Fantasy Island

Most people take vacations to get away from it all, to learn something, or to grow in some way. The best vacation combines all three.

As I write this, I sit looking at the pristine white beach and turquoise waters of the Bahamian Island of Great Exuma in the last hours of the year 2000. As I recall the past 12 months, I realize that I am so wrapped up in the minutia of raising two babies that not much happened to me in the past year. I purposely didn't make any resolutions because I knew I wouldn't be able to keep them. It takes so much energy just to keep the children alive and happy that I rarely stop to take a breath, much less enjoy myself, learn anything new or break any bad habits.

For a couple of years I have had a revolving list of "things to do before I get too old to do them." Number one on this list - sea kayaking. I imagined myself, alone on the vast sea, gliding over the waves, muscles rippling, perhaps a playful dolphin trails me for a while as I paddle along, half woman, half boat. Hopefully this is how it will go down the next time I try sea kayaking because when I went last Thursday the reality was much more painful.

A perfect spot for my maiden trip, the remote Exumas are a well-known destination for kayak enthusiasts because the waters are so calm and clear (all the guide books will tell you, "gin-clear") and since most islands are accessible only by boat, one can explore without the distraction of millions of tourists. As we left the beach, our guide, Ben gave only one instruction, "head for that island." On a very clear day "that island" was barely visible but I thought, "ok, I can do this"; I put my head down and began paddling for all I was worth. And it was hard. Really hard. I kept at it doggedly until I realized my arms were aching and I was so wrapped up in getting to the island that I hadn't even noticed that I was sitting in the middle of the most beautiful scene I have ever beheld. From my vantage point in the middle of the ocean I could see the harbor and the pink and aqua buildings of George Town. I could see the wide white beaches and rocky cliffs of Stocking Island and miles of warm water that surrounded me in shades of aqua, turquoise and sapphire.

It was one of those moments life hands us to teach a lesson, I guess. I find myself constantly racing to accomplish tasks without ever enjoying the process. This is a problem I have wanted to change for a long time but it took this kayak trip to make me realize that all I have to do is look up.

So I did.

Exuma is also famous for having the nicest citizens in the world. All this niceness is contagious, so the few visitors are great too. In the past week, I feel as though I have met 400 of the 800 George Town residents. Mikey, the butcher from the Exuma Market, tried to teach my brother and I how to dance island style. Jim, a cameraman from Montreal, showed me how to use my video camera. A young couple regaled us with drunken exploits of their penniless voyage from Delaware to George Town. I wouldn't have met any of them if I were grinding along without noticing anything around me. On the island, our phone has been out for 6 days, the electricity went down for most of Christmas day, and the water smells like sulfur. When I got here, these things looked like hurdles to get over, but now they have taken on their proper levels of importance and are merely inconveniences that don't affect anything about enjoying life.

Not too many lots or houses are available on Exuma but if anything does come on the market for sale or rent, realtor Wendy Rowe will know about it.

"Charsubon" stands on the rocky shore of Hoopers Bay, several miles outside George Town. The three story wood house was built by a boat aficionado who furnished the house to look like the interior of a fabulously appointed yacht. Lucite handrails, low-slung laminate dressers and chests, and a ship-shape entertainment center make this the perfect place for 007 to meet the villain, who is, of course, dressed in a white captain's cap. I liked the boat-worthy furniture (maybe all part of my "take it as it comes" attitude,) but as Wendy pointed out, the house itself with its large decks, great room, and marble floors is a well-built, neutral house perfect for a large family to kick back and enjoy years of great vacations. With or without the boat furnishings.


Hoopers Bay, Exuma, Bahamas

$750,000 fully furnished

6 bedrooms

6 and a half baths

One acre on 125 feet ocean frontage

Contact Wendy Rowe 242 345 0074 or sales@hgchristie.com

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.