Going to Town

We’ve spent most of our time in the Bahamas on the anchor, in some uninhabited or sparsely inhabited place.  Our ability to stay “out there” is limited by our self-sufficiency.  When we run out of water, fuel or food, or max out on dirty laundry or trash, we have to find somewhere to deal with those shortages or excesses.  This time, it was the need to do laundry that drove us to town.

“Town” in this case means the second largest settlement in the Exumas, after Georgetown:  Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay.

Black Point 1

Cottages on a low ridge overlooking the harbor.

The draws here are many – an anchorage with good holding, a “laundermat” [sic] where you can also get a haircut, a small supermarket, and a handful of restaurants.  Many of these establishments offer something that is sure to draw cruisers:  FREE WiFi!!  (For some people, it’s the word “free” that is attractive, while for others, it is “WiFi.”)

We hadn’t planned to arrive here when we did – which was Saturday.  I had visions of staying at Bitter Guana Cay, which is beautiful and uninhabited, its sole population being that of the endangered Exuma lizards.

Bitter Guana Cay 1

Bitter Guana’s beach and cliffs.

But once we got there, the seas were so roll-y that Rick prevailed on me to continue to Black Point after having lunch.  Unfortunately, the sea condition was not better at Black Point.  At least we could do laundry.

Laundry is a community experience.  Ida’s fine establishment is located at water’s edge.   Once we got our wash going, I picked a spot at a waterfront picnic table and fired up the computer.  There is so much demand for the internet pipeline, however, that it was all I could do to pay bills and do some rudimentary (and slooooowww – even for this slowed-down beach bum) web business.  There were town people doing laundry, as well as other cruisers on their iPads and laptops, and friendly conversation.

While Rick watched the laundry, I scouted out the supermarket (which wouldn’t be open the next day, Sunday) to see what I might hope to buy.  But lacking cash, I could only look until Monday.

To understand what the “supermarket” is like here, imagine a building no larger than 20×20 feet, and stocked like a half-empty 7-11.  There are maybe 2 glass-fronted refrigerators, and 2 chest freezers.  I go in with my “wish” list, expecting to find maybe half of the items; in this case, I did better because I’d seen what was in the store on Saturday and added to the list items I knew would be in there (but which I wouldn’t otherwise have listed – like ground beef, canned corned beef hash, and eggs).  The meat freezer contains Ziploc-bagged items, frozen hard (sometimes freezer-burned), and not always recognizable.  When I see something I recognize, I grab it, even if I’m not sure what I’ll do with it.  The stores are invariably run by elderly Bahamian ladies, and few of them accept anything other than cash.

The restaurants require reservations for dinner – not because there is so much competition to get a table, but because they want to know whether they should open.  After we made our grocery run, we stopped by Lorraine’s Café (which, of course, has free WiFi!), made our dinner reservation, and also ordered our dinner.  But, better yet, Lorraine said something about fresh bread (have I mentioned how good Bahamian bread is?).  When I said I would like some, Lorraine walked me over to her mother’s house – she was baking in her kitchen – and I got a precious loaf.

Black Point is a tiny community, but it’s tidy in the way of most Bahamian settlements, and everyone is friendly.  Even the little kids zooming around on bikes greet us with a “Good Afternoon” or “Good Morning.”  There is not much of an economy on these tiny cays, and tourism – such as it is – is about all there is.  In Black Point, the residents recognize that cruisers are a large source of income, and they make an effort to demonstrate their appreciation.  In turn, I think the cruisers return the favor.

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