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20 Things I Learned on Guana Cay….Redux.

I started this blog 5 years ago after an ill-fated trip to Guana Cay with our good friends John and Teresa. Two black eyes, a busted boat propeller, a slide down a boat ramp, sunburned lips, power outages……..Everything that could go wrong on that trip did and it inspired me to start writing about my travels.

Well, we’ve made a lot of trips to Guana Cay since then, but it took 5 long years for our friends John and Teresa to decide to return. We made the trip in August, exactly 5 years after the first trip.

A lot can change in 5 years.

So, let’s try this again. Here are 20 NEW things I learned on Guana Cay.

#1. There is no sunrise more beautiful than the first morning you wake up on Guana Cay.

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#2. There’s no such thing as “too much mac n’ cheese.”

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#3. The Nippers Sunday Buffet is so much more enjoyable when it’s not in your lap.

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#4. There is no greater joy on earth than the first time you make it on the hook and ring game at Grabbers.

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Unless it’s the first time you make it on the “around the pole hook and ring game” at Lubber’s Landing.

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#5. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating 3 burgers in 3 days.

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#6. The best days are the ones where you do nothing at all.

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#7. You might as well JUMP.

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#8. Dreams can come in the shape of a dirty bobber hanging on a tree.

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#9. There are more shades of blue than you can count.

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#10. You can watch the same sunset from the same spot every night and it never gets old.

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#11. There is nothing cuter than a dog jumping with happiness across the beach, even if the sand does end up in your bed.

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#12. Don't drink and Jenga.

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#13. Three rainbows in 3 days is almost as good as 3 burgers in 3 days.

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#14. No matter where you go in Abaco, there is a deserted beach with your name on it.

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#15. Sometimes it’s okay to break the rules.

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#16. There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments.

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#17. If you don’t like where you are….just get in the boat.

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#18. The best walks don’t take you anywhere.

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#19. When you are happy, time doesn’t matter.

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#20. Spending your birthday with good friends on Guana Cay can be the best weekend ever.

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Now repeat after me: There’s no place like Guana. There’s no place like Guana. There’s no place like Guana…..

Posted by vicki_h 12:48 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical bahamas abaco guana_cay Comments (2)

Sun, Sand, and Sea

A quick trip to Elbow Cay

Everyone has that “go to” destination. That place you have been so many times that it’s like a second home. That place where you can get around with your eyes closed and where a trip requires virtually no planning. It’s that place you go when you have a few days and decide to take off at the drop of a hat. Abaco is our “go to” place, and we headed down for a quick getaway in early November.

Day One: Travel Day

Knowing the weather in the Bahamas is not as warm as the Caribbean in the cooler months, we decided to stay on Elbow Cay where there are more “out of the water” activities than our usual haunt of Guana Cay.

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This gave us the chance to rent our own boat at Marsh Harbor rather than taking the ferry which was a really cool change of pace! We stopped at Seahorse boat rentals, tossed our luggage into our boat and were on our way. It was a pretty quick hop over to Tahiti Beach on the southern end of Elbow Cay and we were amazed at how much time we saved by not having to wait for the ferry.

We had toes in sand and drinks in hand by noon.

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Ahh....bliss.

We stayed at Barefoot Bay, an AMAZING house near Tahiti Beach. The first thing everyone wanted to do was grab a cold drink and run up to the Crow’s Nest deck and take in the amazing views.

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And people wonder why we keep coming down here.

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We had brought newbie friends, John and Kelley, with us and Barefoot Bay provided a perfect set up. Not only did it have amazing views of Tahiti Beach and Tilloo Cut, but the house was split into 3 separate buildings, offering tons of space and privacy. The main building housed a beautiful kitchen, dining, living space with a great sound system.

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Then, each of the other two buildings had a large master bedroom and two smaller bedrooms. This place can seriously sleep a lot of people.

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Not to mention the pool....

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Once we had all settled in, we took John & Kelley into Hopetown for lunch and to grab a few essentials.

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By “essentials,” you all know I mean one of Vernon’s key lime pies and several bottles of rum.

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Seriously, do you need anything else? You have all the food groups covered. Fruit & Veges: Limes. Dairy: all that darn creamy stuff in the pie. Meat: Hello....merengue. What do you think it’s made out of? Eggs. Duh. Grains: I think graham crackers can be considered a grain. And don’t forget the rum food group, because it deserves one all on it’s own.

