Flamingos on Acklins

Flamingos walk the beach where Walter is bone fishing.

Today is the day we had to leave Acklins Island and return to Crooked. For years I have fantasized about visiting Acklins. I imagined what it would be like, what it would look like, what the people would be like. What I encountered surpassed my wildest imaginations. The people – the beautiful people – captured my heart. I still think about them every day. They hold nothing back, not their affection, their generosity, their hugs, their smiles, their welcoming ways, or their amazing food. There are no strangers on Acklins. Those last good-byes were painful, but I am sure I’ll return one day soon. But for now we are packing, saying our last goodbyes to Peter and Velma, and heading towards Lovely Bay to meet Ed and his ferry.

We saw the tiny dot that was Ed’s boat heading across the from Crooked Island and getting bigger the closer he got. Ed is a stickler for timeliness. If you’re late to the ferry he will leave you and everyone knows this. He gifted us with a wide smile, helped us aboard by offering his strong hand and helped us load the boat. It was another gorgeous day and I took it all in while I could.

We docked on Crooked Island and moved our gear from the boat to our truck and headed back to the cottage – about an hour’s drive. We bumped along the rough road and came around a bend and were surprised to find a small flock of flamingos in a little pond. I grabbed my camera.

“Stay here! I’m going to try to get a shot before they get startled and take off.” I quietly opened my door and moved carefully towards them.

Walter flung opened his door, jumped out and moved quickly towards the birds with Jason right behind him. Before I could even get my camera focused the flamingos were gone. I was mightily disappointed. It turned out to be the only time I was able to see them up close, and only for a fraction of a second. I was not able to capture a single photo. I didn’t speak to either of them for several miles.

Back at our cottage Walter and Jason changed into clothes for fishing and diving and took off with our host. I was happy to have the day to myself and decided to paint with the watercolors I’d brought. I walked over to visit my friend Saskia and we sat outside on her back patio that overlooked a beautiful stretch of beach and ocean. Saskia was knitting, her long needles clacking back and forth. I pulled out my watercolor paper and opened my new set of paints. I looked out over the water at the blues and aquas. It was warm with a very slight breeze.

I scrolled through some images on Pinterest to see what inspiration it might bring. What to paint? And then I found a turtle. Perfect. For six hours Saskia and I sat in perfect harmony with very little conversation while I painted and Saskia knitted and made bread for sticky buns. Painting is very relaxing and therapeutic, even as it challenges. By the time I completed the watercolor I felt entirely at peace. I looked at Saskia and smiled.

My painting of Saskia’s beach on Crooked Island.

“I wish I could knit. You are amazing! And the sticky buns smell wonderful.”

“Your turtle is really good! You should be putting your art online and selling it.”

“This is only my third watercolor. I think I need to get a bit better before I try to sell things.”

“No, it looks good now. You should think about selling. I sell my jewelry online. I have a little store.”

Saskia is very industrious and is good at a great many things. I’m so glad to have made a new friend in her.

***

As the end of the day approached the men returned home with their fish and we all walked out together to the beach for an afternoon swim. The water felt surprisingly cool at first but it soon warmed up. Jason swam around looking at little fish and diving for shells and other treasures. He is having such a good time!

Soon we headed back, showered, and headed back to Saskia and Jorgen’s house for the amazing sticky buns. We had two each and they were scrumptious.

Getting away from it all has given me the opportunity to examine all the unnecessary tasks I have taken on back home. I am going to actively seek to simplify my life from here on out. But all I can think about right now is how much I will miss this place and how reluctant I am to return home. Oh, how I will miss the people and places of Acklins and Crooked Island!