Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nassau Rum Factory Tour


We got into Nassau at the end of a long day, just squeaking by a cruise ship that was on the way out the pass.  We anchored near town and got settled for the night.  The next day, the captain searched for an old mooring, the best way to stay put in Nassau since the tides run through the anchorage at a good pace.   He finally found a giant old ship’s anchor and attached our anchor chain to it.  We were now stuck for the duration.
We got together with a couple off another cruising boat and decided we should do a tour of the Bacardi Rum factory.  We found out from the locals which bus to take to get close, then we would have to walk up the road to the actual factory.

We arrived about noon the next day and walked into the welcome center.  It was set up as a small bar, with all the products displayed against a mirrored wall behind the bar.  The friendly bartender gave us a great big smile when we asked about the tour.  We weren’t smiling when he told us that the factory was closed for another two weeks.  But, he said, have a seat and I can serve you some of our products, whatever you want, mixed with whatever you want.  OK, then we started smiling.
We sat there for a few hours, listening to his stories of the island and the factory.  He was the perfect spokesman for the factory, he kept us entertained and made sure we weren’t upset about the lack of factory tour.  We sampled quite a few of their products, and of course, bought some to take back to the boat. 

Later in the afternoon, we decided it was time to wander down the road to the main road to catch our bus.  He told us he was going to close up anyway, and he would take us to the bus stop so we didn’t have to walk.  Good thing, I was really too relaxed at that point to think about walking very far.

No factory tour for us that trip, but we sure did have a nice relaxing time with a good storyteller from the islands.
Betty Karl

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Salt Cay, Turks & Caicos

We left Grand Turk about 9:30 one morning, got to Salt Cay about 11:30, a nice little sail.  We anchored, had lunch, then dinghied to the island.  We stopped at the Brown House (which is NOT brown) and talked to Michelle, who we had known from Marathon. This is a huge house, full of history, and she was trying to refurbish it into a Bed & Breakfast.  Lots of work to be done, but it's a gorgeous setting.

She imported 14 cats from the Marathon fish house when she left.  When she walked around town, they followed her and the locals were in awe of this woman with all these cats. 

We had dinner that night with Michelle and she talked about moving there and how she was adjusting to island life.  She showed us her art work, she had collected plastic fishing floats and painted windmills on them to sell to tourists.  We decided that we should stay there a couple days, it was a very quiet island, the kind of place where you could disappear and never be found.

Town is about a mile long, dirt road, buildings built along the waterfront.  Everyone had a stone fence with conch shells cemented into the tops of the fences.  Old stone or wood houses are falling down right next to newer ones.  It’s all very picturesque.  Less than 100 people live on the island.  Right across from the houses on the beach are the salt pans.  They are still very well marked with stone walls separating them.  Most of the windmills were broken up, but someone was refurbishing them and one looked like it almost might work. 

We walked to the navigation light on top of the hill, an old cannon was found there and had been refurbished.  An old cemetery was on the way, with its own stone fence and iron gate.   Most headstones looked centuries old,  none marked, only a few newer-looking concrete box-type coverings, and only one of those was marked with name and dates. 

Horses and donkeys wander around the entire island, including the town area.
During the evening, we noticed cows appearing on the beach right after sunset.  We noticed a bull (with horns) wandering around the streets in town also.

Along the way, we collected some of the fishing floats that had washed up on the beaches and rocks of the island.  We took them back to Michelle so she could paint more windmills for the tourist trade.  She was so happy, she presented one she had finished the day before.  We were so happy to have a memento of our stay in this unique little island paradise. 

We sailed away the next day, on to more islands and more unique experiences. 

 Betty Karl