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We were sad to find the Reef Bar at Hopetown Harbor Lodge closed for a wedding, but happy to find that Cap’n Jacks was open. Hello, jackhammer!

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When I saw coconut fried lobster with mac n’ cheese on the menu, I was all over it.

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We took it easy for the rest of the afternoon and, after seeing the condition of the road to town post-hurricane, decided maybe we’d stick close to home for dinner that night!!

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Besides, I was dying to try out a new place, Firefly. Like any good southern girl, I love Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and couldn’t help but notice the bar highlighted the delicious South Carolina libation in their cocktails.

It was a beautiful restaurant with a nice outdoor deck and sparkly sign. I love sparkly.

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The menu was small and seemed to highlight unique, creative, and fresh items. I ordered up a firefly cocktail and a curry lobster salad with papaya. Both were fabulous and refreshing!

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Travel day over, we retired to Barefoot Bay and watched the stars come out to play.

Day Two: Nippers or BUST (literally)

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What we didn’t know when we decided to head down to Abaco was that it was going to be UNGODLY windy the entire time we were on Elbow Cay. I think the wind averaged 25 knots each day we were there.

It was Sunday and that always means one thing: NIPPERS BEACH BBQ. Staying on Elbow, that meant a 45 minute boat ride to get there. When I looked outside our window and saw that the swimming pool was whitecapping….I knew we had a problem.

Not realizing the wind was a permanent fixture on our vacation at this point, we decided to head down to Tahiti Beach for a while to “give the wind time to die down.” (I laugh on the inside as I type this….ah….hindsight…you devil, you).

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Tahiti Beach is one of my favorites. A long curve of sand down one side, fringed with beautiful palm trees, takes you to a small point, where the beach then curves in, forming a perfect crescent beach with shallow water that goes so far out, you can almost walk to the next island.

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We noticed the sandbar had moved/vanished/shifted, I guess due to the hurricanes of the summer, but the beach was still magically beautiful.

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When we returned to Barefoot Bay, totally planning to boat it over to Nippers, we found the house owner’s brother, a super great guy we had met the day before, hanging out to see if we were heading over. He was down with a group of guys on a “guys’ maintenance week” trip on their other house. I put this in quotes, because we all know what this means. This means, they spend 4 hours drinking beer and then change a lightbulb. Spend another 2 hours sipping frozen Nippers and then rehang a door. Right?

They were also planning to head over to Guana that day and thought there might be safety in numbers. I mean, 9 idiots on the water who have no business being there is certainly better than 4.

We loaded up and headed out.

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HOLY MOLY. That was one rough ride. I think I would have fared better trying to stay on a mechanical bull for 8 minutes than trying to endure that boat ride. It was like trying to ride a really slippery, wet bucking bronco with nothing to hold onto as someone pours a bucket of cold, salty water over your head every 3 minutes.

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Our level of dedication should tell you how good that Nippers mac n’ cheese is.

Kelley and I held on for dear life. I made the mistake of thinking it might be easier to ride in the front. We were coasting along and I thought, hey, this isn’t so bad. I’ve got this! Just then, we hit the first big wave, sending me about 3 feet up into the air, after which I crashed down on the hard fiberglass deck of the boat and am pretty sure lost about 3 inches on my spine. I’m pretty sure I am now significantly shorter than I used to be…and I think a chunk of my tailbone is somewhere up around my ears.

I quickly jumped onto the padded seat, squeezed my eyes closed, and held on for all it was worth.

Soaked and salty, we finally pulled up to that familiar dock in that familiar town on that familiar street where all roads lead to Nippers.

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When we got to Nippers, I looked out at the ocean. What I have come to know as a tranquil sea of blue green that stretches calmly into forever, was a raging ocean of foam and waves. I have never seen it like that. It was pretty wild. Since there would be no swimming, I guess that meant we just had to do more eating, drinking, and dancing.

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We had our frozen Nippers and BBQ and sat back to enjoy the show. It was a pretty quiet start to the Nippers BBQ….until this guy showed up.

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Frozen Nippers have the ability to make even the most stiff legged stuffed shirt get out and bust a move and before long, we were all at it.

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We shook it until the sun started to go down and suddenly realized…Holy Crap…were not staying on Guana….we still have a boat ride!!!!

The group high tailed it out of there, hoping we had just enough time to get back before the sun finally set.

I think we made it with about 2 minutes to spare. Maybe one.

