Cape Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, Bahamas, July 12, 13, 14, 15, 2020

We anchored out in the Fernandez Resort cove at the northern tip of Cat Island.  It was a rocky night, so we headed to Davis Harbor Marina, where we spent one evening to wait out some ongoing bad weather.  I had a beautiful run in the morning and then we headed out once again and enjoyed two snorkels, one at Jake’s Hole and the other at Split Rock, both beautiful, well-known dive sites.

Jake’s hole is a fascinating underwater, freshwater blue hole.  We snorkeled there at slack tide because the influx and outflow of water at this hole can be treacherous – apparently “Jake”, for whom the site is named, never emerged from his perpetual adventure there.  Split Rock is a huge colorful coral head, the largest I have ever seen, split directly down the middle.  In some ways this site is reminiscent of Triangle Rocks (near Bimini) because of the multitude of sharks that cool-y cruise the waters there.  We saw our fair share.

We continued to Cape Eleuthera, an easy cruise, where we were eager to see The Island School, which we have heard so much about.  Three of our nephews went to school there and each of them now has a love of the sea and an impressive array of athletic and leadership skills ingrained in their DNA, no doubt enriched by The Island School’s unique oceanic and outdoor curriculum.   The Island School offers high school juniors and seniors from around the world a semester or summer of credits focused on sustainable living in the 21st century.  We travelled on to Hatchet Bay, where we thought we would anchor for the night, but the generator quit, so we continued for another 30 miles to Spanish Wells.  (More to come on the perils of Hatchet Bay.)

Spanish Wells is one of the most beautiful Islands we have been to so far.  Farms, goats galore, turkeys, peacocks, bunnies, orchards (banana, peach and cherry trees, pineapple plants), beautiful, well-kept houses that are reminiscent of a New England seaside colonial town, the most industrious hard-working quay, as busy as a beehive, with boats getting ready for the coming opening of lobster season.  Dating back to the 1600’s, Spanish Wells was used as a last stop for Spanish ships returning to Europe, where they traded new world treasures for old world staples and luxuries. They provisioned here with water, food, all the supplies needed for an Atlantic crossing — hence the name Spanish Wells.  It was also a refuge for loyalists to the British Crown during the American Revolution and you can hear the remnants of the “King’s English” in the speech patterns and dialect of the local Spanish Wells-ians today.

We reconnected with Mike’s friends, Cassidy and Loren, whose family owns the Marine Hardware and Mercantile on the Spanish Wells wharf.  They now also operate a shark-diving adventure company called “Face 2 Face” adventures, complete with a cage attached to the back of their boat to accommodate thrill seekers interested in close encounters of predators of the reef and pelagic sort.  Mike knows Cassidy and Loren from Cat Cay.  We see them riding their race bikes around the Cay when they are there, usually parked at the fuel dock during lobster season.  They are professional cyclists and lobstermen, among many other things, typical of the entrepreneurial nature and incredible work ethic we often find in those who hail from Spanish Wells.

After Spanish Wells we cruised on to Harbour Island (BRI), where we stayed at the Romora Resort.  Harbour Island was also a refuge for loyalists to the British Crown during the American Revolution — and you can definitely sense its British and aristocratic roots and easily imagine it as a haven for expatriates and perhaps the disillusioned and/or overindulged lost souls from another generation.  The luxurious mega-yachts moored in the cluster of marinas here is a current day indicator of privilege and wealth.

Lovely, clapboard cottages in pastel colors, fine restaurants and wine bars that cater to the upper crust, mixed in with the modest neighborhoods of the boisterous and friendly locals.  Horseback riding on the beach, world-class windsurfing, potcakes by the dozen (potcakes are the stray dogs that roam the island, so named for the cake that forms at the bottom of the locals’ peas and rice pots, which they will feed to the luckiest of these stray creatures).  I wanted to take more than a few of these sweet puppies home.

My favorite activity here was spending an afternoon at “Sip-Sip” with Christy, where we enjoyed a watermelon cooler (fresh squeezed local watermelon juice and ice cold vodka), a perfectly situated watering hole located on the edge of the most beautiful pink sand beach.   Christy flew her drone while I chatted with the infinitely interesting and knowledgeable Patrice, the proprietress of the snack-umbrella-beach-chair-t-shirt concession stand, Mrs. Vs, where the specialty was Goombay Rum punch. A huge hit with beachgoers on this hot day.


