In keeping with the Riding Rock’s excellent service, we are shuttled to the airport to check in for our flights and then returned to the hotel to sit in comfort. After insuring the plane is on time we are given another ride to the airport to meet the plane at our intended departure time.
Today the Caribbean airline is on time. I am not sure, but this could be one for the books. I also think there are extenuating circumstances. It is the Bahamas’ birthday and the pilots and everyone else involved, from the gate people to the luggage loaders, are free for the remainder of the day as soon as the flight lands in Nassau. A perfect reason not to run overtime I think.
We arrive in downtown Nassau to a very crowded scene. It is independence day, there are two very large cruise ships docked and the streets are elbow to elbow. Flying in we noticed how big Nassau is. We have only been able to check out a small portion of the city but from what we have seen if I were to come to the Bahamas for a vacation I would not choose Nassau as my final destination. It is way too crowded with a constant traffic jam downtown, the beaches are mediocre at best within Nassau, and I did not see much to hold my interest (unless you enjoy humongous resorts) for more than a couple of days. We only visited one of the out islands but I would have to assume most of the others are similar and would be much more conducive to relaxation than the hustle and bustle of the capital city.
Independence day is a holiday for all, but some folks do have to work. Most of the celebrations take place late in the evening the day before. All of the speeches, the parade and the fireworks happen between 9 pm and 1 am on the night of July 09. This, in theory, allows for the people to participate and sleep in on their day off. We should have such ‘out of the box’ type organizers in our country and there may be even more people watch the late night fireworks.
Although the festivities took place last night the locals are out in full force today. Drinking rules seem to be much more relaxed than in Canada. There are many folks sashaying along the beach promenade with bottles in hand.
This morning as we pass the Fish Fry we note a lot of action. A stage is being set up, several food booths are preparing for dinner and there is a dance group practicing. Thinking this is in response to Independence Day we decide we should stop by for a visit this evening and maybe get something to eat. Somewhere in our travels we find that the action around the Fish Fry and the adjacent park is a regular Thursday gig and has little to do with the holiday. We go anyway.
We walk along the beach observing the goings on and continue along the row of restaurants past all the hub bub. We get to the end of the row and the absolute farthest we are going to venture from our hotel and the sky opens up. We are in the middle of a major tropical downpour. The streets and sidewalks are flooded in a matter of minutes. We expect the deluge to last only a few minutes. I have never experienced a lengthy storm in the Caribbean. Before we are soaked we manage to find shelter in bar that is no longer operational. The owner and a couple of other fellows are at the doorway watching the rain and invite us in. We wait for the rain to abate. We wait, and we wait and we wait. The water on the sidewalks is getting deeper. One of our hosts is very drunk. A half hour goes by watching out the doorway. The drunk is getting a little boring and it is impossible to have a conversation with the other two fellows. I manage to discern that it is the ‘rainy season’ and the storms last at lot longer from July to November than during the non rainy season. The rain shows no sign of stopping so we decide to brave the walk home.
Drenched within 20 M, we wade along the sidewalk in ankle deep water. We trudge the 10 blocks to the hotel walking on the side of the road that is at least 5 cm deep.
Very few others are out from under cover and braving the torrent. Some folks inside their dry cars are laughing at the stupid tourists. Out in this kind of weather? But we are soaked and to walk the rest of the way to the hotel is of little consequence. I hear Debbie and B giggling as we tip toe through the puddles. Rain in the tropics is not cold, in contrast to the rain in the temperate climate we live, and it is like standing in a warm shower, only fully clothed.
We arrive at the hotel and all three of us stand on the entrance mat, drip and create huge puddles beneath our feet. I think we are a bit of comic relief for the staff. I am sure we are quite a sight. After his laughter has slowed, a very nice maintenance guy goes off into a back room to find three towels and his mop so we can get across the lobby without making it too treacherous for the other guests.
In our room we strip off our wet gear and don some dry clothes from our bags. Everything gets wrung out in the tub and each item produces a good stream of water headed toward the drain. We show B how we deal with ‘on the road laundry’ by rolling the wet clothes in a towel and stomping on it to get out the excess moisture. We then set up our laundry line between two chairs strategically placed in front of the air conditioner, turn the AC onto dry and hang what we need tomorrow directly in front of the blower. Our room now resembles a laundromat.
Earlier in the day, after alighting from the cab we take from the airport, Debbie notices she has left her sunhat on the backseat. We had made arrangements for the driver to take us back to the airport the following morning and he passed us his business card in case things change. We are able to get hold of his wife via phone and explain the circumstances. She says she will pass on the message. When the cab driver arrives the following morning, he tell us he had found the hat, had returned to the hotel but did not know our name so he kept it over night and Debbie could now have it back. Great guy!
The service we received from the Riding Rock arranging for us to catch our flight and the taxi drivers efforts to return Debbie’s misplaced hat seems typical of how Bahamians treat their guests. I will use a quote I have used before ” The place is the people”. If you believe this then The Bahamas is worth a visit and even though I do not have much time in my life to make return visits I would definitely consider returning to The Bahamas.