Tuesday, August 06, 2002
Just confirmed that my next trip will be to the Bahamas. I leave on 25th
August and return home 20th October, just in time to install my show of quilts
in the Arcadia Gallery in November. Currently I am busy all day creating new
and exciting wall hangings and quilts for the show. So far its going to be a
very blue show as I have lots of blue fabric, I think its my favourite colour.
Of course all that may change as inspiration strikes.
Most of my time in the Bahamas will be spent on Andros Island, I will be
working with at least six hotels there. This will be my first visit to this
area, so I am really looking forward to it. Is it going to be hot? Yes. Is it
hot in Toronto? YES YES
My big news is that I have decided to start a health journal on this
website. I hope you will check it out and if you have anything at all to add,
please email me at barbara@BarbaraElias.com
posted by Barbara Elias 9:08
Monday, August 26, 2002
Monday morning. Stepped off the plane to a wall of heat and it was a long,
outdoor walk, to the terminal. Got my baggage quickly and went looking for the
representative of the tourist board who is supposed to greet me. No sign of
anyone looking for me. Finally sit down on a chair outside. having been long
abandoned by the porter who, to quote "has other people with more baggage
to attend to" (read larger tip). Situate my cases with Ceso stickers
promenantly displayed and wait, in the blistering heat. Finally, half an hour
later a lady appears and asks my name. She was asked to collect me as the
person who should have collected me had something else to do. Acutally she had
been waiting there all along but the name of Ceso meant nothing to her. So
much for communication.
Arrived at Dillets Guest House, situated in a pretty garden close to the
beach. Family were having lunch so was invited to join them. Roasted chicken,
macaroni and cheese casserole, white rice, lettuace salad. Refreshing lime
juice to drink. Dessert was Iris's famous chocolate cake, which I passsed on
in favour of mango ice-cream. The family were all listening to the Minister of
Education waffle on the radio so I took a walk around the pretty gardens,
finally escaping to the air-conditioning of my room,. only to have the
electric power go off! Load sharing is part of the Island experience it seems.
Across the road from the guest house is a local church, so I was lulled to
sleep by the enthusiastic sounds of voices and band.
Woke this morning to the sounds of dogs barking and birds cooing and
chattering. This is not going to be a quite and peacful location.
The Bhamas has over 700 islands, a great many of them just sand bars with
little or no vegetation. Nassau, where I am currently staying is a busy
international port and Paradise Island the beach area. Lovely white sandy
beaches ringed with huge hotel complexes and casinos. For many people its a
one night stop-over before going on a Windjammer cruise, or visiting the out
Probably because everything has to be imported, its very expensive here,
and as they use US dollars to peg the local Bahmian Dollar, even worse for
Canadians. It used to be very popular with US tourists but now that they don't
travel so much, it is mostly people from the UK and Europe who are the
tourists here. I will not be doing very much shopping, thats for sure.
Just had my continental breakfast, tinned orange juice, hard boiled eggs,
cerials, toast and local jam and Johnny Cake (a bread made with lots of grated
coconut) and coffee. Fruite of the day - banana - where are those Mangos? A
trip to the local market may be in order today.
Now time for work and there is lots to do.
posted by Barbara Elias 10:42
Thursday, August 29, 2002
I wrote a long journal yesterday and just before I posted it, the power went
out and was off all day!
This is part of load sharing but at least they are installing newer and better
lines so things in the future...
Had an interesting experience yesterday,. Got sucked in to taking the Royal
City information session with the promise of free lunch and fity dollars.
Definately NOT timeshare! HMmm Well the free lunch was ok as there was NO
lunch where I was staying, the fifty dollars turned out to be a credit note,
cashable in the Casino. Of course - why didn't I think of that. Tramped all
through the casino to the cash-out desk, but credit note must be changed for,
yes you guessed it, quarters! and at the change desk. Of course change desk is
surrounded by one arm bandits, natch! Friends, You would have been proud of
me. I took my five rolls of quarters, went back into the hotel, sweet talked
the girl at the front desk to change them for a fifty dollar bill, and I left.
My client here is very discouraged, she has been planning a celebration for
the 25th Anniversary of the small hotels association of the Bahamas for
months. The Minster of Tourism had promised to be the key-note speaker.
