Monday, February 27, 2012

Fire at the Blue Hole in North Abaco

Yesterday we went up with some friends to Treasure Cay and spent some time locating the Blue Hole near there.  At first we couldn't find it, but after asking some very helpful locals for assistance, we finally figured it out.  As we drove up the road toward it, we could see a forest fire raging in the background in the  general area where the wild horses live.  But since we were on a wide and safe road, we forged ahead.

This Blue Hole we were looking for is 3.6 miles north of the Treasure Cay road and to the left for 2.5 miles. 

The blaze was apparent in some places.  The smell of smoke was everywhere. 

We parked on a two-lane dirt track that we thought was the road to the Blue Hole and the guys walked ahead to see if they could find it.  We followed after they shouted for us to come.  We  walked down the road past the burning grasses along the side. 

An old truck drove up and a woman stepped out. She is Milanne Rehor, a person who has dedicated her life to protecting the wild horses on the island.  She is worried that the horses will be badly affected by all this fire as they are losing their grazing areas.  We chatted with her for awhile, then she got back into her truck and left.

We stood there, listening to the crackling of small fires, amazed with the strangeness and beauty of the setting.

Milanne Rehor

It is fun to read about Blue Holes in the Abacos and there is a lot to learn about them.

They tell us that the top of the water in a blue hole is fresh water and deeper down is oceanic saltwater.  There is a  layer in-between that really doesn't support much life.  The story of the blue holes is fascinating.

But when you really get to a Blue Hole,  it feels eerie to peer down into one. It is deep and possibly treacherous.  It feels as though if I were to fall in that I might sink and  never be seen again.

There are people who swim at this site and find it a wonderful experience.  Next time I will wear my swim suit and give it a try, but think that I will do it with a life jacket on just to appease my instincts.  If you look closely at this photo you can see the rope tied to the tree where people swing to jump into the water hole.  They tell me that the water is refreshing.

We did not exactly jump in, but one of us did check out the temperature of the water.


I took photos of the hole from different angles. It is an amazing site.

See how deep it is?

If you ever have the chance to go find a Blue Hole, please do.  It is well worth the effort.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kayaking Tour in the Abacos

Ricky Johnson, of Abaco Nature Tours took us out for a kayak ride just five miles from High Banks.  It was a delightful tour.

He is very knowledgeable about the plants and birds and points them out as he goes along.  We learned a great deal about our local natural habitat from him, as well as stories about how Bahamians use plants for nutritional and medicinal purposes. He also advised us on a great herbal drink to give to kids who say they are too ill to go to Sunday school.  One look at the drink and they are well again.  He is informative and friendly and really kept us interested in where we are and what we are seeing around us.

A half day tour with Ricky gave me a perspective that I did not have before on the plants and birds that comprise the many micro-environments that  surround us.

Ricky picked us up at 8am and drove us just a short distance from where we live.  He headed up the road toward Marsh Harbour, made a hard left into the woods and we bumped along on a two-tracker until we reached the western side of the island, filled with shallow lakes and canals, and marls that lead to the ocean.  The tide was on its way down, so when we touched our kayaks into the water and headed out, we had an extra push from the tide taking us out.  I figured I had better rest up, because coming back was going to take some heavy paddling.

We headed across the lake toward the marls.  Then Ricky signaled for us to go right into the marls with our kayaks, into tunnels of roots that made a really beautiful canal.  We could see small fishes around us everywhere.

The water was rough and pushy on one side of the marls, and beautifully peaceful on the other.

Ricky grabbed a red mangrove root and we all joined him and sat there and chatted about where we were and what we were seeing.  We rested up, knowing that we had to push to get back.

Then we turned around and headed back to the shore to head home, through the tunnels and out into the open, wind-pushed tide-driven lake.  

He held our interest by pointing out the birds and plants of interest on the way back.

In all, we probably traveled ten miles, of which one or two of them were in the ocean water.  Yet in this short half -day trip we discovered a great guide and a very interesting tour of our area, listening and learning, and paddling.  Great fun.  I really recommend it.