Great Inagua, Great People

We arrived at Great Inagua, Bahamas late morning and anchored just north of Matthew Town. We’d been forewarned that this anchorage was rolly – boy was it! But visiting Inagua was well worth the rockin’ and rollin’ because the people we met really made us feel at home. Brian and I took a walk through Matthew Town to get our bearings after a mid-day brunch on the boat. Every person we encountered was friendly, talkative, helpful, and just as curious about us as we were about them. This was not a touristy town and we were thrilled to get to know Bahamians. We paused for several sidewalk chats, during one of which we were directed down the street to sample some delicious lemonade. We spent the rest of our afternoon with three sisters; Bo, Debbie, and Shea and their cousin Kayla. The family’s roots lie at Inagua but the sisters now live in the US and visit Inagua annually. The sisters have a lemonade and grill stand open in the afternoons for take-out orders. This is sort of a start-up business in preparation for a restaurant that Shea is building. We had a lovely afternoon in the lemonade stand getting to know the gals and meeting some of their extended family and neighbors. We also used the shelter of their tent to hide out from a series of rain storms. We felt very welcomed! Bo invited us to celebrate her birthday the following afternoon…and that is just what we did.

Brian made a home made birthday cake for Bo and the next afternoon we revisited the lemonade stand. As the day progressed more and more family, friends, and neighbors joined the fun. We met Bernie, and the sisters’ parents, and their cousins Jeff, Darcy, and Stafford. We hailed Serendipity on the handheld VHF and invited Matt and Jess to join the party. We ate, drank, sang, danced, and were thoroughly entertained listening to stories about life at Inagua. Shea took us for at tour of her restaurant site. It’s going to be beautiful!

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Brian and I could have spent days, or even weeks with this amazing family. But we were still on the move and had a great weather window to sail to Jamaica. So, unfortunately without saying goodbyes, we got underway. I do hope to be in touch with the gals and I certainly plan to revisit Inagua and enjoy a meal in Shea’s restaurant.

Great Inagua National Park

The highlight of Great Inagua is the National Park, which spans 287 square miles on the island. You can see the outline of the park on the chart view of Great Inagua Island. The park is known for its birdwatching; in particular the park is home to the world’s largest colony of 50,000 West Indian flamingos.
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We were fortunate that park ranger, Henry, was willing to give us a driving tour of the park on his Saturday morning. We met him at 8am and set out bouncing along down the park roads in search of flamingos. Henry turned up the radio for us to hear a shout-out from DJ, George. We’d met George the previous night and he shared a wealth of history with us about Inagua. From 106.1 we heard George wish us a good time seeing the birds on our “Bahamian safari…” with his “good friend and classmate, Henry…” Thanks George! Wish we could still tune-in.
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We weren’t disappointed. There were flamingos in every direction…but they were skittish!
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The farther into the park we drove, the more flamingos we saw. It was neat to see them in their natural environment.
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We also saw tri-color herons and egrets.
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We saw black necked stilts.

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And of course more flamingos. They really do obtain their beautiful pink feathers from their diet of red algae.

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Henry pointed out some juvenile flamingos, you can see they have more white feathers and their pink hues are in various stages.

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Henry pointed out spoonbills when he spotted them flying overhead.

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Thanks, Henry! We enjoyed the park!

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