Our original, plan 3 months ago, was to visit the upper Exumas first and then head north to the Abacos. As the holiday season approached, I thought long and hard about where I wanted to be for Christmas. First choice – home with family. Life is about choices and sometimes you really can’t have it all. We chose to go home in early November for my Dad’s 90th birthday. That’s a very special event, we would get to see our family, and it would be without the assorted holiday craziness (let’s admit that the holidays, although wonderful, can also be a bit stressful and crazy). That said, I knew that it would be sad to be apart on Christmas. Next best choice would be Christmas in Hope Town! We had wonderful memories from our stay here during the holidays in 2013 – I knew I would feel much better if I were spending Christmas here where we have many friends rather than in the Exumas, which are considerably more isolated.
Hope Town does the holidays with unrestrained exuberant enthusiasm – it is a wonderful whirlwind which really helps to decrease any home sickness. The comparison between our typical New England Christmas and Christmas here is a study in contrasts and similarities. Instead of frantically preparing our home for the holidays with decorations, cooking and shopping, we get to enjoy festivities with a lot less work. To our northern eyes, it still seems odd to have sand under our feet instead of snow, and a warm, humid breeze in our faces instead of that brisk cold air. But wait! From what we hear, the weather wasn’t all that different between the Bahamas and Connecticut for Christmas 2015. Weather aside, the shopping wasn’t finished back in the states, can’t carry decorations on the boat, and sure can’t bake all the cookies and fancy meals in my little galley. So, the only thing we could do is join in the festivities!
Couldn’t miss our first event – We went to Captain Jack’s Trim-the-Tree night. Bring an ornament and get a free drink. It was pretty cool to see my two Christmas box ornaments from 2013 hanging on the tree! Lacking a new inspiration, I made two more to hang for this year. In fact, I made quite a few boxes, filled them with Dove dark chocolates and gave them away to friends here in the harbor and on the island. It’s one of my favorite things to do for the Christmas spirit. It reminds me of my mother who taught me how to make the boxes. Our children each get a bag of 25 to open as an Advent calendar.
Sadly, my photos of our evening at Captain Jack’s are trapped in my MacBook and inaccessible. UPDATE: Mac is up and running again (THANK YOU, Apple Support people!) Here are the photos —
Just a few days after that evening we attended the St. James Christmas play, “Christmas in Black & White, Discovering the Real Story of Christmas.” Fifty-two children of all ages performed in this delightful production that unashamedly proclaimed “Christmas” loudly and clearly, instead of the politically correct, “Happy Holidays” message. I wish I could share a few photos from the evening, but alas, these also reside in the black hole that is now my Mac. Someday, even if it is not until next summer, my Mac will be revived and I will return to this post to add those photos. UPDATE: So glad the Mac is back so that I can share the photos of this wonderful play.
I suspect that caroling in the streets is a childhood tradition from the past for most of us. I can’t recall the last time I went caroling at home or anyone came to our house. Here on Elbow Cay, It’s a big annual event and everyone joins in, including us, and we are both terrible singers!
I was quite curious about a new Christmas event planned in Hope Town – the “Christmas Village” with a skating rink. A skating rink? We volunteered, along with many other harbor folks, to help set up this village. Oh, how I wish I could get that &@$?! MacBook up and running again. I took photos of Al, Dan and others assembling the puzzle pieces of the starboard “skating rink”; and Sam and Magnus plus a few more folks putting together the big tent, all on another very windy day. LAST UPDATE: Here are the setting up photos for the Christmas Village. It was mostly us boat folks helping out. I will admit that I had my doubts about whether or not this would ever look like a “Christmas Village.”
The caroling ended at this Christmas Village, so we were able to see the finished product. Who could ever imagine that a dusty ball field could be transformed into a twinkling magical holiday village?
Christmas Eve arrived and six of us headed down to PapaNasty’s for barbecue. We biked and the others walked (have to make use of these bikes after carrying them along for 1500 miles.) It was a delicious lunch. We had “pulled pork sundaes.” Try to imagine what that might be? It’s a BIG styrofoam cup layered with PapaNasty’s baked beans, spicy cole slaw, and topped with the pulled pork. So yummy, but we didn’t consider that we had a Christmas Eve party to attend! Sarah and Deanna we’re hosting their annual Christmas Eve Open House!
We attended the St. James’ Christmas Eve service when we left Sea House. I enjoy the simplicity of this little church.
Christmas morning began with sun and warm temperatures…… and apple raisin pancakes.
Looked like a good day for snorkeling –
Eight of us decided to have Christmas dinner together at the Abaco Inn.
All in all, we had a lovely Christmas here in Hope Town, as I knew we would. It may only be our second time here, but I feel like we belong to this close-knit community. BUT, we miss our family and that ache never fully fades away even when we are busy and enjoying life in the islands
P.S. For those curious minds out there – No, the MacBook isn’t working I did this blog post on Al’s iPad. Not as easy, but I’ll try to make it work
WARNING: This is not my typical blog post, and it’s not about Christmas in the Bahamas. But it will explain why there may not be another post. 🙁
My wonderful MacBook Pro has “died” for unknown reasons. Started it up just fine yesterday morning, turned around to pour my cup of tea, looked back and saw a black screen. We have tried every possible solution found on the Internet. Nada. Doesn’t make a sound and it doesn’t do anything. Only 2 1/2 years old! I began my retirement years and this blog with it. Will my retirement end with the laptop? Will the blog have to end without the laptop?
