A Travellerspoint blog

December 2009

End of the story

Our last day in the Bahamas was similar to the others- we wandered the straw market, tried some rum cake, and I napped. The one difference was the heat. The rest of the trip, it was warm, but a pleasant breeze was blowing. Not so on Monday. It was oppressively hot and sticky. It was one of those days where you sweat just napping in the shade. While it was hard to leave and get back to the real world, I had found my motivation to return in the gross heat.

Overall, the trip was very relaxing- just what I needed. I went without a goal or a purpose, and ended up finding plenty of excitement and fun anyway. I understand how people can return again and again to lose themselves and find themselves at the same time.

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Bahamas Comments (0)

Fortunate Discoveries

As upsetting as it was to have to wake up in the morning, it was well worth it. I was picked up at my hotel, got a nice view of the island, and ended up at Stuart Cove's dive area. It actually was in a cute little cove. For less than the baggage fees would have been charged to bring it all down, I rented equipment, hopped onto a boat, and we were off.

Our first dive didn't start super well. Both my partner and I got swept away from the boat and had to work hard to get back to it. She ended up having to abort the dive, but was able to catch my breath and go under. (I think the only reason I was able to calm down and get to that point was that I'm accustomed to breathing on air from fire training. It made me doubly thankful to be a firefighter.) Once under, the whole group went over to a wall of sea life. It was breathtaking. There were fish and coral all around. It's so difficult to describe the immensely calm and yet excited feelings of being semi-weightless, surrounded in a world of water, and just serene. Towards the end of the dive, we went back to a ship wreck that was neat. The David Tucker used to be a British boat. They turned it over to the Bahamians, who promptly sunk it. I hadn't seen a shipwreck before, so this was extra special. I felt like I was in The Little Mermaid or something. After the dive, we motored to another part of the sea where the plane from Jaws 4 was sunk. This time, we were unguided, so it was good that my partner was able to do this dive. We wandered around the sea floor, examining the fish, coral, and other sea life. Again, the feeling of being in The Little Mermaid was present. There's something amazing about just wandering the sea floor, leaving your sights up to happenstance. It leaves you speechless, even if you weren't on air. (I'll upload pictures as soon as I get them off my water camera.)

Of course, between having to wake up in the morning and tiring myself out diving, I slept on the bus ride back to the hotel. I was going to take a nap there, but instead we headed to Junkanoo beach, which is the beach within walking distance of downtown Nassau. We grabbed a couple of Bahama Mamas from the stand on the beach, and went to enjoy the water. Unlike Cable Beach, this beach is very clean, although it is quite "rocky." The "rocks" are actually pieces of coral. Eventually, I settled into my favorite method of enjoying nice weather- I napped in it. After napping on the beach, we went back to the hotel and sat by the pool, relaxing. Some Bahamian cam up to us to talk. Everybody there is so friendly. They all want you to stay. This was not the first local to try to convince me that it would be easy for me to get a job and move there. After another nap, we went hunting for nourishment. Imperial was the local place that everybody recommended, and I really wanted to try it, but it didn't seem to be serving dinner that late. Instead, we went next door to some touristy place. I was able to get plantains and "peas and rice" there, as well as more of the Bahamian soda. (The peas are black-eyed, not the green kind.) Finally, some local food.

After dinner, we wanted to go out and do something, but were a little saddened by the thought that the only nightlife in town was at a bar or a club. Even those would probably not be too crowded as there were no cruise ships in port and hence fewer tourists to party in town. We wandered around, waiting for things to get started. We found our way to this cute little park that was all covered in Christmas lights. No pine trees here, the palm trees were the ones lit up. We were sitting in the park, confabulating, when we started to hear music.

We got up to investigate what the sounds were. It turned out that they were having some sort of alumni reunion event. Several people from a particular fraternity were going to put on a step show. In the stands were plenty of sorority alumnae as well. We sat in the bleachers and watched. It was a ton of fun. First, the music was great. Second, the MC was hilarious. He kept making fun of the "Old School" alumni. Then he introduced us to the "Middle School" alumni, his age group. But when the "New School" alumni performed (and put the step dances of the other groups to shame), suddenly he was younger and belonged to them. Overall, it was a great show, much more fun than anything we could have planned. I was so happy that we stumbled upon this.

