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A Double Dose of Vitamin Sea

We had a mid-April trip to Guana Cay planned when a last minute opportunity to fly down for free came up at the end of March.

There is no such thing as an overdose of Vitamin Sea.

It was the end of March when we zipped down with good friends and seasoned veterans of Abaco for a fun-filled weekend. We arrived early and were greeted with brilliant blue skies and an abundance of sunshine.

Keeping the boat at Treasure Cay has changed our “arrival routine” from a Bahama Mama and conch fritters at Curly Tails to a lunch trip to Treasure Sands before making our way to Guana Cay. Treasure Sands is beautiful and has amazing food, but it’s not the most convenient place to boat to from Guana, the passage demanding calm seas and as little wind as possible to be entirely comfortable. Because our boat is already there, it just makes sense to enjoy it before we leave.

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So we launched right in with drinks by the pool and a delicious seaside lunch.

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We arrived on Guana too late for a grocery run and headed to Grabbers for sunset cocktails instead. Who needs fresh water and milk when you have a lethal frozen concoction of rum waiting for you?

I should point out that one too many frozen concoctions of rum often leads to a “golf cart incident.” In this case, Matt turned left and my body went right.

I think falling off your golf cart is a rite of passage on Guana Cay.

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The next morning we grabbed the necessary provisions at Guana Grocery and discussed our plans for the day. It was going to be windy every day, so we couldn’t venture very far. Friends who were also on island were boating over to Firefly and we agreed to meet up for lunch.

That would have been fine if the boat had started.

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While the guys puzzled over the problem, the girls headed to Grabbers for sunshine and frozen mango daiquiris. Before we could do as much as dip a toe in the water, the guys told us to “Come on!”

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After puzzling, deliberating, changing the battery, and finally giving up and calling Troy, we discovered that someone had inadvertently hit the battery kill switch.

Note to self: Check kill switch before calling Troy.

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Humbled and late, we headed to Elbow Cay. We made it in time to meet our friends for a fabulous waterfront lunch with the best frozen drinks in Abaco.

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It was getting late and it was pretty windy, so we cut our losses and headed back to Guana for a peaceful sunset.

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It was Friday night and Kidds Cove was serving up their Friday night grill. They day wrapped up with butter and garlic drenched lobster and crispy conch fritters.

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Saturday morning was beautiful….but still windy. I made breakfast from my score of fresh baked Johnny Cakes that I found at the grocery the day before, and we tried to decide whether to even get the boat out.

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But first....$5 bloody Marys from Sir Eden at the Orchid Bay Farmer's Market!

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Ultimately, the sunshine won out and we decided on a conservative plan: a quick trip to Man-O-War for lunch at the Dock & Dine and a stop in at the lagoon, where the winds are always calm.

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One of the things I love about Guana Cay, especially since buying a home there, is that it’s more like home than a vacation and the people who live there and visit regularly have become friends and family rather than strangers. As such, we had somehow amassed a group of 14 for dinner that night and I only had a reservation for 6.

Mermaids was quick to accommodate the change and immediately had a table set up for our entire group. The service, the food, and the drinks were top notch as always!

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After dinner, we hopped over to Grabbers for some Karaoke with Gabby and a little bit of (very bad) late night dancing.

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It was Sunday Funday, but the water was the calmest it had been all weekend, so we decided to forgo Nippers and head north to No Name Cay. I had seen that there were some piglets on the island and wanted to get my baby pig fix.

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Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I am not short of opinions and, from time to time, I have to climb up on my soapbox. So ….get ready.

I realize these are PIGS. However, they are not pets. They are not very keen on being touched, chased, or handled. I was dismayed by how many people I saw flat out running after them, chasing them, as they ran away squealing and terrified. I saw parents letting their kids throw things at them and grab at them, as they tried to hide under things to get away. I saw people throw food on the sand rather than in the nice, clean wooden trough that is provided, causing the pigs (who will eat ANYTHING PEOPLE) to gobble up the food….sand and all. All I am trying to say is that a little human decency goes a long way. These are animals. They are hungry, thirsty, and slightly apprehensive of all the human attention. Enjoy them from a distance, take a picture rather than grabbing a piglet by the tail, put food in the trough rather than throwing it in the sand, don’t chase them if they are afraid – let them come to you if they choose, give them some water. Be decent. That’s all.

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Once we had our piglet fix, we headed to Green Turtle. We had always pulled into New Plymouth on previous visits, but decided to pull into the dock at Coco Beach and make the short walk to the Green Turtle Club.

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It was a great way to wrap up a short trip.

Beautiful beach, wonderful food, strong drinks.

Great friends.

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BUT WAIT….THERE’S MORE….

Because Matt and I headed back down with newbies less than 2 weeks later!

Online friends Mark and Kristen became real friends back in October when we met in the flesh in Maryland. Somehow, we didn’t scare them off and they actually agreed to come to Abaco for a first visit.

Despite many trips to Exuma, they had not yet taken the plunge and visited Abaco so we offered to take them with us and show them around. It was a way for them to dip their toes in the water without making too much of a commitment.

It felt like “déjà vu all over again” as we lay in a near comatose state, sun drunk on the beach loungers at Treasure Cay.

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Champagne was followed by cocktails. Cocktails were followed by lunch. Lunch was followed by the beach.

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And…much like two weekends prior….that was followed by sunset at Grabbers and dinner, except that this time, I managed to stay in the golf cart.

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The next morning, we discovered that the winds were still up. That meant we couldn’t go very far comfortably.