My mechanically gifted Captain even removed the back to take a look. Lots of dust inside. Disconnected the battery from the motherboard and put it back. Evidently there was a slim chance that might get it going again. Nope. Here in the Bahamas, there are no Apple stores, no Genius Bar, and no way to telephone Apple Support, who would in all likelihood tell me to take it to an Apple Store.
So, here it is, the Night before Christmas, and all through the ship, not a gigabyte was stirring, not even a chip. It’s easy to say that this is a wonderful opportunity to get “unplugged,” but I’m not feeling that way. I imagine that it would be a challenge for most of us to give up our computers, even for folks like me who did not grow up with this technology.
That Mac held a lot of our lives in it – ALL of my photos, important documents and information, and numerous spreadsheets (I’m a former math teacher, I have a spreadsheet for everything). Yes, everything is backed up on an external hard drive (about 2-3 weeks ago?) but that doesn’t help me here and now. That will only help when this Macbook is repaired or replaced. It was also my method of staying connected, especially through my blog. I’m not sure if I can continue doing the blog without my trusty (haha) Mac. I’ve always imagined that I would someday revisit our cruising and boating years through the blog, when we are old(er) and gray(er). I wrote it primarily for me, as a journal and record.
Now what do I do? First, I have to put it aside and remember that it is Christmas. It would be even worse to lose my Christmas spirit because of this technological stumbling block. So, off we will go to a lovely Christmas Eve party at Deanna and Sarah’s island home, followed by the candlelight service at St. James. Life and living is about people, not machines.
Second, I’ll try to find a way to do some sort of blogging using Al’s iPad. But I’m not making any promises. I’m using my iPhone for this, and it is not fun or easy. Humbug. (Can you sense how much I am struggling with this technological disaster?)
Over the past week, I have been taking some photos and saving them with an idea in mind about the “comings and goings” in Hope Town harbor, as boats arrive and depart. I awoke this morning with a slightly different perspective. I realized that today, December 21st, marks 100 days since we left Groton on September 13th. And today is also the Winter Solstice. Let’s see if I can tie this all together in one blog post!
When we first arrived in Hope Town, on December 7th, there were far fewer boats in the harbor, most likely due to the infrequent weather windows for crossing the Gulf Stream. Anthony and Annette on Magnolia were already here. Magnolia, in case you missed this in previous blog posts, is a sister ship to our Morgan 43 Kindred Spirit. We met Anthony and Annette through the connection of our boats and enjoy their company whenever we are in the same ports over the past two and half years. Although we no longer have our Morgan and have crossed to the “dark side” of boating, they did not forsake us. 😉 We crossed paths several times as we traveled south (Myrtle Beach, SC, Savannah, GA, Vero Beach, FL). Alas, Magnolia, and her salty crew were heading farther south to the Exumas and planned to depart from Elbow Cay shortly after we arrived. We could not miss an opportunity to party and to wish our dear friends safe travels. We invited Swede Dreams, Soul Mates, Antares, and Loon to bid bon voyage to Magnolia.
With a tiny, but decent, weather window last week, boats were on the move again, making the crossing from Florida and traversing Whale Cay passage here in the Abacos. Yahoo! We would soon be seeing our boating buddies here on Elbow Cay again.
We feel so blessed to have made so many friends while we cruise. Friends that last over time and over distance. Although we are “boat people,” there are two Hope Town couples who have embraced us with open arms and true friendship, sharing this wonderful island with us.
Al has always enjoyed counting the days down to the Winter Solstice, knowing that the day after the Winter Solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June, the longest day of the year.
In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21, 2015 marks this turning point with the longest night and shortest day of the year. And, the beginning of winter. For all of us down here in the Bahamas, we aren’t too concerned about the beginning of winter 😉 and are eagerly looking forward to the increasing sunlight, however tiny the increments will be.
The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘sun standing still’. Just in case you wanted to know.
So, how do I tie all this up in one blog? We started the week with a “good-bye” party and we ended the week with a “hello, we are so happy to all be here again” party, which turned into a “Winter Solstice/100 Days Since We Left Home” celebration. Any excuse, right? As if that weren’t enough, it was also Kayda and Sam’s 40th wedding anniversary. We would be crazy not to have a party!
Al learned to spear lobsters during our first winter here in the Bahamas. HIs buddy, Dan, taught him. But Dan wasn’t here in Hope Town yet, and after 20 months of land life, Al was a little rusty. He looked in a few of the old spots, but there were no antennae peeking out from under the ledges. We heard some talk that the lobsters have been pretty scarce this year. 🙁 Then one night (yes, night) as we climbed into the dinghy at the docks, Al shined his flashlight into the shallow water to find the second anchor. He gave a yell – “lobsters!” There under one of the Hope Town dinghy docks were two lobsters scurrying away from under our dinghy. Al was clearly excited and dismayed at his sighting. Finally lobsters, but alas, no spear and it was pretty dark! Oh well. Such is a hunter’s life.
Then Dan and Marcia, on Cutting Class, finally arrived in Hope Town on December 17th after crossing the Gulf Stream on December 15th (good weather windows have been few and far between.) The very next day, Dan and Al were out and about looking for lobsters again.
It was December 18th, the debut of the new Star Wars movie. I couldn’t help but think of an analogy……Dan, the wise master lobster hunter, (Obi-Wan Kenobi) mentoring Al (Luke Skywalker) in the ways of the lobster hunter. Light saber….. spear. Lobster…….. ???
Spearing the lobsters is a lot of fun for these guys, but after that, what happens? You have a wonderful feast. Our combined efforts produced an awesome first lobster dinner onboard Kindred Spirit. Marcia prepares the lobster with spices.
The feast becomes extra special when shared with special people. A good night all around!