04 January 2011

A Plan is Incubating

    December 24, 2010: We're off to Green Turtle Cay.  On the ferry-ride, I felt this wonderful, heart-wrenching pull.  I was breathing with gentle sighs, although I was hardly aware of it at the time.  I think other people feel this way when they return to their childhood homes or their hometowns.  

     Most Green Turtle day-visitors stay in New Plymouth.  It really is an adorable little town.  I have good memories of wandering around in hot weather, the air still and heavy, with the heat reverberating through narrow concrete "streets" and flanking buildings.  I remember visiting with Floey when she was young and spry - she could NOT come to terms with a local goat.  I dimly recall a bit of rum-fueled, happy staggering around that Linnea and I did one time.  All that being said, I find the town to be somewhat claustrophobic, and my preference, when in Green Turtle, is to hang out at the Green Turtle Club.  Sounded like a good idea to Ean (laid back dude that he is), so off we hiked.

    Just out of town, we were offered a ride by a cool ex-pat guy in a gas cart with two big diamond earrings.  (Question: why are golf carts on Green Turtle all gas-driven?)  
He told us he wasn't going all the way to the club, but he would take us down the road a bit.  Then we ended up chatting, and he got the sense that we were "interesting," so he drove us right to the edge of the club property.  He has a home here on the cay, been coming here since 2000.  Spends two or three months a year here; his wife a bit longer.  How did you find GT, we asked.  He had been on a boat, cruising the intracoastal waterway.  Ah yes, that's how my parents ended up in the Bahamas, I said.  The ICW.  Up, down, down, up - looking for something different and... interesting... they have a place at Treasure Cay.  Ah yes.  Our driver turned tour-guide showed us the best place to rent a boat, a nice swimming cove, a great snorkeling spot.  He told us why the GT Club is being sold - it's owned by a brother and sister who don't get on well, so the brother is selling out.  He pointed out the recent development efforts along the way - some very ugly jungle-leveling going on now that is not generally appreciated by the island dwellers (by neither locals nor foreigners).

    Green Turtle Club is just as I remember it, but I find myself especially wistful on this visit. We enter the cool, dark, colonial bar and chat with the bar-keep as she pours our Tipsy Turtles.  (All these "house specialties," by the way, are exactly the same throughout the Abacos.  The locals must laugh their heads off at the silliness of tourists, and I am content.)
     And so we find ourselves settling into chairs on a sunny patio, sipping Tipsy Turtles at 11:30 a.m.  We did not at all recollect that some civilized folk believe that morning tippling is a sure sign of "going to hell in a handbasket," or that other good folk find even the afternoon (before 5 p.m., that is) to be a wildly inappropriate time for imbibing.  But then an animated, over-55 boating lady approached us, saying gleefully that we were her kinda' people, and we immediately realized that we were supposed to be feeling guilty or mildly defensive - but she was letting us off the hook!  Telling us right away that she in fact approved of our pre-lunch drinking of cocktails!  Buena!  So, having put us at ease, she chatted away and assumed we were boat people.  Ean and I settled easily into the role as an "interesting" couple (as evidenced by a.m. patio drinking of Tipsy Turtles).  We told her we wished we could buy the GT Club - and I do believe we said we planned, seriously, to have a boat "someday."  We exchanged stories about boating and a traveling life.  She pointed out her boat, a 30-something foot sailboat, complete with husband puttering around the deck.  She told us that they were both retired (editorial comment: young!) and had just built a new home in an "over-55" community south of DC.  Now they would be closer to their boat slip, but still close enough to their grandchildren in the DC area, and oops, she had to run, because her husband was waiting for her, and they were off to run an errand. 

     We loved (loved loved) this woman.  We were left with widened eyes and dumb smiles.  I wanted us to be the people that she thought we were.  The kind of couple who would hang out with her and her husband and trade stories of the sea and our adventures.

     Sigh.  After a leisurely lunch, another Tipsy, and some ball-cap and t-shirt shopping to commemorate our visit, we headed back to New Plymouth to catch the 4:30 p.m. ferry.  Since we had hitched our way there, we agreed to walk all the way back.  Three passers-by offered us rides in cart, car, or truck, but we resolutely waved them past.  Long walk:  three or four miles, depending on who you believe.  But we had a liter of water and some vague dreams to fuel us on our way.  We talked about "someday," and who we wanted to be.