We grabbed dinner at Sea Spray and I think I had a chicken in a bag, but there is no photographic evidence and my brain was a little Nippers fuzzed by then, so I really can’t tell you much more than that. Bon Appetit!

Day Three: We Ain’t Afraid of No Wind!

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We had planned to see some beaches by boat but the wind and waves were even worse than they had been the day before. Rather than push our luck, we decided to head into Hopetown for a while.

The Reef Bar was OPEN…but there was no Gary. :(

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We enjoyed a little time on the Hopetown Beach. This has to be one of the most beautiful beaches ever. I never get tired of seeing it.

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There’s nothing better than a burger on the beach, in my opinion, so I dove head first into a Reef Burger and washed it down with a rum punch.

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Inappropriately confident, due to our previous day’s boating success, we decided that the weather wasn’t going to keep us off the water. We were smart enough to stick close, however, and only headed for Tilloo and the Pelican Cays.

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It was a pretty quick trip and relatively painless, but when we got to what I think was North Pelican Cay, the water was so rough, none of us had the heart to get in. Well, except Matt, but I am pretty sure he regretted it.

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Instead, we just enjoyed some tunes and rocked along on the boat, watching the incredible colors of the water.

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When we got back to Elbow, we just walked over to Tahiti Beach where we spread out in the sand with beer and chips.

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It was late in the day, so we settled in to watch the sky go from blue to gold as the sun dripped down into a golden haze on the horizon.

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Sometimes it’s the simplest things that bring the greatest pleasure.

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We ate in, throwing together a platter with some cold cuts, cheeses, olives, smoked salmon, and baguettes.

And pie.

Within minutes there was a knock at the door.

Our new friends stopped by to let us know that there was Karaoke at Ray’s that night.

Ha. Me? Karaoke? Fat chance. I sing like a badly scratched record and no one EVER hears me sing. No not ever. Never.

Not gonna’ happen in this lifetime.

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Okay, so apparently, after enough adult beverages, pigs do fly and hell freezes over.

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Day Four: Searching for Treasure

We woke up to strong winds AGAIN and decided (wisely) that the boat was not an option. We had met a couple on the beach the night before that were sailing and they really talked up Treasure Cay. As soon as Kelley heard them say it was named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, she was there. She was going and she was not going to take no for an answer.

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We had nothing else to do, so we decided to take the ferry over, grab a taxi, and visit Treasure Cay. Uber planner that I am, doing something unplanned with no information left me a little unsettled…but hey….a ferry, a taxi, a great beach…what’s to worry about?

I’ll tell you what’s to worry about: A total of 2 hours to get there from Tahiti beach between golf cart rides to the ferry, ferry rides to Marsh Harbor, and taxi rides to Treasure Cay and a total of $25 per person for the ferry and $175 for a cab. Ouch!!

But…what’s done was done. By the time we realized how long it would take to get there and how much it would cost….we were already there.

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I can’t say I regretted it, though. We had nothing else to do and despite the windy seas, Treasure Cay was GORGEOUS.

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We set up camp at the Coco Beach Bar, a great beachfront place that let us use their thatched umbrellas and chairs as long as we were eating and drinking. For a while, we just took the lazy route and crashed in some chairs.

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When the smell of food got to us, we headed up to the bar for some fried grouper fingers and conch fritters.

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And an amazing Pina Colada that was reminiscent of a soft serve ice cream. Oh yummy.

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After lunch, we decided to walk the beach. I am so happy we did. If you stick to the area of beach behind the Coco Beach Bar, beautiful as it is, you will have seen only the least attractive part of Treasure Cay. Head down toward the water, turn right and walk as far as you can. Head toward the little cay you see offshore in the distance. You won’t be sorry.

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The first part of the beach just stretched out long and blindingly white, with crazy turquoise water lapping the shore.

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As you rounded a point, an entirely new and remarkable vista opened up.

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The water was super shallow and clear….stretching out to delicate sand bars that popped up just off the beach like tiny oases of white sand and bejeweled water.

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Beyond that was a small cay, shimmering just off shore like a mirage. No matter how far you walked, it never seemed to get any closer.

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There were beautiful shells, starfish, and sand dollars along the way to look at and enjoy. I found tons of these little guys along the beach. They are definitely too small to be sand dollars. I think these are sand pennies.

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As we splashed in the shallow waters and enjoyed the beautiful views, we all agreed that this alone made the entire trip worth every minute and every dollar. If you ever get a chance to go over to Treasure Cay for a day, you should do it.

