National Geographic Sea Lion made an early morning crossing from Long Cay on Crooked Island, heading south toward our morning destination of Castle Island. Windy conditions prevented a landing, however, so off we went to Acklins Island, where we spent the remainder of the day.

Once National Geographic Sea Lion anchored, preparations were made to take the full complement of the ship to shore. Members of the community of Salina Point Settlement greeted us on the beach! As Zodiacs approached, the beach musicians began drumming and singing. The sound brought out the dance in many of us! Once everyone made it ashore, we gathered a short distance up the beach for a series of presentations and speeches from local community members. Anita Collie Verdecia, a local ethnobotanist and herbalist, was our main host. She introduced each speaker before speaking at length about the bush, explaining how medicine has been obtained from many plants in this tropical part of the world. We also heard from Mrs. Patricia Hanna Cleare on the slave trade and slave plantations on Acklins Island. The former commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Mr. Reginald Fergusan, is a known local historian. He spoke about the settling of this area and its original inhabitants. The speakers talked about their lives on Acklins Island, and they were very grateful for our visit. This remote island is not on the regular tourist route in the Bahamas. We arrived on a good-sized ship and wanted to come ashore to safely interact with the people of Salina Point Settlement. We were met with such a welcome and joyous response. We were fortunate to share a few hours together in the late afternoon of an auspicious day. Today is a very unusual and rare day in our calendar. February 22, 2022 is one of only seven dates to contain a palindrome this century. A palindrome is a word or a set of numbers that reads the same way backward and forward. The date and day also mark a time for equilibrium and balance. Looking forward, the need to value these attributes is critically important.

So our afternoon came to a close. We made our way back to National Geographic Sea Lion by Zodiac. We were ready to spend time relaxing, and we enjoyed reflecting on our good fortune. We were grateful that the lovely and gracious community of Salina Point Settlement offered us such a warm welcome.

Our hotel staff decided to serve dinner on the sun deck, as the colors of twilight filled the sky. We all made our way topside and enjoyed another lovely meal prepared by the galley.