I have good news and bad news—first, I do not have any pictures from my Bahamas trip other than what I showed you last post (that’s the bad news). The good news is that the lack of pictures will prevent me from going berserk and flying back to the Caribbean myself just so I can experience that paradise again. So perhaps it is for the better.
But before I put the matter to rest, let me tell you a little about what happened during our unique stay.
But the moment we dunked our heads underwater, masks haphazardly in place, we were immersed in the magical world of tropical fishies.
(Disclaimer: these are not my pictures! I just selected pictures from Google Images that looked close to what I saw during my visit.)
Like, like BLUE-HEADED WRASSES!
|Called so because of their blue heads. source|
|Not bumblebee fish, as we took to calling them. source|
|More like noodle fish. source|
|We saw mostly juveniles, however, which are not that large. source|
And later, when we visited coral reefs, we caught sight of ever larger, more colorful fish. This video taken at Fourth Hole, Eleuthera depicts the very same coral reef we visited in all of its tropical glory (thanks to whoever filmed it, because it is a great video).
By the end of the trip, I had decided I was in love with angelfish. They are just perfect. The grey ones, with their silky black fins,
|Ugh why are they so pretty? source|
and the queens, which are a little more colorful.
|How are these real?? source|
On a sad note, we also saw some lionfish. At Cape Eleuthera Institute, a whole team of scientists dedicates a significant amount of work to combating the spread of invasive lionfish, which have unfortunately colonized the Caribbean and are working their way up the East Coast, being spotted as far north as New York. Their abilities to feast on anything that moves and reproduce at a stunning rate have made them the perfect invasive species (much like humans, eh?), much to the chagrin of the local corals. The Cape Eleuthera Institute has a number of efforts working to stop this deadly invasion, including the creation of a market for lionfish and expeditions where researchers scuba into the depths of the Caribbean and literally stab any lionfish they see. Like, they sneak up behind the fish and assassinate them.
Later in the week, while stopping at Cheryl’s for dinner, some of us got to try lionfish tempura. I heard it tasted remarkably like chicken—which could be a good sign for the market, I don’t know. But I will say this: if you don’t mind eating fish and happen to see lionfish on a menu anywhere, don’t hesitate to try some. It will only help the market and the effort to stop the invasion.
|Don't admire them, stab those fuckers. And maybe eat them. source|
Speaking of food, let me tell you a little about the food. I didn’t go for the food, obviously, but there were some pretty awesome culinary highlights to the trip. Have you ever had fresh, not mass-produced pineapple? I hadn’t either, until last week. The Island School often searched fresh pineapple from the Bahamas, which is of a different breed than what we get in American supermarkets. It is a smaller fruit and less hardy for cross-country flights in climate-controlled planes and much sweeter and lighter in color. Not a huge fan of typical supermarket pineapple, I loved this heritage variety.
That, on top of fresh-picked mangoes and watermelon and even passion fruit. Hnnnngggg.
While on our down-island trip (“down-island” referring to the direction of the current, which flows north, not the actual north-south direction), we also stopped at two fabulous shops for some treats. The first, a bakery, didn’t look like much from the outside, but the glass cases inside were filled with pastries of all sorts. I tried the specialty, the coconut Danish, which had to be the Bahamas equivalent of a Cinnabon, it was so sweet and sticky. Obviously I loved it. On the way back from camping, the ice cream shop visit came as a blessing. My flavor of choice was guava cheesecake and—
okay can we take a moment to appreciate that? Yeah. Creamy guava ice cream, filled with dairy and eggs and other not-so-vegan things. Plus cheesecake chunks (yay, more dairy and eggs). R.I.P. digestive system, but it was sooooooo worth it.
I’ll have you know that “guava cheesecake ice cream” is on my to-make list as of riiiiiight now. Oh, and guava doughnuts too. At the Nassau airport Dunkin Donuts, I spotted an unusual looking jelly doughnut while in line for a much-needed Big Gulp of espresso (they don’t serve coffee at the Island School, you see). It was very much like a jelly doughnut but stuffed with this sweet, gelatinous guava filling. So good.
|Meanwhile I've never even had one of these. source|
There’s so much to tell about the rest of the trip, but I couldn’t possibly fit everything into one post. Why don’t I just tell you about the 30 seconds I got to hold an octopus on the second-to-last day of our trip?
