We hadn’t planned to go to the Bahamas, but had to go somewhere because our airline tickets were about to expire and this seemed like a good destination – no snow storms and no icy winds.
Last year, we planned on going to Charleston, South Carolina, and booked our airline tickets. Later on, I found an even better deal for the flight and so I tried to cancel out our tickets… no luck. In fact, not only could we not get a refund, but we also had to use the tickets within a year’s time. Given the bad weather in the eastern part of the country, and given that we had to find some place that would use up the cost of the tickets, we chose to go to the Bahamas. To our great surprise, we learned that it was cheaper to fly to Nassau, as it is to fly to Charleston. Who knew? Anyway, we found ourselves headed to Nassau.
At the Nassau airport, an attendant called a taxi for us, and said that the ride would cost $18. However, when we got to the hotel, the driver told us the fee was $22. That was about what we had planned to pay, tip included, so we just gave her that amount and figured the tip was part of the deal. She gave us the fish-eye, but didn’t say anything.
As it turns out, the rate for taxis seems to be fluid. The airport authority told us the taxi ride would cost twenty dollars, sans tip, but the concierge at the hotel told us a taxi from the airport should have cost us twenty-two dollars, no tip included. Oh well. (After note: on our trip to the airport from the hotel, the taxi driver charged us eighteen dollars. See, the fee is fluid.)
We stayed at The Breezes in Nassau. It was an older place, about twenty years old in fact, and had a few flaws, but nothing we deemed serious. I was concerned about what we would find there because I read several reviews of the hotel, and they were all over the board. One review sparkled with compliments, while another was so bad, it sounded like the person who wrote it was stuck in hell with only alcohol to keep him sane. As far as we could see after our stay, there were some drawbacks, but nothing as bad as that one review.
The hotel was posh, but perhaps with a lower case ‘p’ rather than upper case. We found some of the flaws the ‘hell reviewer’ mentioned, such as chipped floor tiles (they were repaired) and maybe places where the paint needs to be touched up – none of it was that big a deal. The silver backing on our bathroom mirror was spotty, but given the Bahamian humid climate, that might be the reason for the problem. (In any case, I am no big fan of mirrors since I have gotten older) our room was a reasonable size, and once I figured out the thermostat, quite comfortable. As I said, the hotel has been around for a while, but the place was clean and taken care of.
The ‘hell reviewer’ was also bothered about seagulls in the swimming pool, doing what seagulls do. Since it was an outdoors facility, there would be no way to keep gulls from coming into the water, so what are ya gonna do? However, with the hotel right on the beach, if someone was truly concerned about seagulls in the swimming pool, they could swim in the ocean. Then again, seagulls were out there also… I guess the swimming options were limited
The hotel lobby had no front doors and stood wide open to the elements. The lobby floor and the front desk sported colorful tiles and bright paint. The walls were Bahamian Blue with inset cream-colored panels, and there was a chandelier covered with metal fish and seashells, hanging between mirrored blue columns. Overall, the place was very bright.
What they do when they have hurricanes was a real mystery to me. The open lobby extended further back to a showroom and a bar area, both open to the winds. I’m not curious enough to want to be there when something like that happens, but I did ask one of the bellmen what they did when a hurricane struck. He said they rolled down the shutters at the back, then clasped their hands together and prayed. On the way to our room, I spotted the roll-down shutters in the showroom area.
When we signed in at the front desk, we were given a rum based sweet fruit drink, which was a nice touch. The same thing happened when we arrived at our hotel in India, but then they also painted a red dot on our foreheads. That time in Delhi, I forgot to wash off the dot and when I woke up after a short nap, I thought I was bleeding.
In ways, being there was like being on a ship cruise in that you could eat almost any time of the day, and the booze was just as available. There were four bars, one of which was a pool bar with a gazebo affair built up over it. We could sit there with our drinks and look out at the ocean or at people playing water volleyball below us, while catching the cool breezes. Past the pools, a patio snack bar offered hamburgers, hot dogs, jerk chicken and conch fritters all day long. There were three more or less formal dining areas open at various times, but only two of these required reservations.
