The Forgotten Island




Follow us on Facebook! When we think of the Bahamas we think of the cities of Nassau and Freeport and maybe of the fabulous Atlantis Resort. We also think of an island archipelago with many sandy beaches. The Bahamas, in fact, has over 700 islands of varying sizes. One of them used to be the home to an American Naval Facility which operated from 1957 until decommissioned in 1980. This island also used to be a playground for the rich and famous – mostly Americans, mostly Hollywood types, who maintained vacation homes there. Now that island is largely forgotten. Tourism is still its mainstay, but it is a permanent residence to just 11,000. We happened across it by chance as it was the first stop on a cruise we took in January 2015. Our cruise was with Princess Cruises and the stop was at a place at one end of the island called Princess Cays Resort. As far as we know, it is an exclusive stop for Princess Lines. No other cruise ships visit here.

The Ruby Princess at Anchor at Princess Cays
The Ruby Princess at Anchor at Princess Cays
The island is Eleuthra, a long boomerang shaped island 110 miles long and just a mile wide at its narrowest point. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus and the Spanish who left the island decimated, its native population routed by disease and the remainder carried off as slaves to work the mines on Hispaniola. It remained largely unpopulated until rediscovered by Puritan colonists who called themselves the Eleutherian Adventurers. They had originally settled in Bermuda but refused to swear allegiance to the British Crown. They struck out for a place they could practice their faith free of persecution in the late 1640s (some time between 1646 and 1648). They were the first settlers of the Bahamas and gave Eleuthra its name. The Adventurers were led by William Sayle who had created a constitution of sorts. Dissension in the ranks led Sayles and his followers to retreat eventually to New Providence where the city of Nassau is. But it is said that if Sayles had been successful, Eleuthra would have been the first independent democracy in the Americas, some 130 years before the American Revolution. Sayles later became Governor of the Colony of South Carolina. On our cruise, we were taken by tender to the small dock at Princess Quay. There, as is usual with cruise ship stops, we had a variety of options open to us, including just lazing on the beach. We opted for a bus tour that would cover about half the island. Our guide gave us a short history of the island before we came to our first stop – a small church sandwiched between the highway and the shore near Rock Sound. It was a Sunday so services were in progress at the time.
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Anglican church near Rock Sound
Our next stop was the Blue Hole. Our guide called it the Blue Hole but apparently its actual name is Ocean Hole. Blue hole is the generic term for such geological features. It is not far from Rock Sound.
The Blue Hole near Rock Sound on Eleuthra
The Blue Hole near Rock Sound on Eleuthra
The hole is a salt water lake a mile inland from the ocean. It was stocked by locals with salt water sea life many years ago. It is said to be bottomless and it rises and ebbs with the tides so there must be a subterranean connection with the ocean. Jacques Cousteau, who used to live on Eleuthra, tried to find the connection but failed.
Feeding Fish in the Blue Hole
Feeding Fish in the Blue Hole
We continued on to Governor’s Harbour, about half way up the island. There we saw Government House as well as a number of homes boarded up while their owners were away. There were also some abandoned buildings. Our tour guides sang the Bahamian National Anthem for us on the steps of Government House.
Our tour guides sing for us in front of Government House
Our tour guides sing for us in front of Government House
On the return trip we stopped at Tarpum Bay, a small and picturesque fishing village along the way.
Tarpum Bay
Tarpum Bay seen from the dock
Then it was back to Rock Sound where we stopped for lunch and entertainment at a seashore restaurant. Most of the staff and entertainers were black and I discovered that black culture has a long history in the Bahamas. After the American War of Independence, many Loyalists to the Crown fled the United States, many of them settling in the Caribbean. Thousands settled in the Bahamas. They brought their slaves with them. The Bahamas became a haven for freed slaves and formally abolished the practice in 1834. Today descendants of freed slaves and free Africans make up 90 percent of the population.
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Junkanoo musicians and dancers in their colorful garb
We very much enjoyed the Junkanoo parade put on for us. Junkanoo is an annual festival and parade with colorful costumes, dancing and music. Some locals also demonstrated how to prepare conch as a meal. They showed how to remove the live conch from its shell and then prepare it in a salad.
Making conch salad
Making conch salad
All in all, we very much enjoyed our trip to this fascinating island. Below is a link to an additional photo gallery as well as another link of interest.

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Photo Gallery: Cabo San Lucas

Here are some additional photos of our Cabo adventure.

