Peace and Plenty Beach Inn
Queen's Highway, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas
(a mere 1758 miles south of Boston)
February 14, 2006
A flip-flop marinated in Coppertone might have tasted good in this little piece of Paradise. The brilliant aquamarine water of Elizabeth Harbor in Georgetown was frosted with dainty whitecaps in the brisk southeast breeze. The Blizzard of '06 had just blanketed the northeast and here sat your reviewer in a polo shirt and shorts amongst sailors, tourists, and a few locals having lunch in the dining room of the Club Peace and Plenty Beach Inn. Somewhere to the north, denizens of the northeast were seeing their breath crystallize as they huffed while they shoveled snow. I was busy spilling sand out of my beach shoes on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas.
Embedded in Caribbean DNA is an affinity for colors most Americans haven't seen since finger painting class in kindergarten. The peach toned walls in the dining room, ceiling fans overhead, smooth white tiles underfoot, were the opening salvo of color. Lined with windows, the dining room was perched over the royal blue and yellow striped awning of a tiny poolside bar. Emerald chaise lounges encircled a pale blue mini pool and the whole terrace was bordered with a low wall of flat peach colored rock overlooking the harbor. As if this weren't assault enough on a poor Northern boy's limited winter sensibilities, the sandy ribbons of beaches on Stocking Island lay invitingly a few miles off to the west. Lunch was almost an afterthought.
Conch burgers are a local favorite. Tiny cubes of conch in a slightly piquant batter are fried to a crusty brown and served on burger buns with lettuce tomato and onion. In truth, New England fried clams have a more distinctly oceanic flavor but - all due respect to Gloucester, Manchester, Portland, and Provincetown - aren't served with a view like this. Bahamian fish and chips stood up to New England's version. Chunks of grouper, golden fried in a delicate simple batter, were moist and flaky. The chicken wings weren't appealing to look at but pronounced tasty by my dinner companions, even though the kitchen had run out of the spicy sauce that reputedly fired them up considerably. Virtually all foodstuffs arrive by boat. The savvy tourist quickly adapts to two quirks of life in the Bahamas: island time and "we ran out of that."
The range of the Bahama's water color makes you wonder what planet you're on. The word paradise often comes to mind. There are certainly vistas in my native New England that inspire awe but none of them can match the sight of Caribbean beaches in mid-February.
pt at large spent five idyllic days relaxing with good friends on a small island east of Georgetown, with only two trips into town to reconnoiter and get a feel for the culture, history, and the native and adopted residents of the island. I’m already looking ahead to next February when I hope to be invited back to visit my friends on Elizabeth Island, a ten-minute boat ride from Georgetown, and one light year away from a New England winter.