Monday, February 19, 2007

Time in Paradise - then back to reality

a rainbow at sunset on nassau harbourCornelia and I just returned from a week in the Bahamas, on Paradise Island at the Paradise Island Harbour Resort, the same place we went last January. It was beautiful, to say the least, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s - even though it did rain one day. The best part about the rain - at sunset there was a rainbow - and I got to the water's edge in time to capture it.

We spent as much time as we could on Cabbage Beach, though being the white boy, pale face, cracker that I am, I had to limit my time because I would look like a lobster if I didn't. But we did enjoy the warm weather.

Granted, the hotel in which we stayed was not Atlantis, but of course we didn't pay $500 a day either. And in case you want to buy a day pass to Atlantis, they're $88 a person to use the pool and go to the restaurants and casino. And don't think of trying to get into the pool without paying. They have very efficient security people there - courteous, but firm. Basically no pay, no play. You can romp in the ocean for free.

Speaking of the ocean, it was not quite warm enough for swimming , though Cornelia did take a couple of dips in the crystal waters. That was after we told every Bahamian slick talker that we didn't want to (a) jet ski; (b) para sail; (c) buy a drink; (d) rent a chair; and Cornelia did not want her hair braided. Not to speak ill of the folks there, but some of them can be pushy.

The Bahamas doesn't have any personal income or sales tax because it makes so much money off tourism. Something tells me these guys were looking for some undeclared income, but a jet ski ride costs $120 an hour, so you had better love to jet ski.cabbage beach, paradise island bahamas

But who can argue with walking down a beach like this one? It was gorgeous and the sands were warm and the water was a breathtaking color of aqua. Like the Bahamian flag only real.

Coming home was easier than I thought it would be. Nassau Airport is notorious for long lines and you do have to go through three levels of security before reaching your gate. And because our plane was headed to DC we had to go through another check-in. Carrying your passport and checking in was no big deal.

One funny incident did happen at the snack bar in the airport. I had noticed that some of the Bahamians had a little attitude when it came to tourists. Nothing blatant, no open hostility, just a kind of "what the hell do you want?" attitude. In this snack bar they had one of the popcorn machines that uses hot oil to make the popcorn. The thing about the old-time poppers is that they can spit out old maids that don't pop as well as the popcorn and if you get one on you it is like a burning b-b made of corn.

So one of my fellow travelers was apparently looking for the girl behind the counter, because he wanted some popcorn. I heard her answer him "I a'int gonna ta get barned for you!" Then he started in on her about how she was supposed to be behind the counter and he wanted to buy some popcorn. The people in line with me (Americans) were kind of taken aback at her response, but what happened later was hilarious because these two started into it with one another.

Counter girl: "I'll tell you what, maybe you could stay back here and I'll get on the plane and leave."

Tourist: "Yeah right, maybe you could come and take my job, too. You want my car keys? How about my house? You want my girlfriend?"

Counter girl: "Ok! I'll take your job. You can stay here and work where I do and I'll go where you go."

Needless to say it was not a poster for hospitality. But both of them were probably pretty stressed out - him because he was hungry and had a plane to catch and her because he was probably the 11,000th tourist to come through that shop in the past three hours.

And when we did come back to Virginia, it was snowing. The contrast was stunning: Sunday morning I'm stroking bougainvillea flowers in the Bahamas; Sunday evening, I am shovelling snow in DC. And not just snow; ice. Bricks of it hard as cement and sharp as a sword. But the weather is supposed to warm this week in NoVa.

So if you decide to go to the Bahamas, enjoy yourself. It is truly breathtaking. I would stay away from Atlantis, though. It's a rip off. Everything is expensive and water is water and food is food. Save your money. Stay somewhere else and spend your cash on jewelry or clothing or a massage or something. Atlantis is like Las Vegas in the Caribbean - the only man making any money off it is the one who owns it. If you don't mind that, fine. Personally, I thought it was too much for too little.

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