Green Turtle and Great Guana Cays

I left off Valentine’s Day morning with my last post.  That afternoon the girls baked brownies and then cut them out in heart shapes, frosted them and decorated with red sprinkles. They also made Valentines for the boaters we met in West End that traveled to Green Turtle with us.  They had so much fun delivering the Valentines.  And such a sweet surprise, later that afternoon KellieRae from Ocean Dancer brought them a Valentine with chocolates for all of us in it and the next day Carol from Freedom brought them a Valentine with bracelets in it.  We’ve met such wonderful people on this journey!

Wednesday and Thursday brought some INSANE winds through Green Turtle Cay.  Wednesday after school we tried to go into town on the dinghy.  We made it halfway up the channel and turned back.  I took the girls to the beach and pool instead.

After an hour and a half of the intense wind blowing off the water I insisted we head back to the pool on the other side of the bluff and out of the wind.  Thursday was much of the same only the wind came from the opposite direction.  So, we rented a golf cart instead and headed into town.

We had lunch at the Wrecking Tree.  Amazing cracked conch!  Then we walked around town a bit and then stopped for a drink at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, home of the Goombay Smash (rum punch).  The girls left one of our boat cards on the wall!

Friday morning the winds were gone and the day was beautiful.  We headed out along with quite a few other boats.  We stopped at No Name Cay to visit the pigs!

What an incredible experience.  I kept my distance but it was very cool.  We brought them food and played on the beach a bit.  The water felt great, and was so clear that the girls had fun watching all the fish darting around where we were standing.  Everyone but me took the opportunity to pet a pig.  We just started a unit on Habitats and Animals so this fit right in!  The girls are keeping notes on the various plants and animals we study.

After about an hour playing at No Name we took the dinghy back to the boat and finished the trip to Great Guana Cay. This required us to go through Whale Cay cut – a passage out from the Sea of Abaco into the Atlantic.  The Sea of Abaco shoals in with sand here and boats have to go out and around Whale Cay and then back in.  The actual cut is only about 2 miles long but it can be an experience.  The water only swells side to side because of the narrow opening between two islands so even if the water on either end of the cut is calm it can be a mess in there. Thankfully we scooted on through with some slightly uncomfortable swells and nothing worse.  We pulled into Great Guana Cay and enjoyed another beautiful afternoon.  Right when we pulled in we met another family who is from Telluride and currently traveling on their sailboat.  They have a 6 year old girl and 10 year old boy and a sweet dog.  They were spending the day with friends who also have kids but are not on a boat but doing an extended stay here right now. We walked into town here, stopped in a couple of little shops and the local grocery store and walked down to Grabbers, a local restaurant and bar on the beach.  We had a drink while the girls played in the sand and in the hammocks.

This morning I took a long walk and determined that we saw most of what there was to see in Great Guana yesterday!  But the other famous place here is a bar and restaurant called Nippers.  It is on a bluff facing the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. We put our suits on and grabbed the beach bag and headed that way for lunch.  The ocean and beach on that side of the island were amazingly beautiful.  And the turquoise water crashing over the rocks was pretty spectacular.  The girls spent ages climbing the dunes and running down them.

We had lunch and they played in the pool a bit and then headed back to the beach.

They also wanted to stop at Grabbers again to play in the hammocks so we did that as well.  When we got back to the marina a ton of boats had arrived.  It was practically empty here yesterday and today it’s almost full.  We went to say hello to some boaters that we have been traveling with that came here today.  We also went to introduce ourselves to two other families that we met over the radio pulling out of Green Turtle yesterday.  They are from Maine and take their kids out of school for two months in the winter.  They keep their boat in Florida, home school and travel for two months and then head back north.  One family has 6 and 9 year old girls as well and the other has a 7 year old girl and 10 year old boy. They were traveling with a third boat that had grandparents (the boat owners) and their son, daughter in law and granddaughter (also 7ish I think) on board with them.  We’ve found that in the Bahamas there are kids everywhere. We have noted that they are ALL on sailboats, not motor like us, but it’s refreshing to see so many families. We didn’t encounter too many kids on boats in the US so it’s been fun to see so many here.  Random side note on the marina – we spotted a nurse shark swimming around under the boats and Ben and Molly saw an Eagle ray tonight as well.

People ask me and ask the girls all the time about school.  What did you learn today?  What program are you using?  What are you teaching?  And on and on.  I’ve met teachers who I’ve had great conversations with.  I’ve met a TON of people who home schooled their own kids and are great to talk to as well.  And now I’m meeting a lot of other parents that are home schooling.

We’re still trucking along with Engage NY for math for both and continuing to work on reading daily with Maddy.  Molly and I read novels together and we’ve started including Maddy in that.  She loves to listen and both girls can certainly answer questions about what we read at their own levels.

We do Science together.  We just finished a Solids, Liquids and Gases unit that both enjoyed.  And this week we started looking at Habitats and Animals. Not surprisingly the girls chose to study the Ocean habitat first.  The learning opportunities are endless.  A friend sent me a YouTube link about some island guy named Gary the Explorer that we will possibly get to meet in Hopetown.  I clicked on it the other day as a little brain break for them and low and behold he makes a ton of videos about ecosystems in the Bahamas!  We ended up watching a 15 minute video all about the sea grass here.  The girls (and I!) learned that the sea grass is why the water here is so CLEAR.  It acts as a filter and pulls everything out of the water, leaving the crystal clear waters.

Wednesday while playing on the beach they found a rope swing.  We just finished reading Bridge to Terabithia and the girls spent a half hour swinging on the rope pretending they were swinging across the gully over to Terabithia.  They took turns pretending to be the different characters in the book and played until I told them it was time to move along.

Yesterday we stopped and saw the wild pigs.  What an opportunity for my city kids.  It goes on and on.  So, oceans for now. And when we head up the east coast we’ll get back into the Civil War and social studies.  I am trying to let where we are and what we are doing guide what we study for school.  And just so it doesn’t sound like I’m painting a life is rosy and perfect picture, I’ll let everyone know that in 5 1/2 months Madelyn has not gotten any less stubborn.  She still fights me on writing every single day.   And she has ups and downs on school in general.  Thursday she was impossible. Friday she came into it deciding to just do her work and we flew through it.  She loves how good it feels when we have a good day and yet at times we can’t reason with her when she’s choosing to be impossible!  It’s an adventure.  One I’m thrilled to be on.

Tomorrow we think we will head 10 miles to Treasure Cay.  We’ll decide in the morning.  Maybe we’ll stay here another day.  Treasure Cay has 3.5 miles of one of the top beaches in the world.  And a friend told us about some river that has turtles that we’ll try to find.  Stay tuned!

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