Sunday, April 23, 2017

Some Good News - The Long Version

Bahamas Fast Ferry

Brenda decided we should go back to Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau for a follow-up visit on her broken arm. She had some pain and swelling which were concerning her. Since the forecast was for 4-5 foot seas and Wrinkles was safely tucked in a mooring field where Don and Gail could keep an eye on her we decided to book passage on the Bahamas Fast Ferry. We had an appointment at PMH for Wednesday, so we boarded the Tuesday ferry after Don and Gail dropped us off on shore. While we were waiting Gail struck up a conversation with one of Spanish Wells' nonagenarians (90 years old). He filled us in on agriculture in the Bahamas, local fishing practices and the growth of Spanish Wells all the while inserting jokes and smiling. He meets the ferry every day and offers a free ride to anyone who needs it. He reminded us very much of Ernie.

Captain Bird

The ferry goes about 25 mph and is big enough to handle larger waves. The seating is comfortable and they even serve reasonably priced snacks, pop, coffee and tea. It sure was a strange sensation to see the water flying by after sailing at 5-6 knots for so long. The ferry takes you right into downtown Nassau, but it docks on Potter's Cay between Nassau and Paradise Island. This means a bit of a hike if you are too cheap to get a taxi. We weren't impressed with the awful stench of rotting fish, food and garbage that was everywhere on the working dock.

After a hike that took us from the smelly docks, across the bridge to Nassau and through a dilapidated business district we crossed an invisible line on the sidewalk that marks the upscale touristy section of town that all the cruise ship passengers see. Amazing, from boarded up buildings to policemen in their beautiful white uniforms, fancy store fronts, restaurants and throngs of burnt underdressed tourists, the contrast was drastic.

After reading some reviews online Mike had earmarked The Bearded Clam bar as the place for lunch. It was described as hard to find and less touristy than the majority of the "Cruiseville" restaurants. We weren't disappointed. Uncrowded and simple with good food and cheap drinks. Perfect.

Our motel was just a couple of blocks away and Brenda was fading fast, so we made our way there. The Towne Motel is an older boutique type spot with reasonable rates. Our room wasn't ready yet, ("Soon mon, soon.") so we ordered a couple of drinks from the bar and sat outside on the porch to wait. Over an hour after normal check-in time Mike went back to the desk to see what was up. The clerk simply said, "I'll call and see." Soon mon, soon.

Pretty soon mon!

We finally got a room and we both crashed for a nap. After showering we went downstairs to the cute lobby bar/restaurant for a light supper. We met a younger British couple and had fun chatting with them over a cold beverage. The older gentleman behind the bar was a sweetheart, but it was saddening to watch him struggle with his short term memory. He would write down what people had to eat or drink and then come back one minute later to ask us what we had ordered. He delivered a beer to our table that none of the four of us had ordered. We were the only people in the bar at the time. When the four of us asked for our bills we watched as the bartender used White-Out to correct and modify our bills over a period of 20 minutes. He would amble over with one of the bills and ask us if we had this or that to drink and then go back to use the White-Out again. The British couple gave up after half an hour and went to the front desk to pay their tab. We hung in there until our bill was resolved. It was heartbreaking to experience.

Towne Motel lobby

Towne Motel

Wednesday morning we got up before 6 a.m. to get in line early at PMH. If you don't get there really early (even if you have an appointment) you could spend the entire day waiting to see a doctor. The hotel clerk was emphatic that we not walk in the dark to the hospital. Nassau at night is not a friendly place. We got a cab and arrived at PMH at 6:20 a.m. which put us 15th in line for the Orthopedic section. The first guy in line had arrived at 5:30 a.m. Since we had been here a couple of times before, we knew some of the drill. Show up early, ask who was there just before you and then line up in that order when the nurse comes in around 8 a.m.

We made it through the registration line and now had our little card that simply says "15" on it. Do not lose that card! Next you walk to another waiting area where you join another large group of patients who are also waiting to register and pay their fees. A local (volunteer?) asks for everyone's attention and introduces us as guests to their island. After a round of applause she asks the crowd, "What do we call a visitor Mike's size here?" "Big Daddy." OK, now we are getting embarrassed.

Getting everyone into some kind of order became quite an ordeal. The Orthopedic patients had numbers, but the other patients just knew who they followed in. After a lot of shuffling and moving from two and sometimes three lines an agreement was made on the order. They still tried to get Brenda to move to the shorter line under the "Over 65" sign even though she told them she was only 60. It didn't seem right to get preferential treatment.

So by now most everyone had been standing with broken arms and legs for nearly two hours. No wheel chairs in sight. There are some plastic chairs, but not nearly enough for everyone, which are either bent forward or missing the seat completely. We made it to the front of the line and paid our first fee. It is kind of a la carte billing. Pay so much to register ($32), go back and pay if you need x-rays ($40) go back and pay if you get a cast (not sure, the accounting is rather vague)....

So now we are herded back to the original waiting room where our magic number 15 comes back into play. Some time after 9 a.m. the nurses begin calling the first 10 - 20 numbers forward and then move you to (drum roll please) yet another waiting area. This time there are enough broken chairs for everyone to have a seat. You might need to brace yourself with your one good leg to keep from sliding forward off the bent seat, but after standing in line it seems wonderful.

