Some were up bright and early the next morning. Others were neither up early nor brightly. There was a strong correlation with how much Tequila was consumed by each the previous night.
A hot sun rose over the eastern side of the ocean. In the direction of the sun there was no more land until one hit the African coast. ( Only the little island of San Salvador lies to the east of Great Exuma.) Lizards scurried around in the underbrush gathering the dew off of plants. It is their only source of fresh water on the island. Dragging the tails they left long tracks in the sand with opposing claw marks. It looked like a giant zipper.
In the pink light of early morning, the succulents guarded the moisture they had absorbed from the nightly heavy dews. Their fleshy leaves and waxy surfaces protected them from drying out in the windy harsh sun that would beat on them for more than half the day. Sea grapes with their varicose veins of purple plasma sat stiffly in the still air. Our perfect camp was framed by the leaves of a palmetto palm.
Back there at camp, the white sands reflected the pink glow of the early morning sunrise. All was quiet and beautiful in this early morning world. Waves from two different directions ran up on the shallow spit, joined briefly in a tumultuous greeting then reflected back the way they had come. We too were headed back this day the way we had come. Our way back lay in front of us and we could see where that journey home would begin.
The kayak, with its nose over the berm of last nights high tide looked eager to load and go on back even if we were not. We dragged along slowly in camp. Was it from a hang over or reluctance to leave? Several of us paddled out to the ocean side to play once more in the rocks and spray. I paddled out another mile in the flat conditions until the bottom finally dropped away. At over 40 meters, even the brilliant white sand was no longer visible in the clear water. The sea had turned a deep cobalt blue. Now the great openness of the ocean could be felt. Ahead of my bow was nearly 4000 miles of open ocean. The immensity of it was easy to feel looking out over the unmarred horizon. I stopped and took it in for a while before turning my bow back to the familiar and safe coastline of the Exumas Islands.
We paddled back the mile and a half to the concrete ramp where we had struggle to launch our laden boats just nine days ago. Tanned and slightly bruised, we returned a happy group satisfied with our adventure.
We packed our gear into our kayaks for the last time. With our food almost gone, it should have been easy to pack the boats. But our wet and poorly folded clothes took up some of the space freed by a now empty food and water bags. For the last time we pulled out of camp. My shadow on the bottom made me promise that I would come back soon to this lovely part of the world.
J.D. arrived in the bus about thirty minutes after our scheduled pick up time. All the gear was already emptied from the boats. Lined up and awaiting storage, the equipment and boats were rinsed off in big tubs of water then soap and bleach. All the gear was put back into the sheds and the boats were loaded back onto the racks. We loaded our gear into the bus. J.D. had brought our luggage with the bus and we packed most of our gear into it trying to keep the wet stuff away from the dry stuff.
Soon all was ready and we loaded into the bus for the forty five minute ride back to Georgetown.
And town was hopping. This weekend was the music Heritage Festival, located right across the street from our hotel. The little one way street (yes that is singular) in Georgetown was loaded with cars from all over the island. We hauled our gear into our rooms and took turns having a first glorious shower after more than a week of camping. With a fresh scent and some fresh cloths we headed over to Eddie's Edgewater cafe. Most of us ordered the fried chicken as it was the least like the dinners we had been eating for the last week. As before the food was excellent. One of the other tables sat a party from Nova Scotia. They were familiar with Prince Edward Island culture and soon there was this bizarre stream of consciousness singing of Stomping Tom Conners with Bud the Spud and other jingles - apparently the big thing in the Maritimes.
Back at the guest house the jamming over at the festival was just getting started. We went down and listened from the street for a few minutes but soon concluded that we could hear it almost as well in our rooms. Unfortunately we continued to hear it until some time after 2:00 A.M.
They next morning we were up and about and hung out until 1:00 P.M. when we caught a taxi to the airport and started the long grind home. I arrived back at my house at 2:30 A.M. the next morning, tired, happy to be back after a great trip.