We have been without internet access since my last post – over three weeks, I think. In that time, we slowly and leisurely made our way to the southern tip of the Exumas, and then made our way slowly and leisurely back up. Something about the knowledge that we are drawing closer to the end of our sabbatical has made each day feel precious.
We have stopped in at so many beautiful islands and had so many fascinating encounters with life around and under the sea. I am the kind of person who likes to experience things with as many senses as possible. Snorkelling through reefs, walking hot, sandy beaches, clambering over rocks, swaying in my hammock – they have all been great ways of immersing myself in my surroundings.
We have eaten well –with a number of our meals coming, in part, from the ocean. I have had the opportunity to fry crack conch, although I was very clear that I would not be cleaning the conch, only cooking it! Shadrach and Travis were both very diligent and persistent in learning this complicated, slimy process!
We have eaten a number of different types of fish – on two occasions they were given to us by other boaters.
We have read good books and had fun reading aloud as a family. We recently purchased an autobiography, Out Island Doctor by a man in his forties (and in the 1940s) who left his life as a teacher in the USA to start again as a Bahamian resident. His descriptions of the beauty, isolation, swarming sandflies, razor sharp rocks and eccentric, friendly people have been easy for us to envision. Don’t worry – we are not getting any ideas about staying down here. But it is fun to imagine!
It has been fun getting to know our kids better. A tourist we met in Georgetown asked us who we have learned the most about on the trip and I think for me it is Rachel, followed close behind by Shad. We are seeing our kids respond to very different situations than ever before…and sometimes we are surprised by them. Like the time we were snorkelling and a shark swam between Rachel and the rest of us (about 10 feet away from her). She called out to us “There’s a shark over here!” and we all swam over right away as she swam hastily towards her Dad and the dinghy! She was done with snorkeling for the day, but I was really impressed to see her swallow her fear and give it another go the next day.
Rachel has shown us how accommodating she can be, spending a fair bit of time in the dinghy without complaint when she gets cold and the rest of us are not done snorkeling/spear-fishing. She gets really excited whenever we spear a fish or have a fish on the line, even though she doesn’t eat fish. She has also continued to show us how creative she can be. On her own initiative, she will pull out the art supplies and start working on a wide variety of projects, from painting and paper doll cutting to starting to write her own mystery novel. We are especially pleased to observe howmuch this trip is strengthening her friendship with her brother.
Shadrach has impressed us with his diligence in researching and putting into practice all kinds of details in fish identification, spearing techniques, outboard motor maintenance etc. He has proven to be quite a careful, calm fisherman – taking his time and only spearing a fish when he is sure it is the right size and one he knows we can eat. He has been a valuable crew member, willingly putting his muscles to work and swallowing his complaints when there is still one more chore for him. And he is really great at choosing to enjoy whatever game his sister wants to play! We see his social maturity in his enjoyment of meeting other boaters and as he listens and takes part in conversations with people we meet. We truly have wonderful kids!
We are now in Bimini – our last port of call in the Bahamas. We plan on setting out at 3 am tomorrow morning to cross the gulf stream back to Florida. We are truly on our way home! When we got here and were able to connect to the internet again, it was surprisingly good to hear news from Winnipeg. I did not have to convince myself that I am happy that I will see everyone soon! We have such a wonderful community of friends, family and neighbours to come home to. That night my dreams were filled with people from home (and a baked potato that started beeping…it woke me up and I realized our anchor drag alarm was going off…but I digress). I am glad we have time to leisurely make our way north to Winnipeg, but feel confident that we will be excited when we get there. For now, we have one last evening to watch the sun set behind crystal clear turquoise waters as we bid farewell to the beautiful Bahamas.