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.
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.
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