We wore purple wristbands that identify us as prepaid, so all we had to do was ask for food and drinks. There was a no tip policy in the hotel, which was one less thing to wonder about. (Note: later on, we learned that tipping was discouraged, but not totally forbidden. We figured some of the staff could use the tips, and so we dropped a few dollars along the way.)
I forgot to mention that they use American dollars in the Bahamas. The value is straight across, which meant we didn’t have to do mental calculations every time we bought something. The Bahamas have their own currency of course, but we always got our change in American, even the coins.
After unpacking and getting our bearings, we wandered down to the beach and sat down on one of the loungers that were there for hotel patrons. The sea was a lovely turquoise color, the sand soft and almost white, and the air was warm and sweet. It was a great temptation to fall asleep right there, especially after some eight hours of being on an airplane.
By the way, the hotel staff is very friendly and helpful. They met us with smiles and cheerful greetings.
Dinner that night was good, but nothing exotic – you could find the same things in any other luxury hotel buffet. the steam line is plentiful, and there is a side area for salads and for fruit, cheeses, and desserts. In the mornings, you can get anything from porridge and waffles to made-to-order omelets. I hoped we would run across some Bahamian dishes while we were there so I could report on them. (After note: there are several recipes at the end of the log)
Day one – Tuesday
After about twelve hours of sleep, things were so much better. We had planned to go on a morning nature hike offered by the hotel, but got there too late and missed it. Tomorrow will be a better day for the hike, anyway.
We went back to our room and I wrestled with the in-room WIFI for a while (more on this later).
In the afternoon, we went out for some snorkeling. Our cruise started at the wharf on Paradise Island (more on this later). The boat was a fifty-four foot catamaran sailboat called ‘The Flying Cloud.’ The captain took us out of the harbor under power, but switched to sail after we were clear. With the sails, the boat had a gentle rock to it that seemed to be missing when under power. Possibly, the double hull gave the boat its pleasant roll, rather than something more pronounced.
Most of the other passengers sat out on the forward deck and leaned up against the windows to catch the cool breeze. Since there was not a lot of room out there, Patsy and I stayed in the uncrowded saloon and caught the breeze there. The woman in charge of the downstairs area gave out tickets for rum punches and sodas (rum is beginning to be a theme on this trip). She was a hoot; she played Reggae music and danced with us, and she called all of us ‘sweet-pea.’
I usually have a beer review somewhere in my logs, but the only beer I could find was Kalik, a tasty lager, but nothing to report on, other than it was not Coors. Anyway, on our snorkling venture, I asked one of the crew about local beers. He told me his favorites were Doorknock, Bushpath, Mangone. I started to jot those down when the woman in the saloon laughed. “Do you know what he was saying,” she asked. I thought about it for a moment and then repeated the “beer” names like he said, and the shoe dropped. “In other words, there was a knock on the door, a path through the bush, and the man was gone. He was a “backdoor man.” She laughed again and said, “That’s right.”
We passed some very expensive places on our way out of harbor. There were yachts large enough to belong to a small navy, tied up behind homes that could have doubled for hotels. I thought if I had tried hard enough, I could have smelled money on the sea breeze.
Out at the snorkeling site, the water was about 73 degrees and clear. Once we were there, we got into our gear. Along with the usual fins and snorkel-and-goggle outfit, we also put on a positive flotation vest – sort of like a floatie for your body – to help us to hang over the coral beds without touching them. The boat crew told us to be careful and not touch the corals, as this would kill them.
Right after I entered the water, I came across a school of fish called Sergeant Majors. They were pretty cool to see. The Sergeant Majors were about six inches long, with a yellow upper body and a series of black stripes down their sides, which is the origin of their name. They swam along with me for a while, or maybe it was the other way around, but either way, they were right next to me for a long time. Obviously, Sergeant Majors are not too particular about the company they keep.
