.

So that was it, then. We were going. All 14 of us.

We were going to need a bigger house.

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Forget all those trust-building exercises where you have to assemble a puzzle together, or fall into one another’s arms with your eyes closed. I cannot imagine a more arduous test of any personal relationships than travelling together to a remote island as a group of 14.

Don’t get me wrong, I have vacationed with all of these people and loved it.

SEPARATELY.

I just wasn’t sure how the dynamics of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE OF PEOPLE I KNOW being in one place at one time would work.

Some of our friends had never even met each other.

Still unsure whether this was lunacy or genius, we booked another house.

God help us.

God help Jost Van Dyke.

It was officially on.

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SATURDAY: JOST VAN DYKE RULES.

Never mind that the mean age for this group was just over 50, the “House Rules” for this trip read something like a frat party:

• Wake up smiling every day.
• Remember that drinking rum before 10:00 a.m. makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic.
• Calories do not count on vacation. Anyone who attempts to exercise will be tied up and left as shark food.
• No talking about politics or the election. The first person to bring up Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton gets voted off the island.
• Stay hydrated.
• The least drunk people each day are in charge of looking out for the drunkest people each day.
• You can’t be the drunkest person each day. In the interest of fairness, please take turns. Except Matt. He can be the drunkest person every day.
• This is your vacation. If you need some “me time,” take it. Of course the rest of us will talk about you while you’re gone. We’re not Puritans.
• No passing out in the common rooms of the houses. No one wants to wake up and tiptoe around your drooling, lifeless body.
• If you don’t want to see it on Facebook, don’t do it.
• Yes to drinking games, spontaneous dance-offs, group singing, laughter, snacks, and naps.
• No to arguing, fighting, whining, crying, working, dieting, exercising, or excessive sobriety.
• Relax.
• Have fun.

A list of rules may seem unnecessary for a group of mature adults. This was not, however, a group of MATURE adults.

This was exemplified before our flight even took off as one male member of our party showed up on to the American Airlines gate dressed like a pregnant woman while screaming that Matt was the baby daddy.

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Yep. This was going to be a week to remember.

Despite the fact that we had all gotten up at 3:00 a.m. to make our early flights, the mood on the plane was downright joyful.

WE WERE GOING TO JOST VAN DYKE!

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We landed on St. Thomas at 11:30 and I sent everyone over to grab their free thimble full of rum while I sent Matt out to find a taxi large enough for 14 people.

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He found one all right!

With luggage and bodies crammed into every nook and cranny, we set off for Red Hook.

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4 carsick passengers, 7 impatient horn blows, and 23 hairpin turns later, we were dropped off at Duffy’s Love Shack where we hoped to grab a quick bite before catching the 2:30 ferry.

It was going on 1:00, so this seemed possible.

Yes, I wasn't really thinking about "island time."

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Despite the fact that there was exactly ONE very slow bartender and ONE even slower waitress, we somehow managed to eat, drink, and get merry in time to catch the ferry.

By the time we arrived on Jost Van Dyke and cleared customs, it was 3:30.

We had been up for 12 hours. We were hot. We were dirty. We were exhausted.

I had rented Escape Villa and Pink House Bougainvillea because I had a large group of people, a very special occasion, and I needed top notch service.

Despite the fact that I paid a hefty sum to rent these 2 houses for a week, I did not get top notch service.

The materials sent to me by the managers for the houses clearly stated that the caretakers would gladly help me provision the houses, accepting delivery of groceries and putting them away. This was one of the reasons I rented these properties.

From the Pink House information packet: Call our General Managers (Franky and Lydia) so they know what your order's delivery schedule is estimated to be. Please confirm with them a pick-up from the dock at Great Harbor and delivery to the villas.

From the Escape Villa information packet: The property managers will arrange to have your groceries picked up at the ferry dock and delivered to Escape Villa and waiting for you upon arrival. You will just have to email the Property Managers with the information and confirm it with them.

However, my repeated emails (which started 4 weeks before our trip), went ignored. When I finally pressed for assistance after 10 days of emailing, the response I received was rather curt:

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Two sentences that told me to do it myself. And no explanation about why or alternatives offered.

I envisioned 14 travel weary adults, ready for nothing more than a hot shower and a good meal, arriving to 50 boxes of groceries that needed to be loaded, transported, unloaded, and unpacked.

I appealed to the managers of the houses, sending this mournful plea (I am not too proud to grovel and would have done just about anything at this point): “It will be somewhat difficult to arrive with 14 people and luggage to also pick up boxes of groceries from the dock and transport them to the house on a taxi. If there is any way that this service can be provided, I would appreciate it, otherwise, I suppose we will simply try to do it on our own as best we can.”

