Bahamas trip: Day 8

Another interview this morning! Mary Allen invites us to breakfast on her balcony, heaping our plates with potatoes, omelette, and buttered toast. After breakfast, my dad and Kathleen follow her inside to conduct the interview (and afterwards attend a church service), while I wander on the beach. The beach is half sand, half exceedingly sharp karst limestone. I see thousands of nerites and hundreds of little hermit crabs, some lovely (empty) conch shells, and a couple of tide pool fish.

After dropping Mary off at her job at GRC, we have lunch at the beach near North Point. Lots of hermit crab trails here.

The rest of the afternoon is spent with Bertram Forbes, the bush man who inspired my dad 2 years ago to start this project. He shows us to plants that we've heard about but haven't seen. We don't follow trails. He just knows where the plants are, and tells us to stop the van so we can plunge headlong into the thick 2-3 meter high scrub lining the road. My dad follows with video camera in hand, I photograph in detail any new plants that are pointed out, and my dad and Kathleen ask about the specific medical use of each plant. Mr. Forbes loves giving these tours, and I encourage anyone who visits San Salvador to seek him out.

Afterwards, we walk around his yard and he gives us samples of tamarind and other delicious tropical fruits. He shows us the scar on a large tree in his yard where a car crashed a month ago, and then leads us to the car itself, which is upside-down in the bush, on top of his special soursop tree. A few green leaves poke out from underneath, but he expects he'll lose the tree before the police come and haul the totaled car away.

More tromping through the bush, and we part with a pledge to try and drive him into town for some errands he needs to run.

The evening is capped off with a walk to North Point, a spur of land extending from the northeast corner of the island. It is sandstone/limestone covered in low-lying, stunted bay marigold, sea grape, and other succulent or glossy-leaved plants. Kathleen compares it to the Burren of Ireland. The rock formations are stunning. On the way back from the tip (where it is possible at low tide to wade to a small island) I scramble along the sharp rocks to reach an alcove in the cliffside. I'd stay here all night if I could.

On the walk back, the mosquitoes are bad. Overhead, a dark bird with a white patch on each wing (and possibly a white band on its tail) swoops and dives for insects. Mostly it makes little chittering noises, but twice it swoops low overhead and makes a sound like air blown over an open bottle, or a whale blowing! I think it is doing this with its feathers.


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