There were all types of coral on the ocean floor: ocher colored brain corals, some tiny ones shaped like delicate blue lace fans, while others looked like green cups or stubby purple stalks. I suppose I thought the coral beds would be massive homogeneous sorts of things, stretching out for miles, but this wasn’t the case. There probably are probably places where big reefs go on and on, but not where we were. The coral beds at our site seemed to be restricted to a small area, and it was every coral for itself.
After we swam for a while, our crew chummed the water, and soon, there were other fish joining the Sergeant Majors (no sharks, though). The new comers ranged from little tiny orange things that swam in and out of the coral, to big, dark blue Angel Fish types swam along in solitary splendor. There was one muddy colored thing, about a foot long, but it stayed next to the bottom and I didn’t see much more than a glimpse. The most colorful fish were the Parrot Fish. I think the name comes from their beak-like mouths rather than their colors. One that I saw had large scales about the size of a dime. As its body twisted, the scales caught the light and appeared to change colors.
As usual, I could not get a complete seal to my mask. Every so often, I had to come back to the boat so I could empty the water out and get re-sealed. That was okay though, I am not a strong swimmer and it gave me a chance to rest. On the other hand, Patsy got into the snorkeling so much that they had to yell at her to keep her from swimming too far away. She was head down and aiming for a near-by island when they stopped her.
By the time we were ready to leave the coral beds, several other boats joined up near us and it was crowded, so we got out of the water. The crew helped us with our gear, and we headed back into port.
That night, we had a show in the party area behind the lobby. We did some dancing and had a good time. An interesting note: the bartenders don’t pay attention to how much booze they pour into your glass. I had asked for a scotch on the rocks, and got a triple. This happened every time we ordered drinks. It may have contributed to our good time that evening.
Day two – Wednesday:
After breakfast, we got our nature walk. This was an interesting mixture of things, because the walk was along a concrete pathway that wandered through a green strip between a highway and a long, narrow fenced-off lake. A golf course was under construction on the other side of the lake, so this was not much of a nature area. However, there were signs that asked people to not feed the wild life, and since there must have been some wildlife, (why else the signs), this must have been a nature area.
The only wildlife we saw were some ducks, a few cormorants, and a half dozen turtles, but the plant life along the path was interesting. Many of the lower plants, like the oleanders and mock orange, were familiar to us, while other were not. There was an abundance of a plant called Sea Grape, which can be either a hedge or a small tree. Its round leaves are about the size of salad plates. We even saw some plates in the gift shop, made by pressing damp clay onto Sea Grape leaves and then firing them. This was not the season for it, but apparently, the plant produces a long string of round berries that look like grapes, hence the name.
Three wooden viewing platforms jutted out from the walkway and over some cattails so people could see the alleged wildlife. The water in the lake was the color of over-brewed tea, but there must have been some fish in there, since we saw cormorants, and cormorants don’t hang around a place with no fish.
The turtles tipped us off to the fact that someone must feed them. When we walked out onto one viewing area, five or six turtles came out of the cattails and swam right to where we were, looking up at us with hopeful attention: so much for people obeying the signs.
Further along the trail, there was a large sculpture about as tall as a telephone pole, and made of pieces of driftwood. Some of the crudely carved wood looked like fish, and there were conch shells hung on bits of line all around it. It was supposed to represent the natural side of the Bahamas, and maybe that was so, since everything in the sculpture was from the island. It reminded me of the driftwood sculptures people used to make on the mud flats in San Francisco.
Across the street from the nature walk, a Chinese company was building a colossal hotel. According to our nature guide, almost all of the workers there were Chinese, who cannot leave the site. Our guide also said that some Bahamians worked there as well, but they were in the minority and they did not mix with the other workers.
