Meet Edward, the lone inhabitant of Buena Vista Cay in the Jumentos islands. Edward is 74 years young. He was born on this island and lived in a small household of twelve people until age nine, when the family moved to Nassau.
Edward always wanted to live here. He came back in 1991 to stock the island with goats and sheep. He left one ram and seven ewes. There were 40 goats here when he returned to check the next year.
For many years he told his wife that he wanted to move back. Then four years ago, he came here with a gas generator and some coconut sprouts. He has been here ever since. The mail boat does stop here on its way to Ragged Island. So he can get supplies and hitch a ride if he likes.
His wife visited once last year, but she prefers the big city life.
Edward cleared the scrub for his house site using a come-along (winch) to wrest each plant out by the roots. He dug four postholes by hand and sunk ten foot posts for the corners of his structure. The house is framed in and has three walls. One wall has a glass window, which he feels bad about now. Birds try to fly through it. There is no wall on the side of the house facing the beach.
He has a couple of generators now and a solar panel to power his VHF radio (and a DVD player he got as a gift last Christmas). A tarp on the roof collects rainwater. He siphons from a hose to start the flow, and drains the fresh water into one of two large plastic containers.
He has four laying hens and many other chickens. He has a couple of big goats and two wild goats he caught yesterday. (The sheep are all gone now.) He has pet peacocks he got from Cat Cay (just below Bimini) before it became a private resort.
He has planted numerous coconut palms , some squash, corn, and tomatoes. He fertilizes the holes with seaweed before planting. Veggies grow for him but rats often beat him to the harvest. (He says there was a Haitian shipwreck that brought rats to the island.)
Wherever there are two or more Bahamian men gathered, there is a lot of yelling. It’s just their normal way of talking. They don’t use their inside voices. But Edward speaks calmly and clearly. I don’t think I asked him to repeat anything.
He has big plans. He wants to build houses for all of his family. His older brother was just released from a 20 year prison term in the States. Once his papers are in order he can come to Buena Vista and help Edward build. (Seems there was a family tradition of transporting contraband. Edward himself served 7 months of a 19 year sentence in a Cuban prison. Some well connected family members helped get him released.)
We’ve brought him some energy bars Duwan cooked. He climbs a couple of trees and gives us some papayas. He let’s Duwan take pictures, and tells us to enjoy they island. We walk off to explore. Now he can take his clothes back off. No need to get clothes dirty unless there are visitors.