This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

November 17th, 2003

We'll Be Back

Leaving Mangrove Cay Leaving South Andros Island, Bahamas is tough. It should get easier, but it doesn't. Don't jump to conclusions, I really don't want to live there. But it is like the 'one more cast' phenomenon - just one more day to fish!

We did not get as many fishing days this trip as we planned. Chalk that up to the wonderful world of air travel. Seems the weather was a bit suspect when we flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Nasseau, so Continental Airlines decided to remove one of our two bags and load a little extra fuel. The bag weighed 32 pounds. I don't know how much fuel that allows, but the bag wasn't on board.

Castwell preparing for brain transplant

When we discovered this it left me running between Continental lost baggage in Nasseau and Western Air (the next flight to Mangrove Cay) to make arrangement for the bag to be sent on when it showed up later (on the next flight they promised.) Knowing the missing bag had ALL of our clothing, and the necessities like razor, toothbrushes, clean undies, real shoes (not the dress stuff we wore on the plane) I made a run to one of the little shops in the airport and found a shirt for each of us, the smallest they had was a large and extra large. As it turned out we lived in them for the next few days. I won't go into the whole war between Continental and Western Air, but it seems they don't have any 'baggage agreement' and finally put our bag on a plane for the full cost of a passenger, $50. We lost 2 days fishing because we weren't willing to fish in short-sleeved shirts and jeans without any sun screen. Of course all the BullFrog was in the missing bag as well. We would have been fried.

Lady and Brendan One of the smart things I did do was to pack all of our various meds in my purse, that way we do have what we might need. You might make a note of that for your carry-on as well.

Uncle Don (Cianca) and his wife, Mary Ann, were already at the Nasseau airport when we arrived, and we also ran into Al Caucci and his wife, Betty, who were waiting for a flight to North Andros and Small Hope Resort.

My too big shirt and FAOL Banner

We did spend the 'lost baggage' days just loafing around and taking lots of photos. Brendan Foulkes, the General Manager of Emerald Palms asked us to help with photos for their new brochure and new website.

Note numbers on deck

When we finally got our missing bag, we fished two days with a guide we had not used before, Jason Duncombe. The boat was one he 'borrowed' from Stanley "Jolly Boy" - and you will note in the photos the boat has numbers painted on the deck to help the angler figure out where the guide is telling him to cast. Good idea, especially for the first-timer.

Jason Duncombe

Jason is a native of South Andros, and while he moved away to go to school to be trained as a navigator, he came home. It seems pretty common for the young folks to want to move to the city, but at least on South Andros it also seems most come back home. Jason said he couldn't get use to so many people. He is a fine guide, with a nice sense of humor - very accommodating. We certainly recommend him. You can reach him through the Emerald Palms resort's General Manager, Brendan Foulkes.

The days we were not able to fish, Uncle Don and Mary Ann did. Rats. They did catch fish, and Uncle Don will have a story with more photos for you soon. He made arrangements to fish with Herman Bain, whom he had fished with on several other occasions. The photo on the front/main page this week is an example of Uncle Don's sense of humor. (If you aren't aware, Uncle Don has done several cartoons for us in the Lighterside section. Look for Cianca Cartoons).

Our cottage

Brendan had a surprise for all of us. Instead of the 'clubhouse' rooms we had reserved, he put us in the new cottages. Uncle Don and Mary Ann were next door, so we each had an opportunity to 'test drive' the brand new accommodations. We were the first people to occupy them. What fun!

Looking out our door The cottages are large, (ours was a two-bedroom) with a full width veranda. There is teak furniture on the verandas, including table and chairs. An overhead outdoor fan provides a breeze if nature doesn't. Nature was kind on this trip, although it is a shock to see a good sea out one's front door and realize the harbor and bite you are going to fish is calm.

