Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lochabarbeque: A sweet spot on Long Island

The center of Long Island has a small settlement called Clarence Town, named after someone by the name of Clarence, evidently, nobody seems to know. The official record says that 350 people live in Clarence Town, but it seems more like about 100 to me. This is where the mail boat arrives, and that alone makes it a popular spot. There is a marina here, but we like to anchor; the view is better, the breeze is better, and it is free, definitely better! There are a couple of really cool churches in Clarence Town, sitting proudly atop a hill, overlooking the water and the sinners below. Better not go fishing on Sunday morning, everyone in town will spot you out there! Just around the corner is a place called Lochabar. It sounds like a Scottish Lake, but it is actually a large saltwater bay, just south of the Clarence Town harbor, and it is a beautiful place. Our friends here on the island, are caretakers of sorts, for a place called Lochabar Lodge. Talk about location, this place rocks. There is room to anchor your sailboat, or powerboat, right in the bay, just one hundred feet from the lodge. The lodge itself, has three 'apartments', two downstairs and the main lodge upstairs. It is a bit rustic, this is not a Sandals resort, but it is absolutely private, totally pristine, and undeniably Bahamas original. The bay is only thirty feet deep, and shallow enough to snorkel around the edge, or just cool off for a bit in the the blue water.
We took advantage of this awesome location, and totally killed it with the best meal ever possible on this planet, don't even think of trying to do better than this because you will end up failing big time, and the shame might just be too much, causing permanent psychological damage, or even worse. It started with a long walk, swim, and tour of some of the bay, and it was, of course, perfect weather. Steady breeze, sunny skies, and 84 degrees is about perfect any way you add it up. Then, we cooked up a charcoal grill feast. Ribeye steaks, Lobster on the grill, and fresh Swordfish steaks on the grill too! Add to this, homemade bread, homemade macaroni and cheese, Secret Recipe Bahamian coleslaw, homemade potato salad and crab rice. Crab rice is a a brown rice that is prepared with local crab, all handmade from land crab caught in the yard. These crabs are fattened up on coconut, rice and corn, and then into the pot they go, too bad for them, good for us! This all was washed down with ice cold Kalik beers and there you go, the best meal ever on Earth. No need for dessert, because that would mean you would have to save room... Uh-Uh. Well, this was an eleven, not a ten, and if you ever saw the movie "This is Spinal Tap" you would understand. If not, it's a pretty funny movie.
This baby Conch was returned to the water, maybe a future conch salad or a cracked conch wanna-be. The area was really cool, and an unbelievable location, totally private and secluded, but only a five minute drive from the busy metropolis called Clarence Town. The lodge is available for rent, daily, weekly, whatever-ly. Drop me a line, and I will hook you up, you won't regret it! Check out this quick video of a group of fish, here in Lochabar. They are seeking refuge in what is left of a fish pen! Think of the irony here, all fish ever wanted to do was to get out of this pen! These guys are trying to stay in the thing!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Christopher Columbus and The Giant

A road trip was in order, as we had a vehicle, and a road, so hey, why not? Actually, there is a road, a single road, that draws a jagged line down the length of the island. It is called The Queens Highway, as the Bahamas were, until around 1996, a commonwealth of Britain of all things, when they finally wised up and told the stodgy Brits to stuff it. There is still plenty of evidence of this British influence around, mostly in the names of things actually, and now the Bahamas money interchanges one for one with the American dollar. Long Island was originally called Yuma by it's original settlers, a tribe of hearty Indians called the Lucayan Taino. There is no evidence that these peoples were from Yuma Arizona, it is just a coincidence in the name it seems. Anyway, sometime in the late 1400's, the King of Spain decided that it was time to explore West, in an attempt to find a faster sailing route to India. Going West would be easier, as it would be with the wind, instead of against it, something we are very familiar with here on Saltrun.
So along came Christopher Columbus, who actually was born in Genoa Italy, who set sail going West toward what was hoped would be a faster route East for the Spanish King. And so it was, that Columbus discovered a new world, and found the Bahamas and later America. It is suspected that Columbus first found San Salvador, and then landed here on Long Island. He renamed the island Fernandina, and told the natives to forget about Yuma. It seems that Columbus called any indigenous people he found Indians, in sort of a weird denial type thing about his original attempt to sail West to India. Halfway around the world from India, and still calling everyone Indians. Whatever. We drove to the North end on the island, up to Cape Santa Maria, and to the monument placed to honor the Columbus discovery. It is high atop a cliff called the White Cliffs, and down 35 minutes of the worse dirt and rock strewn road imaginable. You would think, if Columbus was really all that, he would have landed a little closer to the main road.
As history will note, the Spanish were the world class looters and plunderers of the day back then, and sadly, the native Lucayan,s were captured and sold as slaves in Spain and Cuba. The island was pretty much abandoned for many years, until the arrival of loyalists to Britain, that fled to United States after the revolution of the U.S from Great Britain in 1776. Many of the Bahamas Islands were the new home for these loyalists, and Long Island had it's share. They opened plantations here, but the arid conditions, and finally the abolition of slave ownership in England in 1832 was the end for the plantations here. There are remnants of plantation homes and walls all over the island, although nature has reclaimed most of them. We visited the site of one of these plantations, and found the tomb of a four year old little girl that was the victim of fever and pneumonia.
The marble stone in this photo was found years after the pyramid shaped tomb, and according to our tour guide, Cathy, it was being used as a table in someone's home... turned upside down on some legs. It was recovered and put beside the grave of this unfortunate little girl. Her parents must have been devastated to lose her, but death was much more common in those days, it was not uncommon for families to lose children to disease, even a precious four year old little girl.
The Morris plantation was one of these loyalist establishments, and many of the areas, or small townships, are named after families that were from these areas, names such as Pinder, Morris, Buckley's, Hamilton's, and Petty's all are still used today. One area, Simms, is still around, and we visited the area on our way north to the Columbus monument. Lawrence Simms is buried in Simms, Long Island, in the area known by his name. His grave lies just outside the doors to a dilapidated old church, that nature is quickly reutuning to the earth, as it did old Lawrence Simms so long ago. It is sad to see these old places, left to rot, forgotten by those that are still here. There is nobody alive today that ever knew this man, or his contribution to the area, or even his devotion to his faith. To be buried just outside the doors to this church speaks volumes about his standing in the community at the time, and yet time has moved on, and so it goes.
We saw some unspoiled beaches, abandoned neighborhoods with saltwater canals, beachfront cemeteries, and the old jail. There is so much to see here, and so much of it is abandoned, it is striking in it's beauty and desolation. A place where history is rich, and perhaps forgotten in time. So we stopped at the liquor store, and had a cold beer in the parking lot, much as the loyalists did here so long ago.
We came across this big tree, blocking the road to the beach. There really was no way to go around it.
Lucky for us, Joyce also learned how to become a giant!! SIM- SIM- SELAKIM!!! Bingo, Joyce is now a giant. Removing trees is a giant specialty. We are good to go. Thanks Joyce!!
Now, how in the world are we gonna get her back in the Jeep?