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For our “last meal” we returned to Cap’n Jacks for more lobster. I know there is something about food always tasting better after a day on the beach, but I swear, Kelley and I both agreed this was our favorite grilled lobster EVER - perfectly grilled and juicy, with a squeeze of lime and dripping with melted butter.

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It seemed over before it had really begun. It was time to head home. As always, Abaco delivered beautiful vistas, the most perfect beaches and the most beautiful water, lots of frosty island cocktails and beach eats, and even some new friends.

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I watched the islands disappear from the plane window, a haze of blue and green below me, and I couldn’t help but wonder what next time would hold……

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For more photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157628127135090/

And if you want to check out Barefoot Bay:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157628122881444/

Posted by vicki_h 10:03 Archived in Bahamas Tagged beach island caribbean bahamas abaco Comments (2)

Rum Days Are Better Than Others: Part II

A second sailing adventure in the Virgin Islands

Day Six: March of the Penguins

We woke to the most beautiful sunrise I think I have ever witnessed. The sun lit the sky in brilliant reds and oranges and then, as quickly as it came, it was gone. Why is it that the most magnificent things are so very brief?

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Maybe if they lasted too long, we wouldn’t appreciate them as much.

The fiery sunrise faded to a cool blue and the cloud cover gave the morning an eerie quality. The water seemed to stretch to infinity and a pale, pastel strip glowed dimly on the horizon, boats suspended in the haze.

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I watched the changing sunrise until the sun rose to a brilliant orb and brought with it a blue sky filled with white clouds. After BLT bagels and a cup of Vicki Coffee, we were ready to hit the beach.

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First stop was Pomato Point. It had been teasing us from the boat, a long slender finger of white sand dotted with slender pines that pointed out into a shock of light turquoise water that grew darker as it deepened.

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The point was something to see. It was as if the water didn’t know which way to go. The waves were wild and tumultuous coming at the point from different directions. When they would meet, they would run across each other, twisting and turning, not knowing where they came from or where they should be going.

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We walked the beach for a while and then loaded back into the “car” for a teeth rattling ride to Cow Wreck Beach. I knew I was in for something special just by looking at the sign.

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Cow Wreck Beach was the very definition of “laid back.” A beach bar, a few scattered tables, and a beautiful stretch of sand were the only things in sight. We spread out and commenced to doing nothing but nothing.

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The bartender had to run and errand so she pointed at a spiral notebook and told us to just get what we wanted while she was gone and write it down.

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This would be when Vicki anointed herself Head Bartender Extraordinaire of Cow Wreck Beach and where I made up Vicki’s Rum Punch which was about 9/10 Rum and 1/10 Punch.

I want to be a beach bartender when I grow up.

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When our drink to food ratio started to get way out of proportion, we ordered up Paradise Burgers and Lobster Fritters. There aren't many things, in my opinion, better than a hamburger on the beach. Particularly a Caribbean beach, washed down by a sweet rum punch. The soft warm bun, the juicy grilled burger, some tangy mustard and a side of crispy fries....it really is paradise, isn't it?

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That’s when we saw a group of guys walk up, hands full of panty hose and coconuts. Intrigued, we had to watch. The proceeded to put coconuts in the toes of their panty hose, tie them around their waists and then used them to “whack” another coconut. I am not sure what they were knocking down…beer bottles maybe? Whatever they were hitting, they got our vote for most creative use of coconuts and panty hose.

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After lunch, Keith and Syd headed back to the boat and Matt and I decided to head over to Loblolly and the Big Bamboo. I was also in search of the flamingos of Anegada, which I kept calling pelicans due to my 9 to 1 rum to punch ratio and somehow, as the day progressed, that turned into “penguins.” So, yes, I spent the afternoon looking for the elusive “penguins” of Anegada.

It’s no wonder I never found them. Every time I asked someone where to find the penguins, they just tried not to make eye contact.

On the way to Loblolly, we drove past the Settlement. Not much in the way of "civilization" here, but there were plenty of neat old abandoned (or not so abandoned, but maybe should have been....) homes, still beautiful in a quiet and diminished way.

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At the Big Bamboo, we enjoyed the drinks, I swapped my already read book for another at their book swap cabinet, and we stretched out in the sun.

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As the afternoon grew late, I decided we had to give those penguins one last run for their money. I was going to find me some penguins.

