If Once You Have Slept on an Island
If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
You may bustle about in street and shop;
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors about this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.
Oh, you won’t know why, and you can’t say how
Such change upon you came,
But-once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same!
by Rachel Lyman Field
This poem rings true to our Cortado-Pipa hearts. Onboard or not, my soul definitely still sways with the rhythm of the ocean – especially when up in the middle of the night!
People are what make travel interesting. You can go anywhere in the world, but unless you reach out and meet new people, touch lives, interact with the world in a new way, it will lose its glow. There is a period of time when you arrive someplace new… where the glow slowly fades to bright (Sardinia, Bahamas, Newport RI) while other places beam radiant the minute you arrive (Paris, NYC, Istanbul). The difference is: people. One can describe beautiful places all day long, but without healthy human interaction, there exists only a shallow layer of ‘pretty’. I believe the world opens up to those who embrace this concept, and boaters know this by heart.
Here are a few of my favorite things/places in the Abacos:
Vernon’s Grocery – Vernon owns one of two markets on the island and despite his salty exterior is the sweetest man. I would travel by dinghy in any weather to get to his fresh baked coconut bread. The shelves were meager, but the experience, golden.
Soccer! Sophia and Oliver were welcomed to join the local soccer league in Hopetown, which included nearly every school-aged boy and girl on the island. The kids LOVED playing with the locals and wasted no time fitting in. The pitch was mostly sand, shells and rocks and some kids played happily shoeless. This was a good experience for our kids to have – we can lose perspective in America, thinking we need the best gear to play any sport. These kids just played as kids should do.
Beach Cleanups were a big part of our school and free time. We took empty bags to different beaches often and were amazed at what was there, mostly embedded in seaweed at the high tide line. We took the time to make a list of what we found most prevalently:
PVC plastic piping, toothbrushes, rubber tubing, razor handles, dust pan, plastic bottles, bottle caps, helium and mylar balloon remains, flip flops, sneakers, numerous bits of plastic (unidentifiable), large plastic jug, coat hanger, shoe hanger, clear plastic bags, plastic clothing tags, spray bottle trigger, fishing nets, plastic forks, knives, spoons, lighters, plastic straws, plastic boat parts, shoe inserts, plastic cups, styrofoam, water bottles, clear glass, broken bottles, plastic baggies, glow sticks, tubes of chap stick, plastic tampon inserts, plastic toiletry bottles…
Plastic does. Not. Go. Away. It is there forever, unless picked up and thrown away properly. While the debris itself was not a favorite thing, knowing we were doing our part to help the environment held large meaning for us. We took our self-hired job seriously, and it was wonderful to know we gave back to some lovely places that gave so much joy to us.
Anchoring, Snorkeling, Paddling, Mooring, Playing around in the Abacos – Greatest places we went were: Matt Lowe Cay, Mermaid Reef, Guana Cay, Little Harbour, Sandy Cay and Tahiti Beach. We made brilliant memories anchoring at Great Sale Cay, the Sugarloaves, Tilloo Cay, and of course we loved Hopetown on Elbow Cay.
Our journeys, no matter how remote, always include chatting with other boaters, making new friends, meeting old friends or sometimes just waving to passers by. We are grateful for the kindness and friendship we received in the Bahamas and most definitely will make a point to return… “If once you have slept on an island, You’ll never be quite the same…”