Conception Island, Cat Island, Bahamas, July 7, 8, 9, 10, 2020

We spent a night anchored out at Conception Island which is technically an islet (a very small island). It is 3.5 square miles in diameter and 82 feet above sea level.  It is an important rookery for nesting sea birds and a hatching site for green turtles.  It is uninhabited and protected as part of the Conception Island National Park.  In 2015, a species of  Boa called the Conception Bank silver boa was found to be endemic here and on neighboring islets.  Not a snake fan, I was not disappointed not to see one of these new-found silver boas, although I am sure it would have been fascinating.

We were lucky enough to meet Calypso though — she is a resident wild dolphin, who together with her companion Captain Jack, call the beautiful waters surrounding Conception Island their home.  If you’re lucky, they will come by for a playful visit.  The story goes that many years ago Calypso, for some unfortunate reason, washed up on shore and was in distress.  She was assisted by a kind-hearted visiting boater who helped her back into the water.  Ever since, she often pays the kindness forward and plays with visiting mariners to Conception Island. Christy had told us Calypso’s story prior to our arrival and I was so thrilled that she came by to see us.

We snorkeled in the nearby crystal waters where the reefs are spectacular, canyon-like, rising from great depths and peaking just above the water line, littered with parts and pieces of forlorn wrecks, a lasting testament to unsuspecting and unfortunate mariners not wise to the treacherous conditions here.  The reef is rumored to be rife with silver coins and pirates’ treasure.  We did not find bounty of that sort, but we did find gold — in the form of intermittent healthy patches of Elkhorn Coral, which has all but disappeared in most parts of the Bahamas and so is  treasure in and of itself.   Even in the dingy, we had trouble navigating this prickly reef, so we did not linger for too long.  

The weather was threatening, wind gusts and thunderheads, so after one rocky night at Conception, we continued on to Cat Island, where we arrived at the Hawks Nest Marina just in time for the heavens to open up on us, torrential rain and quite a thunder and lightning show.  We were glad to be in the shelter of Hawks Nest rather than anchored out at Conception despite how beautiful that haven was.  We loved Cat Island!  Highlights included The Hermitage, Alinor’s island bakery — delicious bread, pineapple tart, banana cake, guava loaf, the festive settlement of Old Bight, the Fernandez Resort, and the most amazing, well-stocked island grocery store.  It almost seemed like a mirage, but fortunately was not because we needed supplies.

The story and the wonder of The Hermitage is worth some dedicated blog time:  One industrious and eccentric old gentleman, an Anglican turned Catholic priest known fondly to the locals as  Father Jerome, brought astonishing “beauty and proportion” to the Bahamian landscape in the most unlikely of places and ways.  Father Jerome, who lived from 1876 to 1956 was also a trained architect.   He designed and built many churches in the Bahamas and we could see and feel his impact far and wide.  (One of his masterpieces,  as previously depicted in this blog, is Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, immediately recognizable with its blue door and twin white spires as you approach the Flying Fish Marina in Clarence Town, Long Island).

Although he built many churches, a boys school and a convent among other structures,  the Hermitage is Father Jerome’s personal masterpiece.  It is situated at the top of Mt. Alvernia, which is the highest point in the Bahamas at 206 feet above sea level, amidst a green and hilly landscape that is somehow reminiscent of Ireland. Father Jerome built himself a retirement sanctuary from thousands of stones, a one-man monastery that looks medieval and speaks of self-sacrifice and devotion at  every  turn.

After about a quarter of a mile walk from our anchorage in Old Bight, past the gate at the foot of the hill, one must climb the same stairway hewn from rock over which Father Jerome manually hauled the rocks and mortar for the Hermitage to the unforgiving summit.  He carved stone monuments depicting the stations of the cross all along the way up the hillside.  You can’t help but wonder about all of this as you make the steep and picturesque climb yourself.  How was this possible?  How could this be?  How could Father Jerome have done this?  I was winded with no stones nor tools in hand.

