Pittstown, Crooked Island

Maya and Evo Welcome to Crooked Island

Maya and Evo
Welcome to Crooked Island

The next morning we wake up late, in paradise, and we take the day off.

Sunrise in Crooked Island

Sunrise in Crooked Island

The beach is a few feet away. Evo and Maya go spearfishing. There is so much fish around the boat, that Evo asks me what I prefer for lunch, grouper or snapper. He spears two decent-sized Nassau groupers, much more tender and safe to eat than barracuda.

Maya with a grooper

Maya with a grooper

Later, we take a walk on the beach, about a mile south to the tiny settlement of a few houses, to find internet and check the weather updates.

.

.

Pittstown is charming with its stone walls and banana trees around perfectly trimmed loans, its fishing-boat harbor cut in the rock where young people gather at sunset to dive and swim and chat.

.

.

Inside the library

Inside the library

 

Afternoon in the harbour

Afternoon in the harbor

 

.

.

In just a few minutes we see more wildlife here than anywhere in the Bahamas.

Osprey

Osprey

 

Green Heron

Green Heron

American Oysercatcher

American Oysercatcher

 

Osprey with lunch, Bird Rock Lighthouse in the background.

Osprey with lunch, Bird Rock Lighthouse in the background.

Almost no one comes to Pittstown, Crooked Island, ‘the unexplored Bahamas,’ remote and unspoiled, and maybe this is the reasons why we love it so much. (Even though, sadly, they are out of ice cream for months now.)

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

 

The girl working at the small library makes us sign the town’s guestbook.

          How long are you staying?, she asks.

         We wish we could stay a few more days but the wind is good now; we have to keep sailing. We are leaving first thing tomorrow morning, we answer.

.

.

Share

Passage South. Long Island to Crooked Island

Map of our Passage South

Map of our Passage South

Day 1– George Town to Long Island

Day 2

Sunday, March 9

In the afternoon, after snorkeling in Dean’s Blue Hole for a few hours, we continue sailing south along Long Island west bank for 15 NM more. We round Long Island South Point around 5 p.m. and set course for Crooked Island, some 30 NM southeast, across Crooked Island Passage.

The wind is from northeast at 10-15 kt, dropping to 2-6 kt for a few hours, and then picking up to 10-12 kt again. The seas are calm, the sailing is beautiful.

We arrive in Pittstown, on the northwest side of Crooked Island, in the middle of the night, 3:30 a.m., and drop anchor exactly where the charts indicate an anchorage. The place doesn’t really look like an anchorage, a long straight shoreline exposed to northwest, west, and southwest winds and swells, but we calculated that in the northeast to east winds we are getting, it would be calm and smooth as a lake. And it is.

.

.

Share

The Big Blue

Mira

Mira

Some time ago, friends told us that about 35 nautical miles south from George Town, on Long Island, there is a blue hole, check it out.

.

.

A blue hole is a vertical cave in the interior of an island, a hollow in the rocks filled with seawater. There are many blue holes in the Bahamas, big and small, but the most famous one is Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island because it is the world’s deepest saltwater blue hole.

Dean's Blue Hole

Dean’s Blue Hole

Free-diving competitions are held annually here and a few professional divers have found their death inside the underwater cave trying to set a new world record for the deepest dive without oxygen.

A memorial plaque near Dean's Blue Hole

A memorial plaque near Dean’s Blue Hole

There is a great Luc Besson film called The Big Blue, a fictionalized account of the rivalry between two legendary free divers, Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorka. It might clarify the mystery why anyone who is not suicidal would take one last deep breath and swim downward into the abyss knowing he might never resurface alive.

The rope used by the divers

The rope used by the divers

As it is on our passage south, we stop on the west shallow bank of Long Island, Turnbull Landing, to check out Dean’s Blue Hole.

After a two-mile walk up and down scenic road across the island we get to a small harbor on the east side.

Going down the road

Maya, Viktor, Evo going down the road

There, on the edge of the land, is a small round pool surrounded by rocks and sand. The contrast between its pale turquoise shallow rim and dark blue like ink interior is dramatic.

.

.

It gets deep so suddenly, Maya can jump in deeper waters from the shore, like in a swimming pool.

Evo and Maya

Evo and Maya

A small white platform used by divers is stationed in the center, vacant. There is no one else here but the four of us.

.

.

We go for a swim a bit scared by all the signs and commemorative death-plaques around the place, as if the blue hole would suck us down and swallow us.

Mira

Mira

But then, as we snorkel on the shallow edge of the underwater cave, a large sea turtle slowly passes by, undisturbed, takes a deep breath and heads for the hole, making a sign: follow me.

.

.

She is flying through the dark water in cadence with such hypnotizing circular movements of her wings it looks so easy, not dangerous at all, so logical to just follow her deep inside the dark hole.

Evo going to the edge of the blue hole

Evo

But the growing pressure in the head, the lungs struggling for air, reminds us way too soon what obsolete fish humans are.

Mira

Mira

Farewell, sea turtle, say hi to all the underwater-monsters hiding in the deep.

Evo

Evo

Share

Passage South. George Town to Long Island

Map of our Passage South

Map of our Passage South

Day 1

Saturday, March 8

 

After carefully studding the charts, cruising guides, and weather forecasts, we begin the 260 nautical miles passage south from George Town, Bahamas to Luperon, Dominican Republic, a passage most of the thousands of sailors who cruise regularly in the Bahamas will never undertake.

.

.

 

260 nautical miles may sound like a few hours of driving distance for those who never sailed. For us, getting to Dominican Republic means 3 one-day (30-40 NM) ocean passages, 4 one to two-day (25-30 NM) island passages (along the shore and in shallow bank waters), and 1 two-day (100 NM) ocean passage. It also means waiting at anchor in-between passages for a weather window (favorable winds: force and direction) for as long as it takes.

 

That is, if everything goes well. Moreover, we tend to be slower than most other sailboats, as most other sailboats ‘motor-sail’; they go on engine all the time in order to get faster to their destination (before sunset), or to avoid tacking or heeling too much (tacking is when you zigzag towards destination instead of going in straight line, because the wind is blowing from the direction you want to go). Often, they don’t even bother hoisting the sails, motoring all day, their masts remaining bare like sad winter trees even when the wind is good, behind them. For us ‘motoring’ is ‘cheating’. We strictly sail; the engines are for emergency only, which saves us a lot of cash and hustle. Last time we fueled was in Key West Florida, about four months ago, and our fuel tanks are still full to the brim. We never motored in the Bahamas, and we don’t even know what the fuel price around here is… We even go in and out of anchorages and cuts through the reefs full-sail, often at night.

