I once spent Christmas in the Bahamas, on an island called Eleuthera. Eleuthera is over a hundred miles long but never more than a mile or so wide. Its one main road runs along its entire length and at one point the island gets so narrow that beneath a vertiginous bridge, waves from the deep indigo Atlantic slosh over into the turquoise Caribbean, or vice-versa depending on the state of the tides.
There’s nothing much on Eleuthera save a proliferation of pink sand beaches, a long-closed Club Med and one, yes one, set of traffic lights. These lights are quite an attraction, bobbing on wires above the island’s single crossroads. They even feature on their own postcard. They were out of order at the time, but with no discernible traffic chaos as a result.
In December Eleuthera is very hot indeed, its scrubby vegetation offering little shade from the blazing sun. Even so, a snow-trimmed Santa could be seen waving from the mini-mart window.
We were joined on our holiday by a friend who lives in Brooklyn and on Christmas Day we actually found a small Italian hotel that was offering the full traditional works. Thus we sat next to said pink sand in blazing sunshine and dined on turkey with all the trimmings: parsnips, roast potatoes, sprouts and all, while watching a school of dolphins passing backwards and forwards across the bay.
Our friend from the States had been to visit her family in Yorkshire and as a surprise she had totally illegally transported a large top of the range Christmas pudding from a well-known British store all the way to the Bahamas via Heathrow, New York and Nassau. Replete with turkey, back at the house we just couldn’t face the pudding. We were stuffed and an afternoon in hammocks beckoned. If a full Christmas dinner was a bit much in that heat, the heavy, fruit-filled, sherry drenched dessert was completely out of the question.
It was a bit like my first visit to the Caribbean. I took a Bounty bar with me so I could reproduce that famous television advertisement. As soon as I had checked in to my hotel, I headed down to the beach, confectionary in hand. Sitting on the obligatory horizontal palm tree, toes in the surf, I took a bite. Taste of paradise? It was sticky and vile and totally inappropriate!
Back in baking hot Eleuthera, we didn’t want to upset our friend after all her trouble. She’d risked the wrath of customs officers in three countries to bring us our seasonal treat. So in the cover of darkness I sidled to the end of our little jetty and lobbed the pudding into the sea. She’ll never know, I thought.
Next morning I went out onto the pier, and to my horror there in the gin-clear water, nestled on the blushing sand amongst the brightly coloured coral for all to see, was the pudding. Even the fishes couldn’t face plum duff in that climate!
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