Coconuts and Bananas in the Bahamas

bananasKiki, Peter, and papa. We went to the Bahamas to inspect coconuts, check out how sandy the beaches are, smoke crappy cigars, and to eat all the conch salad. The Bahamas is a group of 700 islands known for pirates and great weather. Although the opportunities to meet pirates are limited, many other interesting meetings took place…

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Saturday

The trip was very international from the beginning. Peter was coming from Canada, Kiki from Puerto Rico, and myself from the US. First, we flew with Peter to Philadelphia and then to Nassau. We heard on the radio that people celebrate bike to work day to save the environment. Cool. We celebrated fly to work day. As we boarded the second plane, we sat beside a guy who was flying from Washington, DC to the Bahamas. He was very interested in solar collectors. Cool, we like discussing potential business ventures.

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The guy, Aaron, is Bahamian. He was very eager to educate about the Bahamas. He explained how the color of water differs around various islands. As a former pilot, he knew what he was talking about. Aaron also gave a list of cool spots and offered a ride from the airport to the hotel:

Aaron: Guys, where are you staying?
me: Nassau.
Aaron: I can give you a ride. But it’s a pickup truck and you’d have to sit in the back.
me: Piotruś, thoughts?
Peter: Yeah, let’s do it!
Aaron: OK, but first we need to go to my place so I can drop off my stuff.

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We landed and made it to the Bahamas in one piece. Aaron’s son picked us up and took us to their residence.

me: This is a nice place. I like the coconut trees!
Aaron: Haha, would you like to try some?
me: For sure.
Peter: What else do you have here?
Aaron: Several types of mangos, bananas, pomegranates, coffee, cocoa, oranges, apples…

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Our new friend gave us a tour around the garden/plantation. Food-wise, he is, pretty much, self-sufficient. He offered to try fresh cocoa seeds, and young coconut water and flesh. Aaron used a machete to chop the shells of coconuts. We used some parts of the shells as spoons to eat the young coconut flesh.

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It was a very cool evening, indeed. We experienced the real Bahamas straight from the airport with backpacks on the pickup truck. Later, Aaron gave us a tour around the island and Nassau. He knows everyone and everyone knows him. As he wanted to show us many places, he was stopping very often. Several times he stopped in the middle of the street and left the car there. He introduced us to local delicacies, such as, conch salad, live crabs, and deep-fried everything.

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Apparently, tourists and locals hang out in different areas. The former, typically, stay on Paradise Island. The latter at Potters Cay. We went to Potters Cay. We were, perhaps, the only white non-locals there. The place has a bunch of shops with friendly-priced local food, beer Kalik, caribbean music, and fresh sea-food.

Aaron: Guys, do you want to see an area where you should not go?
me: Yeah, of course!
Aaron: Let’s go then.

Aaron took us to a poorer neighborhood. It wasn’t anything special, but it was in a sharp contrast to the big wealthy resorts found on Paradise Island.

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Later in the evening Kiki made it to the Bahamas. We all met in our hotel room. The night was coming down and we were looking for cigars. We found some lady on the street:

Peter: Are these original?
lady: Yes, sure. It’s written Cuba.

Of course, they were cheap crap. Anyways, we got three of them. They turned out to be really shitty. Nonetheless, we were enjoying the cigars as much as we could. Kiki became a chain smoker immediately.

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Cigars were not enough to enjoy the night. We got lemons from the hotel and mixed some pre-drinks. Local alcohol did the job and we went to the club in downtown. The place was located on a terrace on the first floor; perfect for a warm night. The music was pretty good and the club was packed. So packed that someone managed to steal Kiki’s phone and wallet…

Sunday

Sunday was meant to be a slow day. After a busy night; we woke up late to the sound of a loud air conditioner. All we needed then was food. As we were checking out various options, the place Fat Tuesdays caught our attention. Aaron mentioned it yesterday. We were unsure, however, whether he recommended it or discouraged us from going there. The place is on the beach, so we decided to give it a try. As yesterday, we ordered local delicacies: conch salad, peas’n’rice, fried conch, and local drinks. After getting the bill, we quickly realized that this is the place that Aaron told us not to visit. On the other hand, the waitress found for us a phone number of the prime minister of the Bahamas. Not bad, eh?

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We took Kiki to Potters Cay, where the locals hang out. On our way, we visited the Straw market. You got it. That’s the place where everything is made of straw. Following Kiki’s experience from the sunny Puerto Rico, we got cool hats. Peter’s hat is supposedly the best hat to protect him from spiders. Peter also got a cool purse: Dora the Explorer.

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In Potters Cay, we got more food. We started a conversation with friendly locals and learned about local drinks: Bahama Mama, Nassau Royale, Goombay Smash. We then came back to the hotel, got the cigars, and went on a mission to get some lemons and ice (for the drinks). It took two or three hours. God knows. The point is, after we came back with the ice, it already melted. Fortunately, McDonald’s was able to provide McIce, which was good enough for drinks. We came back to the hotel again to chill by the swimming pool. Peter was trying to have a conversation with a parrot, Maximilian. The latter wasn’t very responsive. Bastard.

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Monday

The big plan for Monday was to take a ferry to visit another island. Without much thinking, we woke up at 5 am, got a local breakfast for $2 (couscous with canned mackerel/tuna), and went to the port. The ship was supposed to depart at 8am. I went to buy the tickets, but the cashier said that a 3-hour cruise is $130 per person. What the hell? That’s a rip off. That’s definitely not the price that we were all expecting. Fuck it.

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Instead, we decided to go to Paradise Island. That’s the place if you’re interested in exclusive resorts, members-only clubs for millionaires, expensive residences, and shady businesses. We were exploring the area. Notably, there was a place that looked like a religious spot. Also, we went to the beach to enjoy the clear water and Bahamian sand. The sand was interesting, indeed. It was very sticky. Even after taking two showers, I still had a lot of it in my hair and all over my body.

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Paradise Island was a great place to find some postcards to send them to our international friends. We wrote 20 postcards, easily. To give enough attention to each and every recipient, we spent some two hours writing creative messages. On our way back from the island, we took a ferry that disembarks at downtown Nassau.

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Later in the evening we went to a dinner and invited the boss, Aaron, to join us. He was happy to hear about our experiences in the Bahamas (well, maybe besides the incident in the club…). The conversation was very fruitful. We learned how to travel around the Bahamas by boat and/or plane on a dime. How?

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  • Boat. Go to the port and meet the dockmaster. Ask for incoming and outgoing ships. Set up an appointment with the captain or a crew member and ask to take you on board. That should work well on (semi-)cargo ships.
  • Airplane. Go to the general aviation (non-passenger) area at the airport. If a pilot shows up, ask them to take you on board. You may get a place between toilet paper and oranges, but that’s fine. The trip should be no more than $30.

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Tuesday

We packed our stuff and took a cab to the airport. At the airport, they stopped Peter and were inspecting his luggage very carefully. Maybe because of the Dora the Explorer purse? That’s a topic for a different blog post…

Overall, the Bahamas is a cool place with very friendly people and beautiful beaches. What I regret the most is that we got to visit only two out to 700 islands. The boss said that each island is different and visiting just Nassau provides a limited experience. Nonetheless, I’m sure I’ll be coming back to eat more conch salad, coconuts, and bananas.

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