 

In our Bahamas Cruising Guide the part covering south of George Town is called Far Horizons. The Unexplored Bahamas. This is how the chapter starts:

 

“The generally perceived wisdom that it is different south of George Town is true. Below latitude 23 30N, the tropic of Cancer, you are in the real tropics and in a different game. You are exposed to the Atlantic, you have legendary passages to negotiate, there are almost no all-weather anchorages, and few settlements. You shouldn’t venture into these waters in a craft that isn’t well found and well equipped. If passage making or cruising in an area like this lies outside your experience think twice about going that way.”

 

As we lift the hook from the anchorage in George Town and set sail for Long Island, a first of four island passages, suspiciously too many other boats from all the anchorages around the harbor lift their hooks as well and start sailing in the same direction. We find ourselves in the middle of a spectacular procession of about one hundred sailboats, all sailing (none motoring) southeast with us! It is beautiful.

.

.

 

Our departure has coincided with the Long Island Rally. The rally is escorting us to Goat Cay for about two hours where our paths finally separate. The boats continue northeast to a waypoint from where they turn back northwest to George Town; we head south through Goat Cay Cut.

 

With the wind blowing from north at 10-15 knots, forecasted to turn from northeast the next day, we decide sailing south-southeast on the west lee side of Long Island would be best, as the island, 80 mi long north to south, will act as a shield from the Atlantic waves which tend to always come from the same direction as the wind.

 

The same cruising guide warns us about sailing on the west side of Long Island:

 

“The west coast of Long Island is a No-Go for the long-haul passage maker. (That’s us). The west coast is the Bank side, with sandbores and shoals which effectively bars that side as a cruising ground. A Bank transit path does not exist. Only local captains can safely cross the southeast corner of the Great Bahama Bank. Underline that word ‘local.’ It requires local knowledge.”

 

All we get from the previous paragraph is: ‘It’s shallow, but people do it’. Our very limited experience with cruising guides tells us that they should not always be trusted. Some of the information they provide is useful but passage making is ultimately dependent on weather conditions in relation to geography, sailing skills and experience, and boat specifics. There is no one general best way to go. Cruising guides are overprotective and I think they consider the average cruisers (for whom they are intended) to be semi-blind elderly people with no common sense aboard 7-8 feet draft vessels.

 

Many fellow-sailors we met in George Town told us not to even think of sailing south to Dominican Republic without following the exact steps described in Bruce Van Sant’s book with the suspicious sexist title The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South. “Just read the book and do exactly what he says if you want to make it.” they told us, most of them never made the passage nor read the book. Luckily, we had The Book aboard. I think it came with the boat along with lots of other stuff left from the previous owners. Problem is, this book too had nothing to say about Long Island’s west bank, not an option according to Mr. Van Sant. He too insists on sailing on the east side of Long Island, covering more than a 130 NM from George Town to Clarence Town, three days of sailing, battling Atlantic waves and current.

 

We study the charts and the west Bank side looks shallow but doable with a distance of only 55 NM from George Town to Clarence Town (west side of the island), a real short cut. Our boat’s draft is less than four feet. We close the cruising guides which have nothing more to say about sailing on the side we chose: the west Bank of Long Island.

 

Around 10 a.m. we pass through the narrow shallow Goat Cay Cut between Great Exuma and Little Exuma at mid-tide. The starboard keel lightly touches the sand for a second once we are through the cut, but from then on we have no troubles sailing in the uncharted Bank along the west shores of Long Island. We keep away from the shoals and coral heads and always have enough water under the keels; the island stops the waves as we have expected and sailing is pleasure. We make a beautiful progress of 55 NM the first day with the wind behind us and the boat doing 6 to 8 kt. Evo catches 9 barracudas that day, I think this is a world record, and we keep the 3 smaller one to eat in the next few days. They are delicious.

 

After Stephenson Rock, we turn port; carefully approach a white-sand beach looking out for coral heads. The water surface is flat like a mirror. There is no sign of civilization. We drop anchor for the night just before sunset. Dean’s Blue Hole is right across on the other side of the island, a couple of miles north of Clarence Town. We’ll visit it the next day.

 

We sleep like babies and dream of cruising guides.

 

 

Fata Morgana anchored on the west side of Long Island, Bahamas

Fata Morgana anchored on the west side of Long Island, Bahamas

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Our Friends, The Forbidden Island, David Copperfield, And The Barracudas.

.

.

When our friends came to visit us in the Bahamas for a week they surely didn’t imagine that so many crazy things can happen in just a few days. Ivan, one of our best friends ever, his 16-year-old daughter Nanny, and 18-year-old son Nikola who is also Viktor’s best friend (the mastermind behind Viktor’s Achievement List), landed in George Town and survived a week aboard Fata Morgana sailing in good weather and in bad weather complete with a 35-knot squall and huge waves, entering through a narrow cut between rocks and breakers at night with the current against the boat and both the skipper and the helmsman (Evo and Mira) panicking, discovering a magical island and its enchanted inhabitant, spearfishing in barracuda-infested waters, snorkeling with stingrays and starfishes, swimming with sharks and mermaids, kayaking in a small grotto at night where the only light is from the photoluminescence in the water, almost burning down a palm tree, feeding coconuts to a man-eating dog, and eating barracudas every day.

Evo and Ivan sailing into the sunset.

Evo and Ivan sailing into the sunset.

About 35 miles north of George Town is Rudder Cay. It is a private island with a few remote beaches and beautiful rocks with a small cave owned by the famous illusionist David Copperfield.

Rudder Cay, cave and beach

Rudder Cay, cave and beach

We were told that there are video cameras surveying the shores and a man-eating dog guarding the island’s secrets, so better don’t go ashore, you don’t want to mess with a magician and his rabid dog.

.

.

As we get to the island, first thing’s first, we go ashore. Some of us swim, some of us pile on the kayak and we are all on the private beach in two minutes. We can’t wait to meet David Copperfield; he would be the first famous person we meet in the Bahamas.

Kayaking to the forbidden island.

Kayaking to the forbidden island.

We roam the island, collect coconuts, and explore the cave, but no sign of the magician.

inside the cave

inside the cave

.

