Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fun with the Otterbeins--Nassau

Sunday morning, 12/5, we got the dink and boat ship shape and motored down the harbor against the current to pick up the Otterbeins and go to visit the “Liberty Clipper.” Unfortunately Captain Dan had gone ashore and the deck watch could not let us aboard, so we visited the backside of Potter’s Cay and the fishing boats.  We dinked west into the wind and waves to see huge cruise ships up close (getting Judy quite wet as she was in the bow), stopped by Bentaña for cheese and crackers and went to visit the fry fish shacks under the bridge.  In all, it was time well spent, and when we returned to “Liberty Clipper” Dan had not returned.  Carol and Harry had to catch the taxi back to their Time share on Paradise Island, so we saw them off and waited for the captain to arrive. As passengers were expected, he had to return.    We enjoyed visiting Liberty Clipper when Captain Daniel returned at 4 pm and enjoyed meeting most of the crew.
Monday 12/6  the Otterbeins were busy and we decided that it was time to do some food shopping and provisioning for the trek down the Exumas.  We also needed to check our email and update the blog so when we docked the dink at The Green Parrot, we asked which bus would take us to the City Market and Starbucks.  They were not sure but felt that the number 1 jitney bus was a good bet.  We went out to Bay Street and flagged down a number 1 bus and asked if it went to City Market and Starbucks.  The driver assured us it did, so off we went.  It is customary to greet everyone as you get onto the bus, so we did.  Well, we ended up at Starbucks and City Market, but not the ones that we expected to be at!  While I was working on the blog, Steph went over to the City Market.  It was a dismal experience as many shelves were empty and the coolers were broken so there were no meat, frozen goods, nor dairy and the fresh vegetables were wilted.  We stayed at Starbucks until they closed and then hopped back on the number 1 bus to take us “home.”  It was an interesting ride, almost like a tour bus without the talking.  We went through several different districts of the city and then past the Governors residence and into downtown, then back along Bay Street to the Green Parrot.
For Tuesday we had made plans to meet Carol and Harry downtown and decided that a good location to meet would be the Pirate Museum.   ARGHHH! While waiting to meet Harry and Carol here in the center of everything, we checked out the old Anglican Church then stood at the entrance to the Pirate Museum.  Outside in full regalia was not Jack Sparrow, but “Black Sparrow”.  Half carnival barker and all pirate, this buccaneer wheedled us into the museum.  We really didn’t need encouragement, we had planned to enter, but we were early for our partners. “Black” had Judy hanging out in the stocks in front of the place.  As he tried to pry her ring off her finger he told me she was in good hands, “I’m from Allstate…” He said that piracy wasn’t dead, “Look at Wall Street, AIG, Enron, Bernie Madoff, politicians, and even priests…They all PREY.”  It was a pretty good museum.
Around the corner was the “Straw Market.” The place where the cruise ship passengers can get t-shirts, wood carvings, “designer” bags as well as the eponymous straw items to bring back to waiting homebound friends and relatives.  While a new and improved straw market is under construction, this open air, bazaar like hall was piled high with colorful merchandise.  Unusual winter cold had the vendors wrapped in shawls and blankets as the tourists shuffled through the congested aisles. Some wood carvers and straw crafters worked while tending their stalls, both to keep up production and also as an attraction. Carol got a great deal, an authentic “Coach” clutch for $20 when the seller threw in an authentic “Burberry” wallet.
By this time hunger had set in, and we went looking for the “Fish Fry,” a cluster of indoor restaurants a notch above the shacks we ate at in Potter’s Cay. Although they cater to the tourists mostly from the cruise ships, it was a real schlep to get to.  Each local asked pointed a little further down the road.  A fruit juice vendor at the public beach said it was a seven minute walk.  She didn’t count on a senior citizen’s stride.
At last we arrived.  Of the dozen or so places, we chose the one with the friendly huckster in the street.  He handed us a menu and price and selection was agreeable, we were hungry.  We were led upstairs past the windowless bar full of locals to the deck where we would have “a view of the harbor.”  Never mind that this part of the harbour, Arawack Cay is where ships carrying sand and gravel unload.  The diner- like booth’s seats were rump-sprung and the TV was showing a western movie.  Local color is not always what you think it should be.  Lest you get the wrong idea, we came for food, and it was very good and reasonably priced.  The couple in the booth behind us, young Midwesterners off a cruise ship, were enthusiastic about their choices, conch salad and conch chowder.  He said he was a fan of real hot stuff, and they brought him a dab of some.  He was ecstatic about how good it was and how little he used.