Pretty much the entire interior of Anegada is a series of salt ponds, and the elusive flamingos hide in the cover of the mangroves. We must have driven down every stinking road leading to the interior and never saw the first flash of pink.

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Damn penguins.

Finally, on our last attempt, Matt spotted them. Bright pink bodies were dotted on the far side of the salt pond we were standing at. I could see them! They were so big and so bright, it was like they were just so close. There was no way to drive to the other side…so we tried walking across.

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Okay, in our defense, it looked shallow. And it was…to a point.

With every squishy step, I had visions of mysterious mud crabs pinching my toes or imagined great holes of salt pond quick sand swallowing me whole. I reme]mbered the stories my grandmother would tell me of worms that would burrow into the soles of my feet if I didn’t wear my shoes outside and I was certain that if such a worm existed, it would exist in this very salt pond and I was probably already infected. I held my camera high over my head….like somehow that would save it when I fell face first into a pool of mud. I wanted to turn around, but then a flash of pink would taunt me…beckon me onward.

They were like a mirage, the more steps we took toward them, the farther away they appeared. We had to keep going…really….just a few more feet and I’d get that National Geographic photo that was dancing in my head…..

That’s when Matt took a step and sank to his knees in muck and we had to admit defeat.

To console myself, I decided that they don’t really exist. They are fake plastic flamingos, like the ones you see in front of a double wide in Panama City and they were just put out there to lure dumb tourists who wanted that perfect photo. Like me.

Damn penguins. I mean flamingos. Whatever.

When our Anegada land adventure was over, Keith picked us up, we turned in our car, now with salt pond mud added to it’s mélange of island ooze, and took us back to the boat where we watched a perfect sunset and grilled up chicken for a quiet dinner on the boat.

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Day Seven: The Porpoise of Life

For the second day in a row, the sunrise on Anegada was a thing of majesty. I sat mesmerized by its changing colors as it blasted its way into the sky.

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I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and went inside. It’s about this point in a sailing trip that the boat sort of smells like feet no matter how many dryer sheets you brought or how much Febreeze you spray and everything feels slightly damp. It’s when the lettuce freezes and the bread goes moldy if you don’t have it stowed inside the microwave. It’s when everything seems to have a fine layer of salt or sand…or both and where you look forward to that 5 minutes a day just after your shower, because it’s the only time you feel clean. It’s when the rock and the pitch are so second nature to your body that you sway slightly when on land because the sea has embedded itself in your very soul and calls to you, rocking you lightly on the breeze. I was truly on boat time now.

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I swayed back and forth and raked my fingers through my salty hair as I made the coffee. None of us had slept well because of the rolling the night before. The morning was WINDY. Too windy. But we had to head out. We had a long way to go and were hoping to make it to Jost Van Dyke by lunch. As we headed away from Anegada, a trio of dolphins swam up beside the boat. The frolicked in the waves, going from the front of the boat to the back and then to the front again, jumping in the air and swimming under the bow, for about 15 minutes. And then like a magnificent Anegada sunrise, they were gone as quickly as they had appeared.

That’s the magic of sailing, my friends. That’s the magic.

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The day’s sail was a long one and I seized the opportunity to nap while we travelled, trying to make up for the two rolling nights that had kept me awake. So, for me, it seemed like only an instant and we were pulling up to Great Harbor and I could see the palm trees of Foxy’s swaying in the wind.

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We decided to have lunch on the boat before heading to the island and I am certain that lunch included cheese.

Before I knew it, I was making my way down the wooden dock in front of Foxy’s. Fishermen in small wooden boats were cleaning their catch and dogs roamed the sandy beach. Someone was asleep in the hammock beside the dock, one lazy leg dangling over the edge, dragging in the sand. The man himself was in and I could hear him telling jokes to the tourists as they stopped to get a famous “thumbs up” photo of their very own.

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We did a little shopping and then went to find a cab. If you arrive by ferry, cabs are plentiful on Jost, as they typically wait by the ferry dock and know when the ferry arrives. If you arrive at any other time or place, good luck finding a cab when you need it. We wandered down the sandy main street and saw an empty cab parked outside one of the small open-air bars. The cab driver was inside and he agreed to take us over to White Bay.

Only on Jost Van Dyke do you drag your taxi driver out of the bar and only on Jost Van Dyke does he bring his open beer with him and another one to drink on the way.

