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May 2017

An Embarrassment of Conch

May 15, 2017

It’s with very mixed feelings that we contemplate the end of our time here in the Bahamas. To give you an idea of what we’ll be missing when we leave, this was what we saw when came into Green Turtle Cay the other day (pardon the shaky camera work).

We just spent the last few days here as the Bahamian election drama ended with a win for the FNM party. On election day, we talked to a few PLP supporters in New Plymouth who had gathered at, of all places, the old town jail (charmingly styled Ye Olde Gaol on a sign outside), to wait for the returns to come in. Practically everything was closed that day so we were happy to see a few people out and about.

The cutest jail we’ve ever seen

In a way ignorance was bliss as we watched the Bahamian election from the sidelines. Not looking forward to returning to the political nightmare that is happening back home. Since everything was closed, we spent the rest of the day at the beach. There was great shelling and the water was bathwater warm. (Dad, in case you’re wondering we saw 85-degree water yesterday. Warm enough for you yet?)

The beach at Gillum Bay on Green Turtle Cay was pretty dreamy.

Shoutout to the nesting dinghy that Rich built! Dinky has served us very well.

That night we anchored around the corner at No Name Cay and stopped to visit the Abaco pigs at sunset (swimming pigs is officially a thing in the Bahamas!). These were slightly different pigs than the ones at Big Majors and the babies were tiny and so cute! We were happy to see that there was a cistern set up to make sure the pigs had enough water to drink, something I hope they’ll be adding at Big Majors soon.

Afterward, Rich zipped us around the corner to check out the amazing full moon, which was so pretty rising behind the boat when we returned.

These two were inseparable, and freakin’ adorable!

Full moon at No Name Cay

A few days after the election, we finally got to try souse, the Bahamian breakfast we’ve been hearing so much about. A little restaurant called Two Shorty’s Takeaway does it every Friday at 8 a.m. Being slightly neurotic, I wondered if we should call ahead, but reasoning that the Bahamas are on island time decided not to sweat it. Wrong!

“You’re late!” the owner Denise said when we turned up at 8:30, all sweaty from our bike ride across the island.


“But I might have enough for one order,” she finished.

Crisis averted! And lesson learned: Next time, call ahead…

Souse = yum!

The souse had a yummy clear broth with what looked like whole peppercorns, along with chicken, potatoes, green peppers, and a tiny dose of hot peppers. We squeezed a slice of lime on top that really brought all the flavors together. The johnnycake that came with it was a little crumbly and reminded us both of the corn bread we make back home, though this was made from wheat flour.

One of the many beautifully carved and hand-painted signs we saw on our ride into town.

Later that afternoon we learned that Jim, an old boat neighbor from Isle of Hope, had just crossed over from Florida and was in town. Funny what a small world the boating community is. We met up for lunch and shared our Bahamian wisdom. My contribution: #1 The Bahamian food staple is pronounced “conk” not “conch.” #2 The popular beer Kalik is pronounced “ka-lick,” not “ka-lique.” #3 Cay is pronounced like our word with the same meaning “key.” (This last one is especially vexing and we often hear foreigners, sometimes including us, on the radio struggling with the understandably confusingly pronounced word.) Rich filled him in on other important stuff like routing and anchoring.

That night we headed over to the Green Turtle Club Boathouse Bar for dinner and drinks, and the ceremonial placing of a dollar bill with our boat name on the wall. Their version of a rum punch, the Tipsy Turtle, goes down pretty easy. Debbie, our bartender was kind enough to get the kitchen to make us up some fish, peas and rice, and coleslaw, even though it wasn’t on the menu.

Green Turtle Cay Boathouse Bar

Who you calling Tipsy Turtle? Also, this is the tannest we’ve ever been in our lives. (Moms, I swear we slather on the 50 SPF daily, and reapply.)

On Saturday we sailed over to Fox Town, Little Abaco Island, where we waited out some weather. Yesterday we hit up a little restaurant onshore called Da Valley for dinner. According to Debbie, they have the best conch in the Bahamas. (She should know, she has a lot of family in Fox Town.) Well, she wasn’t wrong. The cracked conch was the tenderest we’ve ever had, no small feat with a dish that in the wrong hands can have the texture of rubber bands. And Fox Town turned out to be one of the most authentic and welcoming Bahamian places we’ve visited so far, despite a little conch drama that I’ll tell you about now.

At first we didn’t think we were going to get any food because the chef, Judy, was taking the day off for Mother’s Day. Fair enough. But after we got to talking to the owner and the other guys hanging out at the bar who were all super-friendly (one guy, Paulie, bought us beers), Judy popped in to cook something for a friend and next thing we knew there was a plate piled with conch fritters and cracked conch in front of us. I was super happy because we hadn’t eaten lunch and it was already about 7 o’clock. Score!

Then things got awkward. A gentleman who seemed to be, for lack of a better term, the town drunk had been pestering Rich pretty hard about selling him some conch. Rich didn’t want to be rude, but he could tell this guy’s offer wasn’t exactly on the up and up. Still, the guy was persistent and eventually Rich agreed to buy some conch from him. A while later, our bellies full of conch, the guy still hadn’t returned, and we were thinking, with some relief, that maybe it wasn’t going to happen. But suddenly, our new pal appeared with not one but FIVE conchs. Oh boy. Rich paid the guy, but what on earth were we going to do with this embarrassment of conch? Ronald, the owner of Da Valley told us that our friend had obviously stolen it from someone, but not to worry, it was all good and the residents of Fox Town were used to our pal’s antics. Guess we’re having conch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner today!

Meanwhile, we’re off to Mangrove Cay this morning. If all goes well, we’ll be crossing to Florida tomorrow. And then it’s time to figure out what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives… All suggestions welcome!