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We are sitting on the boat in Marsh Harbor at Mangoes Marina and it is raining now for the third consecutive day. Last night it rained 1.5 inches and the day before 2 inches. We have seen winds of up to 32 knots today. I am curious to see how much rain has fallen so far today because it feels torrential.

We enjoyed our stay at Great Guana with appetizers at Nippers overlooking the beach, conch salad from The Last Stop Restaurant and a drink at Grabbers – where I beat Bill at cornhole.

Bob outside Nippers

Beach outside Nipper's

Boats at dock at Orchid Bay

The weather was cool so we didn’t snorkel, although we are told there is a great reef off the beach – maybe next time. The Orchid Bay Marina was nice, although the woman in the office had what seems like a permanent scowl on her face. The public part of the island is quaint and quiet. Roads are single lane and there is very little vehicle traffic - mostly golf carts. There are two private sections where it is rumored the famous have homes. We didn’t see anyone famous.

Office at Orchid Bay Marina - the grounds were beautiful. Note the yellow color - the buildings in the Bahamas are painted the most lovely colors.

Orchid Bay porch and pool. Sitting on the porch is where I got the best WIFI signal.

After two nights we set out for Marsh Harbor. The trip was only 7 miles but it was a bumpy ride. Wind was strong and there was about a 2-3 foot chop. We arrived and got tied up safely. Initially we were concerned because there wasn’t a regular dock space available for us. We ended up being tied up alongside the (face) dock – but we do have a four point tie and there is a fifty foot boat partially blocking us from winds from the north. Ray, the dock master, knows his stuff. The owner’s dog, Tux (short for tuxedo), also keeps an eye on things. He’s a really friendly one year old that everyone enjoys.

Marsh Harbor is known for being THE PLACE to re-provision a boat. Cars drive on the left side of the road and there is one very main street that goes right in front of the marina. I had to train myself to look right then left when crossing the street. There is a reasonably large grocery store called Maxwell’s that sells fresh produce both grown here and brought in from the States. We are going this afternoon after the rain stops to shop. We checked it out yesterday when we walked into town but I didn’t have a list prepared for any serious shopping. We did stop at a killer bakery. Bahamian bread, either the coconut or white bread, is delicious. The white bread reminds me of challah.

There is an interesting mixture of transient and live-a-boards here at Mangoes, all of whom have been very friendly. When I organized a happy hour on the Mangoes’ patio – most of the marina showed up and with delicious munchies. We met a couple living on a freedom 38, both of whom are special education teachers. They worked for 15 years and now volunteer at the only special education facility (for kids with a full spectrum of disabilities) in the entire country, Every Child Counts or ECC. Their school is 100% privately funded. The school is having a Special Olympics day tomorrow and I think Bob and I are going to go and see what it is like. Their team will participate in the national Special Olympics scheduled to take place in May. We met the national director of the Bahamian Special Olympics.

I forgot to mention one unusual thing that happened when we were on Green Turtle and continues to have a presence as we travel from Island to Island. A group of about 250, 20-30 something year olds that are chartering about 30 catamarans have been visiting the Islands. The group is called Bucket Lust – a combination of two former organizations Bucket List and Wonder Lust. They have caused some havoc as they are on the boats just to party, don’t feel the need for very much clothing and party until 4:00 in the morning. We first encountered them on Green Turtle when we were sitting at the Bluff House restaurant having lunch. All of a sudden they descended. For the most part they were loud but courteous to us. We have since found out that they absolutely trashed the boats they chartered. They also horrified the Islanders. They are kids from all over the world and apparently do this in different spots each year. Oh the stamina of the young!

(I am resuming this on Saturday as we sit on a mooring at Hope Town on Elbow Cay)

Friday was an amazing day. First we got a tour of ECC with Mars and Melonie. It was very moving to see their school and what they have been able to accomplish for children with disabilities. They serve 100 kids and currently have a waiting list. They are planning on expanding with a residential facility for the young adults who have aged out of the regular school program. I am going to see if I can help find some funding for them when I get back to the states.

Mars and Melanie outside the Every Child Counts School

ECC playground

ECC cooking class

In the afternoon we were invited to come to their Special Olympics recognition party. They celebrated the Special Olympic athletes from the school with a delicious lunch and a performance by the ECC drum group. Mars leads the drumming group and they were terrific. I will try to post a video of the group. It was very heartwarming to see these kids with a variety of disabilities shine as they performed. There are five Special Olympic groups in the Bahamas and the national director of the program spoke at the celebration. Bob and I were honored to be included.

Then later after a delicious chicken stir fry dinner that I made on the boat we went with Karen and Hugh to the Abacos Resort and Marina to hear “Rake and Scrape” music. A diver who checked the zinc anodes (something that protects the boat’s under water metal when there is an electrical current in the water), “Brown Tip”, is the leader of the group and told us about the performance. Rake and Scrape is largely percussion done with maracas, a screw driver hitting and rubbing a saw and a screw driver rubbing a cheese like grater - all done to a reggae beat and in this case prerecorded music. Brown Tip also sang along with the prerecorded music. Once of the performers, Eddie, was as real show man and excellent (provocative) dancer. His hips never stopped moving. He came out into the crowd and got people to dance and he got me to try playing the saw. See Video. I really enjoyed the music and danced and sang with the group.

It was a day in which I really felt like I got a taste of the Islands. Of course it drizzled on and off most of the evening – but we really didn’t care much.

Rake and Scrape - video to follow

We left Saturday morning for Hope Town on Elbow Cay.

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