Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Going home to Abaco


My husband Meakin and I followed a dream of living on a tropical island and retired to Abaco in the out islands of the northern Bahamas and lived there for ten years on the tiny private cay (cays are smaller than islands) of Lubbers Quarters. One day when Meakin was 53 he came home from work and announced that he’d quit his job and we were moving to the islands and I had thirty days to sell anything that wouldn’t fit in our house there. As you can imagine, that came as quite a shock to me.

Lubbers Quarters, below, is a lush, tropical paradise comprised of about 300 acres. When we had Lazy Days, our first house built, it was the fourth one on the south end of the cay. It was laid-back living in “de the land of de rum and de coconuts.”

Aerial of the south end of Lubbers Quarters with the Atlantic Ocean at the top

The two houses on the water in the photo below were ours. We built the second one, Sandy Bottoms, on the left when we moved their permanently. Lubbers Quarters is completely surrounded by the protected waters of the Sea of Abaco and the Atlantic Ocean is at the top of the photo above. We were about seven minutes from our dock by boat to the six hundred foot drop off point in the Atlantic Ocean where you could catch the big fish - tuna, Wahoo and dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi). Some days when the fish were running, it seemed like they just jumped right in your boat.


When we designed the house, we wanted to make sure we could see the Sea of Abaco from every room in the house, including the bathroom. Below is the view from the kitchen window at Lazy Days where I would stand each day at the cutting board chopping onions, peeling vegetables, and preparing our meals. Not bad - and the frequent rainbows made it even more special. Many days bottle nose dolphins swam by the dock, playing and jumping in unison in the sea and catching needle-nose fish near the shore for their dinner just outside that very window. The boat that you see hanging off of the dock below was our “car” as there weren’t any stores on Lubbers Quarters and there still aren’t today.

View from my kitchen window at Lazy Days

Here’s our small but efficient kitchen pictured below with a tiny walk-in pantry behind the door in the corner. The walls are pine, pickled a soft driftwood gray/white. The house was always open to capture the sea breezes. When we built in 1989, there was no city power and we used solar panels on the roof for electricity. We also had no telephone and cell phones were a thing of the future in a tiny country such as this. The black radio with mike hanging below the copper pan on the cabinet is the VHF, the main means of communications in a boating community such as ours. Jimmy Buffett famously called it “the coconut telegraph” and wrote a tune about it. As the song The Coconut Telegraph goes,

You can hear ‘em on the coconut telegraph,
Can’t keep nothin’ under their hat.
You can hear ‘em on the coconut telegraph,
Sayin’ who did dis and dit,
Dis and dat, dis and dat.

We wanted to live in Abaco, as the song goes, “where everyone knows your name,” but we had no idea that they would also know our business. There’s no such thing as a private conversation on the VHF.

Our island kitchen, small but efficient - VHF radio with mike hanging on the cabinet on the right

We’re going back home to visit friends in Abaco. It will always feel like home to us because we made so many friends and have such wonderful memories of the good times we had there. Lubbers has grown a lot since the early days of our arrival. At the insistence (and might I add persistence) of Meakin, my lovely husband, the government finally agreed to lay an underwater cable from the mainland and dig a ditch in the road around the south end in the stubborn coral rock so we could have city power and telephones. There are over 60 houses on Lubbers today and much of the growth is due to amenities being available.

Our "road" - an old coral path that winds its way around the south end of the cay

Of course Lazy Days isn’t our home any more, but we’ve become great friends with the people we sold it to and they’re having a party for us while we’re there. It should be a wonderful time catching up with old friends, many of whom we’ve known for over twenty years.

As some of you know, I’m in the process of writing a lively memoir. The book is a travel adventure filled with zany characters, funny stories, and all of the wonderful friends we made in Abaco. It includes building a house, boating and fishing tales, entertaining, food and recipes as well as all of the trouble we managed to get into. Yes, trouble. Life isn’t always perfect in paradise.

My other blog, Island Time in Abaco, has lots of pictures of the beautiful settlement of Hope Town, about 10 minutes by boat from Lubbers. The first inhabitants arrived in the 1700’s and were Loyalist to the Queen of England after the Revolutionary War in the States. A barrier reef, just off shore of the settlement, protects miles of beautiful white sand beach and the clear turquoise water is filled with tropical fish and dolphin. This gorgeous, candy striped lighthouse, built in 1863, dominates the harbor filled with sailboats and trawlers, bobbing at anchor in the water.

Candy stripped lighthouse in Hope Town, Abaco, The Bahamas

We’ll be back before you know it, but while I’m gone I won’t be able to drop by your blogs for a visit as I usually do. I’ll miss you all, so take care, stay warm and I’ll see you soon.

