#33 B April 2011 Part II Miami - Bimini

Farewell, Miami!

Kindred Spirit and our 2 buddy boats awoke to a beautiful Miami morning. Each of us was bursting with excitement and anticipation of our Atlantic Ocean crossing to the Bahamas. The 6 1/2 hour trip could not have been more perfect! Seas were calm, wind light, and traffic non-existent. The sun's rays glinted off the water and looked like sparkling diamonds. The only life that we saw weren't dolphins as we've become so accustomed to seeing but flying fish. The first one I saw reminded me of a Purple Martin but they need fresh water so nixed that thought. The major clue was when it dived into the water and didn't come back up.

Channel entrance into Alice Town, Bimini, Bahamas

The color of the ocean was reminiscent of the contents of a blue ink well (if you're from that era) or an endless sea of sapphires.  As we neared the entrance to Alice Town, Bimini, our yellow quarantine flag was raised on the starboard side and we prepared for docking.The beauty of the range of shades from clear blues to turquoise was breath-taking.  After clearing customs, we replaced our quarantine flag with the Bahama flag and the 6 of us went ashore.

Sapphire blue waters of the Atlantic

Joe's Conch Shack had been recommended by friends Lynn and Reid for fabulous authentic Bahamian conch chowder. 1st of all, the description of "shack" was quite complimentary. In actuality, it was a roof, crowned with a huge turtle shell, and resting on 4 posts. Joe and any sign of his culinary delight was profoundly absent. To a native, I inquired about another possible location (since this wasn't quite a 'shack', I thought we may be in the wrong place) and was told that we were in the right spot and "Joe is on and off". Apparently that day and the next, Joe was "off". Restaurants/cafes (loosely used terms) abound. All but a couple are in peoples' homes so options were many and we had a difficult time deciding where to have dinner. Our choice was a good one and each of us sampled Bahamian cuisine.

Joe's Crab Shack

I fell in love with Alice Town and the Bahamians.  Every SINGLE person with whom we interacted or just met on the street was very friendly, warm, and welcoming.  One of my favorite things to do is talk to people I don't know---and this was fertile ground.  The island is 7 miles long and 700 feet wide so of course everyone who lives there knows everybody else.  The main street is very narrow and shops open right at the curb.  There's only 1 other north-south street and it runs along the beach.  I was pretty much overwhelmed at the poverty and basic simplicity of these people.  There are some golf carts and very few cars--each of which is banged, dented, and pretty ragged.  It's our guess that cars provide status---it's definitely not the houses but leaves me wondering the pecking order of the  vehicles. Regardless of whether you're walking or cycling (there are no sidewalks), the carts and cars fly past with only a millimeter between them and you.  I wonder how many pedestrians are mowed down by Bimini drivers.

Typical Bahamian Grocery Store

Bimini looks like an island where dreams began but were abandoned. We saw signs saying "Keep Bimini Clean" but so many beer bottles, cans, cigarette butts, Styrofoam,and trash in general, was strewn everywhere. I don't believe that it's the tourists who are littering. When we'd go to the beach we'd take bags to pick up litter and the natives just didn't understand our doing that. Bill and I rode our bikes to explore the length of the island. I stopped when I saw 2 men loading debris in a truck because one of them was banging a green coconut on the edge of the tailgate. He told me that inside was "coconut water" that tasted very good. I asked if I needed to pick one up off the ground or was it OK to pick it from a tree. He opened the truck door and asked how many I wanted. I told him that 1 would be a gracious sufficiency. He said he'd give me a demonstration so he got another coconut, whipped out a huge machete and began chopping the coconut with great vigor and dangerously close (I thought) to the fingers of his other hand. He got to the membrane, punctured it, and showed me the clear juice flowing from it. "It would be a pity to waste this", he said as he turned it up and drank. I learned that coconut water and gin is a popular drink but he told me if he'd put "sweet milk" in it, then it'd be called "gully wash"!

Bimini's beach where we enjoyed snorkeling and shelling

Sign on door on Bimini's main (and only) street
There were about 10 tiny shops in the straw market and I talked at length to each woman shop-owner.  As I walked away I felt like I had 10 new "best friends" and was richer for our conversations.


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