Caribbean Tourism

Andros

Andros, (pop: 8,187 1990 census), is the largest island in the Bahamas, with pine and mahogany forests, creeks and prolific birdlife. According to Indian legend, the forests house the ‘chickcharnie’, a mythical, three-fingered, three-toed, red-eyed creature who hangs upside down and can cause good or bad luck. It is also blamed when tools or other things go missing. In fact, a large, three-toed, burrowing owl of this description did inhabit the forests until the early 16th century when it became extinct. More recent legend has it that the pirate, Sir Henry Morgan, lit a beacon on the top of Morgan’s Bluff, the highest point on the island at 67ft. This lured passing ships on to the treacherous reef close by. Sir Henry and his pirates then ransacked the ships and hid their treasure in the caves below.The Spanish called the island La Isla del Espíritu Santo, but its present name is said to come from the British commander Sir Edmund Andros.


The main settlements in the north are Nicholl’s Town, Lowe Sound, Conch Sound, Red Bays, Mastic Point and Fresh Creek (previously known as Andros Town and Coakley Town). Mangrove Cay is in central Andros, while in the south are Congo Town, Deep Creek and ex-Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling’s constituency at Kemp’s Bay.

Near Fresh Creek, you can visit the Androsia clothing factory which makes batik fabrics in tropical colours and watch the whole process from the wax painting to the drying of the dyed cloth. Ask in the shop for a factory tour. Henry Wallace is a rastafarian wood carver, usually to be found chipping away to the beat of reggae music. He is also the curator of a small museum of the island’s culture and history, near the mailboat dock in Fresh Creek (the old health clinic buildings), worth a visit. South of Fresh Creek is the Atlantic Underwater Testing and Evaluation Center (Autec), a joint venture between the USA and the UK for underwater testing of weapons and consequently top secret.

Nicholl’s Town has a lively Junkanoo on Boxing Day (very early morning) and New Year’s Eve, and Goombay Festival on every Thursday in July and August from 1900 onwards on Seaview Square. There are many government administration buildings, schools, clinic, Batelco office, in what is a straggling, spread-out town with no apparent centre. Conch Sound is very close, almost an extension of Nicholl’s Town; between the two are shops, a bakery, auditorium, laundry and disco. At Morgan’s Bluff you can visit the caves where pirates were rumoured to have hidden their treasure. Both the Bluff and the caves are signposted; the caves are in fact quite small and rather a disappointment. The area nowadays is more important for the docks, from where water is barged to Nassau. The mailboat comes in at the old harbour.

Red Bays (pop: under 200) is the only settlement on the west coast of the island and is about five minutes’ drive from Red Bays beach, where there are a few small motor boats moored but nothing else. Long isolated and reached only by boat it is now connected by a good paved road cutting across the wild interior of the island. Originally a Seminole Indian settlement many of the people have distinctly Indian features and a true out island lifestyle. The village welcomes visitors. Contact Rev Bertram A Newton for his history of Red Bays. Locally caught sponges and hand made baskets can all be bought very cheaply. The straw work here is excellent. Mrs Marshall is the local bush granny and community celebrity. Usually found weaving in the centre of the village she will show how baskets are made, and explain local culture, politics and bush medicine to visitors. Mr Russell always has plenty of sponges for sale (and illegally caught turtle and iguanas, don’t buy these) and also works as a bonefishing guide. There is only one telephone in Red Bays, T3292369 and leave a message for the person you want to contact.


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