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We settled on a trip to Elbow Cay (dang, this feels familiar). Our first stop was the beach at Man-O-War where we looked for starfish and shells, lounged in the sunshine, and enjoyed strawberry mimosas and bloody Marys.

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Next stop was Firefly for a decadent lunch and a revisit of those glorious frozen cocktails.

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Then it was on to Tahiti Beach for the sandbar party and boat drinks (or, more appropriately...lounging in the water drinks).

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Last stop was Hopetown for a quick shopping trip and a cocktail at Hopetown Harbour Lodge.

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That night, Mermaids helped me surprise Kristen who had celebrated her birthday just before the trip with a mermaid themed birthday dinner. Mermaids is TOPS!!

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Sunday Funday dawned bold and beautiful.

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We felt like Mark and Kristen needed the Nippers experience for their first visit, but we didn’t want to waste a gorgeous boat day, so we made a quick trip to the lagoon.

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We sipped strawberry daiquiris and snuggled some warm beach dogs while we watched the water turn every shade of blue around us.

Then it was back to Guana for lunch at Grabbers. I love their tuna poke and wings! Yeah okay, I also love the Grabbers!

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It wasn’t a super crazy Sunday at Nippers, but that’s good. That might have been a bit much for a first timer.

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It was just busy enough to enjoy some drinks, do some pool dancing, make some new friends, and hang out on the beach.

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For dinner, we cleaned up and headed to Orchid Bay for pizza (my favorite Sunday Funday dinner!).

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Our last day proved to be another windy one, so we didn’t want to venture very far. While I really wanted to show them Green Turtle, No Name, Munjack, or Pete’s…we settled for Man-O-War.

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We enjoyed some seriously good cracked lobster burgers at the Dock & Dine.

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Then we wandered down to the Sail Shop, Joe’s Studio, and my favorite….Sally’s Seaside Boutique where I can always find something adorable made from her traditional Bahamian fabrics.

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Craving just a little more beach time, we stopped at my favorite little beach for some sunshine and afternoon cocktails.

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Don’t worry….this little guy is in the water….it’s just that clear!

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Too soon, our last day was over so we drowned our sorrows with frozen Grabbers, a final sunset, and a quiet dinner at Nippers.

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But don’t feel too sorry for me just yet. Coming on the heels of back to back trips to Guana is an anniversary trip to Anna Maria Island! Stay tuned friends!

Posted by vicki_h 11:38 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (3)

Better Late Than Never - July on Guana Cay

Obviously, I am a little behind on the travel blog. We did a lot of travelling over the summer, but life got in the way and the photos have stayed buried in my camera and the stories have stayed buried in my memory. It’s time to get them out of there!

As we have done for many years, we made a trip to Guana Cay in Abaco for the week of July 4th. What can I tell you about Abaco that I haven’t already? How many more photos of deliciously clear water can I show?

Besides, it’s been almost 3 months. I have no idea what we did.

Rather than a play-by-play that will leave you knowing every meal I ate and what time I brushed my teeth each morning, I’m simply going to share my favorite stories from this trip.

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Doom, Despair, and Agony on Me….the Cheeseburger in Paradise Party

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We arrived at the airport early Friday morning, with every intention of getting to the boat and making the hour-plus boat ride to Fiddle Cay in time for the 2017 cheeseburger party. This was an optimistic goal, and one that, in hindsight, we should have crossed off our list.

First, let me make it clear that this IS NOT the same party that we have attended in years past…AND LOVED.

THAT party was the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party, hosted by Bob and Pat Henderson. We enjoyed it immensely every year that we attended.

Bob and Pat had to take a hiatus from the Cheeseburger Party due to several difficult family events and, without their blessing, another group started the “Cheeseburger in Paradise Party” on the same date and on the same deserted cay. Our gut instinct was to avoid the new party and find something else to do, but we were travelling with friends and they really wanted to go.

We should have stuck with our gut. I found the event less awe-inspiring than in years past.

We managed to arrive around 1:00 p.m. and found a very different atmosphere than we were used to. It was apparent that large crowds from Nassau and other non-Abaco places were present and they definitely changed the feel of the event.

Too many jet-skis with careless drivers zoomed recklessly between carefully anchored boats, causing them to rock and crash into each other as the repeated wake hit. A hover boat kept zipping past people trying to relax in the shallow water. Small boats that barely looked seaworthy floated in, loaded with about 5 times the number of bodies that could safely be aboard. Too many deafening speaker systems, thongs stretched far past their maximum usefulness, and guys with grabby hands.

Ick.

Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day and we were in a beautiful spot – might as well enjoy what we could.

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We entertained ourselves by dragging out the Inflata-Bull and dragging it around. It wasn’t until about halfway through the day that I realized exactly why Matt wanted to be in charge of the Inflata-Bull.

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I’m a little slow.

The day was going fine until I realized the pool float my camera (yes….THE camera) was being pulled around on was getting splashed excessively and that my camera was sitting in an inch of water.

This is the last photo that camera ever took.

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It would be vacation by iPhone at this point.

So far, I had made the bad decision to even come to the Cheeseburger Party and the bad decision to think a float in the ocean was a safe place for a $4,500 camera. I decided to make it 3 for 3 and agreed to sleep on the boat that night, despite how it went the last time.

I thought we had remedied all the issues we encountered the last time we tried to sleep aboard:

• We now had a power cord long enough to reach the dock which gave us a/c and allowed us to use the bathroom;
• We had the center cushion that actually allowed the seating and table in the cabin to be turned into a bed; and
• I was not dying of the Bubonic Plague.

Apparently, I had been misinformed.

While we had a power cord, the a/c on the boat didn’t actually WORK. Likewise, Matt proceeded to inform me that something was wrong with the flushing on the toilet so I couldn’t use that either.

