Wells. Because there is a lot of sweet water on this islet, which is part of but actually not quite connected by land, to Eleuthera. The Spaniards who explored these islands in the late 16th century and then enslaved and murdered the Lucayan inhabitants, dug a lot of wells here, apparently. They do not linger, neither the Lucayans or the Spanish. One would like to think that the natives left their spirits. But one does not believe us such stuff, any more than any other mythological nonsense, like the virgin birth. But the locals do. They are very religious here, very Christian. I don’t hold it against them.
I have to confess that I like it better and better. Well, it is rather nice. Quaint? Not quite. Not quite funky, either, but something along those lines. A working community. Fisherfolk, mostly. They sing here, more than on other islands. I feel as though we are a bit closer to the ‘real’ Bahamas here, as here no one is particularly wealthy. It is kind of like Pittsburgh in the Bahamas without the fabulous restaurants. A strong working class ethic prevails here. And they are very welcoming and friendly, once they get over their shyness.
For example, today we walked into a hardware store and set out empty propane container outside the door, out of politeness. No one wants you coming into their shop wielding an aluminum bat. A blue-eyed man in his late fifties, by my estimation, wearing a blue and white colored shirt and shorts, welcomed us warmly as we entered. We smiled at him and proceeded to the diving gear section. As we were looking over the flippers and masks, the proprietor approached us and asked, “Are you looking to buy cooking oil?” I was confused at first, since we don’t call it cooking oil, but propane. He didn’t notice my hesitation, or perhaps Ryan answered for us both, “Yes.” “Well, there is a young man standing outside and he is leaving RIGHT NOW and offering to take you to the shop where you can get cooking oil.” Right. We stopped looking at the diving gear and went outside, where the blue-eyed man greeted us. Being slow, it took me yet another minute to realize that HE was the “young man.” He drove us up to the shop, which was a garage, and urged the owner to fill it up immediately. It cost a bit more than we had to pay in Hopetown, but not a lot more, perhaps because our “young man” was looking on. That same good friend to us took us back to our dinghy and wished us a good day.
He wasn’t in his fifties, by the way. He declared himself to be 66!! He had spent most of his life fishing as a part owner of a local boat, which we passed on our way to and from the garage. He now keeps himself fit and busy by taking care of a few properties on the cay. I note this because he, like many of the older men here, looks pretty healthy and younger than his years, while the younger folk tend to look older than they are. They run to fat and why? Because they do not walk. They go everywhere in golf carts. It is a problem, in my view, on the islands. Why do people who have less than half a mile to walk for everything they need go by gasoline, when feet or a bicycle would do?
I am reading Agatha Christie, by the way. And loving it. Feeling rather like Captain Hastings in my slow-witted, overly emotional responses to things, too.
Spanish Wells was settled in the late 18th, early 19th century. Here’s a photograph of concrete oven still standing on the island:
We’re so glad to be able to walk around on land. We’ve been living aboard for the last two weeks. We haven’t spent more than 10 minutes ashore since we left Hopetown, just after Christmas. When you live on a boat, you learn what it means to stretch your legs!
I am feeling a bit better, by the way. Have decided that the illness and stomach aches have to do with lack of sleep, anemia, and lactose intolerance. Have cut out all milk products and started to take iron pills and general vitamins. Below are a few photos of Sophia anchored just off Russell Island, near the mouth of the entrance to Spanish Wells harbor.