Published on Monday, February 20, 2012
You should leave the best till last, so the saying goes. Well leaving Abaco as the last port of call in my Bahamian Odyssey was certainly a good move. Apart from being very friendly, this is an island that has many things to offer. Not only is it, in the main, undeveloped and as nature intended but it also has many bars, restaurants and attractions that can keep one entertained. In two days I learnt about the history of the Bahamas, Lighthouse development, rare parrots and a previously unheard of wonder plant called Neem. According to the literature this plant can be used to help arthritis, skin irritants, gingivitis, smelly pets and the super high grade Neem oil will assist in malaria prevention, contraception and athletes foot. Well the soap smelt nice but contraception? You might be better off with a stone in your shoe.
But let’s have less of my cynicism and onto the heritage lesson. A short boat trip from Marsh Harbour is the small island of Elbow Cay and its main village is Hope Town. It is a great place to visit and full of the genuinely interesting history of the Bahamas and the roles that both the UK and the US have played in it. The founding families and their descendants are still prominent in the island today and 50% of the population share just 20% of the surnames. Many of the islanders used to make their living from retrieving what was left of marine wrecks so when the Elbow Cay lighthouse came to town in the mid-late 1800s they were not best pleased. Sabotage ensued and what should have been a short construction job was extended by the unhelpful natives. Today it’s a marvellous landmark that has been preserved to a very high degree and is one of the few examples left in the world of a manual lighthouse. The mariner’s friendly tower is however not the only thing of interest. Around the main harbour of Hope Town there are lots of bars, restaurants, diving and fishing operators plus a museum that can tell you the entire history of the cay.
Back on the mainland our local guide to the wonders of nature was Ricky Johnson. Ricky was able to show and tell about many of the natural secrets of Abaco such as hidden blue holes in the middle of forests, spectacular rare blue/green parrots and the delights of kayaking. Well I say delights because quite frankly I was useless due to a complete lack of coordination and balance. Kermit the frog would have been more use. A view that was reiterated when Ricky quite unfairly started humming the song ‘it’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights, it’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet show tonight’. Cruel sense of humour these Bahamians no wonder they recommend using a leaf for contraception.
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