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samana cay
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Samana Cay
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Samana Cay

The captain then looked at me, and said, "there is your secret". As we walked pass the man with the bundle of branches and tree limbs, I saw a group of men beating or bruising the branches with a log, until the bark fell off, which they collected and placed in a heap.

As we continued our journey on the Cay, we came to a pond, where women and men were placing bundles of tree branches in the pond to soak, which I found out later separated the bark from the branch.

This island is about the size of Nassau Bahamas, but nobody lives permanently there. Islanders from Crooked Island and nearby islands, visit this Cay to "cut bark", a term which mean, the cutting of the limb and branches of mature tree to harvest.

The sun had just began to set, as we went to one of the homes or shack of a members of the Chester's settlement. Each islander build a home that is a duplicate of his settlement from his island.

We later met a man by the name of Harry from Lovely Bay, he had a large pile of coconut, that he had already shelled, and was grinding them in small pieces, after which he placed in a five pounds plastic bucket.

The grated coconut is then sprinkled on the ground in the bushes, under trees, caves and crevices to act as bait to catch land crab. After completing this task, we waited until darkness fall.

There are two types of land crabs in the Bahamas, white and black. The white crab is really not white but a light blue or light brown, and is the larger of the two. The black crab comes in a wider selection of beautiful colours, and according to the cooks presents a better flavour for peas and rice.

We left our shack with torches for our crab hunt, we scored our first victory quite easily. Normally when crab see you approaching them, they run into underground homes. But they did not run on seeing us, they just stood there continuing to consume the grated coconut. They appeared dazed or drunk. They didn't try to defend themselves with their pincers. We caught about 200 white crab and 150 black, and then retired for the night.

On the following morning we got up, had breakfast and headed into the bushes with a machete in hand, to harvest the bark. The ingredients in this plant makes a world known bitters, that is famous by rum distiller in the Bahamas. The bark is also used in the manufacture of perfumes, foods and various medicine.

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