.

 

.

.

Mira

Mira

 

Then suddenly, as we are peacefully chopping coconuts on the beach, a dark hungry creature emerges from of the bush. Is it David Copperfield? Is it Robinson Crusoe? Is it Tom Hanks? Is it the man-eating dog? We are seven people. Three say it’s a dog, four say it’s David Copperfield. Finally we agree it is the illusionist who, after a magic-trick-gone-wrong, turned himself into a dog.

Evo getting some coconuts.

Evo getting some coconuts.

Evo opening coconuts

Evo opening coconuts

 

A dog shows up.

David Copperfield

Poor David Copperfield, his fur matted and smelly, his nails overgrown, marooned on his island with no company, no food, and no freshwater.

David Copperfield is our friend

David Copperfield is our friend

He avidly eats about four coconuts, and from then on becomes our good island-friend and guide. We call him David for short.

David eating coconuts

David eating coconuts

The next day, while Ivan and Evo go spearfishing in the reefs, the kids, David, and I go to the other side of the island where we discover another secret beach. We bring leftover chicken bones and give them one by one to David. We have lots of fun. Everyone is happy.

.

.

Maya making weapons, just in case, before the private island exploration

Maya making weapons, just in case, before the private island exploration

 

Viktor and Nick

Viktor and Nick

Viktor, Maya, Mira

Viktor, Maya, Mira

 

same people, in the air

same people, in the air

 

Back on the boat, we organize a jumping competition.

Viktor, Maya, Nick

Viktor, Maya, Nick

Same people, in the air

Same people, in the air

 

Evo doing a halo

Evo doing a halo

Vick and Nick

Vick and Nick

 

Nick and Maya

Nick and Maya

In the evening, we go back to shore with a huge bone we promised David and we make a huge bonfire on the beach with driftwood and dry palm leafs. 

Fire on the beach

Fire on the beach

Nanny and David

Nanny and David

 

Around the fire

Around the fire

Evo, the pyromaniac, is having lots of fun that evening.

Evo burning down the house

Evo burning down the house

no explanation...

no explanation…

 

The next day, we discover another of this enchanted place’ secrets: a mermaid playing a grand piano underwater.

.

.

The life-size sculpture commissioned by Copperfield made of stainless steel is submerged in about ten feet of water, and the trick is to find where exactly it is.

.

.

Nick

Nick

 

Mira

Mira

Best time to see it is at low tide, when the current is not too strong.

Ivan (!?)

Ivan (!?)

We are all sad leaving the island after a couple of days, especially leaving David behind, alone again. Nanny really wants to adopt him.

Please, if anyone ever goes there, bring some food and freshwater to the dog who is not dangerous and is completely abandoned. He survives on spiders and lizards, and drinks seawater… We all thought abandoning a dog alone on an island (to guard the private property from trespassers) is an example of animal cruelty, and whether David Copperfield or someone else is responsible for this, it is not an honorable thing to do.

Next, we spend a few more days sailing from one island to another, spearfishing, snorkeling, exploring, swimming, jumping, and kayaking some more. Everyone has a blast. We even eat the barracudas Ivan catches all the time. People say you can get ciguatera poisoning from barracudas: a bacteria found in big predators who eat smaller fishes who eat corral, but Ivan has come to the Bahamas to fish and eat fish, and nothing could stop him from eating barracudas! Still, we take precautions: we only keep the smaller barracudas which are safer than the bigger ones and we let our guest taste a little piece of the fish first. Then we wait about an hour to see if something unusual will happen to our friend. If he is still alive after an hour, means the barracuda is safe to eat, and we stuff ourselves with the white tender filets. It is one of the best tasting fish we ever had, and is the easiest fish to catch. Yum!

Nick with grunt

Nick with grunt

Nanny with starfish

Nanny with starfish

 

Assorted fishes

Assorted fishes

.

.

 

Vick and Nick

Vick and Nick

Ivan and Evo with barracuda

Ivan and Evo with barracuda

 

Thus, a week passes way too fast, and when our friends leave it is hard to get used to the boat without them… We surely miss them.

Evo and Ivan

Evo and Ivan

Nick

Nick

 

Nanny

Nanny

Share

George Town Regatta

George Town is a mad place especially in winter and especially during regatta week.

.

.

Of course, with our luck, this is exactly the time we show up. We approach the town at night and we take the hundreds of lights in the distance for city lights. Must be a big city, we think. But it turns out these are the anchor lights on top of the masts of hundreds of sailboats anchored in the vast shallow harbor across from George Town.

The town itself is much like any other town in the Bahamas: tranquil in the perpetual tropical heat, small buildings strewn along the one-way street, a car passing now and then, people sitting in the shade near the small shops and restaurants greeting good morning how are you are you enjoying your stay. Except for the huge permanent cruising community, there is nothing special about George Town. The cruising community is in fact at least three times more numerous than the local population and the entire economy of the place thrives because of the cruisers even though they remain separated from the locals and from Georgetown spending their time on Volleyball Beach and Hamburger Beach socializing between each other, and only dinghy to town now and then to do some grocery shopping, fill their propane bottles, and most importantly: do their washing in the huge public laundry.

Dinghies on Volleyball Beach

Dinghies on Volleyball Beach

 

Hundreds of sailboats, many Canadian, spend the winter months in Georgetown escaping the cold in the North, enjoying organized activities like yoga on the beach, volleyball games, domino and scrabble games, arts and crafts classes, poker tournaments, children’s activities, seminars, and many more. And during regatta week, the last week of February each year, the boats are even more numerous, somewhere between three and four hundred.

We remain anchored on the opposite side of the channel in front of Peace and Plenty hotel, alone, away from all other boats, near the town, avoiding the crowded anchorage and the cruising community. Huge beach crowds and participating in organized activities (like playing dominos with Canadian folks) is not something we enjoy in particular.

Fata Morgana anchored in front of Peace$Plenty hotel, George Town

Fata Morgana anchored in front of Peace$Plenty hotel, George Town

 

Yet, we meet some great people and make a few new friends here in Georgetown: Shane, Mary and their three-years-old son Franklin aboard s/v Sea Change, Jan and Susanne aboard s/v Peter Pan, a metal boat they built all by themselves back in Germany and sailed across the Atlantic, Jason aboard s/v Argo and his friend and crew Arno, an expert fisherman, both young guys in their twenties, and finally Tom aboard s/v Triad and his friend and crew Jim.