Yesterday, just three weeks before the conference date, he cancelled in favour
of attending a function for the big hotels of the Bahamas. The organizer of
the Big Hotels function was well aware of the date of the Small Hotels
Association event, but did not care. No wonder the small hotel owners feel
neglected by the very people who should be representing them. Seems that in
the days of biggedr is better, the small hotels don't stand a chance which is
a shame as these are the local people, most of the big hotels are owned bty
We have had a lot and I mean a lot, of rain here and for me its been great
as it cools things down. Last night we had severe thunder storms which shut
down a party in a garage parking lot. Thank goodness as they blasted my ears
out and they were about a quarter of a mile away. Parties here tend to start
around midnight and go on until dawn.
The owner of this small property is so discounraged about tourism that I am
doiong a feasability study for her to turn it into a small conference centre.
Her daughter has aleady left the business and is working in real estate.
posted by Barbara Elias 10:41
Thursday, September 05, 2002
Had an intereting time on Sunday, my day off. Went to Atlantis Resort, on
Paradise Island. Talk about out Vegasing Vegas! It was over the top by a mile.
Huge, takes up half of the island. Big casino, lots of swimming pools,
restaurants etc and on and on. At one point I asked the way to the beach
"There are five pools here, why would you want to go to the beach"
was the answer. Went to a patio and tried to get a cup of coffee. Must go
inside and ask - of course. Service is not a big word in the Bahamas. Finally
found a waiter, only to be told, it was after breakfast and before lunch so no
coffee. Sat at a table anyway and a wonderful lady at the next table, who was
from Boston, said "There are clean mugs over there and I have a jug full
of coffee" So now I had a great mug of FREE coffee and a great
conversation with this lovely lady.
Finally found the beach, chairs are free for the use of the guests. Catch is
you have to sign your name on a list, and the carrier of the list expects a
$5.00 tip. Like Isaid, its over the top.
I did have a nice time on the beach though, sat and read a book and got a
little too red in places that were rather white before, and I don't mean my
Best news as far, I found a quilt club, wonderful ladies doing really great
work. Have been to two of their meetings and to two fabric shops. Am now
making a wall hanging - by hand - in my evenings.
I am at my second property now, a family run hotel on the ocean front, but
no beach, only rocks. Two small swimming pools - now if it would only stop
posted by Barbara Elias 3:23
Saturday, September 07, 2002
Today is Saturday and I don't work weekends, despite a ardent plea from the
hotel manager for me to work "just a couple of hours"
After a rather unsuccessful attempt to get "American Breakfast" I
went in search of a locals fabric shop using the local buses. Actually it was
not too difficult, as long as I remembered the bus numbers at the various
changes. The local buses are great, all privately owned so of varying
standards of repair, its a dollar per bus, no matter how far or how short a
trip you take.
I found the shop and it had a great selection of fabrics from the USA and
even a small selection of Northcott, which is made in Canada.
Did I buy a lot of fabric? YES. Was it the same as I could buy in Toronto?.
PROBABLY. Was it more expensive? YES. Did I buy it anyway? YES I need to sew
and am greatly inspired by the local quilters The Stepping Stones Quilting
Guild. Actually I bought half yards of fabric with butterflies, fish and
tropical landscapes to continue my theme of nature wall hangings. I have been
offered to loan of a sewing machine by a delightful lady I met with the
quilters but, to my surprise, I am enjoying sewing by hand and it goes along
quite quickly and looks very neat, thanks to the sewing hints I received from
Val Catford, a very acomplished quilting member of the Etobicoke Quilters
EVERYTHING HAS STOPPED HERE. LOTS OF SCREAMS. MUST SEE WHAT IS GOING ON. Am
in a cyber cafe, eating a crab sandwich and drinking great coffee. A young
lady, probably off a cruise ship, has seen a cockroach. I have been flicking
them off the keyboard for the last hour! Welcome to the tropics.
