Thank god for the Family Islands. After a month working on Nassau and a 16 hour boat ride, we finally made it to one of the outer parts of the archipelago: Cat Island. It’s something of a working vacation: we’re visiting a friend of Amelia’s friend Margot named Andrew Jones for good company and the local Rake and Scrape festival. Andrew is a musician, and his gorgeous family homestead has been filled with great music all weekend – Gilberto, local jazz, Sister Nancy, and funk – I am now convinced of the power of good funk – as we explore his site.
He’s trying to figure out how he can open it up as a place for gathering, study, and nature appreciation. He’s a sweet Bahamian guy living with two adorable pot cakes named Mango and LuLu, a cat named Matchka, a rescued sea tern, and a sky full of stars. Overall, Cat Island is devoid of any major developments and covered in hills, forests, and untouched beaches. Hotels and homes tend to be on an exponentially smaller scale than a project like Baha Mar, for example. We explored local small hotel developments, which are a completely different scale from almost anything in Nassau and so much more comfortable for it.
The home is stunning – Andrew’s worked on it for years. It runs entirely off of solar and a little wind, and sits overlooking three ecological zones: Bahamian bush forest, mangrove flats, and the ocean . Papaya, banana, grape, breadfruit, and a whole set of tropical fruits grow just below his deck, where tadpole have taken over a hot tub. He purchased the land for cheap – land parcels in the Bahamas can be Crown Land (held in trust by the government for the people, ostensibly, but it can be given away to specific people), Family or Generation land (entitled to certain lineages with complex claim procedures), and private land. Andrew’s is perfect for a national park. Some solid beaching, snorkeling, and subsequent butt-sunburning has occurred.
We visited the Healing Pond too. The Pond is a highly saline shallow pool, which stung to no end. It fixed up my skin, and a little bit of blister trouble, but at a price. At sunset, we visited the Hermitage, where a rather masochistic monk built a beautiful one-person home at the highest point in the Bahamas. See here.
Overall I can see the ocean, and it’s all I need. Staring at the gentle curve of the horizon line below billowing clouds, watching the waters darken and descend off the wall, I feel truly comfortable. It’s incredible what a landscape can refresh. Thank god for the family islands.
But seriously my butt is so burned.