Alas and alack, the seas that were kicked up yesterday did not lay down today, so the diving was canceled at Small Hope Bay Lodge on Andros. We were disappointed, as there are more than 100 dive sites off this island, the largest of the more than 700 Bahamian islands.
This morning at breakfast, Richard Treco, of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, told us a bit about the history of the island, including the legend of the folk myth about the creature Chickcharney, half barn owl, half leprechaun. It's a scare tactic that mothers use to keep their children from "rambling," or running off to explore the vast tracts of Andros pine forests and marshy areas of the island. Later, Dennis, our guide on our afternoon excursion to explore the island, says that it doesn't work: "We went rambling anyway."
Pictured below is a wooden version that's in Small Hope Bay Lodge's lounge, a comfortable place with oversized batik (Androsian) pillows on the furniture, a bar tucked into the corner (where guests help themselves to liquor, beer and wine as part of the Lodge's all-inclusive package), and a large, rustic fireplace. The thought of bumping into the real Chickcharney would've kept me from rambling as a kid. Richard Treco told us that the legend says if the Chickcharney looks straight at you, you'll have good luck, but if he turns his barn owl head 180˚ away from you, you'll suffer bad luck. I can't help but wonder: When the weather cancels the day's diving, we divers often blame Mother Nature or the gods. Perhaps our group bumped into a bit of Chickcharnian bad luck today.
When the afternoon one tank is officially called off, we all pile into the Lodge's well-used (read: beat-up) van, and staffers Dennis and Kate (both divemasters at the resort) take us first to the Androsia factory, where islanders make the Androsian fabrics or batiks the island is famed for. The fabric is used on everything from pot holders and bags to school uniforms, dresses and Wendy's shirts :)
At the factory, wax-coated stamps (from turtles and fish to corals and names—and hundreds and hundreds of them) are used to create the elaborate designs:
and then the fabrics are dyed in tubs:
Finally, the beautiful and colorful fabrics are sewn to make clothing and other items.
This is a really nice, low-key excursion and a nice way to support a local business.
Clouds in the Water
Next, we head to Captain Bill's Blue Hole in the Central Andros Park. Andros has scores of these blue holes pockmarking the island. Many are diveable and Small Hope Bay Lodge dive instructors often use it as a training pool. Reaching it is a bumpy drive down a packed-sand trail, but the serene retreat is worth the ride. On hot days, Katie tells us, it's a refreshing dip, but the tropical breeze keeps all but Nick from jumping in. Nick puts on a mask and jumps in like a kid from a rope swing.
We spend an hour or so sharing stories, relaxing and finishing our Cokes and Kaliks that Katie and Dennis have packed in the cooler.
We are keeping our fingers crossed for better conditions tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 8th), but for now, it's time for Happy Hour :)