This would have been fine had the dock we chose for the night ACTUALLY HAD A BATHROOM. Quite the opposite…it was located in the middle of nowhere and had no facilities of any kind. It was more “dock with electricity” than marina.

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I went to bed and hoped for the best.

Much like my “hope for the best” with the Cheeseburger Party, the best was not meant to be.

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and HAD TO GO.

It was not #1.

We were on a remote stretch of Green Turtle Cay, so I made the decision to try to walk into “town” and see if there was any sort of park building or other public facility where I might find a bathroom.

The walk was excruciatingly long and dark. Like dark dark.

I walked around town and exhausted every possibility.

There was no bathroom.

I was sweaty and desperate.

I walked back to the remote dock and did the only thing I could do. …I had to hang my happy a$$ of a dock ladder and go in the ocean.

It was horrific and humiliating.

I feel very sorry for the turtles and fish.

At least it was dark dark.

Social Media vs. Reality: My true confession

I am sharing this photo to illustrate the difference in the version of our life we wish to portray through social media and the reality of our life.

The moment I was trying to portray…a peaceful, solitary morning on the beach.

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The actual moment…I sit and stare at the ocean unaware that my dog has chosen that exact moment to take a crap behind me.

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The hard truth: My life is less about peaceful moments on the beach and more about picking up crap.

I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.

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How do you know if someone REALLY loves you? I mean really, really, really loves you?

They’ll pee on you if you ask them to.

Unfortunately, after getting a jellyfish wrapped around my upper thigh on Treasure Sands’ beach and enduring Matt’s hot urine on my leg, I discovered that whole “jellyfish and pee thing” is a myth.

Now my leg hurt and I was covered in pee.

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Don’t worry, I was able to effectively drown my sorrows with pink drinks.

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Meanwhile, back at Nippers…..

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It was a great summer week, filled with all of the best things….good friends, my sweet dogs, lots of boat drinks, endless sunshine, and all the fried things.

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Until next time Abaco!!

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Posted by vicki_h 12:05 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (1)

Hitting the backspace button: Let's go back to Abaco!

A Quick Easter Break On My Favorite Little Island.

Now that we have our own place on Guana Cay, we try to get down there every chance we get. So when we had an opportunity to make a quick, last minute trip over Easter weekend, we jumped on the chance.

I was on Cloud 9…I was heading to Bikini Hut!

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An early morning flight had us on sunny Abaco by 9:00 a.m. By 9:30 we were loading our bags onto the boat, and by 10:00 we were off and running. We headed straight for Firefly on Elbow Cay for an early “welcome home” lunch.

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We enjoyed frosty cocktails in the warm sun, took a quick dip, and had a long and lazy lunch.

I love the food at Firefly. Most of the offerings you find on the Abaco culinary scene are fairly similar…..fish sandwich with fries…..burger with fries….conch with fries. While it’s no secret that I love some fried food, it’s nice to know there are a few restaurants where you can find some creative options. Firefly definitely stands out as one of the best. We enjoyed ginger-sesame crusted tuna tataki followed by crispy coconut fried lobster with fresh mixed greens and the blackened catch of the day with sweet potato fries.

Not a paper plate in sight!

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After lunch, we hopped over to Hopetown, intending to visit the Reef Bar and do a little shopping before heading to Guana to settle in.

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Hopetown was CRAZY! I have never seen that many people in town before. The Reef Bar was covered up. We realized it was spring break for a lot of families, so we downed one cocktail, took in the views, and jumped back on the boat in search of peace and quiet.

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We didn't exactly find peace and quiet. We had friends on the island and we saw their boat in the shallow lagoon on the south end of Guana Cay. We decided to try to creep in despite the fact that it was low tide.

We proceeded to get stuck, had to have our friends pull us off the sand with their boat, and I blew out my favorite flip flop when Matt told me to "GET OFF THE BOAT AND PUSH!"

Once we were safely back out to sea, we limped back to Guana in shame.

Hopetown had been a bust and the Lagoon had been a bigger bust.

We were ready to get to our little island and call it a day. We hoped it would be quieter than we had found Elbow.

It was.

Our little island was wonderfully peaceful when we arrived.

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We unpacked and settled in, cleaned up, and headed to Grabbers for that first glorious Guana Cay sunset.

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Afterwards, we met friends at Kidd’s Cove for a feast. We celebrated their last night on the island and our first with my favorite potato salad, peas n’ rice, salads, and fresh caught snapper.

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The next morning I woke up early to see the sunrise and realized I had lost my voice and a splitting headache. I couldn’t be getting sick. I was on vacation!

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I had no time to think about being sick. I had packing to do. Sure, we had just arrived, but Matt had convinced me to try spending the night on the boat that night and I needed to rally. I took some Advil and got our stuff together for our overnight trip.

It’s amazing how much stuff I needed to spend one night on the boat.

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We had never slept on the boat. It had a nice cabin and it was one of the reasons we decided on the boat we did. We felt like it was a good time to try it out, since this trip was just the two of us. It would be a good way to test run it and see what worked and what didn’t.

Let me just end the suspense….nothing worked.

We had decided to venture to Treasure Cay and spend a night in the marina. It would be great, Matt said. It’s a nice day, he said. We’ll have shore power, he said. We have a nice cabin with a nice bed, he said. We have a working bathroom, he said.

Lies.

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It didn’t start off too badly. The waves were a little bigger than normal, but just enough to elicit joyful shrieks and laughs. But as we picked up speed, the waves got bigger and the wind got stronger and the shrieks were no longer joyful.