I offered to pay extra for the provisioning assistance.

I received one response that said, “Please coordinate this with Lydia.” I received no other response.

Wow.

Not what you expect for $12,000.

So that is how we arrived: a sweaty, bedraggled group of 14 after 12 hours of travel that were forced to split up so that the women could get all of the luggage to the house alone and start getting it unpacked while the men sat in the sun at the ferry dock and to wait an additional 45 minutes for the ferry with our groceries to arrive, load the groceries onto a taxi, unload them at the house, and then all of us spend 30 minutes putting them away.

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At the moment when I was dragging our two fifty pound suitcases up the very steep driveway to the house by myself, I would have paid any amount of money for help. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even offered the opportunity.

To add insult to injury, the caretaker wasn’t even at the house when we arrived. When she finally showed up about 45 minutes later, she spent a scant 5 minutes showing us the house and left. We never heard from her or saw her again during our trip.

Even after I communicated my displeasure with the owner of the houses after our trip – not one word of apology. His response was “We have established relationships with vendors who provide our guest top service. In this case, while you’ve personally had a good experience with Bobby’s, we’ve had dozens that have not and therefore we do not use them anymore. We advised you this was the case and simply stated that you would need to coordinate with them on your own if you didn’t want to use our preferred vendor.”

Seriously???? It’s important to note that NO ONE advised me at any time prior to my arrival (not during the 4 weeks of emails that I continued to send in hopes of some assistance) that they would not help if we used Bobby’s rather than their grocery store of choice. The only communication I received in those 4 weeks were the two sentences that told me to do it myself with no explanation about why.

And frankly, I don’t think it should be their choice to force a guest to use a more expensive grocery store when that guest has a well-established history of good service with another vendor. Just. Incredible.

So….instead of arriving to this:

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We arrived to this:

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Escape Villa and Pink House?

As a well-travelled individual who has rented many homes on many island in all price ranges……My advice is…

DON’T DO IT.

Stay at White Bay Villas and put the other $10,000 in your pocket. Not only will you be treated well, you’ll have a lot of money left over for painkillers (or for sending your kids to college).

Hours later, we finally had everything put away and everyone got a much needed shower (and a much needed drink!).

The party had gotten derailed. Instead of arriving to paradise, my group had arrived to a carboard box filled hell complete with sweat, tears, and Ritz Crackers that needed to be put away.

As the official Funmeister of Matt’s 50th Birthday, I had to get things back on track. I knew there was only one thing that could make everything right with the world again: SHOTS.

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Okay, make that two things:

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FOXY’S – BECAUSE EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER WHEN YOU HAVE DUSTY UNDERWEAR HANGING ABOVE YOUR HEAD.

I knew I had been successful when the waitress at Foxy’s came out for the third time to tell us that the pole was necessary to hold the building up and was not, despite our best efforts, put there for dancing.

The party was ON.

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SUNDAY: PARADISE DOES HAVE A NAME. IT’S GERTRUDE.

The forecast had called for mostly cloudy with an 80% chance of rain and storms for every day of our trip. I know better than to pay attention to a Caribbean forecast, but, like the rest of you, I can’t help myself.

We all know we do it.

It’s like looking behind the shower curtain when you walk into the bathroom even though you know there isn’t anyone in there. It’s pointless, but you are helpless to stop yourself.

When I woke up that first morning, I thought about that forecast.

After the arrival fiasco the day before, I prayed that we didn’t wake up to gray skies. That was a blow I didn’t think even the Funmeister could pull the group back from.

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We woke up to a gloriously perfect White Bay Day.

I was as happy as a pig in the sunshine.

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As the official master of ceremonies, I was in charge of the itinerary. (Was this even a question????). I had decided our first day had to be a White Bay Day. We had no plans more aspiring than seeing how long it took to get lounge chair marks on our butts.

The first order of business, however, was collecting 16 free painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar.

How do you get 16 FREE painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar, you ask? You have extremely awesome friends that purchased them months before on their own trip to Jost Van Dyke.

It also helps if your super nice friends can’t count and accidentally buy you 2 extra so that the Birthday Boy and his master of ceremonies, the Funmeister, can two fist it before it’s even time for lunch.

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On the “party end” of White Bay, my favorite base of operations is Gertrude’s. Not only does she have full size reclining chairs, she has “pour your own” rum punch.

My version of Gertrude’s rum punch has enough rum in it to kill a small horse.

