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Bahamas Week part three

The "Sailing Capitol of the Bahamas" is a title frequently applied to the Exumas, and we were appropriately eager to hit the water, so on Tuesday we started to explore the area by speedboat. This was clearly the ideal and most popular approach to transportation. The harbors and bays were filled with yachts and sailboats of varying sizes. It appeared that the majority of the transient population kept their big boats docked and used dinghies to commute between them and the shore. I am not proud to admit that this fact inspired me to say "quit playing with your dinghy" on more than one occasion.

On that day we docked at Stocking Island and walked across it to the wide-open ocean side. We played on the sand beach and watched the waves come in for an hour or so before returning to the boat. Rain started to fall almost immediately, and we were drenched by the time we got back to February Point. It was dark and drizzly for the rest of the day. I took a nice hot shower and a nap, and had plenty of time to dig into Infinite Jest. We played a dice game for a while and watched some American Idol on the satellite TV.

Calmer, warmer weather swept in overnight and stayed with us for the rest of the week. After being holed up indoors for half the previous day, J. and I were glad of the chance to slip out and walk to Georgetown on Wednesday morning for some quick liquor shopping. We bought a bottle of Nassau something-or-other, "the island spirit," because the packaging caught my wife's eye, plus a promising-looking bottle of dark Bahamian rum. We hid them from my parents back at the villa, since they like to hassle me about my drinking. But that's a topic for another day.

The next few hours were spent boating around and exploring little beaches on a nearby island. At the first stop, we stayed a while and waded through the shallow water to find shells and sea creatures. Mostly tiny snails and big starfish in that area, but we did find a few exotic animals. I spotted three or four squishy green sea-slugs oozing around, and a little brown ray. We took some abandoned shells with us.

For lunch, we returned to Stocking Island and ordered grilled cheese sandwiches at Chat 'n' Chill. There's been some talk in the 'sphere lately about grilled cheese being a great meal, which it is, when it's done right. My all-time personal favorite is tomatoes and red chili peppers with at least two kinds of good cheese (the choice of bread is also very important), although I once had a spectacular triple-decker that I've never been able to duplicate. When we got ours after a long wait, they turned out to be Velveeta slices melted in little hamburger buns. Worst grilled cheese sandwiches ever.

On the way out I got a little disoriented looking at the map and led us into water so shallow that our motor was kicking up sand. After we were properly grounded in knee-deep water, my dad and I jumped out of the boat to pull it back into deeper seas. The sand was pockmarked with holes that sunk down by a foot when I stepped into them, and my water shoes sucked to the bottom to make just taking a step into an ordeal. Eventually we got back out and the family spotted a huge ray on our way back to Great Exuma, which I missed seeing because I was too busy stewing over the fact that I can't even read a map.

I recovered my spirits after another hot shower to wash the muck out from between my toes. J. was feeling a little green around the gills, but a long nap was all she needed. While she rested, I walked back into town with my mom & brother to shop for groceries. We got back as the sun was setting and baked a good, filling dinner. That night I watched CSI and House for the first time. I don't know why I avoid TV when I'm at home in the Minnesota winter but can sit through two hours of it when I'm in the Bahamas. Probably because I was too worn out to do much of anything else. I still popped in and out of the villa to watch the stars during commercial breaks.

Thursday was our last full day in the Bahamas, and went snorkeling at last. My parents had some experience going in, but my wife and I only had the class practice in the YMCA pool. We all did fine and had a fun morning of that, then lunch and a siesta. My family dropped me & J. off in town and then took off for more boating. The two of us did a little souvenir shopping and thought about renting scooters, but I nixed that idea. Instead we just hung around and relaxed. We all had dinner back at the villa again and tried to finish up all the food we bought. Then we packed our suitcases so we were ready to go early the next morning for our flight back to Florida.

The final installment on Friday: fancy dinner, the flights home, and a hunt for Dunkin' Donuts!

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