There are coconut palms all over the place, even at the hotel. However, there, they keep the nuts trimmed back so that they don’t fall on anyone. Later on, we saw a young man with a machete, hacking off the tops of fresh nuts and putting straws into the hole so that people could sip the fresh juice. For all I know, they could have been pouring rum in there as well.
We spent the rest of the day goofing off because we still felt a little off balance. However, after dinner, we stopped at the showroom for a nightcap and some entertainment. A band was playing and an entertainer/singer kept the crowd going with songs and jokes.
The band mostly played rock tunes, but finally, they played one slow dance that I thought I could handle, so Patsy and I swayed our way through that. Afterwards, two women came over to our table and talked to us about our dancing. They said they wished their husbands would get up on the floor with them… I might have gotten in trouble with a couple of the other guys that night.
Day three – Thursday:
We mooched around all morning, with me still trying to get on the internet. I’m taking an on-line class and needed to go to the study material. I couldn’t get the darned computer to cooperate, so I finally gave up and we went to lunch.
There was something called Bahamian Steamed Corned Beef on the serving line, which was interesting. Steamed corned beef is a classic Bahamian dish, a throwback to the
British colonial times. It is usually served with either grits for breakfast or with white rice for lunch or dinner. (Steam is a Bahamian term for anything fried down and simmered in a tomato base) The dish was a dark red color, rather smooth – but not as smooth as if everything had been thrown into a blender – and tasted of beef, sweet peppers and thyme. A recipe for this is at the end of the log.
There was also a conch stew on the steam line, which I didn’t care for. It should have been tasty, since the recipe called for A-1 sauce, Worchester sauce, and celery, but the stew was like bland, brown gravy with large chunks of conch in it. By the way, conch is a large mollusk. It is not very flavorful, but is available at almost every meal. A conch shell is smaller than a football, but not by much.
On the other hand, the soup for the day was a pumpkin and lobster bisque that was very tasty. I found a recipe for this and it is at the back of the log.
We took a bus tour of Nassau in the afternoon. Our driver kept up a good line of patter, giving us all sorts of information about Nassau and the Bahamas, as well as throwing in jokes. We went back to Paradise Island, the rich part of the island, and saw where Johnny Depp has a house, where Oprah rents a place, and what must be the most expensive hotel room in the world, at the Atlantis Hotel. The driver said that the room cost $25,000 a night, and that Michael Jackson stayed there. No surprise, we only saw the outside of the room, which looks like a bridge between two hotel towers. We saw one place that must have been three or four blocks long, and that belonged to an Arabian prince or an emir. It had a high wall and security cameras every hundred feet or so.
Our first stop on the way to Paradise Island was at Ft. Charlotte, built by the British during the 18th century to protect Nassau Harbor. Instead of being Tabby (the concrete made with seashells that help to absorb shell hits), the fort was built out of limestone blocks.
Ft, Charlotte was also the location of the Queen’s staircase, a 65 step stairway cut out of solid limestone by slaves in the 1700s. Some of the younger people got out of the bus and walked down the staircase, but we held back. We figured that we would hold up the tour if we tried to negotiate all those steps.
Downtown Nassau is not a large place; in fact, it is rather linear. There were the usual high-end shops on both sides of the street, but we did pass a place called the Fish Fry, a collection of cafes where you can get Bahamian food, all day every day. We planned to come back to the Fish Fry later on.
Our driver took us through the ‘hood,’ as he called it. This was a part of Nassau that tourists normally don’t see, a place where the regular Bahamians live. The driver pointed out all the junk cars parked around, and told us something interesting about them. It does not matter how old a car is or in what shape it might be in, if you want to buy it, the owner will charge you not only the original cost of the car, but also whatever it cost to do any improvements he has made.
On our way back to the hotel, we passed a government building, and our bus driver told us that any of us men could buy a wife there for just $100! Then he explained that that was where you got a marriage license. He said that he and his wife got married before it became that expensive, and that she only cost him as much as a Big Mac and fries.
