This is it. Our last full day on the island, and we decided to go out with a “bang”…by cleaning. Give us a break; Sunday is a day of rest, right? Besides, we were a little worn out from the last two days’ adventures.
Friday, Ian woke us up early as promised to take us out fishing on his boat. We were expecting a short little trip of a couple of hours, but that’s not how Ian operates. Six hours later, we roll up to the dock… I can’t say anything, though – it was a fantastic time. The snapper here are voracious, we couldn’t keep our lines in the water for reeling them in. We (well, Ian) even almost snagged a nice sized barracuda as it was scavenging one of our lines. We ended up catching about 11 dozen between the three of us, Ian, and his friend, so much of the afternoon was spent cleaning and packing. We got in around dinnertime, and were too exhausted to do much more for the evening, so that was that for Friday.
Yesterday we joined a group of education majors from Clemson University that are here visiting, and took a trip down to Cape Eleuthera. The Island School held an end-of-term symposium for its students to present the research and work that they have completed, and we were all eager to check out the school. The program there typically consists of high school students, around fifty per term, and a term consists of 100 days. Students come from all over to participate in “a mind, body, and spirit journey that takes students away from traditional high school curriculum and invites them to confront authentic challenges” (check out www.islandschool.org).
It is indeed an impressive program – I won’t go into a lot of detail, but their curriculum does indeed focus on training the body as well as the mind, and developing students into more conscientious and responsible human beings. The teaching itself is done through a research oriented program, in which students work in teams on ongoing research projects directly related to conservation issues in The Bahamas, e.g. sea turtle populations, lionfish invasion, etc. As scientific research requires the ability to pull together methods and ideas from all aspects of learning, it promotes a more nebulous interdisciplinary proficiency than is traditionally taught. The school is also a pinnacle of conservation ecology; every need of the school, from drinking water to food to electricity, is designed to be as self-sufficient as possible. In fact, one of their newest buildings, a sort of community center for the school, actually produces more energy than it uses and puts it back into the grid.
After the school, since they had not seen it yet, we joined the education majors for a trip back down to Lighthouse Beach. The journey this time was, sadly but probably fortunately, not nearly as eventful as our first, and we were able to drive the van the entire way up to the beach. We hung out and swam and chatted with them for a while, and managed to get in a good bit of snorkeling as the weather held out for the entire afternoon.
As it was our last evening, Shaun’s wife Sandra invited the three of us over to her home for dinner. We were joined by Robin, her daughter, Elbert (the police superintendent), and his mother. It was an absolutely fantastic evening. Sandra served us blackened dauphin and rice, which when topped with lime and habanero in the Bahamian style, is simply…nah, I won’t even try to explain. Just try it, you won’t regret it. We spent the evening discussing everything under the sun, but most of the conversation ended up centered on politics, Bahamian in particular. It’s true that Bahamians are generally pretty relaxed people, not really focusing on time as much as Americans do; but friend, you have never seen someone talk so much about politics until you come down here. We heard the statistic at one point during our visit that Bahamian elections see about a 99% voter turnout, and after seeing how passionate the people are, I don’t doubt it one bit.
As I said before, today hasn’t been very exciting at all, just resting up a bit and making sure that Shaun’s house doesn’t look like three students have been living here. We took a walk for a bit, soaking it all in one last time, and watched the final of many sunsets down on the dock. Oddly, today was the first time that the water was not smooth and clear as the bluest glass; it was actually very rough, crashing against the rocks with each ebb and churning up the bottom so that nothing was visible. Maybe it was some slightly twisted reminder of the life that we had left and were about to be thrown back into… I’m a glass half full of water and the rest full of air type of guy, though, so I like to think that the ocean was simply sad to see us go, and was expressing its feelings the best way that it knew how. I know, it was sweet.
And so, as all things must, our trip comes to an end. We laughed, we cried laughing, and made many new friends along the way, furry and otherwise. We’ve been fortunate enough to see more than a few sights that I previously thought only existed in dreams and photo-shopped travel ads; and after it all we come away with tans that would make a West Palm Beach yuppie jealous, and send a dermatologist crying to order more pamphlets for his exam room. We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading about our journey, and possibly learned something along the way, and if not at least laughed a bit. And if you didn’t do any of that, then we can’t help you and you just need to head down and experience Eleuthera for yourself. Seriously, do it anyway. And say hi to Jacques and Blue and the rest of the little potcakes while you’re there.