 “A proper church is no mere assembly hall, theatre, or auditorium for preaching and community singing, but it is first of all a place of sacrifice.”  Monsignor John Cyril Hawes wrote these words years before assuming the name Father Jerome and building his Hermitage. “It should breathe forth an atmosphere of prayer and of religious awe and supernatural mystery.”  Father Jerome certainly accomplished this vision at his Hermitage — the tiny chapel with its single pew, the modest window  seat overlooking the hilly view and far off seascape perfectly suited for contemplative afternoons, his tiny sleeping quarters still feature his simple planked bed, no bigger than a ship’s berth.  In the stone tower, there still hangs a bell, rusted now and silent.

Father Jerome spent his career doing many things, including building churches and a cathedral in Australia, all of which are now considered national treasures there.  His tenure in Australia had been anything but peaceful as he toiled in and out of favor, depending on which bishop held sway.  Finally, in 1939 he wanted out of Australia enough to leave his respected position there and return to the Bahamas of his Anglican youth.  Father Jerome had been a sailor on Cat Island so he built himself the Hermitage, like other men might build themselves a boat — “and he anchored his soul there to the undiluted stars.” Alas, Father Jerome ultimately worked himself to death, he died in a Miami hospital, but per his last wishes was laid to rest in his beloved Hermitage.

An awe-inspiring place to see if I ever visited one, which I still find myself thinking about days after our special afternoon there.  (Photo credits:  Christy Weaver – @christyweaves).






Acklins, Crooked Island, Bahamas, July 5, 6, 2020

Next stop on the Sea U Sooner hit parade, Acklins and Crooked Island.  We continued south in search of pink flamingos, alas to no avail.  We were assured by the locals that our timing was just off, and had we arrived a month sooner we would have seen flocks of thousands of flamingos.  Oh, what a site that would have been!  We anchored out in Atwood Harbour for two nights, a remote, isolated anchorage where we were the only boat , except for a lone sportfishing boat that joined us late one night and was gone by the crack of dawn.

There’s an ancient saying that goes “be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” No flamingos, no problem.  In our experience so far, the further south in the Bahamas you go, the more beautiful the scenery, the kinder, the more genuine, the more gentle the people.  Rejoice in the way things are.

In this case, in lieu of flamingos, we spent the day with Fedel and Erica Johnson, proprietors of the Outback Bonefishing Lodge, and good friends of our good friend from Cat Cay, Shawon Curry.  Born in Acklins, Fedel is widely acknowledged as one of the most skilled and knowledgeable bonefishing guides in the world.  Erica, although originally from New Mexico, is widely acknowledged as a “local” sage and reputed to know more about Acklins and how to “get things done” there than most of the locals who were born there.  Fedel and Erica drove us from one end of the island to the other and gave us the ultimate insider’s tour, educating us about island history, wildlife, plants (especially the cascarilla) and the large, shallow flats along the coastline that make the bonefishing here so spectacular.  Measuring 92 square miles and 4 miles across at its widest point, Acklins offers some of the best bonefishing and snorkeling in the world.  With more than 1,000 miles of shallow water, Acklins Island bonefisishing is legendary and we felt privileged to be in the presence of the island’s most legendary bonefishing guide.

My spirit takes to you” said Erica to me in an old time and traditional Bahamian manner of expressing friendship.  “If it is to be, it is up to me.”  Erica’s 10 favorite two letter words, that she has used throughout her life to overcome hardship and make things happen.  “If you are going to do something, do it right the first time.  Do it as if you are doing it for God.”  Words of wisdom from my new friends in Acklins.  As precious as a pink flamingo.

Hope springs eternal … pink flamingo, whale shark, sea horse, unicorn … all elusive bucket list sightings for me.  Which one do you think I will check off the list first?



