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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Blue Mystery @ Little Farmer’s Cay

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Last year we avoided close contact with Little Farmer Cay’s
exceptionally shallow bottom in both our sailboat and
our dinghy.  Progress!  
 “It’s like a fine wine, you know.  It gets better with age,” chuckled Ernestine.  She was pouring me Ocean Cabin’s refreshing signature drink, the cool, blue OC Special. All the more refreshing as we’d just hiked pretty much the entire island.

Disappointingly, for me, my OC Special was premixed from a plastic jug as that would make it would to figure out how to make an OC; for Wayne because paying $8 for drink that comes out of a plastic jug is hard for him to swallow.  Last year I asked Ernestine what went into an OC, and she replied with a smile, “It’s our secret recipe.”  Didn’t expect a different answer this time, so didn’t ask.  Fortunately, the drink was for me (Wayne only had to swallow the bill, not the drink), and its $8 price tag was offset by a $5 burger; $15 for burger in the Bahamas out islands isn’t unusual.

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Ernestine willingly posed with her mixology
masterpiece, the mysteriously delicious
OC Special.
At least this year my OC special was not preceeded by a long stressful sail in, just a close eye on how little water stood between our dinghy and impact – enough, though.  The Explorer Charts we bought at OC last year made a huge difference in our navigation intelligence through the Exumas extensive shallows. 

Wits and tastebud analysis engaged.  My best guess?  Rum (probably Ricardo, from the Bahamas), coconut rum, pineapple juice, and slight touch of gin.  The OC Special’s blue; so betting unless food coloring’s added, it also has some blue curacao.  Ratios?  Well, truth be told, we keep a dry boat, and I’m not much in the mixology department. 

It was a quiet time on the island; we were there a week or so after their famed “5F” Farmer’s Key First Friday in February Festival (and regatta).  If I add one more alliteration, it would be “friendly,” albeit a welcome qualitiy prevelant through the Bahamas.

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Terry’s mom originally opened Ocean Cabin,
with a small space and a kerosene store.
Ernestine apologized for taking too long to get off the phone with her pastor before taking our order.  “Her?” I asked.  My sense was Bahama women’s professional roles in the church and society at large were more unofficial; that structured power was more paternalistic.  “She is the first Baptist minister in the Bahamas,” Ernestine admitted, before her husband Terry stepped in as she got busier.

When we shared where we were from, Terry surprised us by telling us that while he was born in the Bahamas, he was sent off first to England then to Libya for his education. 

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Cave just across from Farmer’s Cays
on the Southern tip of Great Guana Cay.
Terry’s background made for an interesting political perspective, including his wry observation that while in the Bahamas US Democratic presidents are lauded, Republican rule is usually better when it comes to its impact on Bahamas’ business.  We enjoyed the exchange, even when we respectfully, but curiously probed even more controversial areas such as gay acceptance, which overall we’ve heard is not culturally embraced in the Bahamas.  Well-timed light humor got us past those awkward differences.  Our goal is not to convince others of our viewpoint as much as it is to learn about and appreciate other’s viewpoints.  Ideally, travel broadens more than just our geographical horizons.

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Wayne cools off at cave on Great Guana after
our hot hike on nearby Little Farmer’s Cay.
As we were leaving, Terry urged us, “Please be sure to sign our guest book, take our handout and my card.” We did.

On the handout, Terry authored the story explaining the symbolism of Farmer Cay’s own flag; impressive for a lightly populated island less than a mile long and about half as wide.  A poetic ode, “Little Farmer’s Cay” by Diane H. Parker was on the handout’s flipside.

Funny, seems it’s the tiniest places that leave the biggest impressions of their own unique character, though it struck us as maybe a case of sibling island rivalry when Ernestine insisted the local eggs we bought on Black Point could not possibly be local, even if I saw the hens and roosters myself.  I’m equally skeptical that Sandy found a light dusting of dusty chicken poop just to make their already mottled surfaces seem authentically local.

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Beautiful bright light turquoise waters in the Bahamas 
are often treacherously sandy shallows, which may
 have something to do with this wreck’s presence on
Great Guana across from Little Farmer’s Cay.
Still, there is a sweetness to Little Farmer’s Cay that touched us, and makes it well worth a visit, festival or not.  Diane Parker’s poem captures its essence beautifully…. (first two stanzas of seven)

Little Farmer’s Cay
by Diane H. Parker

Little Farmer’s Cay –
smiling in the turquoise sea,
lazing in the sun at noon,
dreaming safe beneath the moon.

Where sky meets sand and sea –
my precious island, Farmer’s Cay.

This is home to me and it will always be.

March 6, 2014.  We're anchored off Georgetown, BAHAMAS Monument Beach, not too far from N23.32.5 W75.46.8.  This post reflected when we were near Little Farmer's Cay, Exuma Land and Sea Park, about two weeks ago.