Jacuzzi in cottage

The attention to comfort and detail in the cottage was remarkable. Each has its own Jacuzzi. We did a soaky one evening, and it was lovely. There is also a very workable small kitchen with refrigerator, two-burner stove, convection/microwave and sink. Even a coffee pot and electric tea kettle. (A little basket of teas included.)

Cottage kitchen

Unusual fixture

I do have to mention something I found interesting. All the water fixtures were unusual - perhaps they are something you've seen, but we haven't before. I suspect they are from Denmark since the owners and the general contractor are Danish - but when you turn the water in the sinks on, it falls into a channel around the fixture and that mixes and falls into the sink like a little waterfall. Very neat!

Chef Simeon As promised, Emerald Palms has a first-class chef on staff. We met Simeon even before our first dinner (porterhouse steak with all the trimmings.) The food was terrific, including local favorites, crisp salads and decadent desserts. Chef Simeon makes his own excellent breads and even dressings. (He makes the best lemon-butter sauce for lobster ever.) We were spoiled!

Guide Gary Francis in the wind We also fished with Gary Francis again, we had fished with him in February and were glad to have him as a guide again. One of the cool things that happened was we followed (well chased) a school of nice bonefish. The water was very shallow, so Gary hopped out of the boat and pushed us around instead of poling the boat. Sort of puts a new image on 'wading the flats.' You can also reach Gary through Brendan Foulkes.

I did catch fish!

We did catch fish, the largest we released was 6 or 7 pounds - but the interesting thing was seeing so many very big fish. We're talking 14 pounds and up. Unfortunately we didn't catch any, but JC has a story to tell on his "almost" big fish. I'll let him tell that one.

Curly Tail Lizard

There are always neat critters to see on South Andros. The little curly tail lizards are fun to watch, there are snowy Egrets, lots of blue and green Herons, and one we had not seen before a white-faced Ibis. The Ibis was not the stealthy hunter of Heron repute - it was a clumsy, comical clown. We had a good laugh. Our guide Jason also spotted some families of Dolphins. We got to within 3 or 4 feet of mommas with babies. What a sight!

Look close, mamma and baby

Oceanside Jacuzzi We had a severe wind day where no-one fished. Unusual for this time of year, but we read, had lunch in the dining room instead of on a boat or some small piece of land. Even did a little beach walking. Would rather had been fishing, but we all made the best of it. The Jacuzzi got a good workout, we all hit it nearly every day.

The Casting Pond

I almost forgot the other nice addition at the lodge - a casting pond! A place for anglers to practice or to hold a school is complete except for the outside deck. We gave it a trial, and it is just dandy. There are even a few turtles to feed.

Amazingly, neither of us were sunburned this time. BullFrog did its job admirably. There was enough wind this trip that it became my habit when coming inside to go into the bathroom and wash my glasses.

After dinner our last night at the lodge, Eutamae Brown-King, one of the waitresses, said she had something for us to take home with us. It turned out to be a huge frozen lobster. It took some doing to get it into our jam-packed bag the next morning, but it did go home with us. It was also eaten the next night.

Giant lobster

Free Ferry

The trip back was also a disaster - I'll tell you about that another time. But by the time we go again the newly remodeled airport with it's new runways on South Andros will be done, and having to take a plane to Mangrove Cay and a ferry to South Andros will be a thing of the past. The crew doing the airport runways is scheduled to do the roads at Emerald Palms next, and that will almost complete the re-do at the lodge.

Every time we go to the Bahamas I am impressed with the people. The staff at Emerald Palms is very friendly, courteous, and most of all, happy. The 'happy' rubs off. It is absolutely infectious. When I was beside myself about the bag problem, Brendan put an arm around my shoulder and said, "Now I'll take care of this, okay?" I understand the fix was his conversation with the president of Western Air. He really tried to take the pressure and stress off me. It was very much appreciated.

Our sincere thanks to the whole staff at Emerald Palms - we love you all.

We'll be back! ~ The LadyFisher

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