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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Location: Allen’s Cay, Exumas, Bahamas

Log: 3252

Miles Traveled today: 39

Total Trip Distance: 613

We had an incredible day today. We left Nassau at around 9:00 am under clear blue skies and traveled for just under five hours southeast to Allen’s Cay, the first nice anchorage at the northern end of the Exumas. Although my journey is not complete, I felt a great sense of satisfaction at reaching the Exuma Islands after some 600 miles of travel from Savannah, Georgia.

The anchorage here is beautiful, although crowded, as always. We launched the dingy and took the obligatory trip ashore to see the iguanas. This has become a popular tourist attraction with day boats full of tourists visiting to feed the enormous number of iguanas on the beach here. As a result, there are hundreds of fat, spoiled iguanas standing on the beach all day waiting to be fed.

It is windy tonight and slightly rolly as an anchorage. We ended up a little closer to the rocky shore than I planned, but the anchor seems to be holding well, and I think we will be OK for the night. The sky is clear and full of stars, spoiled only by the distant lights of Nassau reflecting off the sky. It will only get better and more beautiful as we travel south. We dined on lasagna, salad, and red wine. Early Uncle Randy has gone to bed early, as usual.

Years ago, when I first brought a boat to the Bahamas with my kids on board, we began referring to the Bahamas as a “parallel universe”. Because of some cultural or body language differences, we often found ourselves sitting in the same place with Bahamians but seemingly in another dimension. My favorite example was an evening at the Guana Beach Resort in the Abacos. We all went to the restaurant for dinner, found a table, and sat down to await dinner. For a period of about 15 minutes, waiters and waitresses walked by and simply refused to look at us. We held up our hands and waved, but no one seemed to acknowledge our presence. Finally, I got up and walked over right in front of a waitress. I said, “We’re sitting right over there and we’d like to get menus and order dinner”. “Oh,” she said, “you want to have dinner?” Why else would we come into a restaurant at 7:00 in the evening and take a seat? “Yes,” I said, “Of course we want to have dinner.” We were right there in the restaurant with waiters and waitresses walking by us, but we seemed to be in a “parallel universe”.

I often try to convey this strangeness to friends with some difficulty. Therefore, I was delighted last night when Early Uncle Randy got to experience this “parallel universe” for himself. We walked from the boat over to the incredible Atlantis resort and casino. We wandered through the place, walked through the underground passages through the giant aquarium, and then headed into the casino area to find a spot for a cocktail. The first bar we went to had bartenders and waitresses and we asked for a drink. “We’re closed,” they told us, and we were referred to the next bar along the way. It was open and fairly busy, but we found two open seats at the bar. It was a large circular bar and the two bartenders were at the far side, out of our sight. We waited, and we waited, and there was no way we could get a bartender to come to our end of the bar or even notice that we were there. Finally, after about 15 minutes, we simply left.

We  wandered outside and around the “marina village” where we finally located a restaurant named Carmine’s. We were seated and we waited and we waited and, finally, after about 15 minutes, I got a waitress’s attention. “We’ve been here about 15 minutes,” I said. “We’d like to order a drink and get some dinner.” She appeared surprised and took our drink orders and said she would pass them along to our waitress. After another 15 minutes and asking several people to check on our drink orders, a woman brought the glass of wine I had ordered. She said that Randy’s martini would be along. I drank the wine and we waited and we waited and we asked several people about Randy’s drink. A totally new waiter appeared and said he would be our waiter and asked if we would like to order a drink. We told him we had ordered and would he please bring Randy’s drink. Finally, a waitress appeared and said there was a problem with finding a glass for Randy’s martini.

The menu had an extensive list of “specialty drinks” including all kinds of martinis. However, the bar was apparently out of martini glasses. Randy had ordered a Bombay martini with a twist. He finally got a wine glass about half full with straight gin. No twist, lukewarm, no vermouth. Very strange.

After another long wait, a waitress appeared and asked us if we were familiar with the restaurant’s “concept”. I started to say that yes, we understood the concept of ignoring customers, but I held my tongue. She explained that each item on the menu was a large enough portion for four people. That is why salads cost $36 and entrees were in the $50 range. Of course, there were only two of us so we ordered sauteed chicken breasts and nothing else. It was enough for four people but there was no salad, vegetable, or even garnish. Just a plate with four chicken breasts. We ate what we had and left after spending $75 for chicken breasts, wine, and a glass of warm gin.

It’s a parallel universe.

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