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—Continued from previous page The only thing that can throw a wrench into the salt operations is rainfall, which will dilute the salt ponds and delay salt production. The salt crystals produced are huge and we were allowed to take some with us. These crystals are washed and ground to produce the

on the southwest of the island, also known as Fawke’s Beach. As you drive along the west coast, you will see some abandoned buildings including a church, where there was once a small settlement. You can also visit Conch Shell Point, on the southeast of the island. A glance around the beach and you

The prices are also very affordable — where else can you get ice cream or a portion of fries for a US dollar? We also feasted on conch fritters, chowder, salad and cracked conch, thanks to Dulcia. As I mentioned earlier, you have to call ahead to most stores before you visit and the same goes for souvenir shops. Dulcia came through again and directed me to Theresa Lewis who sells some of the most beautiful and affordable handmade souvenir items, for instance, plants and animals carved on conch shells. This is done after the animal has been harvested for food, so there is no wastage and no destruction of these animals solely for craft. Theresa is also a primary school teacher so this is a part time job for her. She is known by everyone — just ask for “Resie” as she is also called. Although we celebrated New Year’s Eve on the island we did not attend any wild parties. This is because traditionally on Old Year’s Night people attend church from ten to midnight and afterwards one goes for eats and drinks at the church hall — which can go on until four o’clock in the morning. When people think of the Bahamas they usually think of Nassau or the Abacos. To me, Great Inagua is an undiscovered gem. Take the time to get here and you will experience the best of both worlds: being a wide-eyed tourist and living like a local. Great Inagua is definitely an island I would like to visit again. Jo-Anne N. Sewlal BSc., MPhil., is studying for her doctoral degree at the Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies.

Things to Know

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will realize how it got its name as conch shells are littered about the sand. The surrounding vegetation is classified as dwarf forest, where species of trees usually attaining a height of 15 feet or more are here only a little over five feet tall. After all that touring, hiking and relaxing, one needs to eat. We enjoyed the Inagua Island restaurant. Like most other businesses, it is located within walking distance of the Main House. It opens from around 11:00AM and closes at around 9:00PM and also serves as a mini cyber café. As soon as you walk in, the friendly owners, Merlin and Ron, greet you. Merlin’s grandmother is from Great Inagua and was a principal of a nearby school and Ron is from the US. After living in Atlanta, Georgia for 40 years they decided to settle here on retiring. Their menu not only has local dishes, but some American dishes as well, such as nachos.

CARIBBEAN COMPASS

table salt we are familiar with. It takes approximately two months to harvest salt for export after the process has started as saltwater pumped into the ponds. Mr. Ingraham also took us to the eastern part of the island around Lake Windsor and to the border of the Inagua National Park where we saw flamingos, the national bird of the Bahamas. You might want to park and walk along the road to get closer to look at or photograph them, as the sound of engines scares them away. They visit the ponds near the road early in the morning and retreat to the farther ponds as the day progresses and the roads get more traffic. Besides flamingos, you can see herons, egrets, cormorants and parrots. Of course, a trip to the Bahamas would not be complete without a trip to the beach, and the closest beach is just a five-minute walk from the centre of Matthew Town. Another great place you can visit is Devil’s Point

JULY 2011

Since the island is flat, it’s an easy hike to the lighthouse

• Matthew Town is an official port of entry. • Anchorages on Great Inagua include the waters just off Matthew Town, Lantern Head Harbour, and Man-O-War Bay at Northwest Point. Fuel and water are available at the Government dock in town. The private pier at Morton Salt can be utilized by prior arrangement. • The Bahamas dollar is equivalent to the United States dollar; you can pay for purchases in either the local or US currency. • The tap water is desalinated and is safe for drinking. In the past, residents constructed underground tanks called cisterns. These were built on the property as a separate structure with its own roof, so that they look like very short houses. • There is no public transportation on the island but one can rent a vehicle or hire a tour guide to take you around the island. I would recommend taking a guide to go anywhere past the outskirts of Matthew Town as the roads leading out of the capital form a confusing network. (Following them as hiking trails should also be done with caution.) • If you want to go diving or snorkeling, ask for Perry Fawkes, Stephen’s brother. • You can read The Bahamas Boating and Fishing Guide at http://issuu.com/aircurrentsmagazine/ docs/bm.fishingguide2010?viewMode=magazine

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