Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mayaguana - Where Time Stands Still

Abrahams Bay!
Mayaguana is an island where time stands still. Everything seems just as it was when we visited five years ago. Building works are still incomplete, proposed developments that old guide books described are nowhere in sight. Nothing really seems to go on there and yet I believe about 500 people live on the island.  The small settlement of Abraham’s bay (how it gets called a settlement I'm not sure, as although I see people, maybe five or six of them, I don’t see any homes) is a one street town (for loss of a better word).  There is a church, a couple of stores (opened by appointment – should you be able to find the owner) that cater to your most basic needs – toilet paper, flour, cold drinks and the odd bit of fruit and veg should they survive the humid conditions down on the twice weekly mail ship.  There is a bar where you serve yourself from what is available in the fridge and pay at the till (a cash box); surprisingly the wifi is very good.  Also rather surprisingly there is a Batelco office - the mobile telephone company native to the Bahamas that not only offer data SIM cards but had them in stock too.  And even better still they were on half price special.  The customs and immigration office is manned by an appointed local who smiled  sweetly (her large dark cheeks dimpling as she did so) while she kindly relived us of a US$300 clearance fee.  Everyone we spoke to – which is pretty much everyone who passes you by - all five of them – greeted us with big smiles asking us how we were and to let us know if we needed anything. Maybe they are trained in school - “be nice to tourists, they pay a lot to be here!”). 
The one street wonder at Abrahams Bay
So while the “settlement” might not win any awards except for smiley, friendly people – the bay we were anchored in might.  All the Bahamas are low lying islands – a huge contrast to the  hilly east Caribbean.  On one side of the bay we had long stretches of sandy beaches broken periodically by rocky lava outcrops and to the other side surf breaking over a reef that protects the bay from the worst of the southerly ocean swells.  The five mile long bay is no deeper than four or five meters though often less – in the midday sun the colours look amazing.  Under the boat rays rummage for food and literally hundreds of starfish and sand dollars are scattered on the seabed.

Taking a stroll down the beach
SY Khaya Moya, SY Unwind and ourselves were joined by SY Spirit of Argo and SY Waimangu as we waited for weather to continue our journeys north.  In the morning the ladies noodled (aqua aerobics) – can you ask for a more perfect setting for a morning workout? In the afternoon we walked on the beach –checking out the wreck of a boat that had obviously washed ashore in a storm. We had potlucks in the evening gorging ourselves on good food and good company. 

One of the grocery stores

Sim sipping an ice cold Kalik - the local brew

The Bar and Sports Lounge!
Excellent wifi!

Our Bottom!

Good holding for the anchor in soft white sand

Literally hundreds of starfish on the seabed 

and Rays

Crystal Clear water

These were the biggest starfish I have EVER seen!

John rescues a damsel in distress

Chitons cling to rocks in shallow water

This boat looks like a fairly recent wreck

Waiting for the bad weather to pass through

Hanging out with the crews of Unwind, Khaya Moya, Spirit of Argo and Waimangu

The obligatory sunset shot!


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