Our tour guide on the roof of the boat that day was quite good. He pointed out all sorts of facts and figures and really presented it well. I know it was a dig for a tip, and tip we did. But I must say I enjoyed the ride over that much more by having a guide tell us what was going on.
The most interesting to me was of course seeing the boat house from the movie Thunderball.
We encountered Brian at the top of the Queen's steps. Probably homeless, he introduced himself and gave us a short history of the steps, the island, the water tower etc. He picked an orchid for my wife, and generally tried to be interesting and helpful. I gave him $2 and would encourage you to both listen and do the same. This is probably how he makes a living instead of begging. He answered a few questions I had, like where the island got its water supply, and seemed safe. As we left, a limousine pulled up and the driver got out and introduced his passengers to Brian, saying Brian would tell them what they wished to know. He's probably a fixture.
I walked from the Town to see the rather unique Jetson's-esque Crystal Cay Lighthouse off of Arawak Cay. There is a bridge from Arawak Cay to Silver Cay where the town of Crystal Cay is located. It is currently closed to the public, I am assuming due to the 2004 hurricane season. It may seem a little eerie walking from the Fish Fry to the Lighthouse because Arawak Cay has a big industry with dump-trucks and boxcars, trailers, the works on the eastern end. On the west end is where the fishers go to press their luck on the crystal clear waters. I was disappointed to find that it was closed, but it's still a great spot, nevertheless to take a picture and look at the stunning view of Cable Beach.
Just between the two bridges to Arawak Cay from the Fish Fry is a shallow bay that smells like fresh low-tide muck which houses thousands of diamond-in-the-rough conch shells used by fishermen to harvest for food. As I passed by from my walk on Arawak Cay, I saw some men fishing for conchs in the water. Another man came up to me and saw I had found two conch shells on the beaches and asked me if I knew how to clean them. I said I didn't, and he took me back to his store on the Western side of the Fish Fry and showed me how you take ordinary conch shells and make them into sidewalk-shop beauties. We talked about all the many uses for conch from fritters to sexual enhancers (yeah, I was very surprised about the latter as well!). Jason was his name, and he really enjoyed talking to me; he knew I was very interested in local culture. He was so friendly that he even gave me several of his shells from his store, and when he realized he was out of plastic bags, he gave me his backpack.! Attempting to do all this for me for free, I insisted on giving him SOMETHING, and he said, "$5." I gave him $20 for eight beautiful conch shells (of many different sizes), his backpack and a newfound respect for the conch industry and he praised me like a saint. I'm telling you, this is a MUST-do! Things are going poorly for them since last year's hurricane disasters, and they're just working for a rough living. Jason later introduced me to some champion Junkanoo dancers and offered to give me one of the goat-skin drums he made for Junkanoo, as well. Since I had no more hands left, I had to unfortunately decline on the giant Junkanoo drum, but had I the capability, I would have certainly taken advantage of it. This is the last building on the right before the west bridge to Arawak Cay going north from the Fish Fry.
There is a line of four cannons still guarding the shores of the Bahamian coast off of West Bay Street on the Western Esplanade in front of Fort Charlotte. Although too antiquated to actually function these days, they are kept here for historical preservation. It makes a great picture for a postcard or a family photo op.
Surprisingly enough, for an island nation of 300,000, Japan maintains diplomatic representation here. If my wife weren't Japanese, i don't think it would have caught my interest.
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