Life Aboard LULU

January 19, 2005 (Strange things happen on lazy days in the Bahamas)
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Bahamas TimeWe’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'llCompass Cay Beach 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 them cruisers.

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.

Bathing at Rebecca'sTwo 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 Windwalker.

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: 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 islands.

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 all that.

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, Dad


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 beautiful pasta.

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 humans are.

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 too soon.

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 Mother Ether.

Still shaking.


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.)


Nurse Shark Feeding FrenzyNote 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 don’t.”

(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.



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