Long Island, Bahamas, July 2, 3, 4 , 2020

It’s hard to describe how much I loved Long Island, of all the Bahamian Islands so far, this has been my favorite.  Remote, achingly beautiful, pretty well kept homes, so many small, quaint churches, lovely people, natural wonders abound.  We stayed at the Flying Fish Marina, which seems to be home-base for the wild-west of fishing.  Local boats catching tuna, wahoo and mahi, a handful of the most serious sport-fishing boats resident in the harbor.  The fish cleaning station was host to a frenzy of the most astonishing array of sharks each evening — bull, lemon, nurse — all waiting (and not patiently) for the handout that was all but assured given the days’ catch and the abundant resources around here.

We drove a short way from the Marina to Dean’s Blue Hole, the second deepest blue hole (at 660 feet) in the world.  An amazing natural wonder, that draws visitors, world-class free divers, adventure seekers, and the locals alike.  There are a great variety of sea animals to be found inside the hole, snappers, tarpons, turtles, rays, barracuda, seahorses and many tropical fish.  I loved that the locals bring mangos on their daily sojourns to the hole, where they enjoy the fruit while floating in the warm water … and relish the salty sweet combination of the luscious produce and the tangy seawater at the same time, not to mention the ability to wash the mangos incorrigibly sticky nectar off their skin instantaneously.  Brilliant.

We drove the entire length of the island (80 miles long, never more than 4 miles wide) and enjoyed the most beautiful beach at one end of the island (which was adorned by trees painted with the Bahamian blue, black and yellow) — and had lunch at the lovely Cape Santa Maria Resort on the other.  Got a kick out of the “Settlement” or town called Hard Bargain, stopped at the Shrimp Hole, and all natural inland water cave that is tucked behind the charred remains of St. Mary the Virgin Anglican church, and is inhabited by a unique species of bright red shrimp.  We had multiple encounters with wild pigs and boars on the island as we were driving along, including one with a pig and tiny piglet or “boarlet” following close behind.  At first we thought it was a mama cat and her kitten!

We admired a monument dedicated the original settlers, the Lucayan people and to Christopher Columbus, a point of pride for this beautiful island.  After multiple recommendations by multiple sources, we stopped at Max’s Conch Shack and enjoyed some of the best conch salad in the world.

The adventure continues to unfold and continues to get better.  What an amazing place and an amazing day.  I feel like I am finally experiencing the “real” Bahamas and I could not be more delighted with what I’ve found.

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Staniel Cay, Little Farmers Cay, June 27, 28, 29, 2020

It is said that “a good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  That has been our game plan as we wind our way along the Exumas … savoring the colors, savoring the wildlife, savoring the adventures, savoring each other’s company.  There is still a surreal feel to all of this, largely because of Covid 19, and it has not been lost on us how lucky we are to enjoy this unbelievably beautiful part of the world without the typical summertime crowds and chaotic boat traffic.  Enjoying one day at a time, letting the days unfold as they will.  We know that post July 1 that may be a very different story.

We made our way to Staniel Cay, which is lovely.  A touch of civilization, plenty to see and lots to do.  Thunderbolt Grotto, the swimming pigs, the “chute” (a channel between two small neighboring islands where the ripping currents push swimmers through the narrow passageway at a brisk 4 miles per hour), great restaurant, pretty pool, fantastic morning runs.  A smattering of interesting, fun people (thanks RoRo — Roselin, Ed, and Caroline), friendly service, a fine place to restock, re-provision (at the local, side by side convenience stores – one pink and one blue), re-fuel.

On to Little Farmers Cay — one stop after Staniel Cay, one stop closer to perfection.  The island is approximately a mile and a quarter long and just under a mile wide.  It is the second smallest isolated community in the Bahamas.  Little Farmers Cay was settled 165 years ago by freed slaves from Exuma.  It was established by one woman named Chrisanna with her  young children, James Michael Nixon and Adam and Eve Brown.  They bought all of the Cay and willed it to their descendants to be undivided as tenants in common.  Today, the 70 permanent residents are all descendants, although today most descendants are have scattered to other parts of the Bahamas and beyond.

