This was far from the warmest vacation destination, but that sort of made it even more enjoyable. The days warmed to a comfortable mid 70's and the nights would cool to the high 50's. This sort of allowed a little time to unwind from the heat and enjoy a change of pace.
Most of the days went something like this:
- Get up around 8:00 local time to get breakfast. After breakfast we would always go for a walk one direction down the beach - there was approximately 3.5 miles of Fortuna Beach you could stroll down - and we hit all of it multiple times.
- Next we would return and lay in the sun for half of an hour or so - that was about all our skin could take at a time before burning. And one day the sun seemed more intense, and the SPF 40 acted more as a basting sauce than protection.
- Generally I would swim out into the ocean for a bit until the cool water chilled me, and I would be force to exit and shiver in the breeze for a while. The wind would blow around 10 - 15 mph all day and night.
- A few days following the saltwater dip, we would relax a while at the pool which was a little more protected and allowed the salty residue to wash off before lunch.
- After Lunch - I will talk about food later on -our schedule would vary. Some days we would return to the room and relax/nap. Some days we would do a little exploring on the resort grounds. And other days we would lube up with the lotion and hit the beach for some of the most intense sun of the day. But after I discovered the trapeze I would hang out there...no not to perform. Nobody wanted to see that on vacation. Anyways, they did have open use - with the performers there - and guest could try there skill at flying through the air. Later they would include a catcher (not the technical term) and the participants would release from the bars to this catcher and then attempt to return back to their bar. I only saw one girl accomplish this. I might not have been pretty, but she did it.
- By the time the trapeze show was done, it was usually time to shower and think about dinner.
- Following dinner, Karie and I would again walk along the beach and would walk out until the sun was down enough to make it pretty dark. Even though the length of the beach wasn't lite, it was a much different feeling than most of the other Caribbean Islands we have visited. But that was apparent in the day light hours when you didn't spot security bars on all of the windows. I always figure if the locals don't feel safe...
Most of the food was blah by USA standards and was the most frequently commented item in the resorts critiques. But I am happy if I have rice and chicken, so never went hungry. The highlight of the meals became the bread pudding at dinner. I finally learned (as the trip was ending) that I shouldn't even try other deserts and would just stick to the bread pudding with rum sauce.
Directed entertainment was lacking or just plain poor. Didn't quit reach the levels of humiliation as la Republica Dominicana - as my kids are sure to remember. But we were on "our" vacation and wouldn't waste our time sitting through the show.
On our last full day, Karie and I took a taxi into Port Lucaya - in Freeport - and did the typical tourist thing. You know - harassed by all the venders "doesn't cost to just look honey" "come into my shop and look." Which looked just like the shop we were at and would look like the shop we would next visit. It pretty much went like this until we sort of accidentally walked into an art shop.
This was were we met Leo Brown. Leo is an impressionist artist and had a wonderful non-pushy way of selling his art. Leo would engage you with questions that led you towards appreciating his work even more. The art varied from colorful, but simple to oil/acrylic mixtures that just begged you to touch (of course we didn't.)
His paintings didn't hold with any one technique. They were a meld of dots, and lines, and projected textured that changed as you walked closer or farther from the painting. From afar, they drew you with there moving meanings, until you stood inches away and marveled at the individual blades of grass that reached out from the canvas.
The original canvas paintings were priced at $6000 (Bahamian trades at US dollar rate) and his lithographs were priced at $60 for one or $100 for two.
Leo loved to tell the story and meaning behind his paintings and lithographic prints. I couldn't resist his quirky charm and obvious talent. He talked about how he got started drawing, where he went to school, and his apparent love for the Bahamian people and the culture. All of his drawings where centered around the Bahama Islands - FYI 29 Islands and 661 cays (pronounced Keys.)
I hate to be an impulsive buyer, but as I Karie and I left his shop, I knew that I would return. I made sure I asked when he would be there until, and after leaving I kept a close eye on my watch.
On return, I picked out my favorite three lithographs (to be narrowed to my favorite one) and would talk myself through the process of narrowing to my favorite. Because of the close relationship the remaining prints had with each other I teetered between the two. Because I didn't have a stronger reaction to either one of the prints, I ended up choosing the one that Karie liked the most. But I really wasn't sold on this one.
As I announced the one I would buy, Leo explained that there was a $7 fee on the tube for protection, and a little voice in me almost asked "if I buy the 2 for $100, will you throw in the tube?" But no sound would come out. Karie knew had something to say, but I wouldn't.
I photographed Leo, he signed and numbered the print for me. And Karie and I took a few photos of us with him, holding the newly acquired print.
After leaving the Leo's shop I was a very proud owner of "Field of Life." But I kicked myself down the street as we walked.
We shopped a little more for Karie's special souvenir, and I couldn't stop thinking about the print I had left behind. As we finalized her shopping we sat down to talk. I didn't want to spend the additional money on more art, but I have never felt so strongly about a piece that I could afford. Well...Karie knows me, and Karie made my decision for me. We returned.
As we entered the shop for a third time, I felt confident that this was meant to be, but I had now lost the advantage and would just pay for the tube and be happy for what I got. As he found the new piece to be signed and numbered he offered the two prints for the agreed on price and would throw in the tube.
Of course I felt that in the end I was getting exactly what I wanted and I didn't have to take something from him to get the sale. I was happy with what I got and he was happy with what I gave. We had agreed on the perfect deal.
As we left Lucaya, I was reminded of Brian Fitzgerald in Ephram, WI. Brian is a potter that strays from the norm produces pottery that is so unique and special. Brian and Leo were worlds apart and actually completely different people. But they shared a commonality in friendliness.
Both of them are people that I connected with immediately, and to me this is what makes there art priceless.
As I post these chronicles of our vacation, I think this...no -I know - this will be one of the most memorable vacations I have had. From meeting the couple from Fort Wayne Indiana as we went through customs in Freeport (and would randomly run into later in the week in Lucaya) to Kenny and Mindy from Peoria Illinois at the resort and their two children.
It rates right up there with the vacation that introduced Brian Fitzgerald to us. It competes with the trip to Dominican Republic with the kids. But it becomes a difficult benchmark for future trips, to compare with.