Day four of eight days of sun, beach and yes family. Actually it is six days of island sun and two days of ridiculous travel. By this count it is still the beginning of day four and it is a beautiful day, the clouds are lovely, white and fluffy; the sky is blue above them and the water is that perfect Azure Blue out to the reef break. What more could I ask for?
Let me say what I love about The Bahamas, about Nassau its capital. I have been coming here since my twenties; my first trip with a group of girlfriends for a long weekend of sun, fruity rum drinks with paper umbrellas we rarely left the resort and had a wonderful time. My next trip was a day trip was part of a cruise taken with a group of friends from the neighborhood; Nassau was one of the stops. I think this is when I really begin my love affair with the island. From this time on I begin to take somewhat regular trips, sometimes with friends other times alone simply to take a rest. Always I saw a little more and always I fell a little more in love. So what do I love? I love the people. They are smart, funny, engaging and engaged. In many cases the people I have met both casually and those I have come to know in a more intimate sense have the same issues and concerns we have in the US, they seek the same opportunities we seek. Because their nation is so much smaller the outcomes of decisions are felt more immediately and thus they can’t hide from the actions of their government. Of course their relationship with the US is interesting, better than 60% of their economy is tied to Tourism and thus to our economy. They watch us, our systems and actions in dismay I think as we struggle through some of or political idiocy.
I have a love/hate relationship with some cultural aspects of the Bahamas. There is a strong underlying moral nature to the Bahamian people, with 95% of Bahamians identifying themselves as practicing Christians predominately Protestant; the highest membership being Baptist, but with large populations in some of the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. This of course creates some underlying issues for those of us with a more liberal bent; there are several issues including civil rights for the LBGT community, Choice for Women and overall Poverty that continues to be a plague most across the island nation.
I love the music, different from that of Jamaica the Bahamian music is somehow more joyful and more accessible. I hear Bahamian Calypso, Soca and the Rake n’ Scrape of Junkanoo and immediately my body moves to the sounds, my heart soars a bit and I always smile. There is something absolutely infectious, difficult to ignore when you hear the sounds of Bahamian music your hips move to the sinuous sounds and rhythms, winding through your soul. Walking down Bay Street, the main downtown street for shopping music subtly streams from every store you can’t avoid the sounds. From the restaurants and bars above Bay Street Soca and Calypso blasts, your feet move in rhythm without your conscious effort.
Finally and not to be ignored is the food. I love Bahamian food, first how can you ignore the fact this island nation has access to fresh seafood, Grouper, Conch, Snapper and Spiny Lobster cooked a variety of ways and served from breakfast to late night dinners. Stew Fish, Fried Conch or Conch Salad all choices not to be missed, all served with a bit of Bahamian Bird Pepper and a squeeze of Lime. Then there is my absolute favorite breakfast, one I send my husband out for every single morning possible, Chicken Souse a protein rich broth made up of Lime juice, Allspice, celery, carrots and the all-important Bird Pepper (my husband likes Sheep’s Tongue Souse). Not to be missed are the native deserts, Guava Duff is just one of these. Finally, of course if you are interested in the alcohol drinks available these are all the normal drinks available fruity concoctions made with rum, there is one though native to the Bahamas most tourists miss, that is Sky Juice a drink in my opinion every person should try at least once.
SKY JUICE: Heavy on the Gin, Sweetened Milk, Coconut Water. Mixed in large batches for the day and served primarily down at Arawak Cay. This treat should not be missed! Never mind the froufrou drinks served in all the traps, the Bahamas’ Mama’s and Daiquiri’s these you can get anywhere even in the US, take a trip to Arawak Cay for fresh made Conch Salad and a cup of Sky Juice.
I love the Bahamas; I love the color of the island. The colors of the homes painted all hues from the artists’ palette from pastels to bright’ taken from nature. I love the sea the perfect blends of turquoises to azures and even the pale greens. I love the sounds of the ocean, the music drifting up from the pool somehow blending perfectly with the waves. New Providence, the main island where Nassau is located is undergoing major changes right now. I was stunned by the changes having not been back for nearly two years. This small island nation is undergoing major changes right now, trying to upgrade infrastructure and partnering with other nations to fund those upgrades. I wonder will the Bahamas lose what makes it truly unique and wonderful, will Nassau lose the history, culture and beauty that makes it spectacular and gives it a flavor all its own? I for one hope not.