Tonight is a peculiar foreshadow for what's to come.
Tonight is the golf cart parade. Practically all of Great Guana Cay’s 170 residents dress their carts in Christmas lights and flourish. Dressed as clowns or jokers or Santa, they parade around the islet’s narrow streets in the dark. This bright twisting dragon slithers around the village, filled with chatter, reunion, laughter and hellos.
Good will, generosity and warm hearts are endemic qualities on Guana Cay. Perhaps optimism is required in such places, where electricity blackouts are common and life is held in check by the elements. Just a day ago, the news of the Boxer Day Tsunami and a hundred-thousand deaths made its way to this hurricane-battered island. It will be months before much of the devastation is attributed to poor management of coastal mangroves, which protect human settlements from vicious winds.
About 90 of the residents of Guana Cay are descendents of its original English loyalist settlers. The other 80 are expats in flip-flops. Painters who ride dirty old red bikes to work, or sailors who ironically found paradise on a quiet leeward beach.
Paradise to these people is a slice of the old Bahamas; antique homes, sandy lanes, no bull. Guana Cay earns its keep from birdwatchers, divers, sports-fishermen, shell-collectors, second-homers and rental construction. Not much happens on Great Guana Cay, and nothing ever will. Well, at least that's what you think.
In reality, a lot of things are happening at Great Guana Cay. A lot of creepy, under the table things. At the center of a raging controversy is an admirable young marine ecologist named Kathleen: a good scientist whose life's work is centered on conservation and the impact of developments on tropical eco-regions.
Under normal circumstances, this might be the beginning of a nice environmental article about a young, energetic woman saving fish. But it is much more complicated than that.