Or Gary Busey.

The day was spent drinking copious amounts of rum and alternating between getting pruney in the gin clear water and getting marginally sunburned on a lounge chair in between sporadic bouts of bad dancing.

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Lunch found us at Seddy’s One Love downing lobster quesadillas, wings, and the island’s best bushwackers.

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That was followed by more dancing and generously giving away all of my chips to two little boys who asked me if they could have them.

With those faces, I would have given them my kidney if they had asked.

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Foxy’s Taboo was supposed to be having a Regatta party that afternoon, so we pried ourselves off our chairs and headed that way.

We found….nothing.

No live music. No dancing. No people. No party.

Although we did find some exceptional cocktails.

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Everyone was a little too salty, a little too tired, and a little too lubricated for another party anyway, so we headed back to the house for much needed showers and naps.

Besides, Ivan’s told us they were having an 80s party that night. We needed to rest up.

The plan was to put on some obnoxious 80s-wear and head to Ivan’s where we would do the robot, listen to some Billy Idol, and grab some eats.
As I sent everyone inside to “gear up,” we sent a scout over to see what was going on at Ivan’s. It was only feet from Escape Villa, but we couldn’t hear any music. That seems suspicious.

Apparently, Ivan’s had gotten the same memo Foxy’s Taboo had gotten and the party was not meant to be.

What does a Funmeister do when she has promised a night of 80s fun to 13 adults and has forced them to put on costumes only to find out there is no party?

She makes shots and starts her own party. (Shots are the vacation equivalent of duct tape - they fix EVERYTHING)

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What no one knew was that one of our 50 lb suitcases had contained a secret:

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The Rockville was 800 watts of musical awesomeness. Who needs a party at Ivan’s when you have the Rockville, an iPod full of 80s tunes, and 14 adults in costumes? Not to mention strobe lights and a fully stocked bar.

It was EPIC.

The party was so good we had strangers wandering up from the beach to join us. We could have charged admission.

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It was around 9:00 p.m. when I noticed Matt staring blearily into space while shoveling handfuls of chips into his mouth that I realized I hadn’t thought about dinner when we made the shift in plans. I had 14 adults who had been drinking all day and had no dinner.

I made a quick call to Vinnie at Corsair’s.

“Is it too late to order some pizzas for delivery?” I said in a state of panic. “I have 14 people who need some grease and dough in their bellies STAT!”

Vinnie delivered a stack of pizzas to our door in 30 minutes.

I am pretty sure he should be called Saint Vincent.

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MONDAY: BOATS & HOES.

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One of Matt’s birthday week requests was to charter a catamaran to take us out a couple of days.

Captain Colin of Jost Van Dyke Scuba had just what we needed: a 42’ catamaran with 1000 square feet of deck space and free rum punch.

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Everyone was still felt like Vicki Prince was screaming “Let’s go Crazy!” in their ears, so we started the day slowly, with some much needed boat lounging.

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Cpt. Colin took us to the Indians for an incredible snorkel.

This was followed by a nice spread of snacks on the boat.

And rum punch.

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That’s pretty much where the civilized portion of the day concluded.

Next stop? Where else do you go once the rum punch starts to flow? The Willy T, of course! (every Funmeister knows that)

This broken down pirate ship just off the beach at Norman Island was definitely the place to let this group get their fun on.

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We started off with lunch.

Lunch turned in to drinks.

Drinks turned into…well….I have been instructed not to overshare. I’ll just let you use your imagination.

Let’s just say it made 80’s night look like your grandma’s tea party.

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The boat ride back to Jost was uneventful, although we did have one person throwing up off the back of the boat, three passed out in the salon, and one puking into a zip-loc bag.

Fun times!

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The Funmeister passed waters around and we managed to get everyone back to Jost Van Dyke intact. Getting them off the boat and onto the dingy and then from the dingy to the dock was an entirely different matter.

No one fell in the water, so we will call it a success.

I sent everyone in for naps and showers, letting them know dinner was at Sidney’s Peace & Love that night.

Sidney’s was a perfect end to the day. The lobsters were HUGE and we made short work of them. All that was left was the carnage.

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TUESDAY: THE ULTIMATE F WORD.

I have heard it said that a birthday is nature’s way of telling you to eat more cake.

A FIFTIETH birthday is apparently nature’s way of telling you to drink more rum.

Because that’s what we did.

All day long.

It was Matt’s birthday and we were going to party like it was his birthday.

It was another picture-perfect White Bay Day.

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We took up our usual spots at Gertrude’s and soaked it in.