Now she has run out of the cafe without paying and the manager is running
down the road after her. All because of a "teenager" local name for
I enjoyed walking down-town, although it is very busy today with four
cruise ships being in port. However I am a little sick of being accosted with
"braid your hair lady", particularly as I hardly have any hair to
braid! oops, pause to divert a cockroach intent on climbing into my crab
sandwich. Now its brought the whole family. Time to moveto the pario and
finish enjoying my lunch, even though its raining, as intropical storm
posted by Barbara Elias 2:47
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Yesterday I changed hotels, yet again. My latest hotel, whos' name I will not
mention was pretty horrible so I checked out and into the Hilton for a couple
of days, which soon restored my soul.
Tomorrow I fly to the island of Andros for about 10 days, then to Cat
Island, then to Grand Bahamas, then to Eluthra, then home. My program has
changed considerably with lots of 3 day seminars on a wide range of subjects.
Such intensive seminars are quite a strain and its hard to keep "up"
all the time but I have done it a number of times before so I am sure it will
be fine. I may even get home a few days early.
I am enjoying my visits with the Stepping Stone Quilting Guild. They are
great ladies and always taking me fabric shopping.
Isn't it strange how sometimes a couple of words brings back memories deep
into our past. When I was a child, just a few short years ago (or so it
seemed) there was a craze for autograph books. Not the kind that collected the
signatures of famous people (we didn't know any, anyway) but a more modest
style, in which friends wrote verses, some inspiring, some funny and some just
plain dumb. Anyway the words "stepping stones" reminded me of a
verse in my childhood autograph book that went something like this:
Isn't it strange, that princes and kings,
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
and ordinary folks, like you and me,
are builders of eternity.
To each is given a bag of tools,
a slice of time and a book of rules,
and each must build, 'ere his time is 'ore,
a stumbling block or a stepping stone.
I hope I am building a stepping stone, how about you?
posted by Barbara Elias 7:04
Saturday, September 14, 2002
I like airports. I never get bored or annoyed if my fight is delayed. I
particularly like small local airports so it was no stress to find myself
sitting in the domestic side of Nassaur airport for three hours. I watched a
lot of women clutching very tiny babies, waiting for their flights home. Most
women go to Nassau to have their babies and any other medical treatment it
seems. Although "bush medicine" is still popular, particularly
amongst the poorer people on the out islands or family islands as they are
called. A visit to the doctor is at least $30 US and medication is scarce and
expensive. Seeing the goods being "walked in" (as opposed to being
sent by ship) reminded me of how difficult life can be, away from the
facilities and services that we take for granted in our cities.
The flight over, 12 minutes in a two engined tin box with eight seats, was
hot but it was interesting to look down at the ocean and see the coral reefs
outlined in turqoise water.
Andros is the largest of the islands of the Bahamas, and the least
explored. Actually it is three islands, not connected by bridges, and lots of
smaller islands that are attached to the main land with little bridges here
and there. The land is totally flat with lots of mangrove swamps, ideal
nurseries for the bone fish and snappers that are so plentiful around the
reef. There are some beaches but most of them are rather inacessable without a
boat. What little tourism there is concentrates on bone fishing. Seems the
bone fish is a great fighter and a challenge to the true fisherman.
I am currently working at Creekside Lodge, a small collection of elegant
cottages and a bar and restaurant perched over the waters of the inlet. The
sea is just a few yards away and the great reefs, the third best in the world
for blue holes after The Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the reefs of
Belize, are close by.
It is totally wonderful to be here after the noise and activity of Nassau.
The people are very warm and friendly and generous with their hugs - and we
all need hugs. The pace is island slow and the salt air cleans and refreshes.
This would be a wonderful place to come and write a book or recouperate after
Right now is the slow season and there are not so many guests so we eat as
one big party. Last night we had lobster salad, followed by fried conch and
home-made cake with custard. We all sat on benches running along the outside
of a square covered space that held the BBQ. The night breeze was warm and the
debate on free trade hot and heavy and dominated mostly by the women in the
party. It was a sheer delight to listen to them, watch the tide ebb and flow
and the fish jumping. The stuff dreams are made of.