Tom needed extra crew for his trimaran Triad for the regatta and we thought it would be a great experience participating in the race, so we contacted him on the cruisers net. But there were a bunch of other sailors with a lot more sailing and racing experience than us who also showed up and we didn’t get to crew on Triad for the first two days of the races, broke my heart.  

Triad in the middle

Triad in the middle

 

We watch from our lonely anchorage as Triad and at least thirty other boats spread their sails and the harbor suddenly becomes a blue field populated by white butterflies rushing in all direction. A sort of a sailing chaos, the most beautiful sight: sailboats of all sizes and makes flying in the wind, one coming close to another, a sharp tack, sails flap for a moment then tighten and fill with wind again, the sound of the hulls swooshing through the sea, the monohulls heeling at a great angle, the catamarans steady, Triad with one leg in the air, going at an incredible speed. Go Triad, go!

.

.

 

Triad won first place in both races.

After each race there were celebrations, free food, dancing, and for an entire week many other activities take place too: a coconut race, small boat races, volleyball tournament, arts and crafts exhibition, a talent show and many more.

On the third day of the regatta Ivo and I were supposed to finally crew on Triad, but the race got canceled as the wind was expected to drop. However, Tom invites us to go sailing anyway, just for fun, and thus we got to go on an around-the-island sail on Triad, the fastest boat in Georgetown, and it was amazing.

.

.

 

We are about ten people on board, crew and passengers, the weather sunny and nice, the wind about ten knots from south-southwest, the waves on the Exuma Sound side calm, just perfect.

.

.

Triad flying as fast as the wind, skimming the water surface with such lightness it feels as if we will lift off any minute. When the wind pushes from port, her port hull lifts in the air completely and when she tacks she lifts the starboard one, the same way you would jump across a puddle from one foot to the other, your legs wide spread.

.

.

Tom is great too.

Tome with ropes

Tome with ropes

He knows exactly what he is doing, as he has done it a thousand times. Or more. He is concentrated on the sails and the ropes but relaxed and at ease. Sometimes too relaxed. When we return in the anchorage, Tom on the helm, Triad is flying with about 6 knots directly towards an anchored boat. Tom is fixing something on the autopilot and doesn’t look where the boat is going for what seems the longest time. But then exactly when I am thinking it is already too late, we will crash, he pops up and with a swift move pulls the tiller and Triad turns just enough to pass inches from the anchored boat. Then Tom is down again continuing his work on the autopilot, Triad heading towards another boat…

Tom and Evo

Tom and Evo

 

After a perfect around-the-island four-hour sail, Triad the Champion is back in Georgetown. We drop anchor and bring down the sails. Just then a mother dolphin with two babies shows up in the anchorage peacefully swimming between the boats and before we know it, Tom is in the water with them. Jim and Ivo join immediately. They swim with the dolphins for about half an hour. Ivo takes his underwater camera and films them and I take pictures from the boat. A perfect finale for a perfect day at sea.

.

.

More pictures from George Town regatta

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

More pictures sailing-around-the-island on Triad

.

.

 

.

.

.

.

Triad’s sexy crews

(These are portraits I took for my on-going photo project The Sexy Skipper, which features sailor at their sexiest. We have seen enough sexy bikini-girls on boats in magazines and commercials. Time to pleasure our vision with some sexy guys in speedos !)

Captain Tom Cox, s/v Triad

Captain Tom Cox, s/v Triad

Jason Bashaw, s/v Argo

Jason Bashaw, s/v Argo

 

Jim Flint, s/v Triad

Jim Flint, s/v Triad

 

Evo, s/v Fata Morgana

Evo, s/v Fata Morgana

More pictures Swimming with Dolphins

.

.

.

.

 

Tom with dolphins

Tom with dolphins

.

.

 

Jim with dolphins

Jim with dolphins

.

.

Evo with dolphins

Evo with dolphins

 

.

.

.

.

 

Share

Father Jerome’s Via Dolorosa

Giving Back

As travelers we are fortunate enough to be able to learn about foreign cultures, geographies, and histories, to visit the most beautiful natural sites and tourist attractions, to enjoy local arts, foods and entertainments, to meet many interesting people, and generally to have lots of fun and good time everywhere we go. But I started asking myself how can we give back to a place we are visiting, a place we are taking so much from? Is spending money (for food, transportation, accommodation, and other necessities) enough to support local economies and to make us, travelers, feel we are not exploiting a place and its people? And what if we don’t spend much money for anything when we travel, as in our case? We live on a boat always anchored out for free, don’t use fuel as we sail using the wind, we have solar panels to produce electricity and a watermaker to produce freshwater. We do our washing by hand, we fish a lot and make our own food with products we bought back form the US or the cheapest local ones, and we don’t need any new cloths, cell phones, furniture, cars. Well, there are many different ways to get involve and give back to places and peoples. Each one of us can figure such ways according to what is needed and what we are able to do. We figured, helping local people and cleaning polluted places is the best way to give back. Thus, everywhere we go we offer our help.

Father Jerome’s Via Dolorosa

We are travelers. The World is our address; the Sea our permanent residency. ‘Our Home is where the Boat is’, a sign hangs in the galley of our catamaran. We don’t spend much time in one place: we sail farther. We are driven by a need like an unquenchable thirst, like a curse, to find out what lies beyond the horizon. Yet, sometimes we pause. Sometimes we climb a ridge and look from the top of a mountain to see where we have come from and where we are going. 

.

.

The distance between Little San Salvador and Cat Island is 34 nautical miles. We sail all day. It’s already dark when we drop anchor in the vast anchorage on the west lee side of the island.

The next day we grab a bottle of water and take to the hills. As we climb the 206-foot tall Mount Alvernia on Cat Island, the highest land elevation in all of the 700 Bahamian islands, I tell this story to my children:

Once upon a time there was an old hermit, a most unusual man, who lived alone in a stone home he built atop a hill. You might imagine that he was a very small man, maybe a midget, about four feet tall, for his house, which still crowns the hill, is so tiny. Everything in it: his sleeping quarters furnished with nothing but a simple plank bed taking up most of the space, the cloister with only three miniature columns leading to a guestroom where no more than one or two guests could fit, the little bell tower, and the chapel with its single pew where one must bend in order to fit through the door, resemble a child-size castle on top of a tiny mountain where a tiny person dwelled. But you know what? The resident of this place was in fact a very tall person, slender, with white beard and sad eyes, wearing a grey robe with a hood. Why do you suppose he built for himself such a small dwelling?

