A Vacation That Changed Our Perspective On Travel

Trip Start Aug 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 09, 2010

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Where I stayed
Comfort Suites Paradise Island
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Arawak Cay Nassau
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Bahamas  , New Providence Island,
Thursday, July 15, 2010

My husband and I spent our 16th wedding anniversary vacationing in the Bahamas. The highlight of our trip was spent with our Host Couple, courtesy of the People to People Program/Bahamas Ministry of Tourism,The Foxes, Sandra and Kenneth are natives of the Island, and Friday evening, the day after we arrived, they were kind enough to welcome us by meeting us at our hotel. It was a nice coincidence that our 16-year anniversary was the day prior and they were celebrating their anniversary the day we met. The evening got off to a great start, with each of them giving us an informative history lesson on the island, the people and culture, as well as what they had planned for us the next day. Sandra welcomed us with a gift basket filled with fruit, and it only lasted a day in our room, before my hubby started eating it, but the Mangos were sooo good.
The Foxes have been hosting tourists on the Island for more than 10 years and it shows. They were gracious, very very knowledgeable and they were a fun/laid back couple to spend a day with. Kenneth, was so enthusiastic about spending the day with us, we knew we were in for a treat. He and my husband hit it off from the start, and Sandra and I were more relaxed, spending a lot of time talking and getting to know each other. The next morning after our meet and greet, they were at our hotel about 9:30am and we were on our way. Our 1st stop was away from Paradise Island and into Nassau at the local market where many of the locals shop daily for their produce and seafood. It is also where the fishing boats come in with the catch of the day, as well as the island mail and where generally many of the locals hang out, especially the elders. It was pretty fascinating to see it all, and to witness the hustle and bustle of the workers getting ready for the crowds to shop. The elders were sitting around getting ready to play cards, eat and swap stories. I apologize in advance, if I do not cover everything, because if I tried to, I would be here all night, Lol, The entire day was positively overwhelming, and we wish we had more time, but that is even more reason to return LOL! Next stop.....so many it's too many to list, but in short, we stopped at the Caves, a tourist attraction, but it was pretty neat to see, and there was a Daq Shack right out in front of it, and we stopped for about an hour and it was one of the best stops of our day. The Daiquiris were the best we have ever had anywhere...I actually had two, and almost ordered my third.... We rode through Araway Cay, and we had told Kenneth and Sandra we were here the night before for dinner, but we got to see it during the day which was nice. Along the way, we stopped at a roadside stand where a elder gentleman, was scorching fresh conch....Story has it, he has been at this location for more than 25 years...Kenneth got out of the car, and asked the elder would he give some samples to my husband and he did...Sandra purchased a fresh bag for herself to take home. Next Stop....(totally unexpected, but nice) we stopped at Sandra's parents home to check on her Dad. Her Mom was out for the day, but it was a pleasure to meet her Dad. Next stop..Sandra and Kenneth's home...(unexpected)...here we got to see their huge Mango tree in the yard....They also grow their own vegetables and herbs...Very nice middle class neighborhood. By the this time, we were all a little hungry, so the Foxes took us to a local Bahamian restaurant on West Bay Street called Seashell Cafe. This spot is away from the tourists and was a real treat to sit and dine among everyday folks on their lunch break, or just hanging out...The food here is awesome, and the atmosphere was like being at home..... I had spareribs, rice/beans, corn on the cob and mac/cheese all for under $15.00 You can't get a meal like that on Paradise Island!! My husband had a specialty dish called Mutton Curry, with mac/cheese, rice/beans, corn/cob, also for less than $15.00 Sandra and Kenneth had homemade stew with cornbread which the natives call "johnny cake", and that was very good. We were all so full it was hard to continue with our adventure, but we did...
This next stop would probably not have been done without the Foxes, because this is an area of Nassau that is considered dangerous, but what that really means is, poor. You will not find tourists in this area, unless they have a reason to be here, or are escorted here...but I am glad The Foxes took us here because to us this is reality and this is what we signed up for. Behind the walls of the Luxury Resorts, beautiful beaches and upscale shopping and restaurants, are people struggling to survive and feed their families, gangs, drugs and anything else you would find in a large metropolitan city. We knew 1st hand what to expect, because we see it everyday living in a big city...but on a larger scale. This area of town, definitely separates the rich from the poor; but one thing that inspired us the most about being here, was the stop we made at a small warehouse, where some locals were preparing for the upcoming Junkanoo Festival. Kenneth asked if it was okay that we stop in, and the young man inside not only said it was okay, he offered us a cold beer too! Once we walked inside, we were pleasantly surprised at what we saw. They were working hard creating these beautiful and colorful floats, for what I am sure will be a grand time. It is the one time when Bahamians celebrate their culture and heritage in grand style. There was also a little girl there (about 4 years old) helping her Mom with a costume. This was one of many stops, that really changed our perspective about this Island, the People and the way we travel....Yes we were in a poor section of town, and we got a few stares when we were getting back in the car from peeping neighbors, but it was all worth it...They were as curious as we were...This is the heart and soul Nassau... On our way back to our hotel after a long but fulfilling day, we drove around the local neighborhood, and I noticed this wall, that separated two side of the area..Kenneth explained to us, that many many years ago, that wall used to segregate blacks from whites. You did not cross that wall if you did not work on the other side as a servant or maid. The wall was never torn down, and it should not be, it represents history.... We learned and did so much on this day with the Foxes, It would take all night to tell it all, but I hope I was able to cover enough for you to get a feel for what we experienced. I will end this by telling you, that the People to People Program is a great way to experience Nassau and the Culture. As I said before, it has forever changed our perspective on travel and how we plan our future trips. We look forward to visiting again, and spending time with Sandra and Kenneth, our new Bahamian Family.
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