Memories of Eleuthera: a Work Assignment in Paradise
One of the perks of being an engineer is traveling, although at times this perk can be a double-edged sword, because often you only get to sample the beauty on offer through an office window. But when I get the opportunity to do field based work, I leap at the chance. One of the most vivid island “work” related trips was travelling to Eleuthera in the Bahamas after the 2004 hurricane season. I was heading over to do an inspection of some damage to a marina (including some underwater dive work). From the Opa-lacka Airport in Miami, I took a small 6 seat Cessna loaded up with surveying, dive, and engineering gear. The small plane gave me a lower vantage point throughout the short flight. I looked out the window and saw this spectacular vision, which immediately jolted me out of “engineering world”; the view in front of me was spread out for as far as the eye could see, and it was as if the hurricane had painted the ocean with sand.
(On the way to Eleuthera Bahamas. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
I continued looking at the view, trying to drink it all in, not realizing how much time had passed by, until I realized we were descending for landing, which started to bring me back down to “engineering earth," and my engineering mode switch flicked back on … that is until, after traveling we got to the damaged marina in question and I saw the colour of the water and just how stunningly beautiful it all was.
(A marina on Eleuthera. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
Parts of the marina and the nearby beach were pretty badly damaged with large sections inaccessible by car, so we loaded up backpacks with the equipment and started the trek to the area which was worst hit. Even with all of the damage, the beauty of the island kept shining through. When we got to the first major distressed area, with damage to a retaining wall which would send any engineer’s heart a flutter with glee, I found myself being distracted time and time again with the enchanting white sand beach and azure waters, that kept whispering “forget that engineering thing, come on in." What a temptation to jump in and succumb to the open arms of the beautiful Bahamian Blue.
(I was there to focus on work, but the water was distracting. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
Now, for the record, I’m Jamaican and I like to think of myself to being immune to overwhelming beach and ocean beauty, but this kept getting better and better, and I found myself secretly admitting to myself that I may need to re-examine some of my biases (but that’s off the record and I’ll deny I ever said that in front of any other Jamaicans). As these thought processes flowed back and forth in my engineering brain the owner showed up with his dog, three ice cold Kaliks in hand. I thought “Can this get any better?” … and it did! As we spoke, the owner decided to show us a another stretch of beach he planned to put private bungalows discreetly set back from the shoreline, where I could immediately see myself wanting to entice my fellow Island Runaway Laura for us to come and stay at when they were up and running.
(Bahamas beaches are just blissful. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
As we prepared to leave the dog spotted a stingray swimming casually by and started chasing after it (and fortunately didn’t catch it!). I knew I had to come back with my wife and fellow Island Runaway Laura, this time with only my swim trunks, and no engineering luggage ….
(Not something you see everyday! Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
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