Today the men in the party have gone fishing. We put in our orders, a
perfect, pink king conch shell, two lobsters, three grouper and a shark. A
hammerhead shark - ten foot long -this was from the lodge owner. I hope she
was joking. Now the pool is calling so I am off. The computer room is no place
to be on a sunny afternoon on Andros Island.
posted by Barbara Elias 3:34
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
The weekend was very laid back at the Creekside Lodge. There were however some
very interesting guests and we had some great debates. I partricularly enjoyed
Cassius Stewart who is the leader of a small opposition political party. Seems
he is currently out on bail for a major demeanor at the opening of parliament
in Nassau. Being locked into the British parliamentary system, the opening of
parliament is a very formal event, full of symbolism and ritual. One of the
most sacred being the presentation of the Mace, without which partliament
cannot open. Anyway said Cassius handcuffed himself to the Mace, thus aborting
the opening of parliament. They had to get heavy duty metal cutters to
separate Cassius and the Mace. It was all a protest against the changes on
bounderies on the island. However it does not seem to have damaged his
relationship with the current goverment as he was at the lodge with MP Ron
Pinder, of the Health Ministry Mr Pinder is rather new to government and two
very strong accountants, women from Nassau, had a great time in debate with Mr
Pinder over dinner. I can say he matched the minced lobster we had for dinner
at the end of it. The women of the Bahamas are VERY STRONG.
Now I am at the Lighthouse Yacht club in Andros presenting a three day
seminar. Life is never boring!!!
posted by Barbara Elias 4:45
Monday, September 23, 2002
Have not been ableto access the interenet for the last few days and my mailbox
was full of junk mail, so if you wrote and could not connect, PLEASE write
again. I do enjoy reading your emails - its my life-line to my real life.
I was sitting on the dock, enjoying the view of the boats and the water, a
morning coffee and the warm sun on my back, feeling totally, perfectly at one
with the world. I have always loved the water, in fact my mother used to say I
had salt water instead of blood in my veins. I can remember as a child,
probably only five or six, the joy of going fishing in the North Sea with my
father. I had a little yellow oil-skin coat and a yellow hat, a miniture
replica of the ones the lifeboat crew wore in those days. It would be cold and
wet and I would be in my glory, dangling my line over the edge of the boat
just like daddy and catching small dabbs (flat fish) and sometimes little cod
fish. Later I learned the joys of sailing, starting in a small ten foot dinghy
on the rivers and Norfolk Broads of England, graduating to 36 footers in the
Virgin Islands and Chesapeak Bay and of course to Adriana, the 36ft Triamaran
on Lake Ontario.
Talking about boats I just remembered that my great grand father was a sea
captain, in fact I still have his telescope, so mabe I do have salt water in
posted by Barbara Elias 9:59
I had a very adventurous weekend. Was taken exploring the backroads and creeks
that cover Andros Island. Actually the Island is made up of three islands,
none of which are connected by roat or bridge so today, when I go to the south
of the island I have to take a small plane. Anyway back to the adventure. Mr
Mac, who is a perfect island gentleman and a very knowledgeable tour guide,
took us in his new Kia 10 seater. We were given the history of the island,
right back to the days of rum running and Black Beard. Saw blue holes, deep
inland caverns filled with sea water which were first explored by Jack Coustau
and which are the striking colour of peacock blue. Went to "Barbies
Cafe" a totally delightful small cafe, immaculately clean and decorated
with artistic installations of
nets, large shells and starfish. The food was the very best I have had since
arriving here. Fresh homemade bread buns, conch fritters, a local treat,
platters full of fish, conch and lobster, all fresh from the ocean that day.
All in portions of such generosity that we had to take half of it home in
"doggie bags" island style, which is a paper plate covered with
tin-foil. Were introduced to many varieties of local flora a fauna, stopped to
try and catch huge land-crabs and received gifts of tiny orchids, coconut milk
right out of the nut (served in ice chilled glasses - this man thinks of
everything), and fruits right off the tree such as custard apples and
saspadilly fruits. We visited woderous guest houses rught on the water and
local fishing lodges. Truly a very special Island experience.
Saturday I had the great joy of sharing my quilting knowledge with some of
the local ladies and forming the first Andros Island quilting club. They are
very lucky as they have a great source of beautiful fabric from Androsia Batik
right on the island. I am of course bringing home as much Androsia Batik as I
can squeeze into my suitcase.