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This was shot from our cruise ship in 2007. 
Armed security guard outside a jewellery store in Cabo.
Margaritaville Restaurant
Janis at the Margarita Villa Restaurant
Me and a painted lady at Cabo San Lucas
Me and a painted lady at Cabo San Lucas
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Looking out to sea from the lobby of the Dreams Resort, Cabo San Lucas
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Miles of sand and many other resorts dot the landscape between the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo
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These were private condos along the Cabo resort strip.
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The church at San José del Cabo
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Mexico’s Independence Day was coming up while we were there so streamers and banners were everywhere.
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Independence Day garden in San José
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More wild surf in Cabo
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Janis and I with a large wave coming up in the background
Janis keeps a wary eye on the waves
Janis keeps a wary eye on the waves
Magnificent rock formations
Magnificent rock formations
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Large breaker comes crashing down
Poolside
Poolside at the Dreams Resort
Janis relaxing in the pool
Janis relaxing in the pool
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El Arco seen from our sailing ship. The sea can be quite rough here.
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Janis and I with El Arco in the background
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We are in the Sea of Cortes. On the other side of the rocks is the Pacific Ocean.
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Not a very well centred photo but it captures the ferocity of the waves here. El Arco is just to the left of the wave.
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Lots of pelicans hang out on the rocks here, leaving behind quite a bit of pelican poop it seems!
Lots of pelicans surround this local boat.
Lots of pelicans surround this local boat.

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The sun sinks into the sea.
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The boat turns on its running lights
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And we head back to port

We’ll leave you with another video of the turtle release. In it we see a couple of waves washing the turtles out to sea, but then one large wave, instead of carrying all the remaining turtles out, pushes a number of them back up the beach. There is a bit of chaos and then the staff tell us we can pick up and carry the turtles back to the water. The video ends with me picking up a turtle and putting it back down closer to the water. The sun had set so the video is a bit grainy.

Our Cabo Adventure

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The iconic image of Cabo San Lucas is the famous arch, El Arco, a rocky outcrop on the tip of the peninsula not far from the town of Cabo San Lucas. But Cabo is more than just the town and the rock formations. A plethora of large resort hotels dot the coastline between that town and the town of San José del Cabo. And, of course, there are lots of golf courses and a national park near by.

Our first visit to Cabo was to the town. It was the first port of call on a cruise we took in 2007. Although there were excursions available, we opted to wander around on our own. We were surprised to see heavily armed soldiers on duty on the docks.

Along the waterfront in Cabo.
Along the waterfront in Cabo.

Cabo is a pretty little town and we stopped at a place called Margarita Villa for the largest Margaritas we had ever seen.

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Janis and I knock back a couple of giant Margaritas.

Our second trip to Cabo was in 2013 when we spent a week at an all-inclusive resort about half-way between the two towns. The Dreams Resort, like many resorts along the strip, has fabulous amenities – a large swimming pool with a swim-up bar, several fine restaurants, and entertainment.

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The Dreams Resort at Cabo San Lucas

Sandy beaches spanned the front of the resort and off in either direction past many other resorts. Every morning we would start our day with a walk along the beach for an hour or so. The ocean here is a deep blue and the surf is quite fierce. There are warnings to be careful of undertows and riptides. Swimming is at your own risk.

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At one end of the long beach along the Cabo peninsula are these rocky outcrops. You can see the ferocity of the waves as they crash.

One time we were walking along talking and maybe closer than we thought because a large wave crashed and pounded up to where we were. The water swirled around our feet and Janis lost her footing. As she fell, her new hat flew off. I quickly grabbed the hat and was surprised to see her sliding down the sand flat on her back away from me into the sea.

I followed her out and as the wave settled she struggled to her feet and I grabbed her hand and we raced back up the sand out of reach of the next wave. It was a bit of a scare and she lost her glasses in the process. But hey, I saved the hat!

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The picture of me that serves as the header for this blog was shot on our Cabo vacation in 2013.

One day we took the bus into the town of San José del Cabo. It’s a picturesque village with a large church and a central plaza. We wandered around and visited a few shops but there is not a lot to do there.

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San José del Cabo, a pretty little town but not really a lot to do here.

The resort often had entertainment and one evening show featured acrobats twirling batons of fire as well as a lot of dancers on the beach.

Of course, a lot of time was spent just lounging by the pool reading, or going for a swim. Who wouldn’t want to take a dip when the pool has a swim-up bar!

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Sipping Margaritas at the swim-up bar. Life is good!

Later in the week we booked a sunset sailing excursion in town. We took the bus to the city and boarded the boat, a large sailboat. This was a terrific adventure, the surf, the wind, the sail flapping in the breeze.

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Heading out on the sailboat.

The ship took us past the famous El Arco and along the way we saw a narrow strip of sand between two imposing cliffs. The beach, we were told, led to another beach on the other side. The beach on this side was called Lover’s Beach. It is safe to swim here as this is the sheltered side.

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The gap leads to the Pacific side of the Land’s End and Divorce Beach. Swimming there is dangerous. This side, on the Sea of Cortes, is quite safe.

