Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fairchild Mango Festival 2012

Last Saturday was a day I have been waiting for for a long, long time. The Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden's 20th annual mango festival. I know what you're thinking, there's going to be a lot of mango pictures in this post. We actually didn't get a single picture of the hundreds of thousands of mangoes they had there.

We had a late start to our day so when we got there I was pushing like Patton to get to the mango tasting event even through the hellish heat. Natalie kept telling me to slow down because we had plenty of time. I misread the webpage though and thought the mango tasting was only 9:30-12:00. After taking a half hour to park we had 15 minutes of walking to do and it was already after 11.

I don't remember all the mangoes we tasted but they had Beverly, Ruby, Mallika, Nam Doc Mai, Duncan, Kent, Mesk, and one from Mynamar but I cant remember the name and I can't find it online. For anyone that doesn't understand how many mango varieties there are just look at this link. Fairchild is constantly developing new mango varieties.

I was holding Adriana with my left arm and trying to taste the mangoes with my right. Adriana loves mangoes and after every taste she would say "more mango" or "another mango". We had to get in line for a second round and she still just wanted more and more.

So what varieties were the best? I voted the best was Nam Doc Mai. I have that tree and my sister's family liked that one the best of the six I had them try when they were here. Second for me was the one from Mynamar, and then third I think I voted Duncan or Mallika. I can't remember. Mallika was good but over rated. My friend has one and says they are the best. They love them in India where they pick them green and ripen them in camel dung on the way to the market. I think it's somewhat similar to Valencia Pride (I have that tree too) but not as good and a little bit of a Papaya taste to it. Natalie voted for Mesk, Nam Doc Mai, and Beverly. Below is what I found on Fairchild's webpage. I think it's crazy. Actually even they think it's crazy Nam Doc Mai didn't win. It may be because they cut the Nam Doc Mai into really small cubes.

From Fairchild's page (they misspelled mangoes)
After computing hundreds of votes, our Special Events department reports that the mangos with the most flavor appeal are these:
        First Place:                         Kent
        Second Place:                    Mallika
        Third Place:                        Beverly
        Close Fourth Place:           Duncan

So why didn't Nam Doc Mai garner any ribbons? I think we should hold this thing over again.

After tasting I walked around and tried to find an Alphonso Mango. I have an Alphonso tree and have heard it's one of the best mangoes but I have never tried one yet. I couldn't find one there so I guess I'll have to wait until next year when my tree finally gets it's first crop. I did however buy a Tebow Mango, named after Tim Tebow. The ratings on the Tebow Mango are not an exaggeration. It's an excellent mango. I only had one and I think I should have let it ripen an extra day but even so it's definitely on my top six list. I'll have to buy more to give it a better analysis. While walking around we sampled some really good mango pie and mango ice cream. Natalie couldn't believe the thousands of people walking around. She was completely unaware that mangoes are the most popular fruit in the world and are known as "the king of fruits".

After getting some free samples and food we walked around and looked at the gardens. It was disgustingly hot so we only managed to stay until 3 and then we just couldn't take anymore. We got home completely beat. Natalie asked if it was all I thought it would be. I think it was fun, but just a little too expensive. It was hot, crowded, and expensive. 25 bucks a person and we didn't even last a full four hours.

Here are some pictures.
Adri with a Jackfruit
A dragon fruit that they made into a tree. I'm going to try to do this to my dragon fruit.
More Jackfruit.
Adri enjoying her new thing, running off.
I had to get a picture of these banana plants because they were so impressive to me. My biggest bananas are only about 12-13 feet tall. These ones were close to 25 feet tall and they were a lot more girthy. I can cut my bananas down standing on a stool with a machete. Try doing that with these. You would need a 20 foot ladder to get to them.
I like this heliconia

Cable Beach, Nassau, and Blue Lagoon, Bahamas

Saturday, June 30th we woke up early and headed out far far away (about a 35 minute flight) to Nassau. When we landed the first thing I noticed is that it looks a lot like S.Florida. Who would have thought since it's so far away? Near the airport everything is natural. It looks like S.Florida used to look with Slash Pines everywhere. The further you get from the airport the more you can see how man destroyed whats natural and replaced everything with invasive, and ugly, Australia Pines. Same story here in S. Florida. Everglades = natural, go towards the city, Australian Pines and Melaleuca. Our friends have timeshare in Cable Beach, a little more than halfway between the airport and Atlantis so we stayed a week there, with ten of us in a cottage.

In a lot of ways the Bahamas seemed more American to me than S. Florida. People actually speak English there. You don't have to feel like a second class citizen because you speak English. However they do have their own dialect. For instance Jeff and I went to Burger King to get everyone food and we learned that cheese is pronounced "chiz". Things also move very slow there. Time to order a burger, about half an hour. Ordering a pizza, over two hours. Dinner at a restaurant, you better have two hours to waste. It's also super expensive to eat there. Mediocre New York Steak, 30 bucks! For 30 bucks I want a rib eye! The people there were also really nice. I read an article about a month ago that rated country's friendliness to tourist. No surprise France was rated the worst and the best countries were all in the Caribbean. Everyone says hi to you on the street, no one there was rude, the only problem was really slow service everywhere.

Saturday and Sunday we pretty much did nothing but sit around the timeshare and the beach. Of course I was having a stroke of good luck and ten minutes after getting in the water I got a sea urchin in my foot. I went up by the pool and tried to remove it but it was in too deep. That's when a random stranger from the timeshare went to get me tweezers but I still couldn't get it out. He was able to find a sewing needle and did some surgery to get the four pieces out. It wasn't just like having a splinter, I think these things injected some type of venom or something in my foot because it really stung.