The sea was angry that day, friends. Very angry. I was a acutely aware that as a very small woman with no means to secure myself to the boat, I was in a vulnerable position. I tightened my grip on the metal handle in front of me (for which I’m sure there’s some actual boat term but that I prefer to call the “Oh Shit” bar) and held on for dear life.

Our plan was to first go to Treasure Sands on the far end of the beach for lunch and lounging before making our way back to the marina for the night. We got all the way to Treasure Sands before realizing the water was far too rough to stop there.

This meant we had to go ALL THE WAY back to Don’t Rock. Against the wind and against the waves. That’s when the $hit really hit the fan. I knew I was in trouble when Matt told me to just go below, shut the door, and hold on.

The next 20 minutes were violent. The waves pounded the boat hard enough to knock me into the ceiling repeatedly and to cause the microwave to keep flying open and shooting the glass tray across the cabin. I feared I would be decapitated at any moment.

I spent the majority of the ride wedged in with pillows while using my arms as a brace against the ceiling to keep me from flying up and hitting my head. My teeth were banging together. I was pretty sure I was going to die from a head injury caused by an airborne flashlight that had worked its way out of its cubbyhole.

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It would have probably been smarter to turn back, but we were committed.

I thought about grabbing the air horn to send Matt a distress signal, but I was pretty sure things were worse up top.

Thankfully, I am not prone to motion sickness.

When we finally pulled into Treasure Cay marina, Matt was grim faced and saltwater soaked from head to toe, and my arms felt like I had done 2 hours of push-ups.

So…sure….it wasn’t a great start.

But as we cruised into the marina, things immediately started looking up. It was calm, sunny, and beautiful.

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I set out to explore while Matt tied the boat off and got us checked in at the marina office.

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Treasure Cay is definitely the closest thing to a “resort” that I have seen on Abaco, but it wasn’t resorty by any means. It was still just good old Abaco.

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“We have a small problem,” Matt said as I returned to the boat.

After the ride over, I really didn’t think any additional problems were acceptable.

“Our power cord isn’t long enough to reach the dock so we won’t have shore power.”

That meant no lights, no microwave, no toilet, no a/c.

Let me translate that into Vicki-speak: Darkness, mosquitoes, 15 minute walk to the bathroom, and no coffee.

This was dire.

“Well,” I said, “At least it’s a cool night and we have a comfy bed.”

“That was another thing I wanted to tell you….”

Apparently, the center cushion that turns two narrow, uncomfortable benches around the table into an actual bed was not on the boat.

What was supposed to be this:

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Was, in fact, this:

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And I was feeling worse by the minute. The headache that was ever present was now being joined by a horrible sore throat.

No matter.

We were here now and there was no way in hell I was heading back out into the Sea of Doom for another boat ride.

Instead, we decided to make the best of it and grabbed a taxi to Treasure Sands. If we couldn’t have overnight luxury, we’d have afternoon luxury!

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After the horror of the morning, Treasure Sands was pure bliss.

Treasure Sands was posh, uber hip, and an oasis of relaxation. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Poolside champagne made me forget that boat ride had ever happened, and made me temporarily forgot that we had an uncomfortable night in front of us.

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Like Firefly, Treasure Sands is one of the better dining options in the Abacos. We enjoyed a decadent lunch. I opted for the open face hot fish – fresh hog snapper delicately fried “Nashville hot chicken” style and served with tangy pickles. Matt went for the always delicious lobster club. Both were served with their parmesan garlic fries.

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We lounged late into the afternoon.

Mainly to avoid going back to face this:

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But eventually, we made our way back to the marina where we grabbed showers and opened some wine to enjoy with the sunset before dinner.

For a moment, I forgot about the lack of power, the long midnight walk I’d be making to the bathroom, and the two tiny, hard sleeping spaces we had waiting for us below and I realized how much I could enjoy a night on the boat. It was a beautiful night.

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We walked from the marina to Coco’s for their Friday Night Fish Fry and started the evening with a hard-earned Treasure Bomb Shot. It tasted like cough syrup and made me wish I had some. I was feeling worse by the minute.

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I drowned my sorrows with a frozen blue margarita and then fed them some hot conch fritters.

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For dinner, I went with traditional Abaco fare and got the blackened catch, cole slaw, and mac n’ cheese. Matt got daring and ordered the Fish Fry special.

I draw the line at eating things that still have eyes.

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We returned for our night on the boat.

I’d love to say, “It wasn’t so bad.” I’d like to convince you that I am a good sport and made the best of a less than ideal situation.

I am not a good sport.

It was miserable.

It was a combination of my increasing congestion, a now incessant cough, and trying to sleep on a narrow sliver of hard vinyl.

It’s important to note that I am a finicky sleeper. I need everything to be exactly perfect for me to drift off: pitch black, cool, silent, with a firm pillow, a thick comforter, and a soft mattress. Matt has equated my sleep set up to being no less complex than launching the space shuttle.

The boat cabin was warm and small with light and sound from the marina flooding into every hatch that had to remain open lest we suffocate without the a/c. The “bed,” we’ll just call it that for fun because we all know that wasn’t a bed, was excessively small and ferociously hard. Because I only brought bedding for ONE bed, not 2 separate beds, we had to split the bedding, so it was completely insubstantial.

I’m not sure who was more miserable, me, who coughed all night long and woke myself up with a loud congested snort every time I managed to doze off, or Matt who had to lay awake and listen to me cough all night long and snore myself awake every 23 minutes.

Oh, and did I mention that it was a FULL MOON? A very huge, bright, shining in the hatch above my head FULL MOON?