Inside the chapel.

Inside the chapel.

We keep going. It is a short but steep trek to the peak of Mount Alvernia. Visitors from all over the world come here not only to climb the Everest of the Bahamas, but also as a pilgrimage to Father Jerome’s final masterpiece: the Hermitage which he designed and built singlehandedly and where he spent the last 17 years of his life in solitude, as a poor person dedicated to seeking God through prayer, charity, and seclusion from society.

Hermitage on Mount Alvernia

Hermitage on Mount Alvernia

Born John Cyril Hawes in 1876 in England, he studied architecture and theology. At age 21 he was already a practicing building designer. At age 27 he became an Anglican priest. In 1909 John Hawes joined a mission in the Bahamas to restore local churches damaged by a great hurricane. After repairing various churches and building a few new ones, the architect-priest left the Bahamas and didn’t return until 1939, almost thirty years later. During that time he traveled to the United States where he converted to Roman Catholicism, then spent a few years as a homeless person and a wanderer traveling across North America by foot and even working as a laborer on the Canadian Pacific Railways, and then he sailed to Rome and was ordained a priest after two years of studies at The Beda College. He was then commissioned to go to Australia both as an outback missionary and a cathedral architect. He spent many years in Western Australia designing and building various churches, cathedrals, and chapels. In 1937, as recognition for his important work as a missionary priest and church builder, he received the papal title, monsignor. When he came back to Cat Island in the Bahamas he was an old man of 63. Everyone called him Father Jerome.

Father Jerome

Father Jerome

 

We reach the summit. The view from the top is spectacular. We see the entire Cat Island below: an evergreen scrubby mass of low tropical vegetation with small colorful houses strewn along the west coast bathed in crystal sunlight. The placid emerald-green waters of the sea to the west are calm and warm, home of coral gardens and fish. The roaring Atlantic to the east stretching all the way to Africa is deep, purple, mysterious. Up here the wind which never rests carries the songs of insects and birds, and the muffled prayers of an old hermit. Up here, inside the one-man monastery with its massive medieval-looking stone walls, we, atheists, feel the presence of the old hermit: a sudden nostalgic sensation of profound spirituality and awe.

.

.

The grey stones of the walls constructed over the limestone dome of the hill following its curves in perfect harmony with the natural surroundings, and the white cupolas bright in the sun against the blue sky are perfect as a renaissance painting. Except for the cone-shaped dome of the belltower which is broken and crooked, a huge gash like a wound gaping on one side.

“What happened?” I ask a man mixing cement on the grass in front of the hermitage, rocks, sand, buckets, and instruments scattered about. Another man is working up on the tower.

.

.

“A lightning strike it. There is a metal bell inside, so the lightning come and BAM, strike it! About a month ago. Worst damage ever since the hermitage was built”, he explains.

Cedric Wilson, a building contractor with over 45 years of experience specializing in church restoration, and Kirk Burrows, both Cat Islanders, are commissioned by the local Catholic Church to repair the damaged belltower.

Cedric Wilson

Cedric Wilson

We offer to help and they gladly accept.

“You see, we have to bring everything up here by hand, there is no other way”, Cedric explains.

Kirk Burrows

Kirk Burrows

We begin working the next day. A fellow sailor, Ben Rusi, also joins our little brigade.

.

.

Cedric, Kirk, and Ivo building the scaffolding around the belltower.

Cedric, Kirk, and Ivo building the scaffolding around the belltower.

Every morning for about a week, we walk from the anchorage to the foot of Mount Alvernia where we find construction materials waiting for us to be hauled up. As we walk the narrow steep rocky path carrying buckets of sand and water, wooden planks and iron rods, I can’t help thinking of Father Jerome building the hermitage all by himself, stone by stone.

Kirk and Ivo mixing cement.

Kirk and Ivo mixing cement.

There, all along the path from the foot to the top of the hill, set among shadowy trees, he has placed large concrete bas-reliefs representing various Stations of the Cross, imaging Jesus carrying his cross on the way to his crucifixion along the Via Dolorosa: the Way of Suffering. The analogy is inevitable: Jesus struggling with the cross, Father Jerome building the hermitage, Cedric and Kirk fixing it, and now us too being part of it.

Ivo along "the Path of Suffering"

Ivo along „the Path of Suffering“

After a few days, the belltower is fixed, and we celebrate with a small picnic on the terrace of a closed-down restaurant on the beach. Cedric brings tomatoes from his garden, homemade citrus juice, and a big pot of thick chicken and potato soup his wife cooked for us. The bread I made in the morning is on us. The chicken soup is hot and rich and so tasty, it enters our list of Best Foods we Ever Had. We enjoy the food and the stories Cedric and Kirk share with us in the orange-and-blue afternoon on the beach.

At the end, the reward we receive for our hard labors, for our time spent helping those in need, is the ultimate one: it is the feeling of moral uplifting and spiritual inspiration achievable only through acts of selflessness and charity. It is the lesson that Father Jerome and his humble yet charming last dwelling taught our children: to enjoy life one doesn’t need a big house but a big heart.

Through our efforts to help repair the belltower we became forever connected to Father Jerome and his Hermitage, to the past and the present of Mount Alvernia, to the people of Cat Island, and to the history of the Bahamas.

The only inhabitant of the hermitage today is a small hermit-frog.

The only inhabitant of the hermitage today is a small hermit-frog.

Cat Islanders who told us stories and facts about Father Jerome

Deacon Andrew Burrows

One Saturday night last December there was a big storm. When the lightning hit, everything went black. The lights went down. The next day we found out that the belltower got struck. It is an act of Nature. It is also a wake-up call. Everyone uses the Hermitage, we have pictures of the Hermitage printed on Cat Island brochures to attract tourists. The Hermitage as a cultural and historical heritage is a resource we are using, but nobody maintains it. Yes, the lightning can be interpreted as a wake up call, to bring attention. 

Deacon Burrows in front of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church designed and built by Father Jerome.

Deacon Burrows in front of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church designed and built by Father Jerome

  He had a bell placed at the bottom of the hill. When people needed him they rang the bell and he would come down. He gave clothes, food, helped everyone as much as possible.  People came to him from Monday to Friday when they needed him. He preached the gospel but would help everyone regardless of their religion.

