Now, it’s Hurricane Dorian. The Bahamas. Nothing’s changed for us personally this time. We had no plans of going there. The Bahamas are just a little ‘sharkey’ for us. They’re a bit too far, Jack likes to officially claim. Read sharkey.
Still, even without cruising plans, I love the Bahamas. The Bahamas started it all for me. I went with my family in my late teens. My aunt’s friend had a good friend there, who rented a little house. We stayed there, living on dried soup and other snacks we’d brought with us. Money was tight but the cheap, staff British Airways tickets made the trip possible.
I was bowled over when we arrived. It was just stunning. Still now, if someone asks me the most impressive place I’ve seen, I would describe the Bahamas. I’ve seen water similar to it since, but it was the first time I’d seen it then. I think I’ve spent the rest of my life chasing it.
We walked to an offshore island with our little rucksacks on our heads. No awareness of tide or currents. Someone just told us we should. We found a tiny islet filled with empty conch shells. Thousands of them. Some of them might be standing in our bathrooms now. And our friend’s, family’s, the dentist’s. The conch shells are just as pink and shiny and smooth.
Casuarinas and pines hung over the beach. Nobody around. Out to sea, the water was like a huge sparkling jewel. And the people were nice, super nice. The Bahama Mamas. Nassau seemed to smile at us. We took buses around New Providence Island – we were staying in the southern tip – and our friend’s friend showed us around. He took us to limestone sinkholes in the middle of the island. Showed us where Sean Connery lived, adjacent to an enormous golf course. Then he drove us to a resort.
Someone was having a wedding there. Perhaps it was impromptu, since they had no witnesses and asked us if we could attend. We’d been there for about five minutes. The wedding was in a gazebo next to the sea. My aunt, my cousin and I watched the wedding. We cried, it was so surprisingly moving. It felt like the first happy thing I’d seen in years. At that point I’d had a really crappy run of teenager-hood. I’d been trying to build my life and was failing every time. Every time I made a good decision, I’d immediately follow it up with a terrible one. I remember standing at this poignant wedding of strangers and deciding I would change my life. It took a little while, but eventually I think did.
So, I guess the Bahamas did change me after all. And now, as Hurricane Dorian pulls away from Grand Bahama Island and follows the timely path northwards – steering patterns based on sub-tropical ridges and troughs according to NOAA – it looks like the Bahamas are forever changed too.