Let’s not even talk about the long walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

It was a long night.

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But we survived it. As the sun rose over Treasure Cay, I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer.

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We made our way to the small quick market and perused the laughable and awkward medicinal offerings. I found a $24 bottle of DayQuil and an $8 bottle of some unrecognizable nasal spray.

It would have to do.

It’s amazing what a little medicine can do. I felt 90% human and went in search of coffee, since we didn’t have any power.

I found myself at Florence’s and remembered reading about the legendary cinnamon rolls generated by this modest cafe. I popped in for coffee (heaven!), breakfast sandwiches, and ….mmmmm……..cinnamon rolls.

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Obviously, whatever illness I had did nothing to my appetite.

After some coffee and sugar, I felt 99% human.

At least for the time being.

We made our way back to Guana and marveled at the beautiful day.

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With no plans for the day, we headed to Mermaids on the Rocks for lunching and lounging.

If you recall, it opened just last month, about a week before our March visit.

I still really loved the place.

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Tish, the bartender, mixed us up some fantastic cocktails that we enjoyed with their killer view.

We knew their dinner was good, so we wanted to try lunch. It was fantastic.

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Oooey, gooey loaded nachos, a cheesy burger, and a panko coconut fish sandwich made for lunch perfection.

Their crystal clear pool made the perfect place for a post-lunch siesta.

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We followed Mermaids with trip to Grabbers for a dip in the water.

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My DayQuil was starting to wear off, so we headed home. I grabbed some Vicks and Advil at Guana Grocery to round out my vacation cocktail that I hoped would get me through the rest of the trip.

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After some down time, we headed to Grabbers for sunset and drinks.

Do we get tired of going to the same places over and over?

No.

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We followed that with rib night at Orchid Bay.

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The next morning was Easter Sunday. We hadn’t thought to bring church clothes, so we headed to the beach to have our own sunrise service.

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As the sun rose higher into the sky, I was not only thankful for the gift of God’s son and my salvation, but for all the gifts he has blessed my life with.
What a beautiful reminder of what really matters.

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Not interested in another bone jarring boat ride, we decided to keep ourselves parked on Guana for the day, as the wind hadn’t really subsided.

We spent a lazy morning at Grabbers doing a lot of nothing. Which was absolutely perfect.

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I felt like death on a cracker, but was surviving on a steady diet of DayQuil and alcohol.

And cheeseburgers.

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Nippers Sunday Funday and Easter went together about as well as cats and sweaters, so we took a pass. It just didn’t feel right.

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We chose to end the trip with dinner at Mermaids – seared tuna for me and pasta carbonara for Matt.

Mermaids was still hitting home runs.

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Our trip had come to an end, but that was probably for the best. I was quickly running out of $24 DayQuil and the closest thing Guana Cay had to a doctor was Troy, who owns the dive shop and also serves as the entire Fire Department and the island’s entire EMS division.

It was time to head home….and for once….I was okay with that.

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Next up: We’re heading south to let the good times roll in New Orleans! Stay tuned!

Posted by vicki_h 08:19 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (4)

Shamrocks and Shenanigan’s: St. Paddy’s Day on Guana Cay

It was the perfect storm. No, I am not talking about the Andrea Gail. I am talking about the fact that someone decided that St. Patrick’s Day (which is pretty much about drinking), the Barefoot Man concert on Guana Cay (which is pretty much about drinking), and a party at Nippers (which is pretty much about drinking) should all happen simultaneously. Given that any one of these events alone can result in rampant debauchery and mayhem, having them all at the same time was certainly a recipe for complete pandemonium. There was no way we could survive with all of our vital organs and/or appendages intact.

The last time Matt and I tried to attend a Barefoot Man show with John and Teresa, things didn’t go so well. For those who have not read the story, read entry #1 on this blog and you’ll understand….And it wasn’t even on a holiday designed around pub crawls and binge drinking. It was just a Tuesday.

A strong believer in the old adage that “What doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger,” Teresa and I signed on, despite the dire results from our previous attempt to attend a Barefoot Man Concert at Nippers together.

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Who needs green beer?

Irish I had a Frozen Nipper!

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We headed down on Thursday afternoon to ensure we didn’t miss a minute of Friday’s fun. An uneventful flight (the best kind!) got us on Guana Cay in time to settle into Bikini Hut, enjoy $5 Wing Night at Orchid Bay, and relax with a spectacular sunset at Grabbers with a frozen cocktail in hand.

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Wings and champagne.....because I'm classy like that.

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Friday morning found me on the beach early, which seems to be a habit I simply can’t break. My inner alarm clock wakes me before sunset EVERY MORNING on Guana Cay. Knowing it’s only a 2 minute walk to the beach compels me to throw on some cut offs and flip flops and head out the door in the dark every morning. I can’t wait to see the sun come up over that beautiful beach. It’s never the same, and it never disappoints.

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It was an overcast day, but we still expected big crowds to descend upon our little island for the Barefoot Man concert, so I was the designated “table holder.” Ensuring we had our choice of table for the day meant going to Nippers at 10:30 and sitting in the sea breeze sucking down bloody marys until everyone else showed up a couple of hours later.

It was a tough job, but I felt fully up to the challenge.

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As people poured in, filling up every available seat by 11:30, I was glad I had come early. Not to mention that getting there early meant I got to hear the pre-show warm up, had ample time to visit with the colorful cast and crew of Nippers, and had a chance to get up close and personal with the Big Guy himself.

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The downside was that I was already a few drinks in when everyone else arrived.

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We were decked out in our St. Paddy’s Day best and we were ready for malarkey and shenanigans.

