We’ve made it to several Exumas. They are like, yet unlike, the rest of the
Caribbean. Different personality—I’m guessing it's the solitary quality. Bumps,
humps, low curvaceous mounds: tiny islets and smallish islands sprinkled
everywhere, all under a ceiling of peaceful blue sky. Most are completely
deserted; covered in a half-hearted vegetation that's neither lush, nor tropical
and certainly not accented by swaying palms. Rather, they tend to be scruffy—in
limey and sagey greens—occasionally broken by hints of a shaly, volcanic rock
substructure. The drama is in their sheer profusion and juxtaposition. It’s also
possible that a 50% below normal rainfall is causing the pallid greenery.
You see a house or two on some but on virtually all narrow scallops of white
sand beaches: each pristine and unblemished That is, from offshore: visit the
more popular among them and you find them sullied by discarded bottles, lengths
of rope, the odd flip-flop—the detritus of the spoiled and nonchalant.
Just as everyone told us, this area is mostly about the water: the tremendous
clarity, the swirls and puddles of vivid, sometimes flamboyant, blue—shades too
stunning to be described by the wishy-washy, just-rinsed quality of the word
"aqua." The available color names just don’t suffice to describe the sheer
variety. What’s needed is the sort of distinctions we’re told Eskimos have for
the word “snow.”
The Exumas are clearly a creation of whatever god is in charge of beauty.
We dinghy three miles to Compass Cay to check out the marina, where we'll
leave LULU when we fly to New York in February. Surrounded entirely by cove,
it’s small, rudimentary and indubitably safe. The whole shebang consists of two
guest cottages, one rent able main house up the hill and a "grocery" with not
much more on its shelves than a bottle of ketchup, two jars of Ken's Chipotle
Marinade and a can of Spam. It’s owned and run by Tucker Rolle, a soft-spoken,
weathered Bahamian of indeterminate age who came to the island 40 years ago and
carved the place out of nothing. He's great at bartering and garnering free
stuff, so a lot of the work was completed by knowledgeable Americans, many of
Satisfied with the marina, we walk a sandy path delineated by conch shells to
an empty beach across the island’s isthmus. A forsaken wood house sits high
across the bay observing the incoming waves. Victim of the winds, it is falling
in on itself at crazy angles and looks like the Cat in the Hat's stovepipe about
to topple over into the sea.
Two young couples in pop in. A group coagulates instantly. We zoom across the
bay, beach our dinghies on a sand bank. Eight of us slosh through shallow water
to Rebecca’s Bubble Bath, a waist-high pond surrounded by rock walls. This
“bath” is fed by frothy white water that crashes in from the ocean behind via a
big wave-carved crescent in the rock. Some of us wade in—the most skilled
swimmer a frolicsome standard poodle named Buck, belonging to new friends on
Buck is just about the only animal life we’ve seen around here and that
includes birds. It’s quite odd and Gary had recently noted it to his bright,
ecologically savvy, scientific-minded daughter, Wendy, in an email that
instantly generated the following notable scientific discussion:
From Shroud Cay, Exuma Islands, The Bahamas
Subj: Here...in the middle of nowhere
We took a dinghy ride: no bugs, no beasties. Also no birds, no visible fish,
no underwater vegetation. This is very bizarre: not even a bird?
Strangely, we have also found this total lack of wildlife in other tropical
Now, there are no giant multinational corporations here dumping PCBs, no
smokestack manufacturing, no forest clear-cutting, no Hummers or SUVs…And
there's NO wildlife at all—nada—niente—zip—zero.
Now, my scientific induction and deduction indicates that giant multinational
corporations dumping PCB's and smokestack manufacturing and forest clear-cutting
produces and supports abundant wildlife. The proof is irrefutable. A=B. QED and
Plop a little nuclear waste here and you can open a zoo.
Please call Rush and tell him. Our phone is not operable at this time. Love,
From Bethlehem, PA
Subj: Here... in the middle of nowhere
Maybe there are no beasties because there are no birds for them to eat
because there are no bugs for them to eat because there are no beasties for them
to gnaw on…I wouldn't call Rush just yet!
From Cambridge Cay, Exuma Islands, The Bahamas
Subj: Sign of life
You are certainly correct about the food chain, but where does it start? Get
a load of this. Last night as Lulu was setting dinner on the table a spaghetti
fly was spontaneously generated from out of the ether. There were no signs of
any fly just a moment before. I know it was a spaghetti fly because it was
lusting after my spaghetti. I shooed it away, even though its huge multifaceted
eyes were looking alternately at my spaghetti and me. I was just not willing to
share Lulu's magnificent spaghetti with such an ugly winged thing.
I realize that with this one wave of my hand I most certainly ended the
possibility of a long food chain of creatures that probably would eventually
spawn the first intelligent life in the universe. But, I was not sharing this
This just illustrates once again the power of spontaneous generation. Put
some human food out and a type-specific fly gets created seemingly from nowhere.
Spontaneous generation from out of the ether has been covered extensively in the
literature, and it totally explains why various animals seem to appear wherever
For example, the American Indians traveled all over the continent and
seemingly, from out of nowhere, huge herds of buffalo popped into existence to
feed them. Coincidence? I think not.
Now the dinosaurs are a classic example of the need for animals to be near
humans. Those dopey dinosaurs hung around for hundreds of millions of years just
waiting for some human company and finally gave up, seventy-five million years
The evidence is clear. Humans create and support the existence of animals.
Tonight we're having BBQ'd beast. No telling what the ether will invent for us.
Mountain lion? T-Rex? I might not have the same cavalier attitude as with the
spaghetti fly. Love, Dad
PS Half an hour later I was doing the beast on the barbie when a 10- foot
long actual shark materializes out from under the boat, circling me and the
beast on the barbie. This might not have been so unusual except that this was
the only living thing we've seen since the spaghetti fly. Don't underestimate
From Bethlehem, PA
Subj: Sign of Life
Is it possible that by throwing your leftover "extra" sauce overboard, and
sinking your wine bottles, that you have created the primordial goo from which
spaghetti flies evolve? Have you considered that you are part of the equation? I
shudder to think what might evolve if you throw a lamb shank overboard. (Be
careful out there.)
Note from a Junk Science Dissenter: If you do throw a lamb shank overboard in
these waters, what you’ll likely find is a nurse shark, similar to the “great
white” Gary spotted under our barbecue. We learn this when, back at the marina,
Tucker introduces us to the marina mascots: seven mud-brown nurse sharks who
circle the dock tirelessly waiting for a hamburger handout. Gary takes this as
further evidence supporting his “theory.” When I point out that he’s (naturally)
selected out the hundreds of specimens in the Atlantis aquariums, LULU’s
resident Darwin scoffs at my reasoning, suggesting his hypothesis would include
this kind of madcap species generation in such a demographically human
environment as a hotel and casino.
I now realize snorkeling or scuba diving and finding what I’d call
ichthyofaunal evidence of pre-existing residents could also be used as even
further confirmation that humanity generates animals.
My next best refutation is “If a tree falls in the forest and there are only
animals to hear it, do they exist?” Without even posing this question I know his
answer would be, “Dearie, you’re presupposing that they exist, which they
(A more prosaic but entirely tangential question: If my husband speaks in the
forest and I’m not there to hear him, is he still wrong?)
Help! Someone more scientific…inferential…deductive than I needs to rise to
this ridiculous occasion and counter all this specious species reasoning. Then I
can send him back to the bilges where he belongs.