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We parked ourselves in some chairs at Gertrude’s and the afternoon was spent with Soggy Dollar Painkillers and One Love Bushwackers, with dreamy hammocks and rustling palms overhead, and with a front row seat to all the boat disasters and drunken mayhem that only White Bay can offer. There is not a more enjoyable way to spend a sunny afternoon thank watching two people who have spent all afternoon drinking Painkillers at the Soggy Dollar try to get into a kayak in a rough sea.

As the afternoon grew late, we had the bar call us a taxi. When the taxi arrived, two guys came running over from the bar with drinks in their hands and asked if they could share, knowing that it can take a while to get a taxi if you are anywhere other than the ferry dock. We didn’t mind, but the driver said they had to finish their drinks. The drinks were full so they told us to go on. Not being in any hurry, we told them to take their time and we’d wait.

When they finally got in the taxi, Syd looked at them and said, “Were you two on Anegada yesterday and did you bring panty hose and coconuts to Cow Wreck Beach?”

We laughed about it all the way to Great Harbor, where they were getting out. We were going all the way to Little Harbor, so we said “Goodbye” and continued on our way. When the cab driver dropped us off at Sydney’s, we knew we had about a $30 fare. When we asked him how much, he said, “Those guys paid your fare.”

So…to the guys with the giant coconuts, Here’s to you! And your big coconuts!

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We wandered over to Sydney’s to look at t-shirts and pre-order for dinner. We needed to pre-order dinner and when Janet asked me what I wanted I told her I wanted the biggest lobster she had.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Vicki.”

“I promise you the biggest lobster we have, Vicki.”

We cleaned up on the boat and returned to Sydney’s that night for dinner. I love the “pour your own” bar. I designed myself Head Bartender Extraordinaire of Sydney’s Peace & Love .......because I now had bar experience.

I mixed up some bushwackers and we waited for our lobster.

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When my food arrived, the waiter asked, “Which one is Vicki?” I kid you not, that lobster looked like a sea monster, it was so big. It was delicious and came with Sydney’s amazing sides: peas n’ rice, cole slaw, corn on the cob, and the best potato salad on the planet.

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The night came to a close with a slice of key lime pie and the sound of tree frogs singing from the distant hills.

Day Eight: Time For Cruz’in

It was our last full day on the boat, so we headed back over to St. John. Keith and Syd were headed back to St. Thomas the next day and Matt and I were returning to Jost for the weekend, so St. John was a good halfway spot.

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It was a short trip and we were soon making our way to Caneel Bay. We found a mooring near Salomon Beach and took the dingy into Cruz Bay.

No matter where else I go, there is no feeling like the one I get as I grow closer and closer to Cruz Bay. When I see the familiar buildings dotting the landscape, see the same boats moored in the Bay, and see that ferry dock with the tangerine colored building with the big wooden shutters, my heart grows light. This place holds a special magic for me that no other shares. When I arrive, I don’t feel like a mere visitor, I feel like I am home.

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As we went back through customs, they asked if we had any meat on board. We all immediately thought of the pack of ground beef we had thawing out for burgers that night and simultaneously answered, “Nope.” With our illegal international hamburger safe, we headed to St. John Spice.

The smell of that store hits me before I even reach the sidewalk. It’s a smell I have grown to love over many trips to this island and many trips to this, my very favorite store. We were lucky enough to find Ruth and Ron in and we visited and shopped before heading to the Beach Bar for some lunch.

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A tuna down now and lime n’ coconut later, we headed back to the boat.

From the boat, Salomon Beach was beckoning me, bright and cheering, it’s palm trees waving like old friends saying, “Come on over. The water is just fine.”

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Matt and I took the dingy over to spend the afternoon on the beach. It was wonderful being able to lounge on beautiful Salomon without having made the long walk down the hillside to get there. We drifted in the crystal clear water and lay in the warm sand.

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That’s when we saw a Coast Guard boat pull up to Who Cares. OH NO! Someone told them about our illegal international hamburger! It was a Burger Raid! Turns out they were just doing a routine check, but I thought a Burger Raid would have been so much cooler.

Back at the boat, we grabbed some “back of the boat” showers and headed to Francis Bay for the evening. We spent a relaxing final night on the boat, with bacon cheese burgers and grilled lobster cheese sandwiches for dinner. Emphasis on the cheese.

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It was our last night on the boat, and I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep. That wasn’t meant to be.