Hurricane Isadore has caused us some concern in the past few days but she
has, like many other women, taken a liking to Mexico and while I am sorry for
Cancun and the Yukatan area, am very thankful that she did not arrive here as
this could have curtailed my visit, which I am enjoying so much now that I am
in the out islands and away from Nassau.
posted by Barbara Elias 10:17
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Well sometimes you're the windscreen and sometimes you're the bug. Right now I
feel that I am definately the bug! Yesterday I went to the airport to get a
flight to South Andros, which is separated from North Andros by a large body
of water. The flight came but the pilot, for some indefinable reason, chose to
go right back to Nassau and not go to South Andros at all. So I went back to
the hotel, got up at five a.m. this morning to get the early flight out as my
seminar there starts at ten. The weather is really bad, we are getting the
backlash of hurricane Kyle and the front lask of hurricane Lili. However the
small plane finally arrived but they bumped me off as they had 16 people who
had connecting flights from Nassau (the plane only holds 16 people). So now I
am hoping that this afternoon the flight will definately go to South andros.
posted by Barbara Elias 9:25
Given the record of Bahamasair, who knows. I just discovered that hurricanes
are named at the begining of the year and as we are already up to Lili, we
only have:- Marco, Nana, Omar,Palcoma,Rene,Sally,Teddy, Vicky and Winfred to
go!!! Do you suppose we start at A again if we run out of names? Lili is
heading our way it seems, but may only be a tropical storm. The people here
live with these fears every year but for someone not used to it, it can be a
bit scary. I was in Costa Rica during hurricame Ceasar and it was no picnic.
Actually it washed out the Pan American Highway and we had to take a bus to
the highway, clamber down a steep muddy bank to a very swollen river (carrying
our own baggage) Walk across a very shaky log bridge and clamber up the muddy
bank at the other side to connect with a second bus.
posted by Barbara Elias 9:40
We are having connection problems and the last post should be read after the
posted by Barbara Elias 9:42
Back to my motto "When life gives you scrapts, make a quilt" So I am
going to check back into the hotel - yet again- and work on my Andros Island
Butterfly quilt, knowing that the universe will unfold as it should.
posted by Barbara Elias 9:44
Thursday, September 26, 2002
I finally arrived at South Andros and I am glad that I finally made it. This
part of the island is so peaceful and laid-back and the people so delightful.
We had a great meal in a tiny local cafe,- crab and rice, wonderful fresh
lobster and lots of salads- what more could you ask for. The owner/cook is a
truly great lady and a delightful hostess. We could not stay in the lodge we
were booked in to as a group of hunters arrived for pigeon shooting so would
up in three apartments over a small row of shops. We were right on the ocean
so I was lulled to sleep with the sound of waves crashing on the shore. Anyone
who has been to The Bahamas and not visited the out islands has not seen the
real Bahamas. Yesterday after the seminar we went by boat to a very remote
eco-lodge which was totally out of this world. It was everything you have ever
dreamed of when you think of an island paradise. A long stretch of deserted
white powderby beach, backed by tropical fruit trees, palms, orchids and many
other beautiful flowers. Brightly coloured birds and butterflies flittering
and twittering. Wooden cottages hidden amonst the trees and the grand cottage,
with its large dining table, sitting areas and island decor so inviting. Not
to mention the double hammocks along the beach front. It is also totally
self-sustaining with everything state-of-the-art ecco friendly. I will get the
website address and post it soon sothat you can see for yourself.
Now I am back at the Lighthouse Yachtclub and Marina and tomorrow I go to a
new resort called "Love At First Sight" I can hardly wait. Just hope
those three hurricanes that are rattling around don't land here.
posted by Barbara Elias 5:58
Sunday, October 06, 2002
As we left South Andros I saw a sign at the airport "live crabs not
allowed on the plane unless well packed". What do you suppose that is all
about. Did someone take some crabs in a shopping bag and let them loose on
this tiny 10 seater plane? If so did they nip the toes of the pilot? Hmm
interesting the things you see and hear at small airports.
Back in North Andros for the weekend, we had the second meeting of the
Andros Quilting Club, with some new members and another visit to the Androsia
factory outlet where I aquired more batik fabric, natch!
Then we went to Exhuma. What an incredible island. Everything one thinks
about when the word Paradise comes to mind. White sandy beaches, sea the most
unbelievable colour of Turqoise and almost totally unpopulated. We stayed at a
new development right on the ocean. Lovely villas just like gingerbread
houses. Acutally had time to walk on the beach in the evening for a short
Back into Nassau, then out again to Grand Bahama and the town of Freeport.