We all ordered from the snack listings on the menu and they were substantial at about $10-12 each.  We commented on how big the full dinner must be. The Otterbein’s had fried fish, snapper or grouper “fingers.”  These came with French fries and a paper cupette of coleslaw, or a little roll. Judy, beyond anymore fried food ordered the grilled grouper.  Surprisingly it was prepared in foil with onions, tomatoes and peppers.  The large portion of fish was sitting in a broth of the ingredients in the foil.  It was very good.  I ordered the conch salad, one of the conch dishes I had yet to try.  I am partial to ceviche, hot food and fresh veggies and based on our neighbors praise, I followed suit.  I was not disappointed.  The diced tenderized mollusk was soused in a spicy citrus bath along with dice onions tomatoes and peppers.  It was cool and zesty, and in the little paper cupette was a dab of orange puree I took to be the famous scotch bonnet. I dipped the tip of one fork tine in and touched it to my tongue.  My Scoville meter confirmed my suspicions, and with a conservative and judicious approach I mixed a small amount with each mouthful of lunch.  I accompanied the fish with Barret’s Ginger Beer, one of the sodas actually canned here by Coca-Cola. All in all we enjoyed our lunch. 
               Like virtually every other person we interacted with, our waitress was warm and friendly, helping with our selections, and when we left, she helped us find a supermarket.  We had found two of the “City Markets,” and she suggested a third in Cable Beach.  We could reach it on the number 10 bus.  Harry and Carol took the same bus headed the other way and we waved goodbye standing on opposite sides of the street waiting for our rides.  Our bus stop was in front of the Bahamian Cricket Club.  The sign said its restaurant was open to the public.  Maybe next time.
               It was great that we were going to a new place, especially as the last “City Market” I visited looked like it was about to close.  It happens that Cable Beach is an up-scale neighborhood, home to “Sandals,” and other better resorts.  The dollar twenty-five fare on the jitney like bus is an easy way to look around without being part of the tourist scene. When I got on the bus I realized that I had left my red Mount Gay cap at the restaurant.  To those who do not know, The Mount Gay cap is coveted by sailors like me.  It is earned, and never sold.  One has to participate in some world class sailing event to get one.  It is a badge, if you will, honored by those in the know and a mark of an insider.  Each passage maker in the Caribbean 1500 got one, and mine was now not with me.
               We arrived at the store and Judy tried calling the restaurant with her new cell phone. No answer. So in we go to do our shop.  Again, we want to get some perishables and check out the stock for our trip to the out islands where shopping can be problematic. This store too had empty shelves and many of the staples on our list were out of stock.  Judy commented, “We’re gonna starve!” None the less, we had spent about a hundred and twenty dollars, and had more stuff than we could carry in our knapsacks.  A cab ride back to the Green Parrot would be another chunk of change.  Now, “City Markets” advertises in the cruising guides that they cater to cruisers, and “deliver to your boat, on orders over a hundred dollars.” We went to the customer service desk and asked.  The rep thought we were referring to their “family island” service, where Capital City folks send food shipments back home by the ferry and mail-boat system. She asked an associate, and they put us in the hands of Philemon, their meat-cutter who was through for the day.  While Philemon went to get his car, Judy tried the restaurant again.  Fortune continued to smile on our journey, my cherished cap would be waiting for me at the bar.  Now I had to explain to Philemon that our boat was not at a marina, and I needed to go to a bar.  “No Problem,” He says.   Boy, are these folks nice!!
               Many years ago, when Judy and I took our Bareboat Chartering Certification with Steve Jennings in the BVI, he taught us that the norm in the islands is to have a warm greeting or salutation before conducting business.  Not, “two beers please,” but “How are you today?”  “Fine? That’s great.   May we please have a couple of beers when you get a chance? Great!”
              So here we are, outside the restaurant.  Philemon is between his two full-time jobs, chauffeuring a couple of boating hobos around the island.  I can’t just grab my hat and run, and I don’t want to keep Philemon waiting, so a brief chat with the waitress.  “Do you know Mount Gay? It says on the cap, “The rum that invented rum.”” “No? What rum do you like?” “Bacardi. Don’t they make that here?”  “Well, thanks so much, we really enjoyed lunch, and are glad that you told us about Cable Beach and the number 10 bus.” And out the door.
              Well back to the car and Philemon isn’t in it.  It seems he found friends and is taking time to say hi.  I guess I really need to stop being so uptight and start functioning in Island Time.