It was a perfect day filled with sunshine and friends, beach ducks, interesting strangers, Seddy’s magic tricks, lobster rolls and spicy wings, and enough rum to pickle a small army.

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I wanted Matt’s birthday dinner to be special. The restaurants on Jost are great for a beachy lunch or drinks, but none of them seemed right for a nice birthday dinner. The Sandcastle no longer did dinners on the beach, and the thought of being crammed in their dark cement hole of a restaurant just didn’t feel right for this occasion.

I had gone out on a limb and contacted Liz Henderson of Hendo’s Hideout. Hendo’s was just being built when we had last been on Jost and I remembered it being a beautiful building with a stunning view. The restaurant and bar had just opened 2 months earlier, serving drinks and lunch only.

It was a risky move. We had never even seen the completed restaurant. We had NO IDEA what their food or drinks were like. They didn’t even serve dinner.

But I had a gut feeling and I went with it.

When Liz agreed to do a private dinner party for Matt’s birthday, I was so excited. And nervous. But mostly excited.

Everyone put on their beach best. You’d have never know this group had been moderately intoxicated for 4 days.

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At least until the guys put on a pre-dinner concert, but maybe that was because of the birthday shots.

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We walked down the beach to Hendo’s, wondering what to expect.

Liz had decorated a beach front table beautifully. We were greeted by delicate starfish and small votives filled with sand.

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She immediately took drink orders and we noticed right off that these weren’t your average “White Bay” drinks. It was less rum punch and bushwacker and more passionfruit margarita and champagne cocktail. The drinks tasted as good as they looked.

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Champagne buckets arrived, filled with bubbly and ice.

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The dinner was getting off to a great start.

Liz had provided a menu in advance and we had sent in our orders the day before, so within minutes of our arrival, we had delicious cocktails and mouth-watering food.

The food. OMG. THE FOOD!

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The food was nothing short of amazing. We had lobster with butter lime sauce, BBQ ribs (because every group has the one person that won’t eat seafood!), grilled mahi-mahi with peppers, and a creole snapper that was to DIE FOR.

The champagne flowed. The food was phenomenal. The candles sparkled. The air was filled with the laughter of our friends.

It was perfect.

Liz had knocked it out of the ballpark.

Run, don’t walk, to Hendo’s Hideout the next time you are on Jost Van Dyke. You will thank me.

Our group agreed it was everyone’s favorite meal of the entire trip.

Then it was time to head back to the villa for cake.....by the ocean (I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself).

Matt had specifically requested a chocolate peanut butter cake, so I had made it myself. After drinking rum all day.

Cake mixes should come with "island directions." Kind of like "high altitude directions," but more geared toward simple things that you forget in a slightly altered state like, "First, open the box. Next, cut open the plastic pouch. Then, pour cake mix into a bowl, crack the eggs before putting them in the bowl, do not put the shells in the bowl." That would have been helpful.

I really think it turned out quite nice, complete with “nutter butter sand” and chocolate seashells (and enough candles to start a forest fire).

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Then it was time to break out the Rockville and dance the calories away.

Happy Birthday, Matt!

You may be 50, but to me, that just means you are 5 perfect 10’s. (Can I hear a collective “awwwww….,” please?)

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WEDNESDAY: RUM SOAKED, SUN SOAKED, AND WELL….JUST SOAKED.

The party hadn’t stopped since we had arrived. Our fun switches had been in the “ON” position for 4 days. I think one of our friends summed it up perfectly when she looked at me the night before and said, “I just realized I have been drinking for 13 hours.”

We needed a break.

We were exhausted.

As luck would have it, this was the one overcast day we had on the entire trip. It was a blessing.

We had booked a second catamaran day with Cpt. Colin.

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For a minute, he wasn’t sure if we were the same group he had dropped off 2 days before. We were quiet and subdued.

It was time for a down day.

We decided to put up the sails and sail to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. This would take a couple of hours and give everyone plenty of time to relax.

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When we arrived at Cane Garden Bay, we decided to head to the Callwood Distillery. Matt and I had spent an entire WEEK in a house across the street from the distillery the previous November and had never made it inside.

No one really knows how long the distillery has been in operation, but the Callwood family has been operating it for 200 years after taking it over from the Arundel family.

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As the sign demanded, we bellied up to the bar, put down our $1 and sampled 4 shots of their rum, all aged to various degrees.

The 90 proof Arundel cane rum called the “horny rum” was clearly the group favorite.

I’m not sure what that says about our group.

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After making some rum purchases, we headed to Myett’s for lunch. We ordered a rainbow variety of frozen drinks, wings, burgers, and sticky-sweet chicken thighs.

