Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sandy Point

In the off shore wind Nancy’s Sea Food sits along the water and opens out into a becalmed bay of ocean. Sandy Point is the southwest end of the island of Abaco. The homes and business sit riskily just feet above sea level. I try to visit this settlement once a season and each time it gives me a glimpse of the other Bahamas operating outside of gimmicky gift stores and hotel rooms. It is a good reminder that Abaco is not completely filled with tourist dollar economies and toned down culture. Most of the residents are black Bahamians who rely on seasonal fishing to support their families. Docks piled with fishing traps line the shore and many of the men will go out on lobster and crabbing boats for weeks at a time. Others cater to fly fisherman and run bonefish camps with skiffs that venture out into the flats in search of the allusive game fish. These families manage. The houses may be crumbling around the edges, but all of them have concrete foundations and shingled roofs. These people are poor by the standards of Abaconians and Americans who come for the sunrise and a stake dinner. But they live proudly and with commendable autonomy. Nancy’s is the one and only reliably stocked and open restaurant. They will cook anything they’ve got any way you want it. But it’s best to call first because at times all they have is fried chicken. Chickens that were probably squawking that very morning in the yard.

Yesterday (March 19) I joined my neighbors and two stray sailor boys for a pilgrimage to the end of Abaco. We piled into the Pierce’s Navigator. The two boys and me were content to snicker and sit on a cushion in the back. An hour later we were in Sandy Point and the sun shone brightly over the flat calm water. A local boy skillfully skipped rocks across the glassy bay. Fisherman cleaned conch and a flock of gulls hovered over the heap of discarded shells. We got the expected stares as we entered from people on the street. We were after all six East coasters and a Hoosier in a Lincoln Navigator. With rum punch in hand I fell into conversation with good people in a perfect setting. We watched the sun kiss the ocean before its nightly hibernation. Funny music videos of Bahamian hip hop songs played from a small grainy television in the corner. The restaurant is well kept with waxed wood walls and neat linen covered tables. Long tables of other white folks gorging on stakes and lobster joined us in the neat restaurant. Bare light bulbs cast stray light onto our plates. Another moment where life is good and the people surrounding you sharing a meal only made it better. I picked the bones clean on my pan-fried snapper, but avoided the eyeballs.

A small but beautiful excursion away from Little Harbour. Sandy Point is a place that the world could too easily forget, but in just hours there the hospitality and need for conversation and friendship was made apparent. Playing pool with locals and talking jive with fisherman. Life is good. Sandy Point is no doubt a more raw Bahamas that lives isolated but willing to share life with you.

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