Dinner that night was at a restaurant called Martino’s, one of the two special restaurants in the hotel. The note in our hotel book said that Martino’s dress code was business casual, so I put on my slacks and jacket, but no tie. I was overdressed! Most of the other male patrons were in shorts and polo shirts. What they really meant by dress code was no bathing suits or tee-shirts.
The food was very good, but again nothing you might not find in an upscale Italian restaurant. Patsy had a cheese stuffed rigatoni, and I ordered their signature dish, a chicken breast stuffed with crab meat, in a wine reduction sauce. It was all good, and we came away satisfied.
After dinner, we took some Mai-Tais out for a walk along the beach. Once again, the air was sweet, the beach was soft under our feet, and the view was lovely. Unfortunately, the Mai-Tais did not make it back to the hotel.
Day four – Friday
We started the day with a walk, retracing the nature walk from the day before. This would end up being a throw away day, with me trying to get on-line for my class. I finally succeeded by persevering… plus going to see the concierge. A young man named James showed me how to access the hotel WIFI after I wasted a lot of time. We decided to spend the rest of the day walking around, going down to the beach, and generally goofing off. This was a vacation, right?
Who said we had to do something every hour.
There were sailboats out on the horizon, and someone was parasailing at a nearby island. One man tried his hand at windsurfing, but he never got the sail up. The same thing happened to me when we tried to learn how to windsurf.
After finishing my class assignment, we sat out on the second floor gazebo, reading books, watching people, and eating jerk chicken and conch fritters. There was a family at the gazebo along with us. They seemed to be having a lot of fun. We had seen them for a couple of days now, and their pattern was the same each time: they would start the morning slowly with just a couple of beers, continue drinking until after lunch, get rowdy toward the late afternoon, and then disappear. They all seemed to be having the times of their lives.
I thought it would be a great idea to get some jerk chicken and beer, then sit and read for a while. The chicken was easy; I just grabbed the paper tray and some napkins, and headed back to our table on the gazebo. After depositing the chicken, I went back downstairs for a couple of beers. This is where things got tricky. I figured with my carefully nurtured grace, plus keeping one elbow on the stair railing, I could carry two flimsy plastic cups filled to the top with beer, up a narrow spiral staircase. This was a bad idea! By the time I got back to the table, both cups were about ¾ full, and I had spilled beer all over my legs.
Speaking of the Jerk chicken, it was nice, but I have no idea what part of the chicken we got. There seemed to be a bone in each piece, and I could swear there were extra joints with the bones as well. I had a vision of the cook going into a chicken coop and swinging a machete around a bunch of squawking birds until he got tired. Then he would have scooped up the mangled bits to make jerk chicken.
Later on, we walked along the beach as far as we could, then came back and watched a young boy learning the trapeze. There is a set of swings with a net under them next to the beach. Spotters are there to help those brave souls who want to learn how to swing through the air. There is a climbing wall with spotters available also, but we did not see anyone trying that feature.
That night, we had reservations for the Garden of Eden restaurant. I dressed a bit more casually, and we had a pleasant dinner. Half the restaurant was outside in the garden, and since it was a sort of steak house or carvery type place, we ordered some Campari and soda drinks as an aperitif.
We had grilled shrimp and smoked conch with onions and peppers for starters. Patsy had the Beef filet, labeled Adam’s Loin (Garden of Eden, get it?), while I had grilled Pacific Salmon, designated as Abel’s Catch (no club this time).
(After note: when we returned home, I found a review that was very critical of both Martino’s and the Garden of Eden. Unlike that unhappy reviewer I found on line, we had a good time. Perhaps it was because we have plebian tastes and are not overly choosy, or that neither of us has gluten or dairy restrictions. Instead, we found the food to be tasty and the experience pleasant.)
When we finished eating, we went back upstairs to the show room. The music was playing, and a black woman sang, “Shake Your Booty. “ We were both feeling very good, so Patsy stood up and started doing a solo dance to the music. After she was done, the singer called to her and said, You go,White Mama.” A man came over to our table to compliment her on the dancing and gave her a string of Mardi-Gras beads. Patsy’s still got the motion.