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Did I mention that we were exhausted?

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On the way back to Jost Van Dyke, we passed by Sandy Spit and made a B-Line for Little Jost Van Dyke.

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The B-Line Beach Bar, that is.

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This little bar sits by itself on a little curve of sand and serves up a delicious drink called the passion confusion. There were even chunks of frozen pineapple floating in there.

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We found a birthday message to Matt that had been left by our friends in December.

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And we left a message of our own.

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Then it was back to the villas for our requisite afternoon siesta.

We headed to Corsairs that night for dinner. While Vinnie’s pizzas are top notch and had really saved our bacon a couple of nights before, the rest of the menu is exceptional and begged to be sampled.

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Matt and I had creamy lobster mac n’ cheese and the spicy cioppino with a fresh salad. It was out of this world.

I’m not sure how we had the energy to stop for a drink at Foxy’s before heading home, but we did.

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Then it was time to head back and get some sleep, lest we end up looking like this guy:

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THURSDAY: STRESS FREE.

So far, we had spent our beach days on what I call the “party end” of White Bay. This is where you will find the Soggy Dollar Bar, an inordinate number of people in straw cowboy hats, and a sea of boats pulled up to the shore. It’s crowded. It’s loud. It’s fun.

But sometimes, you want the quiet end of White Bay. That’s when you park it at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar.

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We lined up 14 chairs, mixed up some rum punch, and proceeded to take over the place.

It appeared the “off day” had worked it’s magic and everyone had their groove back.

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That was a good thing, because we had a lot of rum to drink in two days.

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I guess Ivan’s wasn’t the quite end of the beach anymore.

When the hungries hit, we headed back to Hendo’s for lunch. Dinner had been so great, lunch had to be pretty good.

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It was good.

The afternoon was spent doing a whole lot of nothing.

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That evening, we all got cleaned up and decided to head to Ivan’s for the Thursday night buffet, because we certainly needed more all-you-can-eat on this trip!

Ivan’s didn’t disappoint and the ladies serves us up some mean chicken and ribs.

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We ate enough to send us all into a food coma for the night.

Or was that the rum?

It was getting hard to tell.

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FRIDAY: AIN’T NO PARTY LIKE A HATFIELD PARTY, ‘CUZ A HATFIELD PARTY DON’T STOP.

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One of our friends had come up with this phrase on a previous trip and it had stuck. Because it was true.

We were good at this.

We had sustained the party for a week with very few down times. Even Vicki the Funmeister was impressed with this group’s stamina.

It was our last day, so we wanted to make it a good one. We decided to stay on “our beach” for the day. We lined up the chairs, blew up the floats, dragged out the paddle boards, anchored the floating mattresses, and turned up the Rockville.

The day was non-stop fun.

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We went through every phase of beach drinking that day.

There was the “this is the most fun I have ever had in my life,” phase:

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That was followed by the “I love you, man,” phase:

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Next up was the “we are amazing dancers,” phase:

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Things started to wind down with the “I've fallen....and I can't get up,” phase:

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And finally, the, “let’s just take a nap,” phase:

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With one dinner left, we let Matt pick where he wanted his last meal on the island.

Of course he picked Sidney’s Peace & Love for another monster lobster. He is painfully addicted to their potato salad.

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Before we knew it, we were hanging up our own shirt at Foxy's and taking our last sleep on the birthday island.

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SATURDAY: ADIOS TO JOST….IT’S THAT TIME OF DAY.

It’s the point that comes in every trip: time to go home.

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I couldn’t believe how the week had gone. It had been amazing. Near perfect.

All 14 of us had gotten along so well that it was almost frightening (rum helps with that, I think). There had been no fights, no arguments, and no hurt feelings. We practically held hands and sang “Kumbayah” every day like a commune full of hippies in an old farmhouse in Woodstock filled with cats.

The weather had been great. Everything had gone well. We never ran out of potato chips. And no one got hurt (except for one unfortunate incident involving a member of our party and a large shrub.....).

I couldn’t believe how great the week had gone. I couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to be able to spend a week in paradise. I couldn’t believe how blessed we were to call these people our friends.

Ehr ma gawd, that’s some sappy crappy, isn’t it? I blame all the rum I guzzled over the trip for that word vomit. My liver is still trying to recover.

(But I meant every word of it)

So, here’s to Matt! Here’s to his 50th! Here’s to great friends!

If this is what we did for his 50th, I better start the planning for mine NOW.

