Category Archives: Bahamas

Update. Flight Day Nassau to London

Photos at bottom

Update Week 2

A few of my friends are fascinated by airplanes and airports, and one of them told me to take as many photos of airplanes as I could for the blog. Taking him up on his request, here as some of the photos of airplanes and the airports I saw on my way from Nassau, Bahamas to London Gatwick, via Charlotte Douglas Airport, North Carolina. I saw the rocking chairs in Charlotte that a reader had commented earlier about. I love watching planes land and take off, so it was cool to sit back in the chairs and watch the show.

Trip’s first annoyance

I also thought I’d share with you an annoying issue that I hope you never experience when traveling internationally.

I arrived at Charlotte about two hours before my connecting flight left for the UK and I got some food from a bagel/sandwich joint. I detest paying for airport food because it’s always overpriced. When the boarding call begun, I thought to use my VISA signature card to take advantage of the priority boarding mentioned in an earlier post. To my surprise, and to the vast majority of the other passengers, we weren’t cleared to board with the regular check-in we had done. Instead, we needed our passports checked and our tickets stamped before we could board the plane. Well, I don’t like lines, and the knowledge of this procedure 3 minutes before the plane should have taken off resulted in a very long and very agitated line. So, I called a friend to chat and sat nearby for about 20 minutes (I never understood why people wait in lines; lines that aren’t really moving and in which your seat at the end has already been guaranteed anyway).

Flight

The plane took off beautifully and I was able to track its progress along the northeastern seaboard with the GPS displays embedded in the back of each seat. I’m not one to be frightened during flights, but being that high up in the air for such a long time, with constant warning of turbulence blaring from the pilot’s speaker did very little to preserve my regular calm. I was happy I brought the neck pillow, because it encouraged me to sleep. I found that after a while, especially in the darkness, I forgot that we were thousands of miles above the ground (except when the floor tossed back and forth from wind of course).

Memorable things and tips from travel day 8:

  • Always check at the airline desk near the boarding gate to enquire if you will need to complete anything before boarding the plane.
  • Always take a neck pillow
  • Always take extra snacks (although there will be food on the plane, you would want to have eaten something right before you head out into the brand new world).
  • If you’re taking only one bag with you, do a simple weight test at home by standing on a scale twice: once with the bag and one without. It is important that it be less than 50 pounds, as wont have extra bags to spread the weight around.
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Week 1 Bahamas: New Providence Photo Summary 2

From the amount of businesses found in every nook and cranny of the island is impressive. From shopping centers to roadside stands and homes, Bahamians (as seen on New Providence in particular) seem to be very entrepreneurial. In the photo album you’ll see many examples of self-run tailor or barber shops and fruit sellers. One problem to point out, however, is the failure in diversification. Although there were many saloons, for example, locals haven’t ventured into more risky and potentially more productive enterprise. It is to be conceded that deficiency in demand may play a factor. There’s very little to do for recreation and entertainment with very few movie theaters and bowling alleys concentrated on one or two islands. Because it rained every day of my trip to New Providence, most of the photos hide the usually beautifully blue skies that mirror the pristine water.

Light interesting notes:

  • Gas is expensive
  • During the public news broadcast, there is a person using sign language to translate
  • Post office boxes are used instead of personal mailboxes
  • Gas stations have attendants that pump your gas for you
  • Lots of churches
  • Lots of bars
  • Public schools are painted yellow with green and white accents
  • Police and fire stations are usually painted green
  • Public Health facilities are usually painted pink
  • Court houses are painted pink
  • College of the Bahamas buildings are generally painted pink with white

Week 1 Bahamas: New Providence Photo Summary 1

From the amount of businesses found in every nook and cranny of the island is impressive. From shopping centers to roadside stands and homes, Bahamians (as seen on New Providence in particular) seem to be very entrepreneurial. In the photo album you’ll see many examples of self-run tailor or barber shops and fruit sellers. One problem to point out, however, is the failure in diversification. Although there were many saloons, for example, locals haven’t ventured into more risky and potentially more productive enterprise. It is to be conceded that deficiency in demand may play a factor. There’s very little to do for recreation and entertainment with very few movie theaters and bowling alleys concentrated on one or two islands.

Interesting light notes:

  • Gas is expensive
  • During the public news broadcast, there is a person using sign language to translate
  • Post office boxes are used instead of personal mailboxes
  • Gas stations have attendants that pump your gas for you
  • Lots of churches
  • Lots of bars
  • Public schools are painted yellow with green and white accents
  • Police and fire stations are usually painted green
  • Public Health facilities are usually painted pink
  • Court houses are painted pink
  • College of the Bahamas buildings are generally painted pink with white

 

Week 1 Bahamas: Bahamian Food

[Gallery at bottom]

Every country has its own special cuisine. During my stay, I tried some of my favorite foods. One of them is sheep tongue souse. Instead of wasting such an incredible source of protein and deliciousness, Bahamians stew the mammalian muscles in a briny pot of salted water, allspice, cloves,pepper, and onions.
The best thing to eat with any soupy meal, including this one, is Johnny cake, a thick moist cake/bread served best with a thick layer of melted butter.