Just as we were turning in, my stomach started ..well….turning in. You know the feeling I mean. This is not a feeling you want to get on a boat. Not when you have walls as thin as paper, a toilet the size of a Dixie cup that flushes through 900 feet of tubing before exiting the boat, and you have to put any used TP in a ziploc.

Oh no. This was not good at all. I was certain it was the curse of the illegal international hamburger.

Matt was laughing at my distress as he rolled over to go to sleep.

It hit Matt about 3 hours later.

It was a very long night.

There was one moment of panic, around 3:00 a.m. when I became certain that I had completely overwhelmed the boat’s very delicate plumbing system. I felt prickly with anxiety. I didn’t want to be “that person.” You know the one. The one everyone would always remember as the one that overflowed the boat at 3:00 in the morning on the final night. That’s a sure way not to get invited next time.

I jiggled the little flusher button. Nothing. Maybe it’s like the shower, I thought, which you have to run for a minute, then turn off and drain for a minute, then run for a minute, stop, and drain for a minute. So I’d pump, and wait. Pump. Wait. Eventually, I was in the clear.

I wiped the sweat from my brow and finally drifted into a brief, fitfull sleep around 3 a.m., filled with visions of waking to a “cloud” surround the boat in the morning when we woke. I made a mental note to suggest an early departure in the morning.

Like, before sunrise.

Hey, ship happens.

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Day Nine: A Sunny Place for Shady People

Hollow. Depleted. Empty. Exhausted. That’s how I felt when I woke up, but I was happy to be alive.

The boat was due back on St. Thomas by noon, but Matt and I hopped off in Cruz Bay and Sydney and Keith went on their way without us. They were flying home that afternoon, but Matt and I had extended our departure to early Monday morning because it saved a significant amount on airfare.

We had decided to grab the ferry back to Jost and stay until Sunday afternoon. Keith dropped us off at the dingy dock near the Jost ferry and we hugged goodbye and wished them a safe trip home. Because no one was at the ticket office, we ran over to Deli Grotto for some breakfast.

I grabbed a Snickers cappuccino and a bagel with bacon, egg and cheese and one of their amazing crack bars and we sat to wait for the ferry. On our other trips to Jost, the ferry always took us directly to Jost where we cleared through customs. This time we went to Tortola first, cleared customs, then went to Jost. It took a little longer, but wasn’t really a big deal. Just different.

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It was early morning when we arrived and we grabbed a taxi straight to the Sandcastle. Our room wasn’t ready, but they took our luggage, gave us towels, and sent us to the beach.

Today was all about power lounging, Soggy Dollar style.

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We grabbed a couple of chairs and spent the morning swimming, reading, and listening to beach tunes. We had frozen mango daiquiris from Gertrude’s and bloody, bloody good bloody marys from Mic at the Soggy Dollar.

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Lunch was at Seddy’s One Love where we found an amazing lobster salad sandwich and an equally good lobster quesadilla. Reuben was playing and there were some girls at the bar dancing and having a good time to his music. With my toes buried in the sand and the sounds of Rueben’s guitar playing, the waves crashing outside and the palms tall overhead, a cold drink in my hand and Matt’s smiling at me across the table, it was a perfect moment in a perfect place at a perfect time.

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It’s the moments like these that I close my eyes and conjure up when a thick gray February sky is bearing down on me and my desk seems piled with an impossible load.

Life seems like magic on White Bay, doesn’t it?

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After lunch, we waved “goodbye” to the girls and I stopped at Jewels to try her self proclaimed famous rum punch. I don't know about a "touch of class" but it sure had a touch of something and from the way I felt, it was probably something that should be considered a controlled substance. It was DELICIOUS, but deadly. I definitely reached my limit and we left the heat of the afternoon to retire to our cool, clean, air conditioned room. I grabbed a quick shower and slipped between the cool white sheets, smelling of coconut and took a decadent nap, the kind you can only take on vacation.

We woke up sun soaked and rested and decided to walk down to Ivan’s. The Soggy Dollar was hopping and we knew Ivan’s would deliver a little peace and quiet. We followed the goat path up and over and around until we saw the ramshackle outpost of shells and hammocks that is Ivan’s Stress Free. We kicked back Ivan-Style until the sun started to set.