Father Jerome died on a June 26th. I was born June 26th.

Deacon Burrows during service, inside Holly Redeemer Church.

Deacon Burrows during service, inside Holly Redeemer Church.

Poompey

We have more churches than people in this town. Everyone wants to build their own church. Father Jerome built 5 churches on Cat Island and Long Island alone. But the Hermitage is where he lived for 17 years and he is buried up there too.

Poompey

Poompey

Paula Thurston

My mother, Katleen Thurston, used to take care of Father Jerome. She used to clean and cook and wash clothes for him. She was about thirty then, married, but she couldn’t have children. One day father Jerome put his hand on her shoulder and talked to her in Latin and blessed her. And told her, you will have a daughter. And that was me. I was blessed by Father Jerome. My mother didn’t have anymore children.

One morning, after it rained all night, my mother found him lying on the ground there. He fell down and hurt himself. It’s very steep and the rocks get slippery after rain. She found him and called people from the village and they called the C-plane. and they took him to Nassau, to the hospital. He returned after that but was not the same man. He died shortly after this incident.

Paula Thurston

Paula Thurston

Gladys McKenzie

I don’t know how old I am, I don’t remember. But I remember Father Jerome. Sure, I remember him. He was a nice man. He is buried under a rock in the ground, right there up on the hill. When he died I was a young woman. We all went to the funeral. Now everyone comes here and takes my picture, because I remember him. (She loughs.)

Gladys McKenzie, around 90-years-old

Gladys McKenzie, around 90-years-old

Share

Marooned in Burger Paradise. Part Two

.

.

After a week of unlimited burgers in the private cruise ship resort Half Moon Cay, we decide it is time to go and make a first attempt to sail away to the next Bahamian island south, Cat Island. As we lift anchor we look back at the beach, the fake pirate ship, the cabanas. Our friend ‘Crazy George’, one of the island workers whose job is to clean the beach and even the sand early in the morning before the arrival of the tourists, and whom we befriended, is standing on the shore whistling and waving in our direction with both arms over his head. We are waving back at him, our hearts heavy, we feel like we will never again see this place we enjoyed so much.

"I wish i could stay here forever."

„I wish i could stay here forever.“

But as soon as we are out of the protected anchorage, we are overwhelmed by strong headwind and big waves and the thought that for the first time in a week we will not have a proper lunch. After an hour of banging and too much stress, we turn back. For the first time in our sailing experience (about 7 months now) we change plans, give up, and turn back. With the wind now pushing us from behind, we arrive in the anchorage we have just left in only 20 minutes. There are a bunch of other sailboats which have arrived the evening before and as we drop anchor we spot two little girls, about Maya’s age, watching us from their boat just a few feet away. They have long hairs: one the color of gold, the other the color of fire. Riley (11) and Wren (9) become instant friends with Maya (10).

Wren, Maya, Riley

Wren, Maya, Riley

Thus, in the next few days, the three girls are inseparable. They play together all day rarely getting out of the water having tons of fun.

Maya, Riley, Wren

Maya, Riley, Wren

At the same time, Ivo and me become instant friends with Riley and Wren’s mom and dad. Turns out, they are „professional“ adventurers and teachers on a sabbatical vacation. Scott is teaching Adventure Education and Tourism (and currently writing a manual on the subject) at Washington County Community College. Stephanie, an athlete, is also an instructor in the same collage with many years of experience working as a White-Water Adventure instructor. Avid adventurers, hikers, mountain-climbers, skiers, free-divers, sailors, Scott and Steph are also great parents and friends, great people.

Stephanie

Stephanie

Riley, Scott, Maya, Ivo

Riley, Scott, Maya, Ivo

 

Wren and Stephanie

Wren and Stephanie

The perfect paradise became even perfecter with friends in it. We show them around and invite them to our buffet, and the girls are happy all day long. Scott, a snorkeling and spear-fishing addict, teaches Ivo how to spear-fish with a Hawaiian spear. They disappear and spend pretty much a million years in the water coming back in the evening, just before shark-time, with a bucket of assorted fish and a huge lobster. We improvise a small party on our boat and have fish for super for a change.

Riley, Maya, Wren with lobster

Three little savages and an unlucky lobster.

After a few days, we sail south together with our new friends aboard s/v Kiawah and spend a couple of days more with them at Cat Island, hiking up the tallest hill of the Bahamas where the famous Father Jerome hermitage is, shooting coconuts with rocks (Scott is an unbelievable good shot with those rocks, no coconut has a chance), drinking beers and listening to live music at the small beach shack with Cedell and Poompey, world-famous Rake-and-Scrape musicians, plus an epic sleep-over (Maya had the best time sleeping over at Kiawah with her two friends).

Wren and Maya at Cat Island

Wren and Maya at Cat Island

Riley in Blue, Cat Island

Riley in Blue, Cat Island

 

What the boat-girls play with

What the boat-girls play with

Hiking up Mount Alvernia

Hiking up Mount Alvernia

Inside the Hermitage's small chapel

Inside the Hermitage’s small chapel

 

A hermit-frog inside the hermitage

A hermit-frog inside the hermitage

Shack on the beach

Shack on the beach

 

Maya on the flute, Cedell in the saw, Pompey on the accordion, Scott on the drum

Maya on the flute, Cedell on the saw, Pompey on the accordion, Scott on the drum

And then is time to say goodby… Kiawah continued her journey taking away our friends, and we stayed behind for another week. We had a job to do.

Dear Riley and Wren,

Dear Riley and Wren,

 

Maya, Riley, and Wren BFF

Maya, Riley, and Wren
BFF

Check out S/V Kiawah amazing blog and follow their journey here.

Share

Marooned In Burger Paradise. Part One

Thank you, Brian and Joyce, for bringing us to this place!

.

.

 

Remember the Swimming Pigs and how we envied them? Living on a beautiful tropical island in the Bahamas, right on the beach, doing nothing all day long but chill and swim gracefully in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, nobody bothering them with grills or machetes, boats bringing them free food right up to the beach? Well, careful what you wish for, they say. All this happened to us too: the perfect island, the beach paradise, free food floating right up to us. We now know exactly how those pigs feel (this has nothing to do with Miyazaki’s films) and it is so good that we began envying ourselves. But let me explain.

.

.

Food in the Bahamas is a problem.