Finally, the band started playing and we did some more dancing, but when they stepped down for their break, a Junkanoo band came out and marched around the room. Junkanoo is a street parade with music, dance and costumes that happens in many towns across The Bahamas every Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day. The Junkanoo celebration probably dates back to the African slave days. This wasn’t either of those two holidays, but hey, a party is a party.
Tonight’s dancers and musicians were dressed in sequins that covered scant costumes as they moved around the room. The celebrants’ faces were brightly painted and they wore feather headdresses.
Cowbells! Although the musicians had lots of other instruments and drums, the cowbells were the loudest noises of all. We sat through one pass around the room, but when the group started on the second pass, we left for bed.
Day five – Saturday
After breakfast, we walked along the beach until it was time for us to go for a massage. This was not part of our package, but it sounded great, and why not? Our attendants met us down at a small cabana on the beach. We had our poor old bodies kneaded and pushed around, while we listened to the sound of waves and gulls crying.
I don’t know how he did it, but my masseur zeroed in on a sore spot right below my shoulder blade. Maybe I had a spot that looked like a target or something, but he kept coming back to the same place, repeatedly.
After our attendants rubbed us into a state of Nirvana, it was almost noon. We went to the main dining area, ate lunch and drank a lot of water (got to flush all those bad things out of our systems), then went back upstairs to change into our bathing suits. Today, we would swim with the dolphins… well, not quite. Swimming with dolphins would have cost us another $70 apiece, but we would get a chance to hug a dolphin.
A cruise boat took us out to one of the smaller islands where they have a dolphin sanctuary, although I am not sure the dolphins would see it that way. On the one hand, these lovely creatures live to be about sixteen to eighteen years old in the wilds, while the oldest dolphin in the sanctuary was well over twenty-five years old… but, I digress.
The dolphins we met had all been born at the sanctuary, not wild caught, so there was no worry on that score. They were all well trained and seemed healthy. The attendant gave us the rules of encounter. We were supposed to stand on a platform in water up to our waists, and were not supposed to approach our dolphin; he would approach us. The attendant also warned us not to reach for the dolphin and accidentally step off the platform – to do so would cost us another seventy bucks.
The dolphin was very smooth and we got to stroke him. We were not supposed to touch his breathing holes, and no touching below his bellybutton (dolphins are innies, by the way), also no grabbing. Fair enough.
Each one of us briefly hugged the dolphin, and got a “kiss” (the dolphin touched its nose to our lips). We did silly little dances with the animal, and then ran our fingers along his teeth. You know those big smiles that dolphins have? They hide a lot of sharp teeth, and no molars, either.
The trip back to the main island took about a half hour; during which time, we had some Bahama Mamas. Like many of the drinks here in the Bahamas, it was rum based, fruity and tasted like a soda. This could be a dangerous combination, but Patsy and I are old and we are wise and not easily fooled. We have also been down that road before.
When we left the hotel earlier, we found the place awash with young people. This was the start of Spring Break, and there were these children running all over the place. When we got back, there were tons more, all scantily clad and making noise, running up and down the halls. We did the only thing we could do: we went to our room.
Okay, our going to the room was not an act of cowardliness; we had dinner reservations for the Garden of Eden again, and needed to change clothes. We had about the same thing for dinner that evening as we did the night before, but this time we switched entrees.
After dinner, we went back to the show room, where we saw what must have been the world’s most talented Limbo dancer. First, this guy was built – with a double ‘T’ and abs you could use to open bottles. Second, he was able to do things to get under the bar that made my knees ache just to watch. He used alcohol to set the limbo bar on fire, and then danced under it, getting lower each time and doing some comedy schtick between passes.