What a simple, beautiful, perfect island.  We stayed at the Little’s Farmers Cay Yacht Club.  One building, one dock, two slips — maybe three, one family (the Nixon’s) has owned this bright yellow little gem for four generations. We were met on the dock by grandson, JJ, whose smile and friendly manner were as big as his heart.  That’s one of the most immediately noticeable things about Little Farmers … the locals are all so friendly, welcoming, joyful.  They don’t have a lot on this island, yet the residents are perfectly satisfied with, proud, of what they have — and that contentment is reflected in their smiles, their spirits, their demeanor, their welcoming attitudes and hearts.  There’s an important lesson/reminder in that for all of us that is well worth taking to heart.

JJ: Welcomed us on the dock.

JR: “World-renowned” woodworker who carves lovely figurines out of local hardwoods, owls, toucans, island ladies and more.  He’s also, quite the botanist, who grows cantaloupe, papaya, plum trees, pomegranates, and “strong back tea” to soothe your aching bones

Terry and Ernestine:  Proprietors of Ocean Cabin restaurant.  Go with an appetite and an open mind.  Terry will regale you with a thought-provoking political viewpoint that may or may not match your own.  We purchased a brightly colored T-shirt depicting the town flag.  The Ocean Cabin’s hours of operation reflect the town’s easy-going,  upbeat way of life, definitely worth reading :).

Dino:  Last but not least, Dino.  One of a lively and boisterous group of local men who congregate at the town dock.  Dino has trained the nearby green sea turtles to be hand fed.  He bangs on a conch shell and, like Pavlov’s dogs, the turtles come in for a tasty conch snack.  It sounds cheese-y .. but it was wonderful.

We hiked to a nearby, inland coastal cave with stalagmites dripping fresh water from the ceiling. Snorkeled at the some of the prettiest spots yet, including a cave where we happened upon a gorgeous osprey resting in the jagged rocks.  She let us swim right up to her — breathtaking.  Then  we snorkeled on a stainless steel grand piano with the most beautiful mermaid sitting nearby, supposedly placed in this underwater indigo “concert hall” by David Copperfield, whose gorgeous private island is close by, thereby providing us all with an entirely different kind of magic show!




Norman’s Cay, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Compass Cay, Staniel Cay

Forget 50 shades of gray.  More like 10,000 shades of blue. Layer upon layer of turquoise, azure, lapis, indigo, cornflower, robin’s egg, peacock, violet, steel, navy … every possible shade that you can think of, as far as the eye can see.  The colors are magnificent, seamlessly melting into one another. It’s hard to adequately capture or do Mother Nature true justice in all her cerulean beauty in the Bahamas.

We have spent our days snorkeling and cruising, cruising and snorkeling, exploring plane wrecks, teeming reefs and underwater caves and grottos.  The water temperature is enticing, cool, refreshing, but still warm enough to be inviting.  Between the color of the water and the luscious temperature, you just want to dive in. Over the past five days, we’ve spent more time in the water than out of it.  It is heaven on earth.

More and more boats from Miami and Fort Lauderdale are arriving each day, an unsettling reminder of all that we left behind starting in March (!), a boisterous, unruly, festive influx of visitors, hungry for a blessed break from Covid-19 — the opportunity to feel the sun on their faces, the wind in their hair, a reprieve from the monotony of lock-downs, shut-downs, downward spirals, the ominous spikes they’ve just left behind.  They have come to a faraway place — and so we want to push further and further south, even further away from the fray.

At Norman’s Cay, we dove on the infamous plane wreck, a drug running transport plane from the glory days of cash and cocaine in the 1970’s and 1980’s,  orchestrated and spearheaded by Carlos Lehder of the Medellin Cartel in Colombia.  The plane met its demise just short of the runway.  So close and yet so far.  The current tranquility of the place belies the violent ending and the unsavory past, and colorful, storied history of Norman’s Cay.

On to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a 176 square mile nature preserve established in 1958.  It is the first “no-take” preserve (all fishing is prohibited) in the wider Caribbean.  This stretch of pristine water, land and beaches is an ecological preserve and wildlife refuge famous for its breathtaking marine environment.

Our first stop in the park was at Shroud Cay, where we visited Camp Driftwood.  An eccentric, recluse of an old gent built a staircase made out of driftwood to the summit on Shroud Cay, where you can observe magnificent views of the surrounding mangroves, creeks, oceans and cays. The DEA also used this perch to spy on the activities of Carlos Lehder in nearby Norman Cay during the heyday of his drug running trade.