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Posted by vicki_h 11:05 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged island caribbean tortola jost_van_dyke bvi british_virgin_islands Comments (5)

Weekend Getaway to Guana Cay

FRIDAY

Now that we have our own little place on Guana Cay, we run down every chance we get. When we recently had an opportunity to head down for a long weekend with use of a free airplane, we jumped at the opportunity even though it was only a few short days.

Sure, we had only been back from Honduras for 7 days, but FREE AIRPLANE PEOPLE.

I wasn't going to let a little thing like "responsibilities" get in the way of a free ride.

Literally a hop, skip, and a jump (okay, more like a 4 hour flight….but STILL….so easy) and we were climbing off the plane at the Marsh Harbour airport.

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Having our own boat on Marsh Harbour has made arrivals a little easier. I love grabbing a taxi and having it take us to our own boat rather than the ferry dock. This beats trying to coordinate my arrival with the Albury Ferry. Not that I don’t love the Albury Ferry, but not having to adhere to a particular arrival time is so liberating.

Instead of arriving to get to a ferry, wait for a ferry, and take a ferry to Scotland Cay for a stop before proceeding on to Guana Cay, we found ourselves tossing our luggage onto our boat and making a B-line for Lubbers Landing. There was plenty of time to get to Guana and unpack later. Right now, it was time for saltwater margaritas.

Although, if I am completely honest, this really set off my OCD alarm. I am a “get there, unpack, get organized before you do anything fun” kind of gal. Running off to have fun first was like eating dessert before dinner.

Although, with proper therapy, I think I can get used to it.

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How can anyone possibly need this much luggage? We looked like we were moving to Cambodia for a year, not spending a weekend in Abaco. It’s amazing what not having to go through TSA or pay for baggage does to one’s packing.

“Do I need an unabridged copy of War and Peace? Maybe. Let’s throw it in. What about that box of live pigeons? Those might come in handy. I may need this ball gown. Better to be safe than sorry.”

Once we had our 19 bags stowed, we were on our way.

OCD alarm be damned. It was liberating to have the breeze blowing in my hair while holding a hastily made boat drink in my hand within minutes of landing.

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It was Friday and our destination was Pizza Night at Lubbers Landing.

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We had put in our required order the day before, because nothing is worse than showing up on Pizza Night without being expected only to discover that you have to let Austin know the day before so he can make the dough.

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The pizza oven was already fired up and getting ready for the night’s festivities when we arrived. We ordered drinks and sank into the cushy sofa, letting the peace of Lubbers Landing sink into our bones. Austin and Amy have created an oasis of happy at Lubbers Landing and we have found no better way to kick-start our vacations in Abaco than with a cold drink at their breezy bar.

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Sometimes, you need a lot of margaritas.

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Before long, Austin was tossing our dough in the air with more skill than a Harlem Globetrotter handles a basketball. When he asked us what we wanted on our pizza, we wisely deferred to his expert judgment and found ourselves faced with an Austin Special: savory salami and pepperoni, red onions, rosemary, banana peppers, and just a hint of Lubber’s magic.

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The pizza was so good that I found myself throwing up a “Mamma Mia” to the pepperoni gods and finding myself wanting to lead everyone in a rousing chorus of “That’s Amore.”

We made it to Guana Cay just as the sun was setting.

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I couldn’t wait to get to Bikini Hut. (That’s not just the OCD talking)

I’m still adjusting to the difference in arriving to your own house vs. arriving to a vacation rental. Bikini Hut is my haven and I am so happy every time I walk inside. It is my perfect cozy nest and I couldn’t wait to settle in.

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It was the same feeling I get when I have been away from home for a while and I return and the smell and feel of “my home” hits me square in the face. Bikini Hut changed everything.

I was able to get us unpacked before the heart palpitations started and marveled at how wonderful it was to drift off to sleep in my own bed.

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SATURDAY

We had agreed to get the boat out for this trip so that meant this trip was more about fun and less about work.

I started my morning off with a walk on the beach. We had left the dogs at home due to the “last minuteness” of the trip, and I had to admit that walking on the beach is simply not the same experience without those two bumbling furballs running into my ankles, digging stupid holes and getting sand up their noses, and running enthusiastically ahead of me, turning around every few seconds to make sure I was still coming.

Yeah, I missed them.

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After my beach walk, I took a walk around the neighborhood. This meant I walked across the street and checked out the Island Flavors menu board, strolled out onto one of the many docks across the street to peek at the water, and nodded “good morning” to Milo at his fruit stand. The neighborhood walk took about 30 seconds.

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I headed back to Bikini Hut.

