To my godchildren, Tristan, Danielle, and Justin. You were the inspiration for this book. I wanted to do something that I can give to you forever.
Thank you, Tristan, my scientist, for your input as well.
It was Summertime on the islands and Cara and her cousins were spending time with their Nana and Papa. Every June, they could not wait for the last day of school to arrive. That meant that they could get out of the city and head to the island to hit the beach, roam the hills, hunt for land crabs, and eat all the native fruits they could find.
Since they were now teenagers, Cara, and her twin cousins James and Jill, did not need to be accompanied on the flight to the island. Cara had just turned fourteen. James and Jill were also fourteen, but not for much longer. They were turning fifteen at the end of summer.
As soon as school ended, they packed up and were dropped off at the airport by their parents. Tom, another cousin, lived with their grandparents in Andros. He was fifteen already which made him the oldest of the quartet. He was alone with their grandparents most of the year and so he looked forward to their coming with great excitement each summer.
This summer was no different. The quartet was together again for eight weeks of fun and adventure. Their grandfather (grandpa), had a farm in the farming district and some days they went to work with him, and other days they stayed near home to help out Nana, but mostly to roam around the hills and go to the beach for a swim to cool off. The days were hot and Nana often scolded them about staying out in the sun for so long. She also warned them about going too far over the hills because there were hidden dangers in the blue holes and caves that lined them and she did not want them getting hurt, or worse.
Little did Nana realize that the more she warned her grandchildren about these forbidden spots, the more intrigued they became. They had gone to the farm with grandpa several days so far already and they were looking forward to their first opportunity to hit the hills and the beach.
The day of their first break dawned bright and sunny. The quartet was up early and dressed to go wearing shorts, t-shirts, and tennis. They piled into the kitchen where the scent of bacon, eggs, and freshly baked bread greeted them. Nana was the greatest cook in their book. They eagerly took a seat at the large wooden dining table and Nana set down the platters of scrambled eggs and bacon and another with sliced baked bread. There was butter and a jar of Nana’s homemade guava jam as well. To top it off, she put down a large metal jug of steaming hot, sweet Milo tea and a glass jug with chilled orange juice. It was a feast and something else that the cousins always looked forward to being home on the island.
The young people joined hands and bowed their heads as Tom said the blessing for the food.
“Hmmm yum…my!” James said with great appreciation of the spread before them and then dove in to fill his plate with the delicious food. “I hate you, Tom,” he scowled at his cousin with mock antagonism.
Tom laughed. He knew what James meant. He did not reply but was busy filling his mouth. He was trying to ensure he got his share before his city cousins took it all.
Cara looked at the guys stuffing their faces and shook her head with a wide grin.
“Greedy,” she said wrinkling her nose and sipping on her orange juice.
Both she and Jill took their food but ate with less exuberance than the boys. After all, they were girls and conscious about their weight. But it was hard to resist Nana’s food and Cara cleaned everything off her plate.
“Where are we going first?” she asked as she swallowed the last of her meal.
James threw her a coveted look and nodded secretly in Nana’s direction, indicating that he did not want her to hear their plans. But Nana was a shrewd woman, very little got by her without her notice.
“I hope y’all know what y’all going to get into. No wondering off round dem caves, or that blue hole for that matter.”
James forever the spokesman chimed up, “No ma’am. We just going to see what we can see since we've been back.”
Nana looked sternly at Tom.
“Tom, I holding you responsible.” Nana's voice left no doubt that she was serious.
The others were silent as they finished off the rest of the Milo before getting up and clearing away their plates and helping Nana to clear the table. Nana had not eaten with them. She likely was going to eat now that they were finished and would be out of the house.
With the last dish cleaned and put away, the foursome bounded out of the kitchen and out the back door into the sunshine. The freedom was exhilarating and they chatted together excitedly, whispering and giggling until they were far enough out of earshot of Nana to hear their plans. They took the path as if they were going down to the beach, but they planned to turn off and climb back up the hillside on the opposite side to go to the blue hole.