The other side is called Divorce Beach. Here you are exposed to the open sea and the surf is unpredictable and dangerous. Rogue waves, strong undertows and riptides have claimed lives here. Swimming is not recommended. When we returned home I found a few stories on the Internet of drownings and narrow escapes.

We were served a tasty meal aboard and then we sailed into the sunset. A gorgeous sight. We enjoyed this sailing adventure a lot.

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Sunset at sea.

And while we had a great week what with the sea and surf, the swim-up bar at the pool, the fabulous restaurants, and the sailing adventure, we had an unexpected surprise on our last day there.

Dreams Resort is part of a sea turtle rehabilitation program. Five species of sea turtles lay eggs on the beaches of Cabo every June. Some are protected and sheltered until they hatch and return to the sea, but many of the eggs are gathered and taken to safe hatching grounds. When the hatchlings are large enough, they are returned to the sea.

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A large bin full of baby sea turtles.

On our last day there, the resort announce that they would be having a turtle release in the evening just before sunset. Everyone eagerly gathered on the beach to watch.

Hundreds of little sea turtles were placed on the sand and they crawled eagerly out to the sea. As they got closer, the surf pulled some in, and also washed some back up onto the beach. People were eager to help the little critters make it back to their home. It was quite a sight to see.

After a week in Cabo we flew back home and had another adventure, an emergency landing in San Francisco as one of the engines on the plane failed. So we got home a day late, but very happy to have spent a week in fabulous Cabo San Lucas.

Be sure to check out the additional photo gallery for more pics and vids. Either click on the link or if you are in the main page, scroll on through.

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Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, Western Australia

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In British Columbia they have had an annual sand castle competition for many years. It used to be held on the beach at White Rock, later moving to Harrison Hot Springs. But a couple of years ago it moved again, this time to Parksville on Vancouver Island. Contestants from all over the world attend, building sand sculptures which last for a few weeks before the weather takes them down.

Heroes and Villains was the theme of last year's International Sandcastle Competition at Parksville, British Columbia in July 2015.
Heroes and Villains was the theme of last year’s International Sandcastle Competition at Parksville, British Columbia in July 2015.

But Sculpture by the Sea in Cottesloe, Western Australia is another thing again. Not ephemeral sculptures made of sand, most of the sculptures here are permanent, though not in their permanent location. These works of art are made of wood, stone, steel and other durable materials. They are scattered along Cottesloe Beach, some on the sand, some on the grassy areas, and some in the gardens.

This giant stainless steel pig is one of over seventy sculptures at this year's Sculpture by the Sea exhibit at Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia. Exhibit ends March 20th.
This giant stainless steel pig is one of over seventy sculptures at this year’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibit at Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia. Exhibit ends March 20th. This piece is called Pig of Fortune # 2 by South Korean artist Tae-Geun Yang.

The event started in Bondi, a suburb of Sydney, in 1997, the brainchild of a fellow named David Handley. The following year it expanded to five locations to help promote the Olympic Games in Sydney. They included Darwin, Noosa, Albany and the Tasman Peninsula as well as Bondi. But the additional showings were one-offs. it remained a Sydney event until 2005 when the event was launched in Cottesloe, a suburb of Perth in Western Australia. It has been an annual event there ever since.

This year’s exhibition runs from March 4-20th. My wife and I checked it out Tuesday and had a great afternoon. Getting there is pretty easy. The town is very close to Fremantle and easily accessible by car. The beach is along Marine Parade. It is a short fifteen minute walk from the Cottesloe train station (1.1 kilometres) or a ten minute bus ride if you prefer.

These giant sculptures are along the roadway just before the beach. They are also part of the exhibit.
These giant sculptures are along the roadway just before the beach. They are also part of the exhibit. The sculpture set is called Land of Giants: Quiver, Queen, King, Jester, Giorgio and is by American Peter Lundberg.

We drove in and found lots of street parking on Marine Parade, though it might be rather busy on the weekends. We parked just south of the beach and walked in, taking a path that took us past a couple of sculptures along the street and then down to a Cottesloe landmark, the Sun Dial. This isn’t part of the exhibit but is worth checking out any time. It keeps accurate time any time of the year. The instructions on how to read the sun dial are a bit cumbersome but easy to understand.

The sun dial is a large one just at the south end of the beach.
The sun dial is a large one just at the south end of the beach. Not part of the exhibit but worth seeing.

From the sun dial we walked up past the Surf Rescue building and came across several sculptures along the way. We decided to walk out on the breakwater, which also had a number of pieces of art on it, for an overview of the whole beach, then slowly made our way along the beach checking out the works. This year had works by 77 artists from nineteen different countries including Canada and the United States. The major sponsor is Rio Tinto Mines.

Overview of the beach from the breakwater. The beach house dates from 1996.It is on the site of an ice cream parlour built in 1910.
Overview of the beach from the breakwater. The magnificent beach house dates from 1996. It is on the former site of an ice cream parlour built in 1910. We thought the cranes beside the beach house meant construction was going on. We were wrong!