Apparently, Bikini Hut was an actual bikini store at some point in its 100-year history and the house came with this old sign buried inside. We assumed it was probably the sign for the original bikini store and decided to keep it. Matt thought it would be cute to hang it up outside on the cistern building.

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At the time, we did not realize this would have unintended consequences.

I was milling around the kitchen when a stranger walked through the front door and into the house.

It is important to note here that I am socially awkward. There is something about interacting with others that makes me feel itchy and hot and leaves me struggling for meaningful conversation while simultaneously scanning the room for the nearest exit. I have accepted this about myself after years of awkward mingling and tripping over nothing on sidewalks.

This moment would have been a difficult encounter for me if I had actually invited this woman to my house and knew who she was. Having a stranger in my house and having no idea why she was there was pushing me to my limits of mental stability. My hands instantly became clammy as I tried to figure out what to say.

However, she was a lovely lady, nicely dressed and very polite, so I wasn’t alarmed in a “fear of danger” way. Instead, my “social alarm” was pinging, thinking that I had invited someone over and had not only forgotten the invitation, but had forgotten who they were.

When she saw me she said, “Good morning. I just wanted to see the place.”

It is important to note here that I have corresponded with a number of people I have never actually met through the Abaco Forum and through this blog, so I simply assumed this was someone that had told me they’d love to stop by and see the changes to the house sometime and I had encouraged them to do so.

Despite my proclivity for social evasion, I am a Southern Woman. This creates an internal struggle when interacting with others. My “tell them to go away” battles with my “invite them in and give them a casserole.” We tell people to “Come on by anytime.” It’s what we are raised to do whether we mean it or not.

That is why I looked at this stranger standing in my house and said, “Feel free to look around.”

Which made things really weird.

It started to get strange when she started looking around more intently than I would expect, like she was looking for something.

The clammy hands were joined by a tight feeling in my chest. Something was off. I was trying to think of something reasonably appropriate to say. Obviously, shouting, “Who sent you??? What do you want with me???? Are they watching??” would make me look mentally unstable, so I just said nothing.

“Is this everything you have or is there more in the back?” she asked.

I wasn’t sure how to respond. Obviously, she was not as enthralled with my remodeling efforts as I was and felt I should have more things decorating the place.

Still thinking she must be here to see the Bikini Hut remodel because my mind simply could not come up with an alternative, I said, “Well, the kitchen and bedroom are back there. Feel free to take a peek.”

This just made things weirder.

She looked puzzled.

I looked puzzled.

She stared at me in silence.

I stared back.

We stood and stared at each other for a moment, both of us knowing something was amiss and trying politely to figure out what the hell was going on when she courteously asked, “Is this all you have for sale or are there swimsuits?”

Life is filled with awkward moments. This wasn’t Steve-Harvey-Crowning-the-Wrong-Miss-Universe-On-Television awkward, and it probably didn’t rank up there with the time one of my friends woke up naked in a stranger’s house only to find out that the man she accompanied there the night before didn’t live there, was gone, and had her clothes, but in my book, it was right up there with being in an elevator with a stranger who audibly farts or trying repeatedly to get in your car in a parking lot only to realize your car is the one 2 rows over.

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Unfortunately, she was standing in my living room, so I couldn’t just pretend I didn’t notice her or casually run in the opposite direction. I found myself looking around for the hidden cameras, hoping this was just a huge prank.

I thought back to my mom and all those times she said not to let strangers in the house. So THIS was what she was talking about. I should have listened.

It was like being trapped in this recurring dream I have where I walk up to a yard sale and start nonchalantly looking at items only to discover it’s not a yard sale, it’s just a messy yard. Only in this dream, I was the yard sale.

I tried to figure out how to extricate myself from the situation without appearing rude or insane. Obviously, screaming and running out the back door was not an option. I considered crawling under my dining table and pretending it was a fort, because nothing bad ever happens in a fort, but that would not solve the problem because there would still be a stranger in my living room asking me for swimsuits.

I was going to have to deal with this very uncomfortable situation before she started looking through my dresser for some swimwear to take home.

It was then that I thought about the sign.

The Bikini Hut sign.

The one that said, “Swimsuits and More!”

She thought I was a retail store.

This certainly didn’t make the situation any less uncomfortable, because I knew once I responded, she would be embarrassed. Then I would be embarrassed because she was embarrassed. Then we would still be standing there, facing each other in a never ending spiral of embarrassment and misery, with no clear way to end the encounter unless a sinkhole suddenly opened up in the floor and swallowed us both.