I think I’ll just let Alan Jackson describe the islands of Abaco for you on this video in an interview with him where he sings the catchy tune he wrote and consequently sang on an album about his own personal visit to Abaco - Laid Back ‘n Low Key. If you like Alan Jackson, this is a "do not miss" video. Click this link and sing along with Alan and think of us going home “Down in Abaco.”

Laid back ‘n low key
You and me on that white powdered beach
Side by side with the sand and the sea
Laid Back 'n Low Key

Gentle roar of a wave on the shore
Makes its way through the crack ‘neath the door
Wake up call from the ocean floor
Down in Abaco

54 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing..do you miss these lovely homes you had? Have a wonderful trip!

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  2. That memoir--now that is a book I would love to read. You did what so many think about doing. But, you did it! Enjoy going back...it will be different.

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  3. What a gorgeous post! I just love all your photos. And that view - amazing. I hope you have a wonderful return trip. Enjoy!

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  4. Sam, Lubbers Quarters is paradise! I hope your husband and you have a wonderful trip back, it sounds like you guys have many great friends that are looking forward to the visit. Wonderful that you are working on a memoir!

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  5. Sounds like paradise to me!! Have fun. I will look forward to your book.

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  6. I'm not sure you could have ever convinced me to leave the cay. So gorgeous!

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  7. What an enjoyable read...I can just imagine the book! Enjoy your sojourn.

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  8. How interesting it was to learn a little bit about you and I look forward to the memoir. Do you miss living there? I can't imagine ever giving up a view such as that. This is a wonderful post.

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  9. Have a wonderful time back in your old home area. I'm sure a lot of memories will fill your heart and mind.

    FlowerLady

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  10. What a lovely post, Sam. Your photos are beautiful. Best of luck with your book.

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  11. Fair winds and a safe journey! We'll look forward to more pictures!

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  12. Lubbers Quarters sounds divine. What a great place to enjoy living for awhile. Look forward to your posts after your return from visiting friends.

    Keep us all in the loop about your lively memoir too.

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  13. How wonderful to have a home in such a lovely tropical paradise! I hope you have a lovely time visiting with friends:D Safe travels!

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  14. What an amazing experience you must have had! I will be looking forward to your book! Have a wonderful trip!

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  15. I want to vomit with jealousy. What a life you lead! Have a great trip - look forward to hearing all about it when you get back x

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  16. Sam, your memoir sounds like a terrific read. I have always look upon books like that as educational ~ learning life's lessons through the lives of others. Many times I learn all is not what it seems. Case in point... a boat for a car ~ some days I am sure that was wonderful, but others rough seas in a storm.

    What beautiful photographs of your little slice of paradise. May you always find peace and harmony there. Thanks for sharing them with us...

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  17. Thoroughly enjoy your time back home Sam. Can't wait to hear more stories upon your return.

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  18. Have a wonderful trip, Sam. It has been a wet and gloomy week in New York. This looks like heaven.

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  19. Bonjour Sam,
    Oh this sounds so wonderful. Sounds like a plan, running of with my honey...I'm first in line when the memoir is ready, you must have some amazing tales to tell.
    Have a fabulous trip.

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  20. Lovely listening to your remembrances and hearing what was written in song. How sweet to be able to visit your former home, keep your frieds close and reflect on the way you chose to live - time out of the rat race. Time in for yourselves. Have a wonderful vacation!

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  21. Have a wonderful time Sam and maybe we can all enjoy an excerpt from those memoirs.....sounds like wonderful reading, xv.

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  22. Sam, this is not the first time it occurred to me that you should consider writing a book about living in the islands ... such stunning photos and engaging writing style. As always I enjoy your posts so much!

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  23. I need some adventure in my life... GREG

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  24. Sam- It looks like heaven! I hope you and your husband have a fantastic trip and a wonderful time with friends. I look forward to your posts when you return. ;)

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  25. Sam, I will nevers top longing for more of your stories of Abaco.

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  26. what a gorgeous place you had! I can't believe you didn't stay. But then again, we wouldn't have had the pleasure of your blog if you had :). Have a great time

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  27. A charming posting! I love island life too, but we've never been able to move permanently. We visit as many as we can though. I love your Abaco home! So pleased you have been writing a book about your travels and travails!
    Hope you have a wonderful visit!

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  28. A very decisive man, you husband. it's great that you olved the place and enjoyed and enjoy living there!

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  29. Those are gorgeous pictures. Have a wonderful and relaxing time. I'm curious to see the view from the bathroom, did you take any of pictures of that? :) It seems like heaven being able to take a shower and look out over the water.