Lights in the park

Lights in the park


Junkanoo Beach

Junkanoo Beach

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Bahamas Comments (0)

Finding my sleep

After sleeping in, we headed over to Cable Beach. You get on a bus in downtown Nassau, and when it happens to be full enough, it takes off. There's no real schedule. In the cable beach are, there was a small straw market and a whole bunch of big fancy hotels. They were pretty controlling of the beach. One wouldn't even let us on it. Another wanted to charge $60 to use a chair for a day. Yeah right. They didn't even clean the beach- there was a ton of washed up seaweed all over the place. We relaxed on our towels for free.

The water was a bit too full of sediment to go snorkeling, which kinda stank, but the sand was nice to go walking in. The sky was at the perfect level of overcast to read and sleep on the beach, which was what I did most of the day. I really needed the sleep and the relaxation, but by the end of the day, I was kind of ready to do something.

We went back to the hotel and I did something. I took a nap. Ok, so maybe I wasn't quite done relaxing. After I got that out of the way, we took the ferry over to Atlantis and Paradise Island. Just like the buses, it waits until it's full and then heads over. We were sitting on the still boat for a while, but didn't really care. The "no rush" attitude had completely permeated through to our bones. I was a little perturbed that the cost of the ferry didn't include the cost of the "tour guide' who kept telling us where all the celebrities lived on the way over. Really, I don't care. Tell me about something Bahamian.

Again, when we got there, we just wandered around, without much aim. We happened upon their straw market, which was extremely over priced compared to the Nassau one. We eventually made our way over to the gardens by the cloisters. As it was now after dark, there was nobody else there. That just made them that much more spectacular. They were lit up nicely and had a serene feeling. I highly recommend going there when you have a chance to have them to yourself.

We ate dinner at a pretty touristy place that only had generic american food and some seafood, so I didn't really get a taste of the Bahamas, but it was food and not as expensive as everythign in Atlantis. Atlantis is a very high-end hotel. The grounds were very well kept and had all sorts of neat plant arrangements and fountains. The surrounding shops are expensive, and the internal ones are extremely high-end and expensive.

However, Atlantis has a casino. I went to gamble away a dollar on the penny machines and ended up winning over $4. I was surprised to find myself lucky enough to come away richer than when I had entered. We also found our way to the large aquarium on site. The aquarium was one of those walk-through types where the fish swim over your head and you get to walk around the whole huge tank. It was huge! I felt like we were in Little Mermaid land, which is probably what they intend you to feel like. I'm really glad we explored and found it.

Atlantis

Atlantis


Cloisters

Cloisters


Statue in Cloister Garden

Statue in Cloister Garden


Casino ceiling

Casino ceiling


Atlantis Aquarium

Atlantis Aquarium


Be and Big Bubba

Be and Big Bubba

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Bahamas Comments (0)

Lucky?

Due to excessive traffic, my time to transfer buses to get to the airport was reduced from 20 mins to -10 mins. To catch the next bus wasn't too long, but I'd end up pushing it at the airport. Not cool. Until, I got a call from Spirit that my flight had been delayed about 4.5 hours. I've never been called by an airline before, but thought that was really nice of them. Ultimately, that call saved me money as I took the slow bus to the airport, they fed me dinner, and even gave me a credit (without me having to ask for it. I was actually impressed with the way they handled things. Things actually turned out ok. Instead of having a stressful rush, I was already starting to decompress, relax, and get into my book. The original plan was to spend the night at Mike's in Miami, but since I wasn't getting to the airport until 4am, and he is dealing with finals, I figured that wasn't such a great idea. Instead, I slept on a bench in the airport for a while and then he and I went to breakfast at a more reasonable time. As I was going to sleep, I was thinking to myself "thank goodness I have the ability to sleep anywhen, anywhere, or I would not be so ok with this." I seriously dread the day that I lose my sleeping skills, because that would mean the end of my adventures. It was nice to catch up with my brother, but then it was time to be back at the airport for the rest of the trip- the Bahamas!