After that I just kinda sat around the beach. I wanted to go to the market and get some snorkel gear but no one else wanted to go. That's probably my biggest regret since I'm not really a sit around the beach type person. I like the beach but I like being active. I like surfing, snorkeling, skim boarding, etc.... And the Bahamas aren't a real big island, it's more like a sandbar. All there really is there is beach so that's mostly what we did all week, sit around on the beach. I think I would have had a much better time if I had got a mask and snorkel and gone exploring but o well, that ship sailed. Next time I'll go to the market myself.

Monday we decided to walk into town. We went to a pirate museum where a fake pirate scared Adri so bad she was crying and wouldn't go near it. We went to the fish fry for lunch where I had some amazing Jerk Chicken and then attempted to Fort Charlotte but it was hot and the fort wasn't that appealing to anyone. It's not a big fort but it's a long one, having walls every couple hundred feet and then it would disappear into the hill. There was a good view from the hill there but by the time we got up it we were so hot and sweaty everyone just wanted to leave.

Tuesday was the best day we had there. We went to the Blue Lagoon. It's a 25 minute boat ride to a lagoon at a small island. They had a bunch of inflatable water toys and slides and I got to act like a kid for a day. It was a lot of fun climbing up the inflatable mountain and some of the other toys and rocking it until others fall off. I would sneak up under the teeter totter and rock it like crazy making people wonder what is going on and then I would get a laugh when I see their faces when I pop out from underneath. I was bullying Maurina and pushing her down the slides when she wasn't expecting it. I also got Ryan's son once. Ryan thought he could sneak up on me but he got to see my mongoose moves when I arm barred him and he ended up flying into the water. I had a lot of fun on the water toys. After lunch I took off on my own and took some pictures of the island. This was by far the best day I had there.

Wednesday we just sat around lazy until the fireworks that night. I had a burn from the day before because spray on sunblock blows. I reapplied and it still didn't work at all so I had to limit my sun. I did take Adri to the beach and the pool in the afternoon. I got to show everyone my mongoose reflexes once again. Adri is a becoming a busy child. She likes to run off now and doesn't care if we are following. She would take off down the beach and not even look back every chance she got. Well we were at the pool and she kept wanting to get out and walk along the side. I don't like her doing that because I don't want her slipping and knocking her teeth out on the side. Long story short she got out, walked along the side, and misstepped just as I knew she eventually would. I had my back partially turned to her but was able to turn and catch her with one hand. NFL players got nothing on that. They catch a football they know is coming at them. I caught a two year old with my back turned. That night when waiting for the firework show to start Natalie and I were laying on a hammock by the beach. That is when two devil children came over and started swinging the hammock, their idiot father standing by just watching. It reminded me of that movie Overboard when the Kurt Russel is just watching the kids terrorize Goldie Hawn. Devil kids. Then one of them kept sneaking in our pictures. They were locals, parents probably pot smoking hippies.

Thursday we decided to go back into town and see the Queen's Staircase and Fort Fincastle. It was alright, just alright, not something I would want to do again. The fort is like a shack next to a mansion compared to the forts in Puerto Rico. The forts in Puerto Rico take hours to explore. This one took about ten minutes. You can see most of the island from the fort but it's not the most impressive view since the island is flat. Ath the bottom of the Queen's Staircase it's beyond hot and muggy. All the humidity got stuck in the forest growing around the walls and despite the nice view it was pretty miserable down there. At least I can say I've been there and done that.

That's pretty much sums up our trip. Other than that we sat around and played games and I would take the kids for early morning and sunset walks. Nothing puts the little ones to sleep like a good walk so that became my job. It's something Adri and I do everyday at home as well. I take her outside every evening to see all the plants and trees. Same thing here. I would take her and Ryder to the beach, then show them the plants and let them shake up the bamboo.

Friday morning we packed up and went back to Florida. It actually felt good to leave. It was a little frustrating having all those kids in the cottage, sleeping on a rough bed, and it was a lot more relaxing at my kid friendly house where they couldn't break things and they had more space to run around. I did have fun there but it just wasn't enough adventure for me. I think the Bahamas are more of a place to go without kids. Snorkeling and relaxing are both hard to accomplish with kids. I'm hoping next time my sister's family comes out we can convince them to do an all inclusive in Punta Cana, Sosua, or even San Juan.

The kids hanging out at the timeshare
Ryder bullying his little cousin
Ryder's cool face
@ the pirate museum
Every pirate needs booty
Aubrey got this done at the market and came back exciting saying she "looks Mexican now". I think she's a little confused.
At the fishfry
Fort Charlotte
The view from Fort Charlotte.
Adri & I chillin
Fire or trash burning at Sandals?
Cable Beach
Trying to make Ryder grow
I like the way Aubrey is licking Cassandra's shoulder. Gross kids.
Outside the timeshare. The property next to it had a nice garden and lots of fruit trees. I was poking around looking for ideas for my yard.
Jeff trying to climb the tree. He thought he could make it all the way up. Look how far he actually made it.
Cass really liked his speedos. I think this guy's wife was skinny dipping one night.
Right before the devil kids rocked us.
The girl in the blue kept sneaking in the pictures. She's the same one that was swinging our hammock.
She snuck in again
On our way to Blue Lagoon
This is where I took the walk across the lagoon
The Queen's Staircase. It was a nasty hot jungle here.
Strangler fig growing on the wall
Atlantis from Fort Fincastle
Leaving the Bahamas