Empty Harbor = Better Connecting

This guy comes by most days and poses for pictures before diving down

This guy comes by most days and poses for pictures before diving down

When George Town is in full swing around the end of February, roughly 300 boats crowd the sizeable harbor. Right now, with no official count mentioned yet on the Net, we’re eye-balling it around 70 -80. Everything you need to do is easy now, from finding space at the dinghy dock, to shopping and buying diesel or gas at the Shell Station in Lake Victoria. Or, just doing the George Town shuffle.

With a few very windy days approaching, we wanted to hit the market Thursday before the ride in became sloppy and salty. I hit the produce section first and as I round the end of the aisle, I see none other than our friend Cort, formerly of Celise/Spirit, presently local villa resident and new owner of property on Stocking Island. We knew all this ahead of course, but finding him 30 mins after arrival was pure delight. We have a history of not keeping in touch yet paths crossing on a regular basis ever since meeting in Boot Key Harbor, FL in 2011. Cort’s wife Carolyn flies in Dec 22 and in the meantime he had another couple as house guests for the first week here.

Our first couple of days were spent cleaning, decorating, wrapping gifts and misc small fix-its.

Our every-purpose table in use by both of us today

Our every-purpose table in use by both of us today

We also had visits from old and new cruiser friends and Cort stopped by before his friends left so they could see our boat.

Our visitors depart- the top must come down to fit under the bridge into Lake Victoria

Our visitors depart- the top must come down to fit under the bridge into Lake Victoria

We re-connected with Mattina and just today with Helen and Joe on Déjà vu.

George Town may not be for every cruiser but it has something to offer every cruiser… well, unless you desire a nude beach or fantastic shelling. Many cruisers are here to enjoy some of the activities they did/do on land: bridge, fishing, volleyball, softball, music, artistic pursuits and hanging out with friends. If you don’t like the crowds- then don’t anchor with the packs! The harbor has numerous spots where you can be very much alone and if you don’t wish to join in any of the activities I haven’t seen anyone keel-hauled because of that yet!

One person we connected with was Lermon Rolle. Now who might he be you wonder? If I said “Doc” Lermon… bartender at Peace and Plenty would that help? 🙂  After a long beach walk in the morning, we headed to town to check out the holiday crafts being sold by Yuma Exuma women’s group on the waterside patio at Peace and Plenty. One woman had ornaments made from shells, that not only gave me lots of ideas, but she had one predominately purple that I bought for our tree. As we near the final table, laid out so you end up near the bar, we look toward the bar because at this point I’m wondering if this is our man. Sure enough he calls out a greeting and I walk over asking, “Do you know Ida?” Big smile tells us the answer as he motions us around to look up and there, tacked up along the beam, is a photo of Ida. We relate our story and he runs off. Returns with a beautiful resort brochure that contains his picture- so I ask him to sign it for me as a souvenir and proof we did meet him!

The "Doc", Lermon Rolle stars in the P&P brochure

The “Doc”, Lermon Rolle stars in the P&P brochure

How could we not order a couple of rum punches and sit a spell?  Only one other person was at the bar so we had him all to ourselves. We’re guessing mid-sixties, mostly because “Doc” has worked at Peace and Plenty for forty years! Lives up island, no car and still gets to work looking spiffy and happy to be there. He and others like him prove that not all locals spend their days hanging out.

For long-distance connecting we were thrilled to discover a new wi-fi service in the harbor provided by Bahamas WiMAX, the antenna set next to the Monument. We signed up for a week, figuring once the harbor sucked in more boats, the wi-fi would chug at turtle crawl.

We changed our minds about our phones after burning through 240mb of data on the reduced AT&T plan we switch to while in the Bahamas. Another approach, which we’d considered last year, would be to buy an unlocked smart phone and purchase a BTC SIM card for it. The cautious voice on our shoulder said, “Oh, but what if you get to the Bahamas and the phone doesn’t work with the SIM card?  Because you can’t test it until you get there.” Sigh. Determined not to continue funding AT&T’s corporate pension plan by paying $120/mon for only 800mb, we reconsidered the BTC thing because they were offering 1GB for $20/mon. Ah the things you learn in the barbershop.

But how to unlock my iPhone? Sit back, relax with a beverage (by the fire for many of you, hee,hee) and read on. Ok, I know the holidays are upon us, so I’ll be brief. Call AT&T and if your phone qualifies, as in an older iPhone (mine is an iPhone 3), they perform some magic to unlock it. Then you need to use your laptop to do a backup, restore it to factory settings, use iTunes to update the device for the unlock, restore your stuff back to the phone… and voila you get a message that your phone is unlocked and ready for foreign matter. Next, go to your local BTC office which in our case is right in town, all newly renovated and painted in rainbow colors- air-conditioned too- very comfy. So now, stand in line at the cashier counter to purchase the SIM card, data card and $5 of local phone talk minutes- ca-ching- $50 please. “Do you accept Discover?” I’ve never seen that one”, says the clerk, but as we reach for cash instead, the ever-watchful supervisor (a security guard stands by the front door) takes the card, swipes it and hands us the receipt to sign. Perfect- conserve cash and no foreign fees charged by Discover (unlike MC and Visa).

At this point most people would leave, but the clerk said something about the chip needing to be trimmed to fit so we headed over to customer service. Are you asleep by the fire yet? Maybe a second drink? Good move on our part-see, we have learned. The chip fit perfectly and the phone minutes loaded ok, but the data card, the one for $30 for 2GB (we asked for 1GB but bait and switch she gave us a 2GB card) would not load. She goes into the back and then we hear, “none of those cards were energized.”  Oops. No problem for us but others who left the store will have to come back, with their receipt and prove the card didn’t load. More checking and testing, then we get the Ok we are good to go. Halleluiah! What we have acquired is a Bahamas phone number and enough data to text, get emails, weather and such on the phone and the ability to tether to the laptop when our week of wi-fi ends. One month from now we have to spend another $20 or $30 for more data as whatever amount you get expires after one month. Yessir, better and cheaper in the Bahamas. This time.

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