Sadly, our time in the Berries was cut short by weather. We enjoyed a beautiful day in Soldier Cay before sailing down through the rest of the Berries, looking in vain for an anchorage where we’d be protected from the winds, which were coming out of the west. We finally stopped in Frazier’s Hog Cay (we kept calling it Hogwarts and Hog’s Breath), where we planned to spend a few days to ride out a front that was rolling in, but by morning the wind was clocking around to the south and our anchorage wasn’t looking like such a safe haven anymore. So we made the executive decision to head to Nassau to take care of a few things like refueling, refilling our water tanks, and getting ready to head to the Exumas.
The whole way I kept replaying all the things everyone had told us about how dangerous and dirty Nassau was and how if we really had to go there, we should just get in quick and get out. But we’ve heard that about another city we love, and oh, how wrong they were! Yes, Nassau’s the biggest city in the Bahamas and yes there are a lot of people here (about 80 percent of the 350,000 people in the Bahamas live in Nassau) and crime is high, but it was a fun stop and we had a hard time tearing ourselves away.
For starters, we were able to do some important provisioning at the shopping center right across the street from the marina. We picked up a mouse for the computer and a Batelco SIM for the iPad (T-Mobile has been great, but not being able to create a hotspot has made sending files back to clients challenging). We also stocked up on a few fresh items at the fancy schmancy Fresh Market where sticker shock was in full effect: Eight dollars for a bag of tortilla chips? Ouch! (And no, thank you!) Seven dollars for spinach? Pow! (And yes, please!) But some things weren’t so bad: La Croix was about the same price as back home, give or take. Score! (Rich was kind enough to hump back a case of the lemon flavor for me. He’s a good man!) We had to laugh because they really did have a little bit of everything, even the Kaukauna cheese that was all the rage in our house in the ’70s. Rich’s friend, who’s also from Wisconsin, tells the story of friends in Alaska coming back from a trip raving about the “Hawaiian” cheese they tried, pronouncing it “cow-kah-una,” as one does in the islands. The only problem being that Kaukauna is from Wisconsin and it’s pronounced “kah-kah-na.”
Speaking of Hawaii, we also checked off another important item on our list, a Hawaiian sling. Traditional spear guns aren’t allowed in the Bahamas, so if you want to nab some delicious lobster you have to use a sling-shot-style one called a Hawaiian sling. We haven’t tried it out yet, but we’ll let you know how it goes.
One afternoon we wandered down to Montague Beach to check out the fort there, but it was closed. Oh well, we wandered down to the fish market instead. On our way back with fish to cook for dinner we stopped at a little food stall where the chef turned out some tasty conch fritters and a very, very delicious and very, very dangerous beverage called Sky Juice (young coconut meat, which they call “jelly” coconut milk, rum and gin…why on earth we need rum and gin in the same drink is beyond me, but trust me when I say they’re potent!). Our neighbor at the bar, a local, delighted in giving us the lowdown on everything from the sauce for the fritters (mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard) to the supposed aphrodisiac powers the conch has for men (good to know!) to introducing us to a famous Bahamian artist who creates Junkanoo costumes.
We invited our neighbors Odile and Herve over for dinner. Rich prepared the fish Bahamian style with only salt and pepper and lime for seasoning. Delicious! Odile made a really tasty beet salad that I couldn’t get enough of. The pair had just come from Panama where Herve had been living for several years and told us we had to go, and soon, before everyone else finds out how cool it is. I’ve always wanted to go to the San Blas Islands. Hmmmm….
After we finished all our business in Nassau, we sailed over to Rose Island, which is just down the road from Nassau Harbor and about a million miles away in terms of beachy goodness and great snorkeling. We rowed over to the edge of the reef and were treated to a profusion of tropical fish (a bunch of sergeant majors, a cuttlefish, a huge angelfish and a black-and-yellow stripey juvenile angelfish, my fave, naturally!) and amazing coral, purple fans and giant brain coral. Swimming back to the dinghy against the current wore my ass out, but it was the most exercise I’ve had in a while. Getting back into the dinghy is easier said than done and after several attempts I managed to haul myself in, but not before giving myself a nasty bruise on my thigh. Gotta work on that dismount!
Later that afternoon Rich was a little annoyed to see a big powerboat motor in and anchor right on top of us. Rich and the captain of the other boat were engaged in some intense staring for a little while after that. Eventually the other boat moved. Rich, being a neighborly guy under all the crankiness, rowed over later with a few beers and came back home with a dinner invitation. Turns out the couple on the boat are from Chicago. Small world.
By the end of the night, we’d heard a lot about Greek Fest and how we should go with them on Sunday. Well, we’re glad we did! We all piled into a truck for the ride downtown (a highlight was riding in back like when we were kids!) and then hopped out to enjoy some of the best Greek food I’ve had since I backpacked in Greece a looooong time ago! The moussaka was divine and the veggie version was even better. Rich was over the moon about the octopus. And the company was fantastic, our new Chicago friends and some of their local Bahamian friends. Afterward we did a little sunset cruise of the harbor and Atlantis. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday in Nassau.
Yesterday, we pulled up anchor and sailed south for the Exumas. We arrived in Allan Cay at around 2 p.m. to a fairly packed anchorage, but were able to nab a spot. The iguanas were out in full force on the beach looking for snacks from a gaggle of tourists who’d just pulled up on a powerboat. We may go pay the iguanas a visit today. All I know is it feels good to finally be in the Exumas after all this time dreaming about getting here!