Monday, December 18, 2006

Hope Town, The Abacos 12/18

On Wednesday we finally got out of Marsh Harbour and headed south along the islands which border the east side of the Sea of Abaco. We anchored on the east shore of Tilloo Cay, a lonely spot near a small reef which we snorkeled on Wednesday and Thursday, the best reef so far.
On Thursday, we sailed to Hope Town, another of the villages which was founded originally by New England Loyalists who fled the American Revolution.
Friday night we enjoyed a special treat as Hope Town performed their Christmas play in the local Methodist church. The cast ranged in age from about three years to 40 or so. The very small kids played the angels and the sheep and they got the most applause. (I’m unsure about the racial overtones, but two of the sheep were little black boys who wore whiteface makeup to better match their wooly costumes.)
Sunday Communion service in Hope Town was held under a tree in a small park next to the harbor, simple and beautiful. The Advent wreath was imitation pine boughs, with some sparkly tinsel wrapped around it and suspended from a branch of the tree. The candles stayed lit but they burned fast in the gentle breeze. I could hear mockingbirds and ringed-neck turtle doves around. We sang acappella. There were a handful of well-dressed little children who quickly climbed the tree when they arrived.
Eventually, their mom scolded them and they came down. I
didn't see the parents since we were in the front row of wooden benches which were our pews.
Right after mass, Annie, Sam and Mary Ann changed into swimsuits in the public restroom and hit the beach. After about an hour Mary Ann wanted to climb the steps and sit on a wooden bench at the top of the beach since she was tired of sitting in the sand.
When she reached the top of the steps, a little tyke passed her politely saying, "Excuse me." Here came a few more kids and eventually the mom and dad. After exchanging hellos Mary Ann looked at the mom and said, "I know you!" She looked a bit puzzled, then stuck out her hand and said, "I'm Lori. This is my husband Chuck." It was Lori Hawes, from Toledo, St. Joes!
Mary Ann and Lori spent the next half hour gabbing with each other and exchanging all sorts of info. We had seen the Hawes children in the tree before mass.
Talk about a SMALL WORLD!
Later, Mary Ann and I joined an elderly man on that bench above the beach. He was in his late 70’s and frail looking, but has lived a very accomplished life; he is in fact a famous craftsman. Winer Malone is descended from one of the original British Loyalists and is the last in a line of wooden boat builders. Winer has spent the past 50 years of his life building wooden boats by hand (no power tools, no blueprints). His best-known design is he Abaco dingy, a classic twelve-foot, dinghy usually propelled by a long sculling oar over the transom or a sail; these dinghies were used for fishing, travel, courtship . . . But Winer has built his last dinghy; his children and grandchildren have moved to Florida (where the living is easier), and he can’t afford to see his grandchildren often. He isn’t happy about the changes in the Abacos, but he enjoys the fresh breeze off the Atlantic and the fabulous colors here (which cameras can’t quite capture). The 45-minutes we spent conversing with him was a great privilege.