A few weeks ago I popped over to Great Exuma in The Bahamas with a client to check out some potential properties. We had quite a bit of time to kill so we decided to explore a little as it had been a while since I’d been down there. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to come across this wonderful artifacts museum found just on the side of the road in Steventon (southern Great Exuma). No one was around and the main “building” was locked but I took a few minutes to explore and to discover some of the most random items in the most eclectic collection I think I’ve ever seen.
After returning home I gave Jeneice a call to find out more about her and her wonderful collection – and I highly recommend you add this stop to your next tour of the Exumas. Because she was essentially closed, I saw only a limited selection of what she normally displays – and I can’t wait to go back for the full on experience.
Here’s a little bit about Jeneice and how the idea was born:
Jeneice was born and raised in Steventon, working odd jobs such as selling crabs to make a few pennies. At the age of 17 she relocated to Canada where she took on various jobs such as working on vegetable and rose farms. After a time she ended up employed on a 47′ powerboat in the Virgin Islands and the Eastern Caribbean. In the mid-2000’s she returned to the Exumas to look after her ailing mother and decided that she would once again make Steventon her home. A few years ago a teacher from Eleuthera offered coconut carving classes in Exuma and Jeneice decided to attend (she made sure to note that all of the students were women – no men at all). One day the teacher showed them the Madeira Bark tree and pointed out that there were so many native, local resources that were being untapped and that they should think out of the box and become more resourceful in their entrepreneurial endeavours.
Jeneice spent days and nights awake thinking of ideas with her brain working overtime and suddenly popped up with her idea to display old wares and collections that belonged to friends and family. She had always collected the obituaries of people she knew and began to make the rounds collecting items that may not seem significant to most of us but many of which had a significant place in telling the story of Steventon in the days of old. One such item was a 300+ year old corn mill that still works today. The tea set shown in the images below was handed down to her auntie and was used to feed many generations of the family.
Jeneice has held 2 annual festivals at the property (Jan/Feb) where she arranges demonstrations of old kitchen gadgets to prepare the actual food you eat, as well as so many other historical elements. See the video here for more information on the annual festival.
She offers arranged tours for many school groups and other organizations where she includes everything from playing marbles and hopskotch to plaiting lessons and drawing water from the wells to feed the goats. Her clothing is burlap sack and everything is authentic and made from scratch. A real step back in time.
One of the most poignant parts of our conversation was her emphasis on how people really lived as a community in Steventon way back when – if you had bread and your neighbour did not, you shared. If your child outgrew their shoes or pants you automatically handed them to your neighbour in need. No one judged if you or your child was barefoot or your clothes were torn. They supported each other the best they could and while many were poor they were happy and treated each other with kindness and compassion. If only we had not lost the ability to do this over the years!
I could go on and on about my one hour conversation with jeneice – she loves to talk and is fully of amazing stories. Guess what was a typical Christmas meal back then – well, I’m not going to say. You need to contact Jeneice or schedule a tour. She is creating a more comprehensive tour which will include the original jailhouse of Exuma, a visit to the Cave hole and reenactments at her property which will shortly be renamed. She is always open Mon-Wed and on holidays – check her out!!