Man-O-War and a Lesson in Perspective

Man-O-War Cay is a unique place.  It’s different from the islands around it.  It was settled by loyalist over two centuries ago.  They were skilled boat makers, carpenters, and fisherman and they have always led a completely self-sufficient lifestyle.  It’s also hard to talk about Man-O-War (MOW) without acknowledging that their close-knit community has left the family trees a bit narrow and tangled.  It doesn’t take but a few minutes of walking around to notice it either.  Keith and I strolled around for a while and peeked in a few of the shops.  It’s amazing how long Keith’s attention span for cutesy tea-towels and sea-shell shaped soap dishes is when they are placed in air conditioning:) But as we wondered, we kept noting to each other how reserved the people here felt.  We are used to being greeted enthusiastically by every single person we pass by here in the Bahamas.  Our greetings were barely reciprocated. Odd.  We took Kai for a long walk in the “housey” part of the island.  Every home, even those that were obviously vacation homes, had tall walls and thick hedges around.  Many were so walled up that they had blocked their own ocean views. Odd little place.  Beautiful but peculiar, we didn’t quite get it.

We moved along to Hopetown ready for a more welcoming atmosphere.  (If you haven’t read the previous post, he rest may make more sense if you do so now) Two days later we retreated to MOW not only seeking out clearer, less sharky water, but also with a greater appreciation and understanding of this little settlement.  It is amazing what a little change in perspective makes!  

We again wondered around, this time noting and enjoying how well this little island has buffered themselves from the “Florida invasion” happening on either side of it. The coolness we interpreted the first time was replaced with an understanding and respect.  The Harbour is filled with beautiful old boats and the main businesses here are the famously handcrafted boats by the Albury Brothers and the sought-after bags and sails from the The Albury Sail Loft.  They are proud of the things they build here.  Keith stopped in and peeked at one of the Albury boats being laminated up, a familiar environment for him.  Mmm, the smell of polyester resin.  We also wandered around the hardware store (it had air conditioning too), it was obvious these people build and fix things, it had a lot of everything in it, the owner was proud of it and told us to take our time browsing. They have two boat yards here and Keith spent some time checking out the rail system of how it all works.  When we took Kai for his same walk instead of noticing the walls, we noticed how smartly the homes were built for this island.  They have big shady porches and easy-open windows with working shutters. I doubt that very many had air conditioning, they wouldn’t need it.  All the roofs were guttered for rain-catching.  The lawns were not grass, but raked sand and natural, unirrigated landscaping. (Yes, I know there is a proper word for “unirrigated” but I can’t think of it now and I have no “Google”, so bear with me)  It’s still an odd little place, still peculiar, but this time we got it.  And liked it. 🙂 I guess we got a lesson in perspective.

It was the perfect little spot to turn a year older as well.  Fresh grouper, a plate of crack conch, a crisp salad and brownies for dessert all while sitting together in the cockpit looking at a beautiful Abaco sea view.  Perfect. We haven’t been out here two months, yet I feel two years younger already.

^^we liked it here so much that we think this little shack at the end of the harbour could make a perfect little retirement home 🙂 

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