Next stop Warderick Wells, Park Headquarters, where we had a great morning hiking the arduous land trails, including to the summits of Hudia Hill (named for the fluffy brown guinea pig like critters indigenous to this island) and Boo Boo Hill (named for the early missionaries, who legend says perished on the nearby reefs and who can be heard chanting hymns on moonlit nights to this day)

Then we had an unforgettable day snorkeling on “Jeep Reef”, (so named because of the old jeep “parked” at the center of this colorful ridge), exploring an underwater “Grotto” called Rocky Dundas, admiring vibrant, but disappearing patches of bright yellow staghorn coral,  another plane wreck, Rachel’s Bubbles — a hard-to-describe, out-of-the-way-hideaway, or bubble-bath, where the ocean collides with a quiet, backwater tidal pool fed by a saltwater creek by crashing over a slim limestone ledge and infusing the salty pond with bubbles, foam and sea-spray.  It was a magical, effervescent place to float and rest, rejuvenate and marvel at the beauty and power of God’s gorgeous creation and how lucky we were to find ourselves such a place.  On to the Park’s Sea-quarium, where Mike got bit by a hungry and over eager sergeant-major looking for a handout.

It was an action packed, athletic, epic day.  Just the way that we like it!

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Chub Cay, Nassau, Barracuda, Norman’s Cay, Bahamas – June, 18, 19, 20

They say a pineapple is an unmistakable and international symbol of hospitality … warmth, friendship, good will, welcome … and I would have to whole-heartedly agree!  We began our journey by anchoring out at Chub Cay and then moving on to Nassau, where we had a little bit of trepidation relative to what the post-Covid 19 atmosphere there would be like.  It turns out that our worries were for naught.  We were welcomed by our good friend from Cat Cay, Shawon Cury and her dear friend Vanessa, (whose family owns a pineapple farm on the island).  They met us at Sea U Sooner bringing the most beautiful fruit basket and the three most delicious pineapples we have ever tasted. (The secret to their sweetness is the addition of a teaspoon of salt to the soil.)  If you are in the Bahamas and would like a Pineapple connection, let me know and I will connect you with Vanessa and Shawon!

I enjoyed a couple of amazing runs in Nassau traversing the Sydney Portier bridge span to Paradise Island, where I was impressed by the number of people exercising, and also the generosity and kindness with which they extended themselves to me.  Facemasks in place, nothing dramatic, just a friendly smile, a happy “good morning”, an enthusiastic “welcome back” — proving once again that kindness and camaraderie are just as contagious as Covid 19.

We went to the Queens Staircase and Fort Fincastle, not to mention the Pirates Republic Brewery, social distancing intact, as Christy, Mike and I were the only three people at each of these normally inundated tourist destinations.  It was nice to be able to enjoy and I had a deeper appreciation for these special places without the crowds.  Bittersweet, seeing that the island is struggling, but enjoying the magic to ourselves.

On to Barracuda Island, where we snorkeled for about three hours on the most amazing and vibrant coral reef that I have seen in a long time.  Turtles, sharks, groupers and more … one of Christy’s hidden gems.  If this is any indication of the places we will go, we are in for the trip of a lifetime.  Stopped by to see the indigenous iguanas on Iguana Cay, eagerly nibbling grapes from a stick.  We speared a couple of lionfish which we grilled for Mike’s 70th birthday dinner on the bridge of Sea U Sooner and it was a perfect evening.  Happy Birthday Mike Blake – one of the greatest adventurers of them all.  Gratitude for Mike, gratitude for Christy.  Sea U Sooner is in good place!


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Cat Cay, Bahamas, April 20, 2020

Three White Cats

“Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs: 16:24).

I live on a tropical island where I am kept company by three white cats.  They are a trio of brothers, blue point Siamese, named Marley, Rocky and Blue.   Perfect reminders of a favorite mantra I have recently taken to heart, learned from a local sage who said:  rule yourself with your head, rule others with your heart, and before you speak, always ask yourself these three questions:   Is this necessary? Is this kind? Is this true?  Rocky, Marley and Blue.

