Paradise Next Door -Bahamas Cruise
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Don & Diana Reynolds
~ Don and Diana in Bimini ~
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Exotic Excursions
March 28th, 2011
 
Enjoying Marina Life
We opted for one more day in the marina - a situation that we weren’t planning to repeat for the remainder of our journey. The flies were quite a nuisance and the no-see-ums seemed to be getting thicker, so we closed up all the hatches and enjoyed our AC afforded by shore power and a website development barter. It turned out to be a good idea as the rainy night before would have otherwise forced us to batten the hatches and suffer in the heat.

Perhaps it was exhaustion from our conch hunt the day before, or perhaps it was because ‘you are what you eat’ and our previous evening’s meal featured a giant snail, but the next day found us rather sluggish. We slept in late, dawdled around the boat reading, did a little laundry, then hung out at the pool for a bit where I started to take yet another nap. I don’t believe Don ever knew how lazy I could be, given that I’m the primary motivator in our crew and do not take slothenly behavior lightly.

Dahon Mariner Folding Bikes
As early evening neared, we rousted ourselves up for a bike ride to see the rest of South Bimini. We’d come equipped with two folding marine-grade bicycles onboard, and although they’d been lubed, tuned, and sheltered, the salt life was turning them into rusted origami sculptures. At thrice the cost I wished they’d held up half as well as our old beach chairs. With a bit of effort, we were able to disentangle the ensemble and be on our way. I could never quite figure out the cause, but the rhythmic squeak - squeak – squeak of my every peddle stroke echoed our approach.
Diana Reynolds at the Fountain of Youth
~ Diana at the Fountain of Youth ~
 
Bimini's Fountain of Youth
Our first stop was the famed Fountain of Youth – a legendary spring at the center of Juan Ponce de Leon’s epic travels to this side of the planet. I’d imagined a mystical forest surrounding a magical fresh-water spring bubbling up through a stony crag, defying gravity as well as the inevitable advancement of age. What we found however was of more banal origins, such as what one might visualize in the nursery rhyme of Jack and Jill; a stone surround, a small pitched roof, and a rusty old tin bucket hanging from a rope.

So Don and Di squeaked up the lane to fetch a pail of parasitic pond-scum. It wasn’t really all that bad and the promise of being restored to rosy-cheeked vibrancy prompted us to partake in the fable. I dipped my hand in for a sip and POOF – I was transformed into a middle-aged white woman.  It didn’t work on Don either.

A nearby sign pointed toward a curving trail, so we opted to follow thinking perhaps a vigorous hike would bring us closer to youthful bliss. Alas, the curve was just one end of a semi-circle, and the entire expedition took all of 2 minutes – less time than it had taken us to lock up our rusty bikes.

Touring South Bimini
Having reached the extreme of that little excursion, Don and I headed down the road. The other island allures we encountered along the way were the garbage dump, several unfinished yet weathered construction sites, and some dreary ruins (which I believe were nothing more than completely abandoned, unfinished construction sites). Terminating our tour at the international airport seemed apropos, as it was where Don had checked us in to the country. It proved to be as titillating as each of the previous attractions we’d encountered. The terminal’s 3 vending machines were actually included in the Cruising Guide Port Directory’s ‘Places to Eat’.
The Little Yellow Bus
~ The Little Yellow (and Black and Blue) Bus ~
 
Dinner at the Bimini Sands Yacht Club
We decided the Airport fare wasn’t going to cut it for an evening meal, and so turned our rust-cycles back to the Bimini Sands Marina. We contorted our bikes back into their tangled arrangement, stored them on deck, and then inquired about the dining options available on the island. We were guided to our resort’s free shuttle, a little yellow school bus (blue and black were added to represent the Bahamian flag) for a quick trip around the marsh that makes up the better part of the island, to the Bimini Sands Yacht Club. Curiously, the derelict marina we’d first approached still had a functioning restaurant; one of the few still open on South Bimini.

The establishment’s lively bar made me realize what foreigners we’d become in just a few short days. On the tiny Vaca Key from which we’d traveled, we were greeted with familiarity everywhere we frequented.

Good-Bye Bimini
~ Good-bye Bimini! ~
However we were the alien faces on this isolated cay. Alas, romantic seclusion on remote shores was exactly what we were seeking. Tomorrow we’d begin crossing the opalescent Great Bahama Banks for an overnight trip to the Berry Islands.

Bimini would leave a bitter-sweet taste in our memories. Though somewhat shabby and dilapidated, this roguish island encompassed by breathtakingly beautiful seas was our accession to truly cruising across vast oceans to far-flung lands. We’d let go of our fears, and found our freedom in the exotic port of Bimini. Arriving to this shimmering cay on the other side of the Gulf Stream was proof that our larger ambitions were attainable. This island would always be the beginning of fulfilled dreams.

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"Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.” ~ Don Bamford