Upon arrival in the Bahamas, there was a live band playing in the airport. There was just something about the weather and the calm attitudes of everyone there that allowed me to begin decompressing almost instantly. Ilana and I got a taxi to downtown because there are no buses (oddly). It was pouring outside and there was dock traffic as everybody was there to see the new largest cruise ship. It took way too long to get downtown because we were stuck in traffic, but I didn't care. It didn't matter and I didn't even sit there and try to calculate anythign about the road efficiency in my head. We just chatted and chilled in the car.

We got to the Towne Hotel, where we were staying and got settled in. It was actually a pretty nice place, especially for what we paid. The walls were covered in Bahamian arts and crafts. While it might be considered gaudy or tacky by some, I thought it was more of a "character" adder. There was a macau in the lobby. While they had free internet, I really didn't feel the need to use it right away, as I was in relaxation mode.

The rain had just stopped, so we went foraging for food. There were folks using industrial brooms to sweep the water into drains all over the place so that it wouldn't puddle up and the floors/streets would dry faster. It also meant that they wouldn't be slippery sooner. What a neat job!

The food in my first Bahamian meal wasn't super Bahamian except for the Bahamian Goombay soda, which is really good. The restaurant was outdoors, which was nice. They were playing standard american pop music though, which disappointed me until I realized that they were only playing the good stuff and none of that kids pop and fake rock that the stations at home play.

The straw market happened to be right near where we ate. We walked through the straw market and admired the crafts. In some stands, the ladies were sitting there and making them as they waited for tourists to come through and buy. I asked one of the ladies where she learned it and she said that her mom taught her. I think it's a lot cooler when the people who are making it are selling it, as opposed to many places I've been where they have some room full of "artisans" making the stuff and completely separate people hawking the goods. There were a lot of little straw bags and baskets available, mostly with various Disney princesses or Dora the Explorer embroidered on them. Maybe that part wasn't completely authentic. Also, all of the stands had knock-off designer bags. If anybody ever wanted a "Coach" bag, this was the place to get it.

We wandered around town, doing a little shopping for souvenirs. We happened upon a mall that was decorated for Junkanoo. The Junkanoo stuff was really colorful and exciting. Eventually until we found ourselves near some of the tourist sights, so we wandered over to them. We walked around a little fort until we happened upon a tour group who was going into it. So, we followed them. We had a pretty nice view of the city and surrounding area. Right next to the fort was the Queen's stairs, another tourist attraction, so we climbed them.

We went back to town and got groceries. In the store, there were mostly standard foods that you could get at home (boxed mac & cheese, Lay's chips, Little Debbie treats). There were a few Jamaican spices, more beans, and some interesting jellies, but not anything crazy.

After our uber-Caribbean dinner of PBJ (and of course a nap), we wandered around the dock area. None of the night clubs were open yet, so we sat on the pier. In the night, we could see straight through the water to the bottom. There were a few neat big fish and a ton of tiny 2 inch long fish. All of the sudden, a whole school of the little fish would jump out of the water in unison. Then, silence. Several minutes later, this would repeat. We didn't plan on seeing the jumping fish, but they were actually really cool to witness.

We wandered over to the Hilton, which used to be a British Colonial building of some sort. Inside, there was a huge gingerbread village. This thing was super detailed and covered an area as big as several rooms. Some of it was even motorized. We didn't know it was going to be there, but since it was an we were, we spent some time admiring it. When the clubs opened, we headed over to da Balcony, which was playing some good music. We hung out on the balcony and watched the midnight traffic jam on the street below. I don't quite understand what the traffic jam was all about, but we thought it was funny.

Eventually, we found our way back to the hotel and drifted off to more sleep in the gorgeous weather.

Hotel Lobby

Hotel Lobby


Artisan

Artisan


Straw market

Straw market


Junkanoo at the mall

Junkanoo at the mall


from the top of the queens stairs

from the top of the queens stairs


Looking in the cannon

Looking in the cannon


Gingerbread house at BCH

Gingerbread house at BCH

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)