Thursday, August 03, 2006
I'm in Nassau, Bahamas right now. We arrived here yesterday morning after a 3 1/2 hour flight (the 550 is not a particularly fast jet), and we are heading back home this afternoon. We come here twice a month on average, and normally stay for 4 days each time, but this trip is a short one, a mere overnighter. I checked my passport and since last November I have been here 14 times. It's a decent run, but we have had to deal with hurricanes and more 'active' weather than we normally deal with on our regular runs to New York or Montreal or Winnipeg etc.
Nassau is a very interesting place - it's not a third-world country, but the poor here are very, very poor. I guess it's more of a second-world country, like Mexico. The locals here are very friendly and charming and polite, and it feels genuine when they call me "darling" or "dear", rather than the forced manners I get from some places I have visited closer to home. The local food is amazingly good, with tuna and mahi mahi being popular fish dishes, along with conch salad and sugar cane shrimp, plantains and grits for carbs, and of course hot sauce that goes on everything. Wash that down with a few Kaliks (the local beer which is like a religion here) and you are guaranteed a good feed.
The weather is incredibly hot, like 35 degrees C with 80% humidity so I am constantly sweating. I like sweating though, it makes me feel kinda sultry. There are better ways to work up a sweat, but that too is a topic for another time.
Normally we stay at the British Colonial Hilton here, but it was all booked up so we are at the Radisson which is a lot larger, but also considerably more tacky. Obese, sunburned young men are here in droves, driking generic rum and showing off the tanlines they got when they fell asleep in the sun wearing their wifebeaters. A few young women cavort in bikinis, all big hair and gold jewelery, fully aware of the hungry eyes watching them as they play beach volleyball. I think that's how life must be when you are a gopher in rattlesnake country.
There is a casino in the hotel complex and it's also full of tourists. These ones are older, they spend their time feeding the slot machines and chain-smoking Cuban cigars. The huge fans that are installed in the casino can't keep up with the smoke, and the air is fetid and nearly grey. Why on earth anyone would come to a tropical paradise like this and spend their time in the casino is beyond me - the water is clear here, and the beaches are beautiful.
A huge part of the local economy is tourism, and everything here is fairly expensive with the exception of alcohol. You can get a litre of vodka for $6 here, or 375ml bottle (a 'mickey' in local parlance) for $2. The local rum is very potent, so I am only good for a couple of pina coladas before it's nap time.
I'm on dodgy stolen wireless at the moment, so I'm going to take my leave shortly, but the little man in my head is telling me to write a big long post about Bahamas when I get back tonight.
The weather is very unsettled around Toronto right now. A cold front is moving through after a few days of scorching heat, bringing particularly violent storms through the area this afternoon. We should be home around 7pm, hopefully avoiding the worst of it. One real pain in the ass is that Buffalo makes us descend pretty early going into Toronto, which might put us directly in the thick of things going into Toronto. Or everything could have moved out of the way by the time we get in, it's too far in advance to know exactly what is happening. I hate thunderstorms - I flew through one, once, and that was enough for me. That's another story entirely, and I will prolly end up writing about that in a future post. Our pax will be here in an hour or so, so it's time to fire up the gpu and get the plane ready for the 3 1/2 hour trip back. See you in the skies!