While making arrangements for a taxi to take us to Freeport, Ed decided to take a local young man up on his offer to be our driver, after finding out a taxi would cost nearly $200.00. We paid the gentleman, Kenneth, half the price for a taxi, and ended up tipping him as well because we had such a wonderful time with Kenneth and his cousin, Alvin as our tour guides. Both of these Bahamian men grew up on the Grand Bahama Island and they told us a lot about the Bahamian culture as they pointed out sites of interest as we road around the island. (If you ever come to West End and you want a tour of the island from two very nice gentlemen, these guys love to make a few extra bucks if they have the spare time. Kenneth’s email address is: email@example.com and he said he can be called from the marina office at his local number 242-443-4086.)
Both Alvin and Kenneth are single men in their late twenties. Kenneth has done various jobs around the island, like working at the marina, and construction. Presently, he is in the sea fishing charter business. Alvin has his pilot’s license but isn’t flying right now, and he too is in the sea fishing charter business. It was a windy day today and they didn’t take fishermen out, so that is why they were free to escort us to Freeport.
Kenneth also informed us of the amenities at the resort of Old Bahama Bay that are available at no charge to the boaters staying at the marina. By walking to the Tiki Bar on the beach at the resort, you can sign out a Hobie catamaran, bikes, or kayaks to use while staying at the marina. (Interesting that the marina didn’t tell us about these amenities.)
While driving us around the island, Kenneth and Alvin informed us of the industries supporting the local economy. Tourism is number one, accompanied by Polymers-a factory making Styrofoam cups, the Bahamian Brewery, the Fuel Depot*, the container ship port, a stone company, the Grand Bahama Shipyard, and numerous marinas. *We drove by the Fuel Depot seeing the huge columns of storage tanks of oil on one side of the rode and gasoline on the other side of the road. We also saw the enormous tankers off shore “off-loading” into pipes in the water that pumps the fuel to the depot. I never thought about how the process of getting fuel to the island is done before, and I found it to be fascinating.
Other points of interest shown to us were the Customs Office, the Courthouse, various stores, hotels, resorts, 2 hospitals (health care is free to the Bahamians), schools, churches, restaurants and eateries.
Alvin and Kenneth escorted us awhile at Port Lucaya, pointing out various places we might want to explore and then they left us to wander on our own for an hour before meeting us at a designated spot. Port Lucaya is where the big cruise ships bring their guests to enjoy an open-air market with all the touristy shops, restaurants and bars. Cheryl and I found a few items to purchase, helping the local economy. While waiting a few minutes for our fabulous tour guides to meet back up with us, we watched the entertainment at the square. The guys especially, enjoyed the Bahamian lady singer teaching tourists coaxed to the stage how to do a special dance she was singing about. The back side view from where we were watching gave the guys a splendid view of all the “shakin’ goin’ on”. Boy, could one of the girls shake her bootie!
By the time we rode back to the marina, we were feeling pretty comfortable with Kenneth and Alvin, and we asked them lots of questions about the local culture. They felt comfortable enough with us, that they even drove us through the “slums”, a place most tourists don’t want to see. Obviously, we are not like “most tourists” and we all wanted a real taste of what it’s like for everyone, rich and poor, to live on the island. We also rode through the posh area of new development at Old Bahama Bay, where the “rich Americans” are building fabulous homes overlooking the ocean. Kenneth told us Lady Gaga had stayed at one of the homes recently. I asked if she presented herself in one of her wild getups or if she dressed in normal attire. Neither one of the guys had the opportunity to see her. Ed asked if word got around the island quickly when someone famous comes to the island, and of course the answer was yes. Kenneth told us he has taken John Travolta and his son out to fish many times. In fact, he said he was preparing the boat to take the Travoltas out, when John’s son died. (Side note: Speaking of the rich and famous, when we were anchored at Lake Worth, Ed pointed out to Gary the home of the famous golfer, Jack Nicolas. We were anchored practically in his back yard. Little did we know when we were anchored at the same spot for almost a month in January, we were neighbors to such a celebrity.)
On the trip back to the marina, we talked to the guys about their “broken English”, only spoken to fellow Bahamians. When they speak to tourists they use proper English grammar, well spoken and courteous. We coaxed them into telling us about some of the local slang used commonly among the Bahamians and these are some things we learned: When a Bahamian can’t remember a word, they say “timgum” for the word they can’t remember and keep going forward with the conversation. In other words, they don’t let the lack of remembering a word interrupt the flow of the conversation, and they don’t belabor over conjuring up the word like we Americans do. Every Bahamian uses the phrase, “Mudder sick it” which is used to express frustration. “Mamadoo” or “Gussymae” is their term for, shall we say, a fuller figured woman. Our favorite phrase is “Conchie Joe”, referring to a white Bahamanian. My new nickname is Conchie Jean.
When we got back to the marina, Kenneth and Alvin joined Gary for a cold drink aboard White Swan and looked around the boat since they had never been on the inside of our model. Interestingly, they have never sailed on a big boat before, just the small Hobie Cats.
Gary went to the Tiki Bar with Ed and Cheryl and another couple the Byers had met moored next to Lady Bug. I started feeling badly around 3:00 while in Freeport, and chose to stay aboard White Swan.
Postscript: 3-26-11 AM I’m still not feeling well but our plan is to go on to Green Turtle or Marsh Harbor and see if this is from something I ate and dissipates or if it’s a relapse of c.diff. If I’m still sick by the time we get to a port that has an airport, we’ll fly back home. Dang!!! We are hoping “this too shall pass”.