Colorful people

Oceans and Seas
June 15th 2011
Published: June 17th 2011
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Kelly speaking. I thought I'd add a few details that made an impression on me, and see if I can add a pic or two. The people here are are delightful. The whole place is full of Reggae music, and the people all have reggae accents. The guy we bought hats from in the sweltering bazarre (full of 100s of tiny stalls with individual vendors) eagerly told all all sorts of factoids, personal, historic and random.

Historic: Our hotel was once bought by a rich Canadian, Sir Harry Oaks. When Harry arrived in the Bahamas, he revolutionized race relations, by starting to pay blacks the same wages as whites. One day, he went in the British Colonial hotel with a black buddy, and they said they'd serve Harry, but not the other guy. So Harry bought the hotel, and changed that policy. Everyone loved Harry. Well, almost everyone. He was murdered. Our hat vendor said because he upset the status quo. In the local airport, I found a book about it, so I'll learn more.

Personal: Our shop keeper served in the US marines, and was at one point stationed in California.

Random: the stuffy maze of shops is a temporary location, after the old one blew away in a hurricane...10 years ago! But, they will move in to a new place in a month or two. Sure enough, there is a beautiful building, surrounded by columns, and storage shed like doors, and large central area. Then, something scampered, and he tried to whack it, and said, "We have, how would you call them? Hampsters?"

The boat captain on our glass bottom tour was even more entertaining. He could have his own reality show. As we putted along past the cruise ship slips, he literally told us who owned each of the houses on Paradise Island, which is a thin strip of land slightly separated from Nassau. The first one was Mick Jagger. Lenny Kravitz owned two of them. He's Bahamian, you know? His mom was the fat lady in Good Times. One house was once owned by a lady who had 4 husbands. The first 3 died of mushroom poison. The 4th one died of a blow to the head, since he didn't like mushrooms. Oprah owned a house. There were also bankers and sheiks. The nicest house was owned by the guy who ran the lottery for the Bahamas.

Atlantis is also on Paradise Island. We opted against staying at Atlantis. It looked like a mashup of Disney Land and Las Vegas, with an endless river and water park. But it's incredibly beautiful to look at. 4 huge pink buildings, with Disneyish upside down bell caps, that light up at night. There is a bridge between two of the buildings, which the captain explained was a luxury suite, and it costs $100k to stay there for 4 nights. Michael Jackson was the first guest, so it's called the Michael Jackson suite. It's booked 5 years in advance, and everyone who's anyone has stayed there. Even Stevie Wonder. "They could have put him in the basement, and he wouldn't of known the difference," said the captain. The Atlantis was built by one rich guy, who everyone was said to be very nice. He built it for his son, who unfortunately died in a helicopter accident. He split the price of the bridge from Nassau with the Bahamas. The other bridge was donated by a lady who made her fortune selling paint.

Anyway, in short, this captain was a wealth of information. The glass bottom boat tour was the highlight of the day. Afterwards I was staggering from the Bahama mamas they poured down us, and knowing all sorts of stuff I wouldn't have otherwise. We passed some boats that he said the locals raced and made the sails out of some kind of wood. Janel said they looked like fallucas on the Nile. We drove over to them and bantered.

Fast forward to Eleuthera. As janel said, the plane didn't scare her at all. She was smiling and saying it was fun. The views are amazing. And you could look right out the cockpit window, so even landing was pretty interesting.

When we first went out on the beach in front of the Sky Beach Club, we were amazed. It was deserted, as we'd been told beaches usually are in the Bahamas. It was easily one of the most beautiful places I'd ever seen. The sand was like silk, like talcum powder. The water a spectacular tourquoise, which smeared to a pink pastel as the sun set.

Today, we're looking forward to driving to the south end of the Island. McClaine Pinder finally showed up at 6 PM with our rental vehicle. A big smiling sweating very dark black guy, who immediately disarmed any irritation we might have with him for messing up with his jolly attitude and profuse apologies. Rental procedure: he hands us the keys to a truck, and says, "here, go have fun, we'll square up when you leave. I'll make sure to make it a good deal for you. What a day. Now I'll go home and go to bed." But then each time he began to leave, he turned to give us a few incomprehensible details about how to navigate the island. "It's only one road, so you can't go wrong...except, the only place is up by the north, if you want to go to Harbour Island. It's not hard, but, there's a road (through a swamp or something) you need to take (instead of some other one)...and then, of course, don't drive in to the ocean, and (something about 3rd Cay)..." Anyway, I'm sure we'll figure it out.

ps-today is our 14th anniversary. Janel says mention this, since yesterday, she titled her blog June 15th, which is our anniversary, that we celebrated yesterday, but is actually today, so we get to celebrate twice.


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