              In the rest of the ride, Philemon tells us about his family and what’s going on with the City Market stores.  It went bankrupt due to theft and mismanagement and suppliers stopped shipping, but there’s a new owner and an infusion of cash coming.  The shelves will be full soon.  He also works at Robin Hood, he says, “like Wal-Mart.  It’s where you should shop if you’re buying a lot of stuff.  They have an enormous selection, and they have the best prices.”  “No, there are no buses to there, you’ll need a taxi.”  Back at the Green Parrot we unload, tip and thank Philemon. Back to the dink to the boat to bed for tomorrow we go to Atlantis with Carol and Harry.
Please see our separate Atlantis posting soon to come.
Thursday – Checkout time at Atlantis Marina was 11 am, so we got up, had the sanitary tanks pumped, filled up with water and bid adieu to Atlantis.  At the Atlantis Marina you have to ask permission to enter and permission to leave so that you do not run into another vessel.  Well, we got permission to depart, released our dock lines except for the spring lines we had arranged, and started to back out into the channel.  Just as we got to the point of no return, another, rather large motor vessel came around the bend, and they had to slow down for us!  We got out safely, motored back to approximately the same anchor spot as before and spent the day resting up (we had listened to the weather forecast and the weather window was not good for departing on Friday so we would be able to go to Robin Hood then), for we were going to join Carol and Harry at the British Colonial Hotel for Carol’s birthday dinner and then we were going to watch the Junior Junkanoo parade.
It started to rain in the late afternoon, so we put on our good clothes, covered up with foul weather gear and after dinking to the Green Parrot, we walked downtown, past the bleachers that had been installed on Bay Street (for the parade) and past the friends and relatives of the Junior Junkanoo groups that would be performing later that evening.
We met Carol and Harry at the hotel and went into the restaurant.  The lobby of this grand old Hilton hotel was justifiably  elegent,  but the décor of the restaurant had all of the elan of howard johnson’s, without the creativity or color. Thank you Paris. There were several patrons in there, and several people greeting guests, but only two people waiting table.  It took a long time to place our orders and a much longer time to actually get the food, which was delicious and worth the wait.  Judy had broiled baby lamb chops . Carol, the special, surf and turf, Harry had tenderloin and I had the sweet potato coconut soup and the chicken satay appetizer.  The slow service and the desire to see the parade made waiting especially tough, but it was well worth the wait.  Everything was done to a turn and we enjoyed it to the end. Since this was a birthday, we had to have desert.  The waiter pointed to the top of the menu, “Chocolate Molten Pudding Cake”. “This is the very best, don’t miss it,” he said.  Next to the description, it said, “Special order ~ thirty minute waits.” The couple at a nearby table was passionately gobbling one up and the waiter said it could be done in five minutes.  We caved…  It came… we were conquered!!! Our waiter told us that many employees had not shown up for work because they were going to the Junkanoo Parade.   We had heard several different start times for the parade and the rain delayed the start.  We were concerned that we would miss the parade, but we actually got out there just as they were starting, some two hours late.  We walked far enough down Bay Street to find a place where we could look through the crowds to see the parade.  Carol and Harry continued walking towards the far end of the parade route to look for a taxi, and ended up having to go all the way back to the hotel to find one!
We spent several hours watching the parade.  We saw one primary school group and then several High School Groups from Nassau, Andros and Spanish Wells who had come to compete.  The Ministry of Education comes up with a theme and the groups are judged on how well they portray that theme, as well as the performances, music, choreography and how many kids actually perform for the entire parade…the High school groups parade through two times and get judged twice.  We finally left about midnight and the parade was still going strong. We got home about 12:30 am.
Please see our separate Junior Junkanoo posting, soon to come.

Carol, Judy and Harry in the dingy

Oasis of the Sea takes 5000 passengers...

Steph was there also

Fry fish shacks under the bridge

More fry fish shacks

Also under the bridge

A boat that sells live fish


Liberty Clipper Captain Daniel

Liberty Clipper deck

Liberty Clipper docked

Dreaming of warmer weather...

My Little Mermaid

Oh, the shame of being in the stocks....


The straw market

Just 7 minutes further

Which one shall we choose?

Judy & Philemon, another angel in our midst

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