Flying Into Great Exuma in The Bahamas
Taking Off For The Bahamas
“You can have the window seat,” he said as eyes lit up like a dog who’s just heard his owner say, “Treat.”
I shoved past my old seat in the aisle and plopped down next to the window, sliding the panel open. The flight attendant droned on with a speech I’ve heard too many times to pay attention to. As we lifted off into the air, the muggy, gray runway began to disappear. We coasted above the last bits of the bustling city until magic began to swirl below us. Boats bigger than my apartment jetted this way and that through the never-ending shades of blue.
From above, it looked like someone had squeezed the last bits out of a tube of paint, the way formations splattered across the Caribbean. The Tiffany blue drew stripes in the deep royal blue of the ocean, as sugar cookie crumbles scattered the floor, marking the various islands. It reminded me of the patterns I’d seen on the whale shark’s back while swimming in Mexico.
The rest of the flight continued like this until it was no longer in the United States that I was ogling over–it was The Bahamas. It had been 40 minutes so far and the drink cart was still making its way down the aisle. The flight from Miami was not very long and I wondered if I’d be getting a drink at all.
An Unexpected Surprise
“I think I’ll do coffee,” I whispered to my seat mate.
“Me too, ” he replied.
The cart was only one seat ahead of us now, and I could hear the man ordering a beer. As he handed his credit card over, the attendant leaned in and whispered.
“The card reader is not connecting, so this one’s on the house.”
Alas, it was our turn.
“Can I get you something to drink?”
My coffee mate and I looked at each other.
“We’ll have a beer and a Prosecco, thanks.”
What? If there’s one thing better than a cool drink on a hot day, it’s a free, cool drink on a hot day.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will be beginning our descent, please put your tray tables up…”
Now, I was close enough to begin to see the people appear on the beach. There weren’t many–but the few stragglers walking along the white sands or wading in the crystal clear water excited me; I couldn’t wait to trade places.
Landing in Exuma International Airport
As we touched down in Exuma International Airport, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure what I expected to find, but it certainly wasn’t an abandoned tractor on the side of the runway. As we filed off the plane, we all got in the sole line for customs inside of what I can only describe as a tiki hut. The only people here were the ones who were on our flight, it wasn’t too bad.
Despite the building’s size, there were still bathrooms, though only one stall in both the men’s and women’s. However, that one stall did not close. In fact, it didn’t even have a handle left on it. I giggled as I came out and looked at the sign.
Please excuse us, we are still working on renovating our airport.
I don’t think they actually were, but that was fine. It gave character to the place. After customs came baggage claim. In other words, pick your suitcase off the floor behind the custom officer’s podium and have a good trip.
Renting A Car in The Bahamas
We walked outside into the sunshine and crossed the dirt road to get to the airport car rental. No one was in line. I walked into the airport cafe-sized building and told the front desk my name.
“Oh, yes, here you are. So, here’s the total due, just sign this and you’re good to go,” she paused as we paid, “Thanks. He’s got the car pulled up for you out front. Have a good trip and don’t forget to drive on the left side.”
We looked at each other, murmuring, “Left side? How’d we miss that?”
“Hi! The car is not ready, so I will just give you this one,” the guy out front exclaimed, as we followed him marking every little piece of chipped paint around the vehicle, “All good, here’s the keys, just take a left when you go out and follow it all the way to your home. There is only one highway on the island; you can’t get lost.”
“We’ll see about that,” I said, as I happen to have the most terrible sense of direction for a traveller.
Checking Into The Bahamas
Leaving the town, we began our journey to the Airbnb in Rokers Point. The car salesman was right–there was only one road and it led us straight to our home for the week. Waiting outside was our generous host, Norbert.
Leading us into the home, it’s safe to say I was in awe. The king bed was covered with sheets so white, they’d make you look tan before even hitting the beach. Laying down, you could look straight through the arched window ahead, watching the aquamarine waves splash onto the shimmering sand.
“You are also welcome to use any amenities at the resort next door–the cabanas, the pool, the ocean swing, the fire pit–oh! And there’s a nice restaurant called Cocoplum Bistro that serves food all day.”
Norbert continued on telling us all about the must-do’s on the island and then pointed us toward a convenience store where we would be able to purchase some bug spray (a necessity in The Bahamas due to sandflies).
A Shopping Extravaganza In The Bahamas
I don’t think we followed his directions very well, as we ended up at a so-called 7 Eleven on a side street. I say so-called because you need to forget everything you’ve ever known about 7 Eleven in order to imagine this place.
Outside, the green paint was chipping off, leaving little salads in the dirt leading to the door. The sign read OPEN MONDAY- SATURDAY, but it didn’t say at what times. That’s island life for you. It was about 6:30 PM now and the door itself didn’t say Open, but it also didn’t say Closed, so I pushed it ajar.
“Hello,” a man sitting behind the counter said, while watching TV, “Can I help you?”
“Do you have bug spray?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, pointing to the far corner of the store.
“Thanks,” I said, retrieving an orange can of the citrus-scented OFF.
“Do you have toothpaste?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, pointing to the only other aisle.
Living Off Of Essentials
Our conversation continued like this for the next ten minutes. I have to say, he was one of the most polite convenience store workers I have ever met. Leaning down to grab a bag of chips, a high pitched squeal accompanied by scratching sounded loudly behind me.
“HOly!!” I said jumping up, doing high knees to get out of the aisle in case anything was to scatter across the tiles below me,” What was that?! A rat?!” I asked, looking toward the clerk for answers.
“Heh-heh,” he chuckled,” Prob-bab-lyy.”
I decided my shopping list was concluded. He rang up two bags full of groceries for a grand total of $39.50. Swiping our card, we were met with a slip of paper reading CONNECTION ERROR.
“Sometimes in the islands this happens. Only cash today,” he exclaimed as we looked at each other wearily.
“I don’t have any cash.”
“Let’s see, I have $14. What do we need the most?” I asked myself aloud, opening the shopping bag.
We reluctantly put the macaroni, chips and sodas back, only being able to afford the essentials: Bug spray and toothpaste.
“What a bust,” I replied as we got back into the car, stomachs grumbling.
Dinner For Two On The Beach
Cocoplum Bistro, the French restaurant next-door, was now our priority.
“Do you have room for two more for dinner?” I asked the host.
She looked up worried and wearied, “Ahhhh, yes, but, only if you’re okay with not getting an order in for, like, ten minutes because we only have one chef and one waitress right now,” she replied with a French accent.
“That’s okay!” we said, excited to get in without a reservation despite the crowded room.
The ten minutes was an understatement, but understandably. I watched as the woman who let us in ran from table to table juggling plates and drinks and impatient Americans. It was at least two hours before we finished dinner, despite having our meals picked out before we even sat down. However, I was okay with it. I was okay with it because we were in The Bahamas, sipping Chardonnay and watching the sun go down over the vibrant blue water just a few feet ahead from us.
I was reminded that though traveling can feel stressful to some, I’d rather think of it as a recharge. It’s taking everything you thought didn’t matter in real life–making coffee in the morning, watching the sunset and meeting new people–and romanticizing it. Suddenly every sip of espresso is stronger and every sunset is more magic.
“Welcome to The Bahamas,” I smiled, cheering our glasses.
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