After watching the dancer, we heard that the Junkanoo dancers were supposed to come back that night, so we headed down to the piano bar. There was a glass topped piano there, but we had not seen anyone playing it. In fact, we had only seen the piano bar used as a pass-through from the dining area to the elevators. This night, however, there was a man who not only played the piano, but also sang about everything we asked for. We closed the bar down and got to bed around one o’clock.
Day six – Sunday
This would be our final day and this was our last chance to do whatever we hadn’t done so far. We decided to go to the Fish Fry. The Fish Fry is a cluster of small cafes that specialize in Bahamian food. We got there just as everything opened for lunch, and were hustled at every place we passed. Finally, we stopped at one cafe that advertised itself to be the original Fish Fry joint. Naturally, they served conch, so we had their fritters and a Bahama Mama.
Behind the place, there was a man killing conchs and cutting them up for the café. He explained what he was doing and how he got the conchs ready for the kitchen. The conchs they use are like teenagers, not mature mollusks. We could tell this because none of them had the flair that looks like a wing on the edge of their shell.
The man doing the cutting stood on a shelf of conch shells. There was an inlet from the sea, where they apparently brought in the new catch to the cafe, but this shelf, so to speak, must have been a couple of yards out into the water and six to eight feet deep. When the man said that the café had been there for some thirty years or so, I believed him. As he worked, he cut off the unusable parts of the conch and tossed them into the water, where a school of Sergeant Majors waited. Sergeant Majors are like the pigeons of the ocean.
One of the things tourists are supposed to do is ride the jitneys. Jitneys are small buses that can carry twenty or thirty people, max. This is one way to meet the average Bahamian. You pay the driver when you get off, not when you get on, and it’s best if you have the right change
If we did not know it before, we soon realized that we were in Rastafarian country. Back at the hotel, one of the workers wore a green, gold, and black ‘bag cap’ that held his dreadlocks, but he was the only one we saw like that. Here on the bus, our jitney driver had ‘dreads’ and so did one of the other riders who got on sometime later. The rider also had a small joint tucked behind his ear (Rastas use ganja as a sacrament). While marijuana usage is still illegal in the Bahamas, it seems that if you keep it cool, you can probably get away with it. Maybe too, the joint was so small that it was unimportant, especially if someone did not want the fuss of making a penny-ante bust. Whatever, there was no attempt to hide the joint or make it look like other than what it was.
The jitney ride was a hoot, because the driver missed our stop and we ended up going a long way past our hotel. That was not so bad, since we did not have much more we wanted to do, and we saw a lot of the island that we would not have seen otherwise. The jitney driver and the passenger with the joint behind his ear spoke what sounded like some other language than English. Later on, when I asked the concierge about this, he said that they were probably speaking ‘Pigeon English.’
We spent the rest of the day trying to get our boarding passes printed and packing our bags. As usual, three was a difference of opinion as to when we would have to get to the airport the next morning. Our flight would leave at 6:30, and one person at the front desk told us we would have to be there three hours earlier to process out, which meant we would have to get up at 2:30 A.M. in order to get to the airport on time. After talking to three other people however, we learned that the airport would not even open until 5:00, or so. I found this hard to understand: an airport that closed?
As a final touch, I made sure to have twenty-six dollars in-hand for our taxi driver ($22 fare + $4 tip). When we got to the airport however, he told us the fare was eighteen dollars, so with my laptop on one arm and a backpack on the other, I stripped a couple of the dollars off the wad I was holding and gave it to him. Naturally, we breezed through customs and had plenty of time to sit around before our flight. Bahamian time is a wonderful thing.
There were many things that we could have done on this vacation, but didn’t. Partly, this is because we are a little too old for some activities and not interested others. There was para-sailing (being hoisted way up high by a parachute while being dragged along behind a boat), scuba diving (neither of us has ever done this), jet ski riding (sort of like riding a motorcycle, except on water), kayaking, wind surfing, learning how to use a trapeze, oh, and competitive shopping in downtown Nassau. Even so, we had a lot of fun in the Bahamas, and we would not hesitate to go back again. It you get the chance, you should give it a try.
