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The Beautiful Island
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The Beautiful Island
  Long Island Travel Tale

by Lorry Patton ...

caribview.jpg According to history, Columbus said Long Island is the most beautiful island in the world. I have to chuckle when I read such superlative comments. It seems every explorer, upon sighting land, utters the words "most beautiful," "most-like paradise," and so on. I've come to the conclusion that after days, weeks, even months at sea, when land is at last ahoy to the weary sailor, what else can it be but the most beautiful sight in the world? Personally, I haven't seen all of the world's islands and it's unlikely that I ever will. However, I have seen several islands in the Bahama's archipelago, and I can truly say, Long Island is definitely one of the most beautiful in the group.

The Bahamas is a family of coral and limestone islands that stretches from the southeastern coast of Florida to the northern coast of Haiti. Comprised of flat to gentle rolling lands and covered with scrubby thick pine forests, the Bahamas' unique beauty lies not its topography, but rather in its startling visions of blue/green water lapping at miles and miles of white powder/pink sand shores.

Long Island has the miles and miles of white powder/pink sand shores and the blue/green water. It also has distinct hills, lush forests and paths and roads that lead to hidden bays and secret caves. But most precious of all, it has (what only undeveloped islands can possess) silence and solitude.

So, what can you do on an island where, if you need to make a call, you look for a telephone pole and follow the wire till it connects to a phone?

We went snorkeling. Unfortunately the water was murky because of unusually rough underground swells but I could still see the intriguing coral formations in hues of pinks and reds. I hung on to my partner with a grip Hulk Hogan would respect, kept my mouth shut tight around the snorkel, and watched dozens of bright tropical fish fearlessly dart in and out of reach.

We didn't go diving or fishing; however, there are over 27 dive spots off Long Island -- many world-famous -- that attract divers from as far away as Germany. There are also a variety of fishing holes teaming with marlin, tuna and bonefish that reel in the big-time fishermen. We could have had a five-course meal in a secluded cafe at the end of a stone path on top of a hill deep in the forest. The meal -- that could have included German-basted roast duck and homemade caraway seed bread -- would have been prepared especially for us, but instead of a slew of waiters and busboys, we'd be served by the cook and his wife.

Some of us played tennis -- imagine playing tennis in the woods where the spectators are dressed in feathers.

We went bike riding and discovered banana groves and ancient wells. We went beachcombing on lonely beaches where the only footprints in the sand besides our own belonged to a flock of sandpipers. We explored silly caves, historical caves and caves where pirates hid their treasures.

We hired a car and drove across a good portion of the island, skirting pothole after pothole on a road badly in need of repair. The few folks we passed looked at us with friendly curiosity. They always grinned broadly and always waved hello. "Come back," we were invited, more than once.

We climbed the cliff where Christopher Columbus's monument stands and through his eyes I watched the tide rush in and out. With tremendous power, the swirling foam pushed and pulled at the beach, each time creating fresh and untouched ground that sparkled against the grey cliffs. Beyond the ebb the blue/green sea heaved up and down as if sighing with relief. Gosh, I thought, this is the most beautiful sight in the wor ... . I caught myself just in time.

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