Yes—bright and early, for our pre-breakfast “morning exercise”, we hopped into the vans and went over to yet another snorkeling location, where some braver students jumped off a short cliff and the others (like me) safely snorkeled around and admired the fishies. Imagine our delight when—in the span of 10 minutes—we spotted both a double rainbow seemingly just across the water and a tiny, black octopus. One of the group leaders let me hold the beautiful creature for a little bit and release it back into the water. When asked later, was my experience life-changing? I had to respond with the affirmative, because wow. It was so fucking cute. And tiny—no bigger than a fist. And squishy. And suction-y—the little suction cups on its eight tiny tentacles left little marks on my hand after the fact.
But soon the time came to release it, and the little creature sped off in the water with a spurt of black ink.
*wipes away tears*
Okay. And what about the nurse sharks? You know those big lumbering creatures that swim slowly around in the water, scaring humans wherever they go?
|Nope, not threatening at all. source|
We saw a whole bunch of those just outside the mangroves. I couldn’t explain to you our luck. Just waiting around in knee-deep water, a few nurse sharks decided to swim up to us (or did we swim up to them?), their dorsal fins cutting through the water. There were moments when we were only a few meters away from these enormous four, five-foot long fish.
Nobody ran away screaming. We observed, giddy with our fantastic fortune. And in the end, nobody’s toes were nibbled off.
Moral of the story? Nurse sharks are pretty chill. Just...don’t go trying to pet them. One of the group leaders instructed me in a very firm voice not to do that.
That’s all I’ve got for today, folks. I know this has been a very long post, but I really wanted to catalogue some of my experiences for posterity or whatever. Maybe you’ll be inspired to go visit Eleuthera or some Caribbean island yourself. Trust me, you will never be bored.
Now let’s talk about some serious (vegan) food.
|Do you like waffles? Yeah we like waffles|
I was super tempted to top these waffles (which are originally from The Simple Veganista) with something rich and calorific like peanut butter sauce, or maybe caramel. But I didn’t (cue cheers of joy and encouragement!). Instead, I opted for some basic coconut whipped cream with strawberries folded in. Not exactly molten peanut butter or caramelized sugar syrup, but still pretty damn good! And with all the strawberries in the house, it’s helpful to have a tasty breakfast on hand that incorporates them.
The base is made entirely with buckwheat, making the waffles gluten-free—but that’s not why I made them. Buckwheat is healthy, yes, but also has a nice earthy, gritty flavor (?) that I don’t know how to describe (??) but which is pretty good (!). So yeah. You should give these a whirl.
Here’s the recipe.
Buckwheat chocolate waffles with strawberry whipped cream
Adapted from The Simple Veganista
Serves 4 to 6
180 grams • buckwheat flour • 1 ½ cups
40 grams • cocoa powder • ½ cup
50 grams • granulated sugar • ¼ cup
12 grams • baking powder • 1 tablespoon
3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon
408 grams • nondairy milk • 1 2/3 cups
54 grams • olive oil • ¼ cup
4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon
1 can coconut milk, chilled
Powdered sugar, to taste
Handful of chopped strawberries
In a large bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, cloves, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in milk, olive oil, and vanilla; whisk just until combined and no streaks of flour remain.
Grease and heat up your waffle iron per the manufacturer’s directions and cook batter for about 3 minutes, until the waffles are crispy and dry on the outside.
In the meantime, open your can of coconut milk and scrape the fat off the top into a mixing bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Fold in chopped strawberries. Top your cooked waffles with the strawberry whipped cream and munch.
|Those crevices are just begging to be filled! Wait that sounded wrong.|
If you like these waffles, take a peek at some other related recipes.
Gluten-free pancake and waffle mix. Delicious and healthy whether or not you follow a gluten-free diet!
Blueberry buckwheat cake. Another great use for buckwheat.
Gluten-free Nutella-stuffed cinnamon toast muffins. Made entirely with oat flour.