Obviously, there were plenty of both.

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In stark contrast to Barefoot Man 2008, Barefoot Man 2017 was a blast. There were no black eyes, no food fights, and no shouting. No left mad and no one cried.

Based on our 2008 Barefoot Man Experience, I had set some goals for the day:

• Goal #1: Actually see Barefoot Man perform.
• Goal #2: Alternate one glass of water for every frozen Nipper.
• Goal #3: Make it through the day with no one getting in a fight.
• Goal #4: Actually eat my lunch instead of wearing it.
• Goal #5: See to it that Teresa’s hat did not end up some shade of “Nipper” by the end of the day.
• Goal #6: Get home without anyone getting hurt.
• Goal #7: Maintain our dignity.

I am pleased to say that we accomplished Goals #1-6.

Goal 7 is subject to interpretation.

Unlike 2008 where some of us were crying, some sleeping, and some holding cold compresses to their face by the end of the day, we enjoyed a beautiful evening at Sunsetters, eating pizza instead of comparing our battle wounds and looking for band-aids.

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As usual, Saturday morning found me on the beach at 0-dark-thirty. And I couldn't have been happier about it.

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Matt had some things to work on at the house and on the boat, so Teresa and I planned to kick around Guana for the day.

We started things off with a visit to the Orchid Bay Market, a seasonal event with arts, crafts, and delicious foods.

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It coincided with the regular Saturday Sir Eden market, where you can find amazing produce from a local organic and hydroponic farm on Abaco.

After buying enough lettuce for a month’s worth of salads (it was so pretty I couldn’t help myself…besides….on an island where 99% of the offerings are battered and fried, I find myself craving something green!), we decided to head down to the new Mermaids on the Rocks to have a look around.

Guana has a limited number of restaurants, most of them very casual in nature: Grabbers, Nippers, Kidd’s Cove, and Sunsetters at Orchid Bay. We were excited to see the “new kid on the block,” Mermaids on the Rocks, rumored to be a little more upscale with a view to die for. It had opened just the previous week.

Those rumors were spot on.

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We found ourselves at a happy, blue building with a bright and colorful bar overlooking the beautiful Sea of Abaco. The views were stellar, the décor was top notch, the wine perfectly chilled, and the pool rules told me someone had a sense of humor.

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With a casual pool bar below and an upscale restaurant above, Mermaids seemed to fill a niche that Guana Cay sorely needed. Without hesitation, we made reservations for dinner that night.

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With an afternoon to kill, we headed to Grabbers where the guys met us for lunch and some luxurious lounge time. On a pretty day, Grabbers is hard to beat.

With a crystal clear pool, shallow sea, palm lined beach, and crispy conch fritters….what more could a girl want?

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Okay, maybe a savory caprese lobster salad sandwich.

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And her two best sidekicks.

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It was a perfectly lazy afternoon.

We were excited to try Mermaids for dinner. We arrived just before sunset and were immediately in love with the outdoor deck and the view.

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One of my favorite things about Mermaids immediately became this sign.

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Have no fear…this doesn’t mean you can’t wear flip flops to the restaurant. This means don’t come strolling in the door wearing nothing but a sarong and a bandeau bikini top crushing your upper half into a uniboob. You just have to put some actual clothes on. Resort casual is perfectly fine, provided you’re wearing more than a swimsuit cover up.

While I love running barefoot around Nippers and Grabbers in nothing more than a swimsuit and a tank top, it’s also nice to have a place where the expectations are a little higher. A girl needs a place where she can pull out the cute dress and nice shoes every once in a while.

We enjoyed sunset on the deck with wine and some of their specialty martinis before moving inside for dinner.

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The interior of the restaurant was simply lovely. Special thought has been put into every detail, from the beautiful mermaid artwork to the intricate lattice of ropes that separates the two main dining areas. The wood bar gleamed and candles cast a soft and intimate glow at the table.

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While I love a good burger and paper plate full of fried things, I was happy to see a menu that offered things like fresh ceviche, spaghetti pomodoro, and several proper steaks, as well as an abundance of fresh seafood options.

My favorite? NO PLASTIC GLASSES!

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We had set our expectations high and Mermaids didn’t disappoint.

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Sunday morning was clear and beautiful.

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We decided to take advantage of the weather and take the boat to Pete’s Pub for the day.

The water views from Guana to Pete's are some of my favorites in all of Abaco.

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Pete’s was calm and colorful and we spent the next few hours sipping Bloody Mary’s and Blasters, dining on their fresh fish sandwiches and savory cole slaw, and doing a whole lot of nothing.

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We made a few stops on the way back for some snorkeling and beach time.

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We were back in time to get cleaned up and head to Grabbers for our nightly sunset ritual.

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Then it was over to Kidd’s Cove for the best lobster on Guana. It’s always the most tender and you can’t beat the potato salad. I could eat a vat of that potato salad.

It’s a good thing all I have to do when I am finished is waddle next door to Bikini Hut!

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The morning of our last full day hinted that it would be another beautiful island day.

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It had been a relatively low-key trip to Guana. Matt had some more work to do, so I spent our last day sunning myself at Grabbers and sipping frozen concoctions.

There was hammock-time, pool floating, lobster bites and cheeseburgers, and plenty of frozen Grabbers.

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We made a late afternoon run over to Shell Island before calling it a day.

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We decided to have dinner at the house, so I popped by Guana Grocery to pick up a few extra things and found a massive sweet potato. You could make an entire pie with that potato. That potato alone could solve world hunger.

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I didn’t buy the potato.

It frightened me.

