Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meet Monroe and Eddie

Eddie and Monroe, native Bahamian fishermen, live on a 20 ft. fishing boat anchored in the creek between Chub Cay and a neighboring island in the Bahamas. Their boat is as basic as they come, and does not include a sleeping cabin or galley. Eddie and Monroe sleep outside in the covered cockpit and live off the seafood that they catch. Eddie, having grown up on the water, loves his life as a fisherman. He has a strong trust in God, and makes sure to live for the day. Because he does not have a wife or children to support, he never stresses over how much money he makes. Eddie and Monroe do not wander far from their fishing grounds. Last week for Mother's Day, Eddie traveled 90 miles to Bimini to visit his mother for the first time in eighteen years. She was so excited to see him that she couldn't stop staring at him and giving him hugs.

Eddie and Monroe catch conch, fish, lobster, and turtles, to sell to the Chub Cay Resort. Chub Cay, once an unpopulated island, was sold by the Bahamian government to the British over 40 years ago, and more recently sold to a group of wealthy American real estate investors. The group privatized the island and turned Chub Cay into one large marina and resort. Although Eddie and Monroe provide the Chub Cay Marina Resturaunt with seafood, they are not allowed to step foot on the island after dusk. Monroe says that it is typical for the Bahamian government to sell uninhabited land to Americans. The land is not in use, and the government needs the funds. Monroe obeys the rules without feeling resentment. "They purchased the land with money and have the right to make their own rules," he says. Eddie, on the other hand, does not pay attention to the rules, nor does he make a fuss about them. As a Bahamian, Eddie feels it is his natural right to move about freely on the land.

Both Eddie and Monroe agree that they like having the presence of the American Coast Guard throughout the Bahamas. The Coast Guard is able to keep a good watch on Cuba from the Bahamas. Eddie and Monroe say that Bahamians are scared of the Cubans, who like Americans, want their land desperately. However, they say that with Americans, they don't fear the threat of genocide, which they would have if a Cuban government were to take over their land. Eddie says that his people are peaceful, and do not like to fight. They have a tremendous trust that everything happens in accordance to God's overall plan. Eddie laughed at me when I asked him if he thought all Americans were as rich as the ones who visit Chub Cay. He said no, because he visited Florida once, and was able to see America firsthand. Eddie and Monroe invited me back over to their boat later on in the day for conch salad, a favorite Bahamian dish. However, we had a good weather window and decided to make the crossing to Fresh Creek, Andros, Before leaving we gave Eddie and Monroe a few potatoes, which are hard to come by in Chub Cay, and two, warm, Coors beer. In exchange, they gave us advice on fishing and jury-rigging our broken prop.