These three brothers are the sweetest of vagrants.  They’ve lived on their own here for quite a few years and they “rule the roost” at this end of our little island.  They wander freely among deep pink bougainvillea, inky black tide pools, waxy, pale green aloe vero plants in craggy coquina flowerpots that offer soothing “relief” just by looking at them.  My feline friends play hide and seek among the weather-beaten wooden rocking chairs that gently stir in the ocean breezes, they dart in and around wispy green sea grass, they dodge sea-grape trees with  pumpkin shaped green leaves flecked with orange and gold. They “de-tail” unsuspecting lizards and chase yellow-breasted finches all day long, artfully dodging in and out of a maze of bright purple Mexican petunias.

Marley is the youngest of my three amiable amigos.  He’s strictly business, he’s a realist, he’s practical, he drops by each day when it’s absolutely …  “necessary”, namely, for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner.  Maybe sometimes for a snack.  Always a delight to behold, with his silky white coat and sleepy blue eyes.   Always pleasant, always polite — but he doesn’t linger.  He’s on a mission.  He attends to the task at hand and moves on.  If I’m lucky, he’ll sit for a brief minute, let me scratch his ears, he’ll purr his approval, and then disappear into the tangled foliage as suddenly as he arrived.

Rocky is “kindness” among my three sweet siblings.  Slightly cross-eyed and snaggle toothed, goofy, by all “obvious” measures, he is the least “perfect” of  the trio.  But in more important ways, he is by far the most precious. He comes around every day, but not just at mealtime.  What Rocky wants more than anything is a snuggle, a belly-rub, an affectionate hello.  And with Rocky, it’s not just a one-way street.  He often appears without explanation.   Uncannily, he knows when I’m lonely, or sad, or just looking for a friend.  He sits with me quietly purring, a vibration that resonates in my soul, sometimes for hours – expecting nothing in return, until I feel better again.  Then he saunters away, calm, contented, secure in the knowledge that he has made a small, sweet difference in the world.    Rocky has taught me that it’s always good to be a little kinder than necessary.

Blue is the oldest of the boys, he’s the bluest, or rather the grayest of the three white cats.  He’s “true-blue”. Like any good big brother, he is cautious, careful, circumspect, aloof, reticent.  He lingers until he has ascertained all the facts and knows for sure what any given scenario holds in store.  He sits at a distance and observes.   Never a false start, never an impetuous mistake, never an over-eager, emotional response.  Blue is nobody’s fool.  His visits are rare, but very well-considered, and so they are all the more treasured.  He is measured, he is wisdom, he is true. 

I love each of my three sweet friends individually, and even more so when they stop by my front porch together, a perfect trifecta, a three-fold reminder to deliver my words with care — and to be certain that they are necessary, that they are kind, and that they are true — Rocky, Marley and Blue. 😊 (photo credits:  Donna Loew and Christy Weaver)

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Cat Cay, Bahamas, March 31, 2020

I wandered along the beach this afternoon, hoping the sandy white shoreline would soothe my aching soul and settle my tangled and twisted nerves.  Quarantined amidst our current and catastrophic Coronavirus circumstances and a world that has been completely turned upside down, eager for an exit plan, an escape, a blessed reprieve.

I have made searching for seaglass my mission over the past several days.  A distracting and tedious task, perfectly suited to deflect from the devastation of the current headlines, concerning CV-19 curves that spike instead of flatten, contagion rates that continue to confound.  The specter of the terrible twin towers called Covid and Dorian that linger and loom over the innocent island nation of the Bahamas.

My search for seaglass is a perfect diversion, time-consuming, monotonous, endless stretches of strand to traverse and unlimited amounts of “debris” to peruse while immersing myself in the splendor of the sky, the pungent and salty sea air, the wisps of sea foam that tickle my face, the gentle tropical breezes that ruffle my hair. Persistent reminders that life is good, God is good, and all will be right with the world again.  Stay positive, stay resilient, stay strong, stay the course.

