April 20th, Thursday

Most of us had toast for breakfast except Ben who was too busy reading in his room. Yesterday the gardener had dropped off a machine that attracts (via CO2) the gnats and captures them. Joel figured out how to turn it on. No real noise to speak of and no gnats on this calm morning. Whether we just got up too late for them or the device works is up for debate. The gnats are usually bad in the evening. C-- wanted to walk out to Levi Island and see what it was like. We all followed her. It would be much easier if the tide had been a little lower. With the right path Joel and I could just make it, though at times we were on our tiptoes. We all wore our sandals or water shoes, all except Beth and Amos who had to be carried part of the way to avoid the Purple Sea Urchins. Walking out was quite an adventure. First it was just trying to find the right path so it wasn't over our head. Then C-- started yelling at a fish to go away. It had made friends with her. When I put my mask on to look I found it was a small Sharksucker, about 16" long. It nipped Scott, Joel, and me. It didn't really hurt, sort of like a scratch, but it startled us. Sharksuckers have this weird flat spot on their heads. They use it to attach themselves to a shark. Hmmm I hope we don't run into its bigger friends! We also saw a few starfish along the way. On the way back I saw the edge of a sand dollar shell sticking out of the sand. So I pulled it out. It was large - about 4" across and in perfect shape. So I swam back with it in my hand.

Daphne slaving away at her journal

When I got back I had a snack in the gazebo. C-- saw a school of small fish swimming close to the steps. It was a school of Balao. They blend very well into the sandy bottom.

The rest of the morning was spent lazing around the gazebo. The mild wind was pleasant. After a while the guys went out to forage for lunch. We were hoping for more meat patties but alas they decided not to make them today. We weren't the only disappointed group. A steady stream of customers was turned away. This is a typical Bahamian thing. If you don't feel like making or doing something, just don't. We've heard of some places saying they would be open at a certain time and when the customer comes they find it closed.

They went to Pammy's for take out. They got fried grouper and conch. The grouper was better than the conch. The fries were just ok. The grouper was good for the price ($6 per plate). We also got a conch burger and grouper burger. We all liked them a lot, probably a good choice for about $4. Afterwards we ate the scones from the bakery. Yum!

Ben reads near the water

As we lazed about I saw a large something jump out of the water about 30 yards past the little buoys in the bay. We debated what it might be. I was thinking it was an eagle ray, since we had seen them already and had read in one of my books that they sometimes jump out of the water. It seemed the right size. We watched the spot a bit more and found out there were actually two dolphins playing in the water. C-- decided to get on her snorkeling gear and see if she could catch them. The rest of us followed suit, all but Amos who stayed on shore. I ran into the dolphins just past the buoys. At first I only heard their clicks underwater, but when I put my head up I saw them leap from the water a little ahead of me. The water was a little murky so visibility underwater was bad. One of the dolphins was very friendly and curious. At first he swam right under me. Then he came up to my level. If I kept a straight line he would be right at my side 6-8 feet away. If I veered towards him he would veer away. If I veered away, he would veer towards me. He seemed very curious and was looking at me, but he didn't want me too close. He had many scars on his right side - the side I could see closest to me. he also had a small shark sucker attached to him. After a bit his friend came close. This dolphin didn't seem to want to be near me at all. He zoomed into his friend, seemingly saying lets get out of here and zoomed away. The friendly dolphin followed him. I lost sight of them underwater and had to surface to find them. The friendly one came back for a time and got between me and the rest of the group, then he swam right towards me and went past. By this time the kids had gotten out to the buoys and I swam over to them. I wanted to let Joel have a chance to see the dolphins without worrying about them. The kids could not swim fast enough to keep up with the dolphins, so I took them back to shore. It was just amazing being able to swim with the wild dolphins. Definitely the highlight of the trip.

Flowers near the house

As we were getting dried off from our swim a ray glided by. It was about 2 feet across and moved very fast using its wings to glide along. Its movement reminded me of the eagle rays, but it was much smaller.

Scott commented that maybe we should have spent more time just sitting in front of the house to see cool sea creatures. Trying to find places to snorkel takes a lot of our time (but is fun).

I made another pitcher of rum punch. We had Goombay Punch in it this time. Goombay Punch adds a bit of sparkle and tropical flavor to the rum punch.

Piles of conch

At about 5pm we went to James Cistern. They were having a Heritage Affair that was supposed to start at 5 but it was 5 Bahamian time so we left and came back at 7pm.

To waste time we went into Governor's Harbor but it was totally closed down by 6pm except for the grocery store and some restaurants. So we ended up back at the house for a while.

Island foods

When we got back to the fair it was at sunset. They had a large pile of conch that they were making into scorched conch (raw conch marinated in lime juice). The native kids were tying the conch shells together with rope after the conch was removed, and throwing them back into the ocean. In payment they got to suck out the eye stalks. I guess the eyes are a delicacy, but not one I was willing to try. We asked if Beth could have a conch shell to take home. They said we could have the whole pile if we wanted. It was just trash to them. Beth took two. They were very smelly and smelled up the car on the way home.

Sunset in James Cistern

There was also a stall for other island food and for conch fritters. Three stalls for alcoholic drinks and one for desserts and one for games. We ate dinner at the island food stall. Ben's favorite was the Sheep Tongue Souse. We tried the crab stew but didn't like it. The barbecued chicken was great however. Then we went to the dessert stall. Joel told me they had rum cake but alas no. I had a brownie that was marginal at best.

Scott was at the game stall throwing rings and trying to win Amos a stuffed bunny. He ended up with a tacky salt and pepper shaker. Quite appropriate since C-- keeps a collection of tacky salt and pepper shakers.

When we left the stars were amazing. It was the first night we would see them well. All other nights the moon was up and very large and bright. Its light drowned out all the stars.

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Text and images © Copyright 2000 Joel and Daphne Gould. If there are any problems or questions email Daphne Gould.