Bahamian Beaches

(I know today is Thursday, but I missed writing on Tuesday.
I'll get straightened out eventually!)


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Azure blue water and white soft sand... ahhhh...

When I was a young child (age4-9), that was my daily playground. Every afternoon, we'd walk (or I'd ride my new bicycle with its banana seat and tall handlebars) down the mile road to the beach. My 4 yr. old brother, Phillip, would run the whole way and wait for us under the big coconut tree. The road went right through a mangrove swamp. Anyone who's seen one knows the distinctive stagnant stench of them. The women soaked their palm leaves in the water to soften them, so they could plait them into rolls of woven strips. These strips were sewn into hats, baskets, mats, plus many other things.

We also passed a cemetery, surrounded by a concrete wall, to keep wandering animals from digging up the bodies. Since the whole island was mostly coral, with a thin layer of soil, rocks were piled on the bodies instead of burying them. They would bring plates of food for the spirits to eat. There was lots of voodoo and spiritualism on the island.

The wooden dock reached out into the blue sparkly water. Looking down, you could see the rippling sands at the bottom, probably 10-15 ft down. If you peered through the cracks of the planks, you could see schools of colorful fish swimming around the posts in the shadows. We would wait for an adult to scan the area for dangers; sharks, stingrays, or baracudas. Only once did we see a shark. Stingrays were afraid of us, so one little splash would send them gliding into the darker waters. Baracudas were the scariest. They swam so fast that they would suddenly appear with mouths full of sharp teeth. Then in a blink, they were gone again. Once we were watching a man fishing, and as he pulled in his line, a baracuda snipped off his catch and he was only left with the empty string.

With the area declared safe, my brother would immediately dive in. (yes, at only 4 yrs. old) I was more timid and waded slowly into the steady wash of the waves. The water was warm to the skin. I liked to use a mask and look at my fat feet beneath the surface. It was a different world under there. Because it was salty, it would taste horrible and sting your eyes, but you could float so easily.

My mother liked to sit on the beach and sift the sand through her fingers. The beach was half shells of all shapes and colors. My favorite were the bi-valved butterfly shells, with a pink stripe on each wing. Rice shells actually looked like grains of white rice, so tiny and perfectly curled into little "seeds". Conch shells are the kings of the beach. Their glossy pink lips invite you to listen to the whispers of the sea.

We often had picnics there, using sea grape leaves for "paper" plates. The coconut trees give a soft whispering sound in the breeze. Clouds would pile into mountains into the sky, and the sunsets were phenomenal! When the sun sank into the ocean, it plunged the world into night immediately, for there is no twilight there.

When hurricanes were near, the waves became very high. It was a favorite time for us to swim. I liked to float in my inflatable tube (shaped like a turtle) and ride the rolling waves. Hurricanes often destroyed much of the island; pulling off roofs, knocking down trees, washing away the sands.


On the north side of the island, we liked to go beach combing. The waters were rough and the beach littered with all kinds of debris, washed from the ocean. My father built all our furniture from lumber gathered there. We also found a note in a bottle once. When we wrote the person in Europe, they sent us some chocolate!

I liked to chase the crabs. Did you know that crabs only run sideways? We'd collect little hermit crabs and play with them. I don't remember ever being pinched, but I probably was sometime.

One of my favorite foods from the Bahamas was conch salad. Once my parents borrowed a boat and went to a spot where you could gather conchs, only 8-10 feet below the surface. My brother and I watched as they dived again and again, bring the big crusty shells to the top. Phillip leaned over too far and fell in. (He was only around 2 yrs. at that time. It's a good thing he was wearing a life jacket.) My parents would have to break the shells to get to the meat. Then the tough muscles had to be pounded with a hammer to tenderize tem. Next, my mother would chop them into tiny pieces and add chopped onions and tomatoes, flavored with lemon juice and salt and pepper. MMMMM... I can "taste" it in my mind!

My husband has only seen pictures of tropical waters and white sandy beaches. Maybe someday, we can sail around the Caribbean and see the world I only remember... someday...

2 comments:

laidyv2008 said...

you have an amazing blog, I love the whole travel and religious part put together. I read you like jigsaw puzzles, you should check out my blog

http://laidyjigsaw.blogspot.com/

and give me some ideas or comments on it.

Thanks :D

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great place for kids! What beautiful memories to have! Sunny

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