Instead we had a great pasta dinner and the world’s largest salad, using the 9 lbs. of hydroponic salad greens I had bought from Sir Eden for no good reason.

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It had been an uncharacteristically calm visit to Guana. I was pleased to know that I could actually visit the island without wrecking a golf cart, getting stuck on a sandbar, having to evacuate a boat on fire, anyone needing stitches, getting cut off by Irene, or running from the Police.

Sometimes I CAN adult.

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Stay tuned for my girls' weekend to Nashville .....where I don't adult very well!

Posted by vicki_h 13:12 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (1)

Merry Christmas and a Sandy New Year!

Spending Christmas in a cozy cabin has somehow become a tradition with me and Matt. It wasn’t intentional or deliberate, but is simply a habit that we have slipped into.

This year, we had a difference of opinion. Matt wanted to revisit the cozy cabin Christmas. I wanted to spend my holiday week at Bikini Hut on Guana Cay. After a weeklong Mexican Standoff, we reached a compromise: We would spend the weekend of Christmas at a cabin in north Georgia and then proceed south to Abaco where we would stay until New Year’s.

I found the perfect cabin nestled in the mountains near Blue Ridge, GA where we spent several days doing nothing more than sitting by the fire, drinking wine, opening presents, baking, and eating.

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It was a glorious holiday.

After Christmas, we made our way to the land of sunshine and balmy seas for a week of post-holiday relaxation.

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We arrived to brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s. Thoughts of winter, December, and Christmas faded as quickly as I could say, “I'll have a frozen grabber.”

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We grabbed a lunch of fish tacos, lobster bites, and a cheesy lobster club before heading back to the house to unpack and settle in.

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It had been a long travel day and I was grubby. Matt was busy getting the gas and water turned on when I heard him yell, “If you want a shower, get it FAST!”

We had a spectacular water leak spewing from our cistern pressure tank.

We realized quickly that the leak was too large to even have the water on at all. Our entire cistern would be drained in minutes.

We shut the water off and decided we’d figure out what to do in the morning. One night without water wouldn’t kill us.

Instead, we headed to Grabbers for sunset and dinner. My one complaint about Abaco in the winter is how early the sun sets. We had lobster salads as the sun sank into the sea.

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Then we went home and went to bed dirty.

The next morning was beautiful. Perfect. Sunny. Warm. Calm.

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It was the kind of morning that punched you in the face and said, “Don’t stay here and fix that tank, stupid. Let’s take the boat out. You can get a shower later.”

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After a brief internal struggle….clean hair vs. a beautiful day on the boat…..I decided that we should seize the day. Sunshine trumps shampooed hair any day.

We agreed to spend ½ day on the boat and let Matt work on the cistern that afternoon. He was certain it would only take a couple of hours, so we’d have running water for that evening. No problem.

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With our old favorite, Lubbers Landing, no longer in business, we headed to Cracker P’s. We found some lounge chairs in the sun, an endless supply of cold drinks, and their world famous smoked fish dip.

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Cistern? What cistern?

The only thing Matt and I were worried about was who was going to have to get up off their chair to go get more drinks.

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We wasted some additional time at Tahiti Beach before heading back so that Matt could devote some time to the cistern.

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Of course, we got back to Guana much later than we originally intended. We only had about an hour until the famed Guana Cay Golf Cart Parade and Ugly Christmas Party at Nippers.

It was the kind of evening that pinched you on the arm and said, “Don’t be a chump. Get out and have fun. You can get a shower tomorrow.”

After a brief internal struggle….clean hair vs. a golf cart parade…..I decided that nothing tops a golf cart parade. Because….well….. GOLF CART PARADE!

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We used our hour to decorate our cart and don some ugly Christmas outfits. Thankfully, mine had a hat, because the hair was going downhill fast. What I wouldn’t have given for a can of dry shampoo, but given that the Guana Grocery didn’t even have MILK that day, I was pretty sure I was going to be hard pressed to find any dry shampoo.

I pulled on my hat, we turned on our lights, and we headed to Guana Lumber to join the parade.

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This was some spectacular stuff, guys. There were carts lined up all the way to the end of the road. Ugly Christmas sweaters, dogs in antlers, and Tervis tumblers filled with wine were stretched as far as the eye could see.

I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.

The only thing more fun than driving around Guana Cay in a golf cart is driving around Guana Cay in a golf cart that looks like a giant reindeer while dressed up like a deranged elf with a cocktail in your hand.

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I love this little island.

The best part of the parade was that it stopped at each Guana Cay restaurant where free food was provided and drinks were at the ready for purchase.

As the night progressed, and the parade goers consumed more drinks, I realized that, while this concept was absolutely BRILLIANT, it was definitely not practical. Whose idea was it to line up 60 golf carts, drink a lot, and then drive them in unison really close together? I'd like to shake that person's hand.

However, despite one tiny mishap involving a tower of lights atop a cart roof and a power line, it went remarkably well.

First stop was Sunsetters at Orchid Bay. The sunset was beautiful and they had a nice buffet of sandwiches, conch fritters, and meatballs. Then it was on to Grabbers for wings. The last stop, and the grand finale, was the ugly Christmas party at Nippers. Nippers put out a spread of goodies and cranked up the music. I’d like to tell you what they had but all I remember is the mac n’cheese because it was AWESOME.

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At this point, there was a lot of dancing, jingle belling, and merriment. We also learned that Matt has the same taste in shirts as the average teenage girl.

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The night ended with a spectacular display of fireworks.

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And then I went to bed with dirty hair. Again.

The following morning brought a soft and beautiful sunrise. And still no water.