In the settlements on the little islands there are small grocery stores with very limited selection of foods which are up to 4 times more expensive than the same products in the U.S. because everything is imported from the U.S. with an added transportation cost. Moreover, the stuff comes once a week by the mailboat and often we have to wait till Wednesday, when the boat usually brings supplies, if we want to buy fresh tomatoes or apples (if we are near a settlement at all).

We knew this and so, before leaving USA, we stocked up the boat with canned and dried foods, pasta, flour, and rice and we hoped to be catching lots of fish. Still, after about a month and a half we finished most of our supplies, and rice became our main meal, with or without fish depending on luck.

A few weeks ago Brian and Joyce, our friends and ex-neighbors (great people!) from back in Canada, sent us a message: “Guys, we will be coming to the Bahamas on a cruise ship. We’ll be spending a day in Half Moon Cay. Let’s meet up!”

Sure thing! At that time we were just about 30 miles away from Half Moon Cay. And so, we check the weather, wait for a few days for the best winds to cross from Great Guana Cay to Little San Salvador, and after a day of slow uneventful sailing we get to the anchorage in front of the small private island owned by Holland-America and Carnival cruise lines, Little San Salvador.

.

.

We arrive in the evening exactly one week before Brian and Joyce’s ship, no rush. We are the only sailboat in the anchorage. The beach is perfect: white sand and palm trees, little colorful cabanas, a wooden pirate ship. The island is private and everything is set up for the cruise ships’ crowd. There is no settlement here, no houses, no school, no shops. We drop anchor on the far north side, trying to stay away from the resort facilities; we are not even sure if we are allowed to be here at all. But we kayak to shore and we meet the manager of the island, Anthony, and he is happy to have us around, no problem, man, enjoy!

Fake Pirate Ship

Fake Pirate Ship

The next morning a cruise ship like a huge white ice-cream cone arrives and unloads about 3 000 (that is three thousand) pink, fat, drunk, loud, hungry tourists, mostly Americans. We think: horror, how are we to survive here for a week? Until we discover the Island Grill Buffet.

Is this the same beach?

Is this the same beach?

It’s lunch time and the cruise ship people lying on the beach, starving, are being directed to an enormous buffet set up behind the fake pirate ship. We casually follow the hungry crowd pretending we are passengers from the big ship. And there it is: haven on earth (food heaven, that is).

.

.

Burgers, hotdogs, grilled chicken, ribs with barbeque sauce, grilled fish fillet; five or six salads and side dishes (I am talking about green salad, cabbage salad, macaroni salad, shrimp salad, potatoes with Dijon mustard, baked zucchini, steamed broccoli, corn, beans, couscous with curry…); little cakes for dessert; and mountains of cut and whole fruits: watermelon, honeydew melon, pineapple, mango, grapes, apples, oranges, pears, kiwi, papaya, strawberries…

 

Ivo loading up his fifteenth plate.

Ivo loading up his fifteenth plate.

We stuff ourselves until our bellies cannot take it no more, we pause for a few minutes, and then we stuff ourselves some more until we are about to explode, and we even stuff the small camera backpack with a bunch of fruits and burgers for later. But we now feel not only stuffed but also guilty for steeling food from the cruise ship. Until we observe with horror how they deal with the leftover food after everyone is done eating. The trash: half-eaten burgers and whatever the three thousand people had in their plates and didn’t eat, goes in garbage bags and is being burned on the island. And the leftovers from the buffet: food left uneaten: perfectly good burgers, chicken, ribs, salads, side dishes, cut fruit, desserts, is being dumped in huge 20 gallon red buckets with lids, to be brought back on the ship and thrown overboard when they pull away from the anchorage. Because, they say, they cannot serve lunch food for supper, nor can they give it to the local staff on the island, about 40 permanent Bahamian workers. Company policy.

It is a great waste, if you ask me, so much good food dumped in the sea for the sharks to feast on, while people everywhere are starving or paying a dollar for an apple. And there are so many more issues besides wasting food that are wrong with those cruise ships corporate giants… Pollution, tax evasion, exploitation of workers from third-world countries, etc…

At least we felt better; not as if we are steeling food, but rather saving it from the dumpster.

 

Maya and Viktor (Ivo behind them) with burgers.

Maya and Viktor (Ivo behind them) with burgers.

The ship leaves in the early afternoon, and the island is only ours now; not a single soul on the beach, silence restored. We swim, we go for a walk exploring the interior, the fields and pastures where a few dozen horses, some goats, and a donkey named Ted are being kept.

Baby goat

Baby goat

 

We visit the little camp where the 40 permanent island workers employed by Holland-America live in trailers, away from the tourist facilities, and they invite us to the community kitchen for supper. It’s wonderful: local Bahamian food: fish in tomato sauce, rice and beans, freshly baked cookies. They have a community cook who prepares food for everyone. These are the workers who clean the beach after the cruise ship is gone, who maintain the private beach-cabanas painting and cleaning them, who guide the horseback-riding and swimming-with-stingrays tours. I ask them what they think of the wasting of food from the buffet and they too don’t understand it but don’t want to say much, as they don’t want to jeopardize their employment. How about pigs, I suggest. You could raise pigs for free with so much leftovers. But the pigs will stink and the tourists will not like it, they say sadly. Even the goats and the horses we keep all the way on the other side of the island. No, the leftovers go to the sharks. Company policy.

The following night Ivo cannot sleep.

The memory of the buffet and the uncertainty of tomorrow keep him wide awake. Will a cruise ship come again? Will it bring us food? He spends the night sitting on deck, awaiting with anxiety the arrival of a big white ship.

Sure enough, the next morning, another cruise ship drops the hook in our anchorage and the buffet scene repeats. Every day a cruise ship arrives and every day we join the tourists for lunch. And in the afternoon we enjoy the silence; and in the evening we make a small fire on the sand to heat up some leftover burgers.

Vick and Maya building a small fire.

Vick and Maya building a small fire.

 

Mira heating up buffet-grilled-chicken and cruise-boat-buns.

Mira heating up buffet-grilled-chicken and cruise-boat-buns.

 

Maya by the fire.

Maya by the fire.

 

Thus, a week passes.

We now feel like this is our private island and when Brian and Joyce finally arrive, we welcome them and show them around. It is such a joy to meet old friends away from home, in such a beautiful setting!

Mira, Joyce and Brian in the pirate Ship Bar.

Mira, Joyce and Brian in the pirate Ship Bar.