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  30. Those r all gorgeous pics.....water is so blue!!

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  31. Sam, My hubby commuted to the island of St. Lucia for 11 years as a subcontractor for Cable & Wireless. They wanted him to move there but instead he rented. I visited often, as did our boys, but I never wanted to move there. Now, of course, he misses it, but I don't. I'm just not a warm weather person. My hat is off to you and your hubby for your adventure! You followed your dream.

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  32. This is a beautiful post. I so enjoyed reading about your beautiful island home and really want to be on the list to get your book when it is published. I have an award waiting for you on my Feb. 26 post whenever you return. You've received one like this before, but I just couldn't resist sending another your way. Enjoy your visit...would love to be there myself. The last of the snow has FINALLY melted:)

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  33. Hello, Sam. Found you through Debbie and the Arkansas Bloggers. Loved reading about your life in the tropics, but I loved even more reading about your childhood memories of Warren.

    I grew up in Camden, and my maternal grandmother was originally from Warren. Her maiden name was Mary Belle Belin. As a child, I traveled to Warren frequently to see her family.

    Most of her brothers and sisters remained in Warren--Aunt BeeBee Watson, Aunt Florence (can't remember her last name), Aunt Bernice Turner, Aunt Annie Jolly. Most of our visits were to Aunt Annie's farm, Biscuit Ridge in Possum Valley outside of Warren.

    You mentioned a grandmother Turner. Wonder if she was from the same Turner family my Great Aunt Bernice married into.

    I also had several college friends from Warrren. Would love to hear back from you.

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  34. wow have loads of fun Sam, your book will be wonderful, why did you leave?

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  35. Waw,...Sam!! Lucky you to go back to your former home over there,..what a view!!

    Have lots of fun!! Enjoy!!

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  36. Your pictures are so lovely. This island looks like heaven and I can see why you like to return. It will be fun to read your memoirs. What a wonderful place to go to and above all to have friends to share it with.

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  37. Gosh, have a wonderful time! Such a beautiful place! I'd pack it all up and leave to live on an island if it were possible too! We're all jealous up here in the Carolina's where we have snow warnings today! Be well! Roz

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  38. Sigh! Sun! These pictures are beautiful, especially that rainbow.

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  39. I'm excited for you about your book, and I loved the photos, Sam! What a paradise you lived in there, and I love the white-washed walls. NEAT!

    On another note, I have just emailed you so let me hear from you when get it.

    Thanks!

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

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  40. I come back to this very popular post! because things are happening in our life. And though we are not yet 53. Changes may be in the air.I would love to ask you some serious questions. GREG at SippitySup.com

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  41. I look forward to your book. We have fond memories of two sailing trips we took in the Abaco's in the 70's. I remember Hope Town well. Enjoy your trip and will catch up in NC in the Spring.

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  42. Wow! I find it crazy to have left that setting for the cold NC Mountains. Just like I think we were crazy to have left Florida's East Coast for NC. ;)

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  43. Ah, Sam. It sounds like magical perfection. I can close my eyes and be transported. I feel the warm soft breezes on my face, and I hear the comforting sound of the ocean. The smell of the air is like home.

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  44. Sam, you have got to know that THIS is my husband's dream and this would be his dream island! What a stunning, peaceful paradise! You guys are so lucky to have been able to live your dream!

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  45. Your pictures are breathtaking!!! I am going directly to your other blog an dream of living life on an island!!! I am so glad to have found your blog today!!!!

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  46. You lucky lucky woman...have fun!
    ronelle

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  47. Oh Sam you do not know how bad a friend of mine is about begging us to move to an Island like this and buy a house, and have a charter fishing business in the mornings, and relax other times...Jealous is the only word, besides absolutely gorgeous that house and Island is!

    Okay more words!

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  48. Wow, I am sure that you had a great time...the pictures are great :-)

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  49. Everything looks gorgeous and so welcoming! Hope y'all have a great time catching up!!

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  50. Oh wow!! This looks so beautiful! What an amazing place to live.

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  51. Fantastis kitchen.......wow. I'm so looking forward to going to Barbados next week - fist time to the Carribean.....

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  52. I love the Bahamas and have been there several times but never for long enough! The first time we stayed on Turtle Key which I could walk around in about 2 hrs. I loved it and the people were fabulous!

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  53. This period in your life looks like such a wonderful adventure, Sam! I'd love to read your memoirs when you publish them!

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  54. Thank you amazing blog, do you have twitter, facebook or something similar where i can follow your blog

    Sandro Heckler

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I enjoy reading each and every comment. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam