Great Inagua Island is so flat that it would drown following the scenario evoked by Al Gore's "The Inconvenient Truth". In the harbor of Matthew Town, 21st century technology meets 16th century tradition.
Great Inagua (South Bahamas) – nomen est omen? – this island is so flat that it would drown "in aqua" together with many other flat islands following the drastic scenario that Al Gore evokes in his documentary "The Inconvenient Truth". We enter the tiny little harbor that is nearly full after a sailboat, a big yacht and the "sun21" have entered. The gasoline station is a little ruin, a gas meter surrounded by fallen walls. The water and electricity station are damaged – like after vandalism. While the skippers do the Bahamas custom formalities and immigration (300 US $) we explore the surroundings. In the Telecom center of the island, we find a brand new, very efficient Internet computer. The transmission of our mails works very well although there is a big sea eagle nest on top of the huge round telescope antenna.
In the afternoon, we visit the small and only village of the island, Matthew Town. Although there are not more than thousand people on the island the Anglicans and Methodists have their own church, just next to each other. Two roaring and stinking Diesel generators are not yet replaced by wind turbines, solar installations and other earth compatible technologies.
The next morning, two centuries gathered in the small harbor, the 16th and the 21st. The latter is well known: The "sun21" – but when the 16th century sailed in we were stunned: Five black Haitians have built a big, handsome, wooden colorful sailboat – no motor, practically no metallic elements. As far as we know, the only modern equipment consisted of a compass lit by a battery. The big sail was old, carefully sewn linen, the smaller one was a recycled advertisement banner. Also the ropes were hand-made plaited, and the wooden pulley-wheels were carved. In the middle of the deck there was a framed coal fire where they cooked a rice dish for breakfast. They had to lay out the whole shipload – green bananas and sacks with charcoal to be sold in Nassau. Impressed and pensive, we returned to our modern boat.
Today, we have anchored in the shallow clear turquoise water of the lagoon at Long Cay Island (Bahamas). We rowed to the beach and found the remnants of thousands and thousands of big snaillike shells. Being a seafood delicacy, they are collected, opened and thrown away. This huge cemetery reminds us of the robbed sea that looses more and more of its beautiful inhabitants.