The doctors are scheduled to show up at 9 a.m., but apparently they often show up much later. You settle into your seat and begin to wait again. At 9:45 the doctor shows up and they start bringing people into the Casting Room. We are called in at 10:30 a.m. where we join 4 other patients getting casts put on or being removed. The technician removes Brenda's cast and the doctor decides we need new x-rays. Guess what? Yup, back to another waiting room for Brenda while Mike goes back to stand in line to pay the a la carte fees.

One hour later Brenda gets called in for her x-rays and after just one hour more they give the pictures to us so we can return to the Casting Room. The doctor sees Brenda walking into the waiting area and takes the x-rays with him into the Casting Room while we take a seat. They call Brenda into the Casting Room after waiting only 15 - 20 minutes. Oh boy, we are flying now. The doctor reviews the x-rays with us and pronounces Brenda's arm healed. A new cast won't be necessary, just a removable brace and then physical therapy.

Wrist Brace Only!

Since we won't be staying in the area for physical therapy sessions, we are told (drum roll again please) to take a seat in the waiting room. Eventually we are called into the Physical Therapist's office where Brenda's wrist is bent and twisted to begin getting some motion back. Brenda has very limited motion at this time and any amount of twisting means instant pain. Brenda received instructions on several exercises that will help her regain flexibility and strength. (As we write this, mobility is already increasing and the pain, which is minimal, only appears when doing the exercises.)

We stood in line one more time to check out and get our paperwork stamped before exiting the hospital. We walked to a local medical supply store to purchase a wrist brace. We are officially done now and it is only 2:30 p.m. LUNCH!

We strolled back to The Bearded Clam and had a long leisurely lunch. Afterwards we hiked around downtown Nassau checking out the old buildings including the government ones. After a nice nap we tried the Towne Motel bar for a light supper and a drink again. Same bartender with the same heartbreaking results.

Library and Museum
Government Building

The next morning we hopped on the return ferry and headed back to Spanish Wells. It was really good to get back to this friendly and clean place after experiencing Nassau. Now we can pick a weather window and continue our adventure without worrying about Brenda's injury.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Touring Eleuthera

View from Eleuthera

Along with Don and Gail (Island Tyme) we hopped onto a morning ferry from Spanish Wells for the short ride across the channel to Eleuthera. Don and Gail had arranged to rent a car for the day to explore and re-visit some places from their trip here about 10 years ago. There is a liquor store right at the ferry dock that has pretty decent prices, so a few beers were purchased for the coolers.

Ferry leaving Spanish Wells
Ferry landing with liquor store

The car arrived and what a classic. A 2008 Grand Marquis land yacht. What a huge ol' beast she was. Some of the roads in Eleuthera are skinny little paths with shrubs projecting right out to the edge which tend to put horizontal scratches on the paint. These are referred to as Eleutheran pinstripes. So we piled into the beast with Don at the wheel chanting, "Stay to the left, stay to the left," as we pulled away. It is really hard to retrain your mind to drive on the left side of the road after 40 years of driving on the right.

"Stay left, stay left."

We visited Preacher's Cave where the Eleutheran Adventurers sought shelter after being shipwrecked on the Devil's Backbone just off shore. It is peaceful yet a bit haunting to quietly wander this stone refuge. You can easily picture the Eleutheran Adventurers struggling for survival there. They had ventured out to sea to gain the freedom to practice their religion. The thought of the survivors standing in that cave listening to their sermons and gaining strength from them is heart warming.

Later we headed south on the Queen's Highway to see some more sights. The land is rugged and very sparsely populated, but the scenery is sometimes unbelievable. You get views of the dark blue Atlantic to the north/east while on the Caribbean side the calm turquoise waters are a feast for your eyes. We stopped at the Glass Window and marveled at the power and beauty of Mother Nature. The rugged landscape is the perfect backdrop for the Atlantic to display both beauty and power. The original arch of rock has fallen victim to the ocean's fury back in the 1940's, but the remaining scene is still fantastic. The big waves come rolling into the gap exploding in white clouds of water. Wow, what a thing of beauty!

Atlantic Ocean side

Our group started getting pretty hungry at this point, so we set our sights on Tippy's in Governors Harbour. Don and Gail had frequented this spot during their previous trip and were excited to be returning. Tippy's is set overlooking the Atlantic and serves some tasty and interesting meals.

We toured Governors Harbour by car seeing both the older poorer section of town and the newer upscale housing developments. The contrast within just a mile is mind boggling.

Governor's Harbour from the older side looking across to the newer side.

The big Grand Marquis turned her nose north as we started back up the Queen's Highway. We stopped at the development where Don and Gail had stayed during their previous trip and they commented that the developer's ambitious plan never went much further than when they were there earlier. In fact, the roads and facilities were in pretty poor condition. It amazes us how many times we have seen this throughout our trip so far. A resort or fancy house that was started and then abandoned well before completion. Still, it was fun to see Don and Gail reflecting on some wonderful memories of their stay in Jasmine House.

Glass Window Bar

One last stop was at the Glass Window Bar which is located on the top of a very narrow section of the island. From your bar stool you can see both the Atlantic and the Caribbean waters. We sat there with the sun warming our backs sipping cocktails and chatting about anything and everything. What a nice relaxing way to wrap up our tour of Eleuthera before turning in the rental car and getting ferried back to our boats.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Scenes from Spanish Wells

The pictures tell the whole story
Johnny Cakes - Oh Baby!
Don and Gail
Michelle, check this out for your 2018 trip.