Know Before You Go - Exuma Terminology

One of the joys of traveling is the experience and discovery of different cultures, languages, and foods. But it’s never a bad idea to do a little homework in advance so you can talk like a local wherever you are visiting. So here’s a cheat sheet with some common words that you’ll want to master for your Exuma vacation:

Exuma – Let’s start with the basics.  Exuma is not pronounced like “eczema”, the skin condition.  Exuma is “Exooma”. We’d all be rich if we earned a dollar every time we heard someone call it “EXamuh”.

Bahamian – The citizens of the Bahamas are not “Bohemians”. Bohemia is in the Czech Republic, far far away and much much colder.  The Bahamians would greatly appreciate being called “BaHAYmians”.

Conch – This is the most popular ocean dweller consumed in the Bahamas and prepared many different ways from conch salad to conch fritters to cracked conch, so you HAVE to know how to say it.  Conch is pronounced “konk”.  Not like haunch.

Cay – Most of the smaller islands of the Exumas are referred to as cays; Sampson Cay, Staniel Cay, Pigeon Cay, Big Major Cay, etc.  Similarly, the smaller islands in the far south of Florida are called the Florida Keys. Oddly, they are pronounced the same way. So, cay is like “key”.  Staniel Cay is pronounced Staniel Key.

Souse – Souse is a traditional Bahamian soup that was originally used to cure hangovers.  You can often find this at the fish fry and it is usually cooked using chicken, sheep, or pig parts.  Souse is pronounced “sowse”, not like soose.

Crawfish – Although crawfish is easy to say, it’s a different animal in the Bahamas than it is in the United States, for example.  In the Bahamas, a lobster is referred to as a “crawfish”.  In the United States, a crawfish is a miniature lobster most commonly found in the bayous of Louisiana, also known as a mud bug.  So, what the Bahamians call a crawfish, foreigners would likely call a lobster.  Clear as mud? 

Kalik – In Exuma, you’ll have two options for Bahamian beer brands, Kalik and Sands.  Kalik is not pronounced like cowlick, the awkward, twirly part of hair on your head.  Nor is it Kaleek.  It’s actually pronounced “kaLICK” but when you say it the right way and fast enough, it should sound like “click”.

Potcake – A potcake is a stray dog found on many islands in the Bahamas.  They were named as such because they were often fed the peas and rice mixture that congealed or burnt in the bottom of the pan. And there you have…a potcake!

You’ll ace the test now. Have a great time and take it easy on the Goombay Smashes.  They bite back! Tips like this and more are available in our Exuma guide.

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