El Faro finds

Sometime around the 24th or 25th of this month, cargo that is thought the be from the sunken El Faro started washing up along the entire island of Exuma and surrounding Cays.  The news spread on Facebook and people headed to the shore to ‘salvage’ what was washing up.  Salvaging is an old Bahamian practice of collecting goods from sunken ships.  In some historical cases, the ships were deliberately misled into crashes so that the cargo could be claimed.  In The Ferry, Little Exuma, there is a small church which was built entirely from materials salvaged from an (accidentally) sunken ship.

The El Faro debris has deposited hundreds of Frontline tick-prevention medication for pets across various beaches. There are also lots of tubes of mini-m&ms (predominately empty), lots of hypodermic needles (for diabetes), mayonnaise packets, and various Avon products (like deodorants).  It sort of feels like this must be coming from a container for a Drug Store. We might be able to find out – there is a rumor that part of a container ran aground on Duck Cay, which is a rock we’ve been to many-a-weekend.

It’s definitely weird to associate these finds with the drowned sailors aboard the ship.  They must have been so near to us.  I do like the idea that anything useable that washed up is going to be used.  This stuff is getting cleaned up off of the beach one way or another.  The local vet office is going to receive a bounty of donated Frontline, that’s for sure.

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sandbars are good for your soul

I’m having a hard time understanding sandbars.  Sandbars are quickly becoming my favorite “place” on Earth and as much as I want to know more about them, I kind of am enjoying the wonder that comes with…not knowing.

sandbar party

sandbar party

Things like, do they ever get named?  (I only found one search result that indicated named sandbars, so I guess not?) Or, how come if they are supposedly made of sand being slowly moved around from one beach to another, the sandbar itself manages to stay in pretty much the same place? And what the heck makes this shape (see photo)?

What the heck is this?

What the heck is this?

And why aren’t more people doing time-lapse videos of them as the tide changes? And how is it that there are so many sandbars in the Bahamas, making it the best place in the world? Maybe I actually want these questions (and google searches) to remain unanswered for a while. I love sandbars.  They represent a time and place that by its very nature is finite.  I guess if you think about it, they spend half the time under ocean water.  When you first arrive at low tide, it’s a clean and empty beach.  Just ripples that have been suggested into the sand while it was submerged. In some areas of life, I think that anticipating an end to something can make it seems less satisfying.  Yet sandbars feel different in that respect.  You can arrive and get lucky; maybe the tide has just gone out and you have a couple of hours in a magical, safe place.  But you know that the tide will come back and we will have to leave.  But nobody ever hears the clock ticking in the back of their heads, counting down until it’s over.  The time at the sandbar is very “now.”

It’s almost like sandbars are the gentlest lesson in impermanence.  An enjoyable one, even. There is something exhilarating about setting foot in a place that is temporary.  (Burning Man, anyone?)  The sandbar won’t always be above water when you want, but it will be back eventually.  And it will be clean slate…no matter how much you tore it up last time with foot and dog prints.

sea beans

It’s starting to feel like winter here.  It’s still in the 70s everyday, but the temperature hardiness John and I brought with us has been destroyed.  Our spoiled selves are starting to find the water almost too cold to swim in (also in the 70s), and we’re noticing a fresh crispness in the air.

We’ve been having a lot of windy weather lately, and this week brought a huge amount of seaweed and lightweight flotsam to shore.  Yesterday we put on long pants and hung out on the beach, where I got to work picking up a depressing amount of plastic that had washed ashore.  (I’ll talk about the volume of plastic that I find in another post.)

But we found something new and interesting!  Behold, sea beans.

Ours don’t look very heart-y, but from what I could figure out online, this specific type of ocean-faring seed is called a ‘sea heart.’  I guess some of them look like hearts.

Sea hearts fall out of their giant seed pods and plop into the water somewhere in the tropical rainforest.  They come from a plant called a monkey ladder, which is a type of Liana vine.  You’ve got to click through to this website to see some crazy pictures of this plant and the journey of these seed out of the Amazon!  They can float in saltwater for 2 years and still produce a baby plant in the right environment.

The amount of websites that come up when searching for sea beans/seeds/hearts is pretty fascinating.  It’s an entire category of beach combing!  I was also able to identify these whiter seeds as mangoes.

DSC_0853

So yeah, something new to collect!

Fresh fish

Our friends were in a boating mood this weekend.  We were so lucky to hang out with such awesome people.  Of course we had to make the obligatory stops at favorite beach-side bars…both days.  But we definitely had some new experiences, namely the chance to see some incredible spearfishing.  This was our first time swimming with Bahamians, and I am humbled!

Our friend Graeme grew up southeast of here on Long Island, where his family lives largely off the land…and sea.  We made open-water snorkeling stops and Graeme made spearfishing look as effortless as a trip to the grocery store.  Equally impressive were the kids!  They would fearlessly leap into the water to free dive and learn how to hunt from Graeme.  In one of these pictures, you can see 8-year old Dimitri bring up a conch.  If the reef wasn’t fruitful enough, we all just got back in the boat and looked for another one.

The only fish caught on a line was a barracuda.  John and I have been curious to try it…It’s basically an off-the-menu item so the chance hadn’t come up.  When we got back that night, Graeme cooked up the catches, and now I can say I’ve eaten barracuda, preceded by a Long Island-style conch salad!