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We had now been on Guana for about 40 hours with no water. I had been using Milo’s secret stash of buckets that he hides behind my house to flush my toilet and had taken a spit bath using handi-wipes and a bowl of water warmed up in the microwave.

This situation was getting dire. No matter how beautiful the day was, we agreed that the cistern had to be the priority of the day.

Matt headed to Marsh Harbour to get parts and I worked around the house.

He arrived back on Guana with all of his parts only to discover that the new pump he had was missing a plug.

Matt was about to turn around and head back to Marsh Harbour when our sweet neighbor, Tina, drove by and told us she was on her way over there and offered to get the plug for us.

She is a LIFESAVER. Since she wouldn't be back until around 4:30, there wasn’t anything we could do but jump on the boat.

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We headed to Man O’War Cay for lunch, where we saw this very disturbing fake dog.

Very. Disturbing.

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Then we loaded up on burgers and bacon cheese fries. I love that they garnished the cheese fries with a lemon and sprig of rosemary, like that somehow negated the white-trashiness of a plate of fries covered with cheese and bacon.

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We wasted the rest of our water-less afternoon walking on the beach with the pups and wondering if I could wear my santa hat to dinner.

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The plug finally arrived in the late afternoon, but there was a beautiful sunset getting geared up. It was the kind of sunset that jabbed you in the eye and said, " You don't want to miss this! Come on! You can flush your toilet tomorrow!"

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And that is how I ended up holding a flashlight while Matt crawled inside an absurdly small hole to finalize the cistern repair. It didn't matter how dark it was or how small that opening was, the cistern had to be fixed. We could not go another day without water. Who cared about bathing or flushing toilets….look at my hair!!!!

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After three days without water, WE HAD WATER!

Sure, it was hinked together with bits of chewing gum and spare parts we were able to bum off the neighbors, but WE HAD WATER!!!!

A hot shower never felt so good.

I flushed the toilet 3 times. Just because I could.

We celebrated with dinner at Kidd’s Cove. I can’t get enough of Edmund’s tender lobster and spectacular potato salad.

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And I finally went to bed clean.

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New Year’s Eve dawned with a golden sunrise and crisp blue skies dotted with white clouds.

I was so glad we didn’t have to work on the cistern because it was a day to have fun and celebrate!

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It was too windy for boating, so we decided to spend the day at Nippers doing nothing more than sipping bloody marys and working on our tans by the pool.

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It was a quiet day, so we decided to take the girls to Nippers with us. This was their first time at Nippers and Rooby immediately established herself as the Head Dog in Charge.

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After a few too many bloody marys, and maybe some nippers, we munched on some seared tuna, lobster bites, and burgers.

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Then it was back to Bikini Hut for naps.

Naps?

Yes, naps. Don’t act like you don’t take naps.

Everyone knows that people nearing 50 must take naps on NYE if they have any chance of staying awake past 10:00 p.m.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

And then it was officially New Year’s Eve! On Guana Cay!

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We started our celebration at Grabbers with a bottle of champagne and sunset. Only on Guana Cay can you walk into a bar with your own drinks and, not only will they let you drink it, they’ll drink it with you!

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Gotta’ love Guana.

After passing around glasses of bubbly to the staff, we were off to a friend’s house for an early evening potluck of snacks and cocktails with old and new friends.

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Next up was our “fancy dinner” at Sunsetters. “Fancy dinner” on Guana Cay means no paper plates, real silverware, and no food that requires ketchup.

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Last up was the NYE blowout at Nippers. As usual, it was a PARTY. Frozen nippers were flowing, glow sticks were waving, tables were rocking with tabletop dancers, music was thumping, and fireworks were booming.

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Happy New Year, Y’all!!!!

By the time we dragged ourselves out of bed the next morning, it was getting close to lunchtime so we headed to Fish Tales where we found these delightful fried jalepenos and a lobster quesadilla.

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It was Sunday Funday, it was New Year’s Day, and boats were literally POURING into Guana Harbour for the Nippers Sunday Pig Roast. Even on the 4th of July, I have never seen so many people walking down Front Street toward that colorful little bar.

I looked at Matt.

He looked at me.

Simultaneously, we shook our heads.

Not today. We’d been Nippered enough the night before to last a lifetime.

Instead, we packed up and headed to the peace and quiet of the lagoon.

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Everyone was happier with this choice.

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We ended New Year’s Day with a calm sunset and giant pizza at Orchid Bay.

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Cut us some slack. Old people can only handle so many parties in one week, people.

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Even though we woke up to another stunning day, Matt had some work to do around the house and I had been itching to paint something on the ugly cistern wall.

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We agreed to spend the morning working before going out on the boat.

I had no idea what to paint. I had no plan to follow. I just sort of “went with it.” Somehow I ended up with this:

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I never said I was an artist.

And I am pretty sure my mermaid is a drag queen. She has very heavy make-up, large pink hair, and no boobs. I might need to correct that ambiguous boob situation on our next trip.

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It was VERY WINDY, so we agreed the only place we could possibly get to on the boat that wouldn’t beat us to death was the lagoon. We packed a picnic, loaded up the pups, and headed that way.

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It was our last afternoon of sunshine and sea. I soaked in the palm trees, the blue sky, and the turquoise water….wrapping them up in my soul so that I could keep them with me until I was back.

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There was nothing left to do but watch a final sunset, have a final Grabber, and get ready to head home.

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Going home is always bittersweet. It’s good to be home, but Bikini Hut feels like home too. I think God knew my heart was heavy, so he gave us a spectacular “Welcome Home.”

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This will do until I have a chance to "go home" again.

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Posted by vicki_h 08:46 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (4)

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