17 March 2016 Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Alright, so funny start to this trip. I’ll preface this with a little background, though. I arrived to Nassau just after noon today, a day earlier than my friends are due to arrive (cheaper today than tomorrow, from NY). Tonight I will be couch surfing with a man I’m sure will be a great host (let’s hope) named Eddie, then will be meeting my friends at Atlantis tomorrow for the remainder of the weekend.
I arrive to JFK in good time and with no issues, I clear security quickly, and I prepare for departure. My zone is called last – which I’m perfectly happy with, since it’s usually just a dash to hurry up and wait. When I get on the plane I find that I’m conveniently situated in a middle seat surrounded by two people who like to take advantage of both their arm rests, leaving me sans. The woman in the isle seat falls asleep instantly…elbows out, and all. And my television doesn’t work. Right after the seat belt sign was turned off, I head to the back to stretch my legs and hat with the flight attendants (one of my favorite ways to pass time on flights). In conversation I mentioned (not complaining…more jokingly than anything) my seat situation and they immediately were beyond kind and said there was another open seat they’d move me to. When I told them I was headed to the Bahamas for a bachelorette party weekend, they handed me a bottle of wine on the house, led me to the open seat, – a window with extra leg room and no one in the middle – and said have fun! Okay, okay. I can’t say this is the first time this has happened… And okay, maybe it does happen a fairly often. But still, super nice of them!
The flight was smooth. I smiled as we landed seeing that familiar blue water; my favorite shade of sea. Then it got a little funny. I did just a little reading before I came down for this trip – mind you, I generally prefer not to read up on the place I’m going so that I leave myself open to a complete local experience, upon making local friends. I’ve been to the Bahamas on multiple occasions and I know how the taxi system works here. They charge you nearly $40 to get from the airport to downtown. I have wondered about a bus but haven’t tried it yet – again, not a common thing from the airport, as they generally don’t make a stop at the airport. I figured out that if you take a little walk to the nearest Shell gas station, you can in fact grab a bus from there. So, as I was going through customs I mentioned this to the man checking my passport. Ready for this? Bet you’ve never had small talk with a customs agent that has led to him standing up, exiting his both, saying while signaling with his hands, “come over here,” to you. Well, it happened, and it was great. He smiled and asked how do you know about that (in reference to what I mentioned to him about the local means). He laughed and explained a little. He told me exactly where to go and what to do and wished me luck before heading back into his booth.
As I walked out of the customs terminal are, I purchased a bottle of water so that I’d have change to properly pay my bus fare. This is when I got my second laugh. The woman behind the counter chuckled when I asked for quarters so I could pay for the bus. She said wished me luck as she told me it was a long walk. I walked out of the airport and headed down the road taxis use to exit the airport grounds (thank goodness I’m a light packer). As I’m walking down the side of the road in the bit of grass along the side, a man honks. He yells, “taxi?” And I proceed to tell him I don’t more than eight dollars on me (I didn’t want to break a bigger bill and had just broken the ten for water and cab fare). We spoke across the road to one another for a few moments then after a millisecond of debate in his head, he then told me to hop in and that he would take me to the bus stop because it was on his way anyway. Relax, he was legit. I know the routine…he really was a cab driver, I wasn’t being naive.
Joe was his name. What a sweet man, he was. He drove me a good 15 minutes from the airport to a bus stop that was just about half way to where I was going and didn’t ask for anything. I gave him the remaining change I had – keeping just enough to pay the bus fare, and took his card so I could call him if my friends and I decide to stray from Atlantis over the weekend. Anyway, Joe told me about his upbringing and different cultural aspects of growing up in the Bahamas. I love taxi talk.
I hopped out of Joe’s taxi and into a passing bus, and instantly felt like I was back riding in a Matatu in Kenya (Google it – even Google won’t do that experience justice, though). Me and the locals and few in between. I love that. I got off in downtown and found a neat little bar where I met some great people, some traveling by cruise others who had flown down for a little stay. Side note: I got pooped on by a bird on my way to the bar. This happens to me far too often, but they say it’s good luck so j guess I can’t complain?! Anywho, Gary and Donna from Philly, Lauren from Atlanta, Justin & co. from CT, and all the others (did you know I like making friends?) were great company.