Rather more developed but not as hectic as Nassau. Will be staying at Running
Mon Marina from tomorrow. Right now am at Royal Islander which is across the
road from the international bazaar and the straw market. Sadly most of the
things in the straw market come from the Philippines, with prices marked up
about a thousand percent. Not doing any shopping here thats for sure.
Now that the hurricanes seem to have left the area, at least for a while,
we can relax a bit. It was quite a worrying time for although the islands were
not hit the tides were high and it was quite windy. Hurricanes it seem can
change direction at any time, so we were holding our breath a few times.
posted by Barbara Elias 3:06
Thursday, October 10, 2002
I am now at Running Mon Marina and Resort and am loving it. Although not
really a resort, its a small hotel on the banks of an inlet and very close to
the beach. After visiting and staying in so many hotels that are in need of
TLC its delight to be here. My room is right on the dock and I can see the
boats from my window. Everything is immaculate, beautiful gardens with narry a
weed in sight, a truly clean swimming pool and, best of, probably the best
restaurant on the island. My room has a small kitchenette, inlcuding microwave
and fridge and a coffee maker with all the supplies. So often itsthe little
things that make such a difference to the comfort of the traveller. If only
more hotels understood this.
Last night we had a ttrue "horror story" visit to a restaurant
that likes to consider itself as the best in the Grand Bahamas. It started
with the hostess not being able to find our reservation on her computer and
leaving us standing for over ten minues in the lobby. Then the menu was not
available for us to look at. Can you believe this. Seems a few things change
on a daily basis, fresh fish for example. We actually waited over half an hour
for the one page menu to be printed and when it arrived it was full of
spelling errors. Guess they don't have spellcheck on their computer. During
the time were were waiting we were given the wine list and asked to choose our
wine. How they thought we could choose wine without knowing what we were going
to eat, I don't know. Anyway the wine list, very impressive in a heavy leather
folder, contained only wines from France. At this juncture I asked if it was
in fact a French restaurant. No certainly not was the reply. Seems the owner
likes French wines. Some time later a backet of bread arrived, wrapped in a
cloth napkin that was full of holes, and not small holes but ones I could
actually put several fingers through. And so it continued. The food, when it
finally arrived was superb, although built so high the top layer almost
tickled my nose. However the evening was a disaster for me. Dining out in a
first class restaurant is a total experience, not just the food but service
and attention to detail. To add insult to injury 15% service charge was
automatically added to the bill. I was tempted to ask "what
service"? but with a great deal of effort, managed to restrain myself The
sad thing is that this restaurant is leasted out by a very pretty hotel and I
feel that the hotels reputation will be tarnished by the actions of the
restaurant, over which they have no control. Well tonight back to Nassau for
three days R and R before going to Cat Island, one of the least known islands
with pink sands. Am looking foreward to seeing it.
posted by Barbara Elias 9:52
Saturday, October 19, 2002
I am standing at the ferry dock waiting to go swim with the dolphins. Can
hardly wait. full report when I get home Sunday night Its alwasy nice to go
posted by Barbara Elias 8:09
Monday, October 21, 2002
Swimming with the Dolphins was a lot of fun. They are truly awesome creatures.
So gentle and they really do seem to enjoy interacting with us humans. I even
got a hug from one of them AND I have it all recorded on video.
My last island was Cat Island and I think it is my favourite because of the
wonderful beaches and the great resort we stayed at. Fernandez Bay Resort. It
is all one dreams of when thinking of paradise. A pretty rustic little villa
with all mod cons. Right on the beach so you walk out of the patio door and
ten steps takes you into the crystal clear waters. The manager Donna was
wonderful and so relaxed The meals were great and the wide smiles of the staff
were so welcoming. Although we were there during a tropical storm which
provided a bit of excitement from time to time, I still had a really good time
Now I am back home and already sewing up a storm, getting ready for my one
man (woman) show in the Arcadia Art Gallery, which opens Friday 8th November
and runs for three weeks, after which it is the Christmas Show in the Arcadia
posted by Barbara Elias 9:45