Adventures in the Bahamas

  I think the worst hurdle of traveling is getting to your destination and leaving the plane with all of your belongings and wits in tact. I am definitely not a morning person, so waking up in the middle of the night to arrive at the airport by 4:30 am for a 6:00 am flight is guaranteed to set me off. Listening to a screaming child for three hours is difficult, especially when that child is sitting in the seat in front of you.

My husband and I arrived in Nassau with our nerves frayed. Our accommodations at the Radisson Grand Resort on Paradise Island were fabulous and we were given an upgraded room at no extra charge. At that time, we were able to take advantage of a special travel deal over the August Civic Holiday weekend. If we charged everything to our room, we were allowed to pay for our expenses in Canadian dollars at par with the US dollar, which was at $1.52 Canadian. This was what we referred to as the deal of the century considering that the US dollar is the currency of choice in the Bahamas! Our hotel was next to the Atlantis and we used several of the facilities at the Atlantis.

I thought Toronto was hot and humid during the summer, but was not prepared for the intense heat and humidity at Paradise Island. Within a few hours of arriving, my feet began to swell and pretty much stayed that way during the entire holiday. Strappy sandals aren’t the best type of foot ware in this type of climate and by the end of the evening, I was walking bare foot back to the hotel!

As a people, Bahamians are very relaxed, happy and comfortable within themselves. Their cheerfulness extends to tourists and they can't seem to say or do enough to ensure visitors feel welcome. This was one of the first countries I traveled to where I had this impression from the minute I stepped off the plane.

I thought it would be a fun experience for us to take a water taxi over to Nassau Harbor. I think that I'm the only person on record who became sea sick on Barnacle Bill's Boat while it was sitting in dock! As the boat swayed to and fro, side to side, I started to become nauseous and dizzy. I heard a kind gentleman say to my husband (who was engaged in a conversation with another gentleman and certainly wasn’t paying much attention to me), "I really think you should get your wife off this boat!" The next thing I knew, my head was being pushed between my knees. When the nausea passed, my husband guided me off the rocking boat and on to the dock. The kind gentleman saved our seats and I was able to gather my wits and return to the boat for the return trip. Once we were moving, I was fine or as fine as I'd ever be on a boat. I have tried not to let my dislike for water and boats in general interfere with our traveling, but ocean cruises are definitely a non starter with this couple!

The trip to Nassau was interesting and our first destination was the Straw Markets which was a maze of stalls. Here you barter to get to the price you're willing to pay for T-shirts, straw mats, hats and bags, not unlike the Moroccan Kasbah. The Bay Street shops offered numerous opportunities to shop for clothing, jewelry and whatever else your heart desired, all duty free. Gucci watches were an excellent price. I wish I had known this before I bought mine. The question being, are these authentic? The police officers who patrolled the area all wore "Bobbie Hats", vestiges of the old British colonial way of life.

One of the most amazing experiences in the Bahamas was a visit to Blue Lagoon Island, home of the dolphins. The boat ride took approximately 20 minutes from the dock at Paradise Island. I faced this boat ride with considerable trepidation after my experience on the water taxi, but it was a delightful trip and several beautiful celebrity properties were pointed out to the passengers on the ride over.

Upon arriving, we were given a brief lecture on dolphins, how to pet them and respond to them when in the water. The eldest in captivity at the island was 31 years old and her calf was the youngest at 22 months. Dolphins are such intelligent animals and these had been incredibly well trained to interact with humans. The speed at which they swim is phenomenal and it's hard to believe that such an enormous animal could be so gentle in disposition. It was an absolute thrill to hug, pet and play with them. Their gentleness enables them to take food from your hand and even dance in the pool with you. I have read of situations where pods of dolphins have rescued swimmers from shark attacks by surrounding the swimmers. Apparently, sharks do not like the high pitched sounds the dolphins make and try and get away from the noise. The dolphins will continue to screech until the sharks disappear and then usher the swimmers to safer waters.

Dolphins, like wolves, have alphas and develop strong bonds with certain trainers. I had to chuckle when a calf's trainer tried to get its mother to swim backwards, its body half out of the water, for the tourists. The mother refused and it wasn't until her trainer came that she did the trick.

Another enjoyable experience was to wander through the grounds of the Atlantis Hotel, with its meandering walkways, rope bridges, waterslides, waterfalls and lush tropical gardens. Following the underwater tunnels through the magnificent aquarium, surrounded by thousands of tropical fish will bring you to a whole new level of awe. The vivid colors of the fish all intermingling among the gorgeous flora of the ocean aquarium was a magnificent spectacle to watch and I stood mesmerized.

Our visit was merely a short four day get away, but this beautiful island truly lives up to its name. It does feel as if you are in a paradise and it's not only the delightful surroundings, but also the warm hospitality that welcomes tourists.

  Next Installment:   Tangiers - Goin' to the Kasbah.      
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