17.05.2014 - 17.05.2014
Relaxing, self-indulgent, easy….those are typically the last 3 words I think of when planning a vacation. Those words are for vacationers. Not me.
Vacationers come home with big smiles, clean clothes, and shiny trinkets purchased at junk stores that still have the “Made in China” stickers affixed. Vacationers come home with good hair and pedicures that are still as fresh as the day they left the spa a week before. Vacationers bounce back into work with a photo album full of glossy pictures, ready for their 8:00 a.m. meeting without missing a beat.
But vacationers come home with nothing they didn’t have before they left, except maybe a tan and a good night’s sleep.
Travelers come home completely exhausted, with their last pair of underwear inside out because they ran out of clean ones the day their flight home was cancelled due to hurricane force winds. Travelers come home with no money, dirty shoes, and the closest thing to a souvenir is the paper wrist band still attached to their arm from the all night beach party they left to run to the airport. Travelers come home with sunbleached hair, chipped toenails, blisters, and a slight case of food poisoning from eating that fish the local guy grilled on the sidewalk.
Travelers come home with a renewed sense of who they are, a feeling of accomplishment, and an awareness of the world they didn’t have a week before.
I rarely vacation.
Day One: Flying into Great Exuma – The Necklace of the Bahamas
I have heard the Exuma island chain, made up of some 365 cays stretching for 100 miles, referred to as a necklace of sparking jewels. It appears like glittering emeralds and pearls scattered across a turquoise sea filled with forgotten hideaways, protected harbors, and deserted beaches.
Viewed from the air, it was dazzling.
We made an uneventful landing and were in a taxi within minutes, headed to Augusta Bay to spend a night while waiting for our Canadian friends, Keith and Sydney, to arrive.
Augusta Bay is a small boutique hotel that sits on a private beach just steps from shallow turquoise water. It was clean and quiet, and, with the exception of the shiny black comforter in my room which had a slightly 1970s-porn quality about it, we loved it.
We had loads of sunshine and nothing to do but kill time, so Matt and I walked down the beach, which was dotted with small hotels. When we reached the end of the hotels, we found a pretty little beach on the other side of a small rise.
If we had stopped there, we would have been happy. It had beautiful water, swaying palm trees, and what gets my vote for "most interesting snack bar."
But we kept walking to see what was farther down the beach.
That’s when we found Jolly Hall Beach. We were greeted with a fine curve of soft, white sand shaded by casuarina trees and bordered by clear, shallow water of the most brilliant turquoise.
It was, without a doubt, one of the finest beaches I have ever been to.
And we were alone.
THIS is why I love the Bahamas.
That afternoon, we decided to head into George Town. I’m not sure what I expected, but considering it was the capital on one of the larger islands in the Bahamas, the largest city in a 100-mile island chain, and home to an international airport…… I expected more.
The guys decided to stop for a beer while Teresa and I strolled through the shops.
Teresa and I were finished in approximately 8 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, it was sweet. It was quaint. It was friendly……But it was so SMALL.
More a village than a city, George Town is a smattering of shops and eateries on one street that circles a small lake. It takes longer to walk through the average Super Target than it does to walk around George Town. I’m pretty sure my first apartment was bigger than George Town. And the widely touted "straw market" reminded me more of the Bean Station Flea Market than a craft market, well.....minus the boiled peanuts, discount cigarettes, and bootleg copies of Hank Williams, Sr.
Unfortunately, we had expected ……more….so we had asked our taxi not to pick us up for 2 hours. Sure, we could have just called another taxi. Except that we had just purchased all the liquor for the trip and put it in that taxi’s trunk.
We did the only thing we could do with 2 hours to kill.
We headed for the bar.
We found a waterfront view and cold goombay smashes at the Club Peace & Plenty. There are harder ways to spend a couple of hours.
We were pretty sure that with $300 worth of free liquor in his trunk, we’d never really see Vencil again, but he showed up, exactly 2 hours later.
We had him drop us off at Catch a Fire, a restaurant that has the best sunset view on Great Exuma.
And yes, we left all that liquor in his trunk again. We are a very trusting bunch.
Catch a Fire was fantastic. All Balinese teak furniture, tiki torches, and bougainvillea….right at the edge of the water, with a sunset view.
Although, they seemed to run out of signs when it came to the men's room. This either means "Men's Room," or it means "Women who do not wear skirts are men." I'm still not 100% sure.
They also had Bahama Obama. At least that’s what he told us his name was. I think he was a little more Bahama Flavor Flav. He was the self-proclaimed Fun Meister of Catch a Fire and he tried to make dancers out of me and Teresa.
30 minutes past the time we told Vencil to pick us up he still hadn’t shown. We were sure he had decided the $300 worth of liquor in his trunk was worth more than the $30 cab fare we owed him and was probably hosting a party somewhere on the other side of the island waiting for Bahama Obama to show up. Just as we were about to give up, he came rushing into the parking lot, apologizing because he’d started watching the basketball game and forgot about us.
What he lacked in punctuality he made up for in honesty.
We bid good-night to Catch a Fire, Bahama Obama, and the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and called it a night.