Junkanoo, Beach Church and Hikes

What is a “Junkanoo” you might ask? It’s a big wow of a parade in the Bahamas featuring music, dance, floats, and elaborate costumes. The custom may have started when descendants of slaves celebrated holidays around Christmas time. Traditionally they are scheduled December 26 (Boxing day) or January 1. This year it was on a beautiful full moonlight night and it seemed like all 7000 inhabitants on the island of Great Exuma were there celebrating. This wasn’t the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but for me it was just about as exciting!

The goat skin handmade drums, cowbells and whistles accompanied brass instruments creating music so infectious is was impossible not to dance with them. Along with the eye-popping colors of the elaborate floats and costumes it was a joyous and exciting experience. Rather than one long parade it was presented in sections going back and forth on the short parade route six times. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t begin until 10 p.m. and we only saw the first 2 passes, returning to the boat at midnight. There was still a lot of reveling after we left! Of course there was traditional Bahamian food for sale and we were brave, or stupid, and tried the barracuda. Larger barracuda can have ciguatera which is a toxin that comes from eating smaller reef fish. We didn’t care for the bones but it did taste pretty good. We passed on the chicken feet souse but couldn’t miss out on the guava duff for dessert, both traditional Bahamian dishes.  

One doesn’t need pipe organs, robed choirs or extra large screens for church. Some benches and a big tree for the kids do just fine. Church is nestled between the sand volleyball area and the blue water where we pet the sting rays. We can’t wear the usual “church clothes” such as dress pants or dresses because we arrive via dinghy and have to climb in and out of the dinghy then wade through shallow water when anchoring We love attending church here with our sandy feet!

There are many hiking trails here on Stocking Island and my goal is to traverse each one of them. One is called the “Art Walk” where boaters contribute their art and around the corner from this trail is a gorgeous sand bar that appears at low tide. Some of you already know that my favorite time of day is low tide. Pictures just don’t do justice to this area at the south end of Stocking Island.

We are loving the rhythm of life in Elizabeth Harbour. There’s always an opportunity to meet other boaters, in fact, there are currently 194 boats in the harbor with numbers expected to be over 350 in late February for the Cruising Regatta. I’ve taken advantage of using my limited french speaking skills with anyone I meet from Quebec…I sorely need the practice. We now understand why some boaters happily spend their entire winter here.

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