Friday, 29 November 2013

A Windy Week on Andros Island

Last week in San Salvador, we couldn't have asked for better weather or calmer water. This week, Andros Island has been experiencing a lot of wind and some rain. We completely missed one day of diving and several other days we did just one dive instead of three.

We stayed here at Small Hope Bay Lodge two years ago and really enjoyed it. It's a family owned business that has been around for more than 50+ years. The turnover of staff from two years ago was very low and they all seem to love their jobs and are treated very well.

When compared to Riding Rock in San Salvador, it's superior in terms of the accommodation and meals but from a diving perspective there are definitely fewer fish than around San Salvador, particularly larger fish which (to us at least) indicates the area is more fished out.

Having said that, the diving thrill of the week here was seeing a whale shark. We'd seen a turtle earlier in the dive and, when Andrew pointed to something behind me, I turned expecting to see a turtle. But above me was a very, VERY large black object with white spots. A whale shark!! Wow! They are not common in this area of the world. Dive staff told us that one might be spotted once a year or less. Unfortunately this was one of the very windy days so Andrew hadn't taken his camera. It was a thrill though and only Andrew and I and Dennis, one of the dive masters, saw it before it swam off into the darkness.

Of course, Andrew still got some great photos.

It was a very busy week here between U.S. folks taking advantage of the Thanksgiving weekend and a family of 20 being here for their dad's/grandfather's 75th birthday. It was a challenge for the dive and resort staff to keep everyone occupied in the not-so-great weather. Luckily there is a games room and some inland blue holes which they took people to for snorkelling.

We leave here tomorrow and have a week in the Florida Keys so diving is not necessarily over yet! :-)

A windy morning.

Andrew checking out the solar hot water setup.
Why is it called a "tourist tree?" Because it's red and peeling!
Taking a hike through one of the rocky mangrove areas.
A spot to relax . . . when it wasn't blowing a gale!
A full boat on a calm day. By the time we finished our first dive it was raining like crazy!
Sassy the dog.
Getting ready to head out on another windy morning.
It's hard to take photos in a rocking boat. And this wasn't the worst day!
Divemaster Frederico driving the boat. 
Big-ish waves.
Relaxing in the main lodge.
The outdoor eating area area, bar and barbecue was used whenever the wind allowed.
The main lodge.

The cabins. 

Bright decorations in preparation for U.S. Thanksgiving dinner.

This was one of three tables full of desserts for Thanksgiving dinner. Yum, yum!
For those who have made it this far, here's my rant of the trip.

When I booked at Riding Rock I specifically asked if they could accommodate vegetarian meals. Oh yes, of course they can. No problem! But yet they were surprised when we showed up and said we were vegetarian. They were completely unprepared and had no imagination whatsoever. We ate plain iceberg lettuce salad with a couple strips of green pepper and a couple chunks of tomato at every meal except breakfast. We had only rice and over-boiled vegetables for at least a couple of meals. They kept asking us what we wanted to eat but even when we made suggestions based on ingredients we knew they had, they only accommodated one request. On the positive side, the desserts and breakfasts were good.

On Small Hope's reservation form they specifically ask you to identify any dietary needs. But again, they made no accommodation for us and in fact kept adding the left over breakfast bacon to various salads until we politely complained about it to the right person. Luckily their variety of salads was greater than at Riding Rock, they had a few soups we could eat and, as above, the desserts and breakfasts were very good.

So, my suggestion to resort owners . . . if you're going to say you accommodate vegetarians or specifically ask if there are dietary needs, then pay attention and follow through. Otherwise, don't bother.

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