I thought about quickly pretending my iPad was a credit card swiper and selling her something from my coffee table, but I knew I was just going to have to embrace the uneasiness of this moment in all its putrid glory because she still had not realized what was going on and was looking to me for clarification of where the retail racks could be found.

I bumbled through an awkward explanation about how this was my house, not a store, and how the sign was an old sign from when the house WAS a store……. after which she apologized, fled, and sprinted down the street.

I probably could have salvaged the encounter if I had normal human social skills instead of communicating like I was raised by a family of cats.

I cursed that sign and went about my morning. I put it out of my head.

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It was a calm day without much wind and lots of sunshine, so we decided to take friends who were on island all the way to Pete’s Pub. The added stress of running a retail store on Front Street had made for a long morning, so we were all eager to get there and get our lunch on, so we made straight for Little Harbour.

The day was gorgeous as we “oooooed” and “aaaaahed” our way south.

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The cherry on top of the trip was a double greeting by two spotted eagle rays as we pulled up to the dock.

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I took this as a sign that all of the calamities of the day had passed and the rest of the day would be nothing but sunshine and unicorns.

And drinks.

Which is pretty much the same as sunshine and unicorns. Rum is just dream flavored water, I always say.

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Pete’s Pub serves some of the best fish in the Abacos. We enjoyed some spectacular fish sandwiches with their always amazing peas & rice and walnut cole slaw before hitting the water to cool off.

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I will say, though, I am puzzled by the paper towels at Pete's. Is it a paper towel? Is it a toilet paper roll? Under normal circumstances this would not be an issue, but after a few Blasters, it's creates quite the mental conundrum.

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As we pulled out of Little Harbour, a pod of dolphins put on a spectacular display for us. This day really was sunshine and rainbows, wasn’t it?

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We kept the good times going by stopping at one of the small uninhabited cays for beach drinks. It was a sun-filled, fun-filled afternoon.

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And then we got the boat stuck on a sandbar in Tilloo Pond. No worries, the guys pushed us off and the fun continued.

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We were on top of the world!

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And then the boat quick working.

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I have always heard that bad things come in threes. I guess we had our three.

The good news? We were right outside Orchid Bay marina, it wasn’t quite dark yet, and this meant our bad things were over for the trip! Right?

We limped the boat in, tied her off, and went to drown our sorrows with ribs and cheesecake at Sunsetters.

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SUNDAY

It was a beautiful morning on Guana Cay.

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People were streaming onto the island for Sunday Funday. Arriving by boat, ferry, or crawling out of their villas, they were pouring down the street. It was going to be a lively day.

Matt went to cry on his boat for a while, so I kicked back at the house.

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I came out of the bathroom to find a strange woman in my den looking at my Tommy Bahama candles.

I wish I was joking.

After I ran her off with a pool noodle I spent the rest of the morning painting over that sign.

With only 2 full days on the island, we had to use part of Sunday Funday as Boat Day. Unfortunately, our fuel pump was out, so our boat was FINISHED.

Thankfully, our friends had their boat, so we piled in and headed for the lagoon.

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This spot never disappoints and the day was no exception. We pulled out the snacks, mixed up the drinks, and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Aaahhh…….bliss.

It was Sunday Funday at Nippers, however, so we couldn’t spend all day luxuriating in the sunshine in the peace and quiet. It is a condition of vacationing with Vicki that at least a portion of each Sunday be spent at Nippers.

I can’t help but love the colorful atmosphere, the amazing views, and the fun music.

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Okay, I really love the Nippers. Who am I trying to fool?

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Unfortunately, my alter ego, Bad Dancer Vicki, seems to come out every time I am at Nippers no matter how honorable my intentions are.

I’m afraid that I am the reason you can’t take your kids to Nippers after 3:00 p.m.

I’m sorry.

Nippers transforms me from this:

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To this:

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In time honored tradition, we moved the party from Nippers to Grabbers in the late afternoon for some sustenance. Despite the delicious pasta, buffalo wings, and pizza…..apparently, all I wanted were some Doritos.

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Sometimes you just really need some Doritos.

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MONDAY

Like a flash, it was over.

It no longer makes me sad when I leave, though.

I’ll be back before you can say, "Do you have any swimsuits for sale?"

Until next time, Bikini Hut!

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Posted by vicki_h 11:40 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical abaco elbow_cay guana_cay marsh_harbour treasure_cay lubbers_landing Comments (0)

Honduras Bonus: Utila and Roatan video

Posted by vicki_h 08:22 Archived in Honduras Tagged beach island caribbean tropical honduras roatan utila little_cay deserted_island Comments (0)

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