Many of these pieces must have been moved in by truck as they are huge. Others look like they might have been built in place just for the exhibit. They varied greatly in theme and content. Many were clearly abstract. Interesting shapes with no other significance than their beauty. Others were geometric patterns. Still others had themes. There were several with an environmental theme. And many were representational, often quite whimsical.

This piece was called The Pilgrim.
This piece is called The Pilgrim by Australian sculptor Russell Sheridan.
The Burden.
A Burden by Australian artists Suzie Bleach and Andrew Townsend
This sculpture consisted simply of posts with place names in Australia accompanied by red posts with a number on them. The legend indicated what species the numbers signified. All of these species are now extent.
This sculpture consisted simply of posts with place names in Australia accompanied by red posts with a number on them. The legend indicated what species the numbers signified. All of these species are now extent. It was called simply “The Red List (Extinct)” by Australian artist Rebecca Westlund.

A few of the pieces had motion as part of the display. I took a video of one which was a circle of colourful poles with streamers running between them. A class of school children were exploring it at the time. The piece is called Kakashi by Lithuanian Ameican artist Zilvinas Kempinas.

Another was simply called “Eye” and consisted of an LED screen embedded in the dirt and surrounded by some foliage. But if you looked closely, well, darn if it wasn’t an eye! And it was looking around! Kind of creepy actually. It’s by Danish artist Anne-Marie Pedersen.

We ventured further up the beach and found more interesting pieces. One was called Book Cave and consisted of a large number of hard cover books glued together to form a cave. Another was a simple but large geometric figure of wood.

Book Cave
Book Cave by Australian artist Juliet Lea.

As you can see from the pictures, there were a lot of people on the beach not paying much attention to the artwork, just soaking up the sun, swimming and having a good time. The weather was warm, and bringing along your swimsuit and a towel is good idea. Make a day of it.

A geometrical wooden sculpture anchored one end of the exhibit. Lots of sunbathers and swimmers were at the beach.
A geometrical wooden sculpture anchored one end of the exhibit. It’s called Sømærke by German artist KWY and Portuguese artist Lise Kassow. Lots of sunbathers and swimmers were at the beach.

Wandering up behind the beach house, we came across a stainless steel sculpture of a chubby flying boy. We could see our reflection in it quite clearly.

We could see our reflection in this stainless steel sculture.
We could see our reflection in this stainless steel sculpture. It’s called City Dreams by Chinese sculptor Gao Xiaowu

And still further along we came across the largest of the sculptures called Re: Generation. It consisted of a curved bald pate on the ground, a multi-sided face that appeared half buried and a very large fully emerged multi-sided face. They were all in white porcelain or something that looked like white porcelain.

Re-emergence.
Re: Generation by Australian artist Sonia Payes. The couple on the ground were oblivious to the sculptures or anything else for that matter.

We came eventually to the Search and Rescue building which had a room full of smaller sculptures on display. Many were miniatures of ones we saw on the beach and all were for sale. Prices ranged from around $900 to thousands of dollars. My wife saw one selling for $46,000.

Smaller sculptures, many of them replicas of the larger ones, were on disolay and on sale inside the Search and Rescue building.
Smaller sculptures, many of them replicas of the larger ones, were on display and on sale inside the Search and Rescue building.
One of the smaller pieces on display inside.
One of the smaller pieces on display inside was of a tethered elephant.

We also saw a monitor showing a video of a woman in a mermaid outfit suspended in the air on wires. Nearby was a large framed photograph of the mermaid without the wires. I asked about it and we found out the artist was going to be doing his “performance art” at 4 PM by the beach house, so we headed back to take it in. The artist is Chinese photographer Li Wei.

The model reclines on the surfboard, ready to be hoisted in the air as part of a performance art piece.
A model reclines on the surfboard, ready to be hoisted in the air as part of a performance art piece.

A model in flowing white robes was strapped to a safety harness and then she lay down on a surfboard hooked by cables to a crane. Another crane had a platform where photographer Li Wei would stand. After a half hour or so of set-up, she and he were hoisted into the air for the photo shoot. She went up and down several times, changing poses each time. I suspect the photographer will air brush out the wires and cables for his finished pictures.

We then went to the beach house which houses a large restaurant called Indiana and had a tasty meal. The restaurant has large windows and a beautiful overview of the beach.

The beach house and the Indiana Restaurant. It's a beautiful old building with a magnificent view. We enjoyed a tasty early dinner here.
The beach house and the Indiana Restaurant. It’s a beautiful old building with a magnificent view. We enjoyed a tasty early dinner here. A nice ending to a great afternoon.

All in all, it was a terrific afternoon. It’s highly recommended. And it’s free!

Additonal Links of Interest

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