December 14, 2007
Tropical storm Ulga has pinned us in the Bahamian capital of Nassau. Anchored in a channel /no-mans land between the have’s and the have-nots we lock our dinghy to a free dock on the ghetto side and walk the bridge to where the grass is watered and the beaches are sanded. It’s the scene of a future revolution. A toll bridge brings you from a concrete graveyard to a highly guarded Disneyland. Across that bridge is celebration: nightly fireworks illuminate the casino skyline as timeshare folks file in to drop off their weekly pensions and Carnival cruise line ushers thousands of buffet gurus into the t-shirt stores with their fifteen bucks so they adorn their tanned pot bellies and spare tires with proof of their Bahamian experience, even though tourist day here was designed by the same group that did Myrtle Beach and south Florida and every other tourist coral. If you walked deep into New Providence Island then drew up a t-shirt after the fact it would hardly be yellow with a palm tree, but its no wonder since the seamstress is looking out the factory window dreaming beyond their own rusted corrugated roof line of Sri-lanka.
Informally I have surveyed the impressions of other foreigners and our sentiments concur. Slouched middle aged men line the crumbling city streets of Providence Island with hopeless eyes and idle hands. There is a defeated feel and distance in their eyes and smiles are few and far between. Their ethic is different than what we are living off of from the protestant era. When you do make a connection with someone and venture beyond that first layer the people are beautiful and proud.
The common hope here is that one can land a tourism based job where the tipping culture put you above the daily average wage. Its interesting that people are coming to see a way of life that is contrived for the benefit of and exists solely because people come to see it. So how does it occur?
This weeks adventure has been a high low search for a two person meal under thirty bucks. Our first four days ran us thirty bucks every time we stopped walking. A burger is eight bucks and if you want fries and a coke that’s seven more dollars. Ha! So we found a few shacks built up with scrap plywood and other scavenged timbers on a vacant lot down on the fisherman’s wharf underneath a two lane bridge. I ordered the cheapest chopped onion, tomato and ice burg salad with diced conk and it was nine bucks. This was as local as it got. We need to get further south it looks like. Lobster fetches $19.50 per pound to the fisherman, that’s twice what we get for chasing down King crab in the frigid Bering sea. Sorry folks the Us dollar wont get you far. So we collected a few coconuts from the trees and plantains from the market and we fry that up everyday along with our daily home bake pizzas. Our thirty bucks now lasts two people two days.