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The Cultured Traveler, by Ruth Fitzpatrick
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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:Jul 29th 2004, 01:11:42 pm
Fig Tree News Teamhttp://www.theculturedtraveler.com/Archives/AUG2004/Harbour_Island.htm

Harbour Island, Bahamas
Return to the Sublime

By Ruth L. Fitzpatrick, Worldscape

Dunmore Town on Harbour Island is a historic 300-year old village with casual attitudes and cosmopolitan flavor. Known as the Nantucket of the Caribbean, with its white picket fences, narrow lanes, and colored cottages, complete with quaint shops and restaurants, it is a magnet for international photographers, models and painters. Harbour Island itself boasts three miles of astonishingly pink sand beaches, offshore coral reef and some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean.

This past January we flew to Nassau and spent the night at a hotel near downtown. We’re always amused and amazed by the Nassau taxi drivers’ opinions and world views – refreshing and enlightening. After a good dinner and a peaceful night’s sleep, we rose early to catch the 8 a.m. hovercraft to Harbour Island. Punctual, smooth and convenient – no long waits in airports, no crowding in small planes, just a quiet, beautiful ride past lovely sights, with a brief stop at Spanish Wells.

We were met at the dock by an agent of the golf cart company, and off we sped in our rented cart, exhilarated to be back in the place we call home for three weeks each year. It’s always the same – it’s always as if we’d never left. The year in the urban world we left behind shrinks to a few weeks, and the magnitude of life on this small island takes over once again. We’re greeted warmly by shopkeepers and the many friends we’ve made over the years. Reggie (“Reggie’s Taxi – No Problem!”) gives me a hearty handshake and a warm hug. The owner of Arthur’s Bakery/Internet Café’ resumes the philosophical discussion we started last year. The French manager of one of the island’s charming resorts strikes up an animated conversation about the chef’s latest “oeuvre” – and we’re back in gear.

We walk quietly on the three-mile pink beach, marveling at the peace, the beauty and the simplicity of life in this charming place. We walk the little streets, looking in the familiar shop windows, caressing the beautiful Androsia batik fabric; its colors have remained in our mind and heart for the past year. A new wrinkle: e-mail grocery ordering! We are able to order a week’s supply of groceries from one of the local markets. When we reach our rental apartment, we are immensely pleased to discover that the groceries have already arrived, and that the owner has neatly arranged them on the shelves and in the fridge. Everything here seems to fit together so effortlessly.

A 14-day idyll

We spent two weeks in a lovely apartment near the south end of the beach, prior to the arrival of our painting workshop group. We had plenty of time to scope out ideal sites for painting and to organize our group dinners at local restaurant. We were able to sample menus and work out arrangements for good prices for our group.

During the third week, the workshop week, we moved into a house in the village, just down the road from the group’s hotel base. At the end of the painting day, the group assembled at our house for drinks and a critique of the day’s work. On two of the seven evenings, we had the pleasure of preparing a festive meal for the group, and all seemed satisfied! We were very fortunate in that the house had an excellent housekeeper who was happy to assist with the dinner preparation and cleanup.

On our last night, we hosted an exhibit of the group’s paintings – what a wonderful collection of talent! We invited friends, local business owners, hoteliers and people we met on the street. The exhibit was a real happening and a grand culminating event for a week well spent. We ended the week with a gala dinner and immediately began planning for next year’s stay in Harbour Island.

Our trip ended as it began, with another smooth ride on the hovercraft. Back to Nassau for a last night of warmth and color, then a flight back to the USA with a portfolio of paintings and memories to see us through the coming year.

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