Here are recipes for some of the fine Bahamian food we ate:
Bahamian Steamed Corned Beef (Kristal – http://allrecipes.com)
Ingredients – Original recipe makes 4 servings
• 1 (12 ounce) can corned beef
• 1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
• 1/4 onion, chopped
• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons tomato paste
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
• salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, red pepper flakes and dried thyme; cook and stir until the onion is beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 3 minutes then stir in the water. Mix in the corned beef and then let it simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Pumpkin and Lobster Bisque (Hector Rodriguez at About.com)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 servings
• 4 1/4 cups chicken stock
• 1 lobster tail
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1 large onion (chopped)
• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 1 1/4 pounds pumpkin (peeled, deseeded, chopped)
• 4 Roma tomatoes (peeled, deseeded, chopped)
• 1 sprig fresh thyme
• 1/2 cup whole cream
• olive oil for brushing
• salt and white pepper to taste
• 1 tbs. fresh cilantro or parsley (chopped for garnish)
1. In a saucepan, bring the stock to a boil, add the lobster tail, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t over cook the lobster tail; it will become rubbery.
2. Removed cooked lobster tail from the stock and allow it to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the tail from the shell and set aside. Reserve the stock liquid.
3. In another large saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the garlic and onions for about 5 minutes. Then, add the pumpkin and continue to cook until the pumpkin is soft – about 15 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, thyme and reserved stock. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the thyme sprig. Using a food processor or blender, carefully grind the mixture into a rough puree. You can also use a hand masher to do this.
6. Return the soup to the pan, and gently heat. Now, add the cream and salt and white pepper to taste.
7. Lastly, cut the lobster tail into slices and brush with olive oil. Flash fry (sear) the tail on a griddle or in a frying pan.
8. Serve by ladling the soup into a bowl, add a slice of lobster tail to each bowl, and garnish with cilantro or parsley.
Chicken Souse (http://www.islandflave.com)
• 5 lbs portion chicken wings
• 1 onion
• 8 lemon/Lime “big sour” (your desired amount)
• 1/4 lemon Juice
• pepper (your desired amt)
• all-spice (your desired amt)
• 1/2 tsp salt (your desired amt)
• 1 carrot
• 1 stick of celery
• 2 Irish potatoes (if desired)
1. Clean portion wings in vinegar and warm water.
2. Place wings into pot containing and 8-10 cups of water. (this will ensure that all remaining oils and other particles are removed) let wings boil for about 5-8 minutes.
3. Remove from pot and place into a bowl containing cool water, rinse well with water and lemon juice. Place wings into pot with about 8-10 cups of water or until wings are completely covered.
4. Slice onions, pepper, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Add salt, onions, celery, lime , pepper, lemon juice and all-spice seeds. (Boil for about 45 minutes). Add potatoes and Carrots.
5. Boil for another 15-20 minutes. Serve with home made bread or johnny cakes if desired.
JAY’S JERK CHICKEN (HTTP://ALLRECIPES.COM/RECIPE/JAYS-JERK-CHICKEN/)
• 6 green onions, chopped
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
• 3/4 cup soy sauce
• 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
In a food processor or blender, combine the green onions, onion, jalapeno pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, vegetable oil, brown sugar, thyme, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Mix for about 15 seconds.
Place the chicken in a medium bowl, and coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.
Preheat grill for high heat.
Lightly oil grill grate. Cook chicken on the prepared grill 6 to 8 minutes, until juices run clear.
Bahama Mama (the apparent national drink)
• 1/2 ounce dark rum
• 1/2 ounce 151 rum
• 1/2 ounce coconut liqueur
• 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
• 4 ounces pineapple juice
• 1/4 ounce lemon juice
1. Stir all ingredients with ice.
2. Strain into a chilled tumbler filled with ice.
3. Garnish with a strawberry or cherry.