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We wanted to eat at the Sandcastle that night, but they had 3 dinner choices and not one of them appealed to either of us. Plan B was to hit Foxy’s Barbeque, something we had never done before. So, we grabbed a cab and headed back over to Great Harbor. The meal was at 7:00 p.m. You were given a ticket and were told that when they called “time to eat” you could go up and get as much as you wanted on your plate, but that you only got one trip.

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While we waited, I ordered a Sleezy Breeze and we enjoyed the mix of locals and boat traffic coming in, drawn by the wonderful smell of smoked ribs floating on the night air. When the food was ready, I didn’t have to be told twice to get in line. They actually gave us two plates. One for “salad” which was piled high with a green salad with the most amazing dressing, pasta salad, fruits, cheeses and bread. Then, they heaped a larger plate with ribs, BBQ chicken, stewed fish and sides. It was delicious and it was more than I could eat. Which is saying a lot.

That night, I had my first night’s sleep in a “real” bed. Westin might have a right to the name, but I can promise you that after sharing a small boat bed with a 4 inch thick mattress with a 6’1” man for a week, the bed at the Sandcastle was a Heavenly Bed.

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Day Ten: Seas the Day

It was our last day and we were going to make the most of it. We decided to spend the day on White Bay, perfecting the art of doing nothing, and catch the last ferry at 3:00 p.m. back to St. Thomas.

Early mornings on White Bay are amazing. There is no one around and everything is still and quiet. There aren’t any stirrers half buried in the sand yet, and no one is having a “battle of the boat speakers” competition yet.

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I grabbed a cup of coffee from the kitchen and sat out in front of the Soggy Dollar. I told Matt to let me see his iPhone for a minute and I showed him us on the webcam. Ta Da!

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We set ourselves up with some chairs under a palm tree and we sat and watched the Sunday boat parade roll into White Bay to the tunes of Bob Marley and to the taste of Mic’s bloody, bloody good bloody mary. The day seemed perfect, the way a last vacation day always is, making it so much harder to leave. I tried to memorize the way the green of the palm tree above me looked against the sky and the sound of the waves as they slapped the sand. I wanted to burn it into my memory so that I could carry it home with me, like a token in my pocket that I could hold onto on cold February days when my door locks are frozen and my teeth are chattering from the cold.

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We decided to grab some lunch at the Soggy Dollar. The chicken roti had my name on it and Matt got a cheeseburger. We chatted happily with Mic for a bit and bought the girls from Seddy’s a round of drinks because they had told us we were a hot couple. At our age, it doesn’t take much.

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We returned to our chairs in paradise and drifted on the sounds of the boat music until the party boats arrived.

When the boob shaped beer bong comes out, it’s time to go.

We packed up and said our goodbyes and grabbed a taxi to the ferry dock.

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We were on the 3:00 ferry back to STT. In Red Hook, we grabbed a cab, made a stop at CYOA to grab our extra luggage (which Jay had been kind enough to hold for us so we didn’t have to lug it to Jost) and headed to our hotel near the STT airport.

We stayed at the hotel and had a light dinner at their beach bar, watching one final sunset. As the sun settled into the ocean, I could feel my warm skin, like the sun was hidden inside, glowing from the inside out, floating just beneath the surface.

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Day Eleven: Snow Day

We were on a 9:00 a.m. flight home. When we boarded, the 80 degree breeze barely cooled the sweat on my brow. When we landed, the ground was covered in snow.

I thought of the past week and the wonderful places I had been. A place where boats rise in the gray of the morning, like ghosts, pale and white against the soft sea and the soft sky…the water the color of an oyster, a pearl, nothing more than a mist. A place where the sun melts into liquid and where it seems there is nothing between you and that setting sun but a sea of gold. A place where you can’t tell where the sea ends and the sky begins and your eyes aren’t sure if you see a cloud or a mountain or the tip of a wave as it all drifts into one. A place where the morning sun arrives in burning red, setting the sky and the water aflame with crimson and purple. A place where your heart begins to beat in time to the rhythm of the ocean and your veins move to the ebb and flow of the tide as your body sways to the invisible pull of the sea that now pulses through your veins. A place where the blue of the sky and the turquoise of the water are dotted with brilliant green, like gems in a satin pool of aquamarine.

As I walked off the plane, I shook the last little bit of sand from my pockets and hugged my jacket to me, smelling of coconuts and sunshine, feeling warm despite the chill of the winter air around me, and I smiled.

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Posted by vicki_h 07:26 Tagged beach caribbean st._john virgin_islands jost_van_dyke anegada Comments (3)

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