First Friday in February Little Farmers Cay Festival – that is what the 5F’s stands for…
By far Little Farmers Cay became my favorite spot in the Bahamas. The island is small enough to walk from one end to the other in less than an hour. The locals get you involved in what is going on there and what they are passionate about.
We met Terry Bain, leader and spokesperson of the Save The Exuma Park (STEP) committee in his restaurant/bar where his wife cooks amazing local cuisine (the rum punch isn’t bad either!). Terry is very passionate about the STEP program, he and other Bahamian residents are very upset that the government is allowing development inside the “protected” Exuma Park. Terry is also very involved in the activities that go on in town for the 5F’s Festival. A true leader, Terry had quite a gathering of cruisers volunteering to head up an activity or two during the festival. Before I knew it I was raising my hand to help head up the scavenger hunt. Well, I did get a free rum punch (and a lot of new friendships) out of the deal.
Ali runs a “bar”, I use that term loosely – it looks more like a small liquor store with a cooler full of mixers. When you order a rum and coke you get a can of cold coke, a 1/5th of rum and a cup of ice for about $6.00. We carry our own mixer in the back pack and continue to refill the cup all day. You can’t beat that for the best deal in town! Ali has several sets of twins who have several children each. They all live with Ali so I brought him a bag full of hard candy to share with the little ones.
Outside Ali’s bar there is a table and stools set up for the local guys to play dominoes. While making their play they slap their domino as hard as they can on the table, “click, click, click” and they play the game really fast. They insisted Jon play with them, he had a lot of fun and did pretty well. Every time we walked by you would hear Kurt yelling “Jon, Jon, come on mon, come play!”.
I had my first order of cracked conch complete with Bahamian mac and cheese and peas and rice, it was amazing! I have been hunting for conch ever since to try my hand at cooking it myself.
A large part of the 5F’s Festival is the Bahamian Class C Sloop races. The sloops come from all over the Bahamas to participate in this regatta. In all my years of racing in Marblehead I never saw so much “bling” on the trophy table! They are very serious about racing here, however they don’t seem to be too concerned about being punctual on the start time of the races. The finish line is the beach – first boat to anchor and drop their sails at the end of the course is the winner. It was a lot of fun to watch!
At the end of the races the Bahamian Marching Band (made up from high school kids from many of the islands) marched to the beach airport bar where the spectators were and put on a show – complex formations and excellent music, you could tell they had been practicing this for a while.
Back down town in the harbor we came across a local making the freshest conch salad you could ever imagine. The conch are at his feet in the water, he cuts the shell open, pulls out the meaty conch and cleans it, chops it up along with onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, and a lot of fresh lime juice squeezed over the top. The sting rays circle his feet waiting for the conch bit scraps he feeds them. Quite a sight to watch.
The last night we were there we watched the Super Bowl from the Farmers Cay Yacht Club (FCYC). I wore my “lucky” Patriots tee shirt to no avail, maybe I shouldn’t have… It wasn’t a total loss, Jon won one of the quarters of the football square, almost enough to pay our tab for the evening!
We hugged Terry, Ali and several of the other locals as we went into town to say “so long”. We will definitely go back to this island at some point and spend more time.