The best pieces of glass are hidden among delicate white sea shells, paper thin “salt and pepper” colored strands of sea grass, discarded tiles, bottle caps, a motley array of colorful riff-raff, haphazardly strewn along the shore by the endless tumble of the waves.  I love the indigos, the emeralds, the olives, the aquamarines, the browns and the whites, and the occasional lavenders — and one single piece of glass colored the most exceptional periwinkle blue.  The loveliest pieces are elusive, demure, reticent, shy.  And yet they are the most resilient castaways, the ones that have endured the most unrelenting punishment by the sea, only to emerge polished, pure, silky, smooth — remade, recast, different, changed — more pristine versions of themselves than when they began their unsuspecting and arduous journeys.  Imperfectly perfect gifts from the sea.  They are simply a joy to find.

My pass-time is a noble undertaking, each tiny treasure received with gratitude, gently placed in my bucket.  Each tiny treasure an opportunity for a whispered prayer that all will soon be well with the world again, and the profound hope that perhaps it will emerge from the tumult as a less jagged, less raw, kinder and gentler version of itself.


Iguana Cay, Highbourne Cay, Bahamas, March 16 – March 20, 2020

Often, the simplest things in life are the most beautiful.  Given the specter of COVID-19 and the ensuing chaos it has left in its wake, there’s no such thing as an ordinary day or place anymore.  Rattled by the headlines, but in an attempt to infuse some normalcy into the morning, I laced up my Asics and took off on my daily run, always the antidote to what ails me.  Aside from my morning prayers,  running is the most “tried and true” way I know of to set the day up in a positive way.  I consider my daily runs to be prayers in an of themselves,  as they often are the best conduit for my most heartfelt conversations with God.

I’m on a tropical island in the far reaches of the eastern Bahamas, where the crystal blue sea with its white foam mantle, the rustling palm fronds, and the sugar-like sand make it difficult to fathom that anything is awry in the world.

Still, after anchoring out for days in a row — the ultimate social distancing — high winds forced us to seek shelter in the closest marina.   When we arrived here yesterday, the dock-master “requested” that we immediately disembark from the boat and undergo the “new” entry protocol necessary to gain admittance to this tiny island.  We were grilled on places we had recently visited and any idiosyncrasies in our itinerary.  She unceremoniously pointed a laser thermometer at our foreheads, an ominous blinking red dot, an uncomfortable silence, and a final proclamation that our temperatures were under the prescribed 100.4 degrees deemed necessary to keep the locals safe and flatten the curve of this insidious virus.

“Stay within the confines of your boat, don’t wander too far afield, avoid other people, the restaurant is closed to visitors, watch your interaction with others, stay away from town.  Be careful, be respectful, be responsible, be gone.”  All understandable, given the dismal state of world affairs, but disheartening nonetheless.

I found an abandoned trail on the outskirts of the island and took off on my run.  Broken-hearted, broken spirited, broken-down.  Disconnected, disconcerted,  lonely and far away from home.  What the heck is going on?  Will anything ever be the same?  What is the world coming to?  One-mile, two-miles, three-miles in, I passed nary a soul along the way save the yellow-breasted banana-keets, chirping happily, flitting here and there among the low-lying branches along the trail.  Curly-tailed lizards skittered frenetically back and forth, not a care in the world.  My spirits started to lift.

On the crest of a hill, just down the road, a local Bahamian made his way towards me on a “workhorse” of an old atv, towing a broken-down wooden cart heavily laden with palm fronds, branches, cuttings, a verdant and discordant array of debris from a recent storm.  Straw hat pulled down over his forehead, sunglasses protecting his eyes, a “colorful” gator pulled up over his nose, safeguarding him from the sun, from pollen, from mosquitoes, from germs, from visitors like me.

“Hello!  Good morning! How are you?” He shouted as he approached and pulled down his gator, smiled, and looked up from his most arduous task  — still at a safe distance yet the warmest of an “embrace” just the same.   The most perfect smile, symmetrical, bright white  “movie-star” perfect teeth framed by a deeply lined, handsome, ebony complexion.  Kindness, compassion, friendliness, hope … personified.  “Welcome to our island.  Are you looking for an amazing place to go today?  Make a left at the small trail just ahead, it will lead you to the most beautiful and secluded beach in the world.”