 

Their ship, Carnival Fantasy, is the one with the craziest crowd. Mostly young people, everyone drunk, dancing in the sea. (Holland-America ships are like floating senior’s homes, less people, quiet well-behaved crowd.)

Drunk cruiseship people dancing Macarena in the sea.

Drunk cruiseship people dancing Macarena in the sea.

 

When Brian and Joyce leave that day, we are sad. We have no more reason to stay here… But a series of fortunate events cause us to stay one more memorable week.

To be continued…

Share

People of The Bahamas

“The islanders, as naked as their mothers bore them, are very simple and honest, and exceedingly liberal with all they have; none of them refusing anything he may possess when he is asked for it … they exhibit great love towards all others in preference to themselves; they also give objects of great value for trifles, and content themselves with little or nothing in return… With 50 men you could subject everyone and make them do what you wished…”

– October 14, 1492, Christopher Columbus

.

Columbus Taking Possession of The Bahamas

Lucayan Indians and Columbus

 

In 1492, on his way to India, Columbus “discovered” the “New World” making landfall on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, home of the Lucayan indigenous people. Barely 25 years after first contact with European Man, all these ‘very simple and honest’ islanders who had been living there peacefully for many centuries fishing in the shallow waters surrounding their tiny pieces of scattered land, were completely extinct, wiped out from the face of the earth, forever.

The genocide of the Bahamian native population had been achieved through imported European diseases, starvation, and mass abduction into slavery, for soon after the discovery, Columbus and his successor realized with disappointment that there was no gold and riches to be found on the islands; no resources of any value to the Spanish Crown, except people: working force for the mines and plantations further southwest in Cuba and The Americas: slaves, who didn’t last long.

Eleutheran Adventurers

 

.

.

After the Spanish conquistadores, the Bahamas became a wasteland, abandoned, unpeopled, unclaimed, until 1649, when English Puritans known as “Eleutheran Adventurers” arrived in search of religious freedom and settled on the island today known as Eleuthera. By the end of the 17th century there were over a thousand settlers struggling to survive in a land made of sand and limestone, where agriculture was impossible.

Fortunately, many Spanish Galleons and other heavily laden cargo ships passing regularly through the deeper channels near islands and reefs on their way between the New and the Old World often ended up wrecked on the rocks, providing the peaceful god-fearing settlers with rich booty. Wrecking became the main local industry and soon pirates joined in. The age of piracy began.

Age of Piracy

 

.

.

The well-traveled shipping routes around the island of New Providence made Nassau, an ungoverned lawless commercial port, pirates’ paradise lined with brothels and taverns for ‘common cheats, thieves and lewd persons’, where one could bump into famous pirates like Henry Morgan, Jack Calico, Blackbeard, and the terrifying Amazons Anne Boney and Mary Read. Their motto was Take what you can, give nothing back.

The looting of ships got so out of hand, that the King of England appointed a Royal Governor to Nassau whose job was to restore order. The Bahamas’ new motto was Expulsis Piratis – Restituta Commercia (Pirates Expelled – Commerce Restored). The age of piracy ended.

In the course of the 18th century the Bahamas have been attacked, invaded and claimed twice by the Continental American army and once by the Spanish, but finally, thanks to the Treaty of Versailles, it remained a British colony until July 10, 1973 when the Bahamas officially became the Independent Commonwealth of the Bahamas, ending 325 years of peaceful British rule.

Slavery Period

 

.

.

Following the American Revolution, Loyalists: rich slave and landowners unhappy with the idea of a new United States, began migrating to the Bahamas bringing all their possessions and slaves to start a new life and new plantations under the British flag. But many got ruined as agriculture on the sandy islands proved to be impossible, and so they left setting their slaves (of which they had no more use) free even before the British Empire abolished the slave trade in 1807. By 1838 slavery was ended and the Royal Navy added to the Bahamian population of newly-freed slaves the human cargo they had captured in slave ships. By early 1830s the black population, more than 10,000, outnumbered the white and permanent settlements of freed slaves were established on 17 islands.

Today’s Bahamians

Today, the population of the Bahamas, about 400,000, is 90% black descendants of West Africans whose ancestors settled on the islands during the slavery period. Apart from the heavily populated capital Nassau, there are few large settlements of a few thousand people and numerous small ones of less than 100 people scattered on the many islands and cays.

Tourism is their main source of income and most Bahamians are employed in the tourist industry. For this reason, people everywhere are extremely welcoming to visitors, making the Bahamas truly paradise for the tourist and cruiser.

Each small settlement has its own vibe and we love visiting them and meeting the locals.

Black Point Settlement

 

.

.

Black Point is a small settlement of two hundred people on Great Guana Cay in Exumas with a big and wide anchorage very popular with boaters even though there is no marina, no fuel or water available for cruising boats, but a laundry. People come here with huge bags full of dirty cloths and spend a day at the public coin-laundry.

.

.

We spend a week there not once using the laundry, as we do our washing by hand to save on coins. But we use the free Wi-Fi streaming from the local bar. And we explore the island and meet the locals.

.

.

Walking on the main street, on our way to the small grocery store to buy ice cream, we pass by a lamp pole that looks strangely familiar. It is actually a tall two-spreader mast, yeah, why not?

We see people, women and men, sitting in front of houses under the shade of trees weaving palm leaves into long stripes of different widths. The entire village weaving. They sell the rolls by the foot in Nassau, on the straw market, to be made into handbags sold to tourists.

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

Agnes shows me how it’s done. It’s really easy, man, and you find the palm leaves everywhere on the islands, no need to invest.

.

.

We will be making some handbags, Maya and me. Will show you a photo when it is ready. Should look something like this:

.

.

We also stumble upon the most unexpected outdoor art gallery. The artist is 70-year-old Willy, whose grandparents, parents and children were born on this same piece of land. The art gallery is located in his front yard which everyone refers to as “The Garden of Eden” and the artworks are environmental sculptures and installations of unaltered driftwood and dead mangroves found on the island.

The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden

Each sculpture represents an animal or a person. There are two lobsters, a flamingo, a lioness, one male and one female iguana, an Indian head, a giraffe, a ballet dancer, and many many other fantastical creatures trapped in wood. Admission to the Garden of Eden is free of charge and a tour by Willy himself is included; donations are welcomed.

Willy and Maya in The Garden of Eden

Willy and Maya in The Garden of Eden

Share