So often we privileged few buzz through the Bahamas on our charter boats, floating condos, or mega-yachts, and we cherry pick our experiences. The Bahamas really is just a series of islands with conch, blue water, alcohol, and no rules, right? On MarVyn, we’ve taken great pains to see this country through a different lens, and by today’s story, I hope to show you some of the success we’ve found.
To start light, though, I direct you to our first photo. This was a family selfie taken while flying down the hill in the bed of a truck driven by a very kind man who agreed to drive us to the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve. The photo came shortly after Evyn said, “Uh, wait. Are you really gonna let us do this????”
But then that’s what this new life is all about, right? Not only are we out to do things we’ve never done before, but we’re hoping to show our children that saying yes to those experiences can lead to even better things. Our children no longer are shocked when we suggest hitchhiking (though open truck beds remain a difficult one for me, probably due to my trauma surgery days—and nights). Instead, they are beginning to meet new people and experiences with smiles and openness.
Governors Harbour is the capital of Eleuthera. Images of stately white marble buildings with high domes comes to mind. No, wait, this is Eleuthera. Instead we found a bustling little town with music blaring over the waterfront from loudspeakers on stands set up by two men at a gas station. When we asked the young man behind the counter at the hardware store if he ever got tired of listening to that he flashed a shy but sparkling smile and said, “No. It’s the first time!” (I could see him pushing his dance down. Quitting time could not come soon enough!) Apparently, two Saturdays before Christmas seemed like the right time for a spontaneous street dance. We felt privileged to be there for such a party!
For those who’ve been reading, you may remember our coconut bread find in Hope Town. We have made bakery hunting a new hobby, and Governors Harbour did not disappoint. Our research had told us this town was well-known for its bakery, but our boating contacts could not confirm this. They had not found it. Not to be dissuaded, we dodged our way through streets I’m sure not too many boaters wander. The three men occupying the upturned 5-gallon buckets on the corner pointed to the top of the hill, then a right, then down the hill again. The chickens scattered from in front of the place and we approached a door that looked permanently closed. Despite some misgivings, we walked in, and once inside we were greeted by a motley crew of Bahamians who seemed happy but confused by our presence. Our girls, and I’m guessing our obvious hunger, soon won them over. When we left, our bag had two loaves of bread, one cream cheese strudel, one coconut strudel, one each of cherry, lemon, and pineapple donuts, and a chicken pie for good measure. (Again I had let my crew get too hungry.) All that for less than $20! The heaven in that dough….how do they do that? Clint and I decided we had never had anything like the strudels, and the donuts tasted like childhood county fares, only worlds better! (And minus the cigarettes and cow poop smell.)
The crown jewel of this stop, however, was yet to come. As we munched, we climbed the hill in Governors Harbour. Along the way, we noted a sign for Levy Preserve pointing up the hill. In all our research we had not come across this. The hilltop offered stunning views of the whipped Atlantic ahead of us and the quiet bay behind. And another sign, quietly encouraging us to the right, down the hill, to the preserve, just a mile away. Our feet were tired, our water bottles light, and shadows were lengthening, but something told us to find a way. Enter our knight in shining pickup truck. He delivered us unceremoniously to the front gate. For the next two hours the most common phrase heard from our group was “No WAY! This is awesome!”
Please look this place up at www.levypreserve.org. Please. It deserves your attention. It’s not just a nature hike. People who love this land have spent years creating this gracious space. Immaculate trails through thick coppice wound their way up and over the hills. Innumerable signs labeled the native flora. Educational signs told stories of history and ecology and more.
My children, my husband, and myself could not get enough. The mosquitoes were fierce but our joy harshed their buzz, and we left them behind as the culmination of the hike, Ethan’s Tower, took us above the low canopy and beyond the bugs’ realm.
We ended our day in the gardens of the bayfront Anglican church, listening to the girls squeal. They were enjoying the push-me-pull-you swing.
As I was taking in the enormity of the afternoon, I looked up at the tree beside me. On it was a small and unlikely advertisement for a boutique in Rock Sound, just down the water. I’ll keep the story simple and just tell you that the sign really should have been overlooked given its location, but it seemed like I was meant to find it, so I took a picture, thinking I might look for the store the next day when we were in the town. As it turns out, this little gem of a store was one of the highlights of our time in Rock Sound. I purchased two Christmas gifts for the girls (beautiful glass bracelets made from recycled bottle top rings) and had a wonderful, insightful conversation with two young local women. Their thoughts on the depth and breadth of their local culture helped bring about today’s post. If ever you are in Rock Sound, please stop by this wonderful little shop, and then go to the laundry and say hello to Walton.
Tonight I celebrate the things unseen when passing too fast. We’re here to live and experience, and we are blessed to be learning everyday what that means. We’re hoping to find the beauty that lies just beneath the surface we so easily and so often overlook. We’re looking for those diamonds in the rough.