Another food that looks less appetizing as a whole creature before its prepped for the pot is the crab. The crab that forms an important part of Bahamian culinary genius is a sea scavenger that will literally eat anything. In order to make the crustacean more appetizing, crabs are caught then kept in pens where they are fattened on bread and fruits for extended periods of time. If you’re lucky to have a pen outside, then you can have fresh crabs to cook in meals.
It’s pretty dangerous to catch a crab if you don’t know what you’re doing. With their large pincers and deathly grip they have been known to sever fingers and could possibly kill infants. The trick with catching them is to lightly step on their backs as their line of sight doesn’t cover their back end too well, nor can their pincers reach their backs. They need their pincers to intake their own food and water, but When severing their pincers from their bodies for food prep, it’s important to avoid pulling them off in such a way that it creates a hole in the endoskeleton that could promote insect growth. When “armless” however, crabs can lay on their backs and snip at bread and water with small lid-like lips.

Some staple fish to try are snapper and Nassau grouper. great-tasting Ones that are toxic if not killed and/or cleaned properly include the bonefish and the barracuda. Fish are descaled and cooked whole (skin, head, eyes, bones, and tail). Many Bahamians fry their fish in a shallow pan of oil (my personal favorite). Because the fish is cooked whole, you cannot eat it from head to tail (or vice versa), but must remember to start no one side, and then remove the vertebral column before eating the second side.

And how can one forget about conch. With its reputed aphrodisiac qualities, this mollusk is makes a delicious foundation for numerous Bahamian dishes. As one of my favourite snacks, conch can be eaten raw as a salad with diced tomatoes, onions, green peppers, red peppers, and poured into orange or lemon juice. It can be stewed in tomato sauce, thyme, and other seasonings or battered and fried to make “cracked conch.” In smaller pieces, with a less flakey batter, conch can also be used to make conch fritters, which is dipped into a sauce mixed from ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.

If you get homesick and would like regular American fast food fare (with slight menu modifications) you could always stop at any of the numerous franchises operating on a few of the islands.

If you plan on buying groceries, remember that 1 Bahamian dollar is equal to 1 US dollar in the Bahamas and food items, like all Bahamian commodities, tend to be very expensive.

Week 1 Bahamas: Local Conversation

While visiting in the Bahamas you will most likely notice the sometimes short and aggressive way in which many of the locals speak. Humor may often be mistaken for insult if one does not take into account the social or conversational context. Also, as like many of their Caribbean counterparts, tend to speak faster than most Americans are used to and with a unique way of placing intonation at various parts of sentences and to indicate varying meanings for words. it is best to explain to locals that you do not understand them when you don’t, saying it later will cause more problems than not. Bahamians are generally upfront and usually appreciate bluntness that isn’t in itself insulting or derogatory.
My job at school partially consists of finalizing reservations for faculty and students traveling abroad on our programs. When making the reservations on two Bahamian islands, I was glad that it was I and not another of my co-workers, as the laid back attitude of the staff at the hotels would probably have been mistaken for impoliteness. I knowing that this was not in fact intended, was quite fine with the receptionist not placing the phone on hold to call up her boss.

Back to my travel, at the airport terminal and in the airplane, a lady displayed the classical Bahamian sociability. It may be mistaken (incorrectly or not) for intrusiveness on his/her part, but most Bahamians like to talk. Most will start a conversation with complete strangers, especially if their current situation or task makes them affiliated, if only momentarily. She spoke not only continuously, but loudly and clearly as though the world was a stage and her special audience. She spoke with the American businessman heading to the Bahamas to help in planning building construction; spoke with other locals that were headed back home; spoke with the stewardess; spoke with the man opposite her on the flight; and she spoke with me. Rather, being a Bahamian myself, I spoke with her :-D!

This “intrusion” into the conversations of others often proves helpful, as visitors are often from countries where one would rather accept being lost as one’s fate instead of asking strangers around you for help. This also usually results in Bahamians being more polite, saying hello, thank you, and good bye to strangers, coworkers, and fellow customers. I hadn’t realized this until a few Bahamians had visited the US with me and said “good afternoon” about three times because the customers and staff weren’t used to people saying that and hence, hadn’t given a response. Confessedly however, this can also be seen as rude and unwanted at times by visitors and locals alike.

So remember, when you visit, have an open mind to experience other cultures, and you’ll be fine.