Happy Birthday, Bahamas!

Today I learned that it’s Bahamian Independence Day. So I thought I’d use this entry to tell you about my trip there.

It was the summer of 2006. My dad was still in mourning for his mother, so he couldn’t go anywhere. Therefore, I convinced my mom to go on vacation with me. Since she’s not a road trip/national parks/geocaching person, I picked a place where she could focus on her favorite pastime – reading. So, naturally, I picked Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.

Day 1: Probably one of the worst days of my life. We get to the airport in Baltimore at 7 in the morning, planning to fly US Airways from Baltimore to Charlotte to Nassau. Several hours earlier, some idiot in London had tried to smuggle a bomb into Heathrow in his shoe, so basically air travel became just about impossible. The security line at BWI stretched all around the airport, and we knew we were probably not going to make our flight. And…we didn’t. Along with 3/4 of the other people on the flight. So our choices were a) scrap the trip and go back home or b) try to get to Charlotte, spend the night there, then get the first flight to Nassau in the morning. But first, the challenge was to get to Charlotte, as everyone else was scrambling and in the same situation. We got on the standby list for the next flight but didn’t get on it. Someone pointed us down to the US Airways Express gate, where we asked for standby tickets for the next flight to Charlotte. At this point I was crying, pretty much destroyed, and feeling like the trip was over before it had even started. Through my tears, I took our standby tickets from the agent for seats 7A and 7C.

BUT WAIT!

As my mom prepared to head home and the flight was about to depart, I went up to the gate agent.

JACOB: “Excuse me, sir, we have standby tickets, but they have seat numbers on them. What does that mean?”

GATE AGENT: “These aren’t standby tickets…these are tickets.”

Huh?

So I go over to my mom, telling her to hurry up and get on the plane. Even though the plane was tiny, it got us there. Unfortunately, our flight to Nassau had left without us. We went over to the US Airways Special Services desk, which was, incidentally, right next to the gate.

JACOB: “Excuse me, sir, but we were supposed to have been on the earlier flight to Nassau. Is there a way we can get a hotel room tonight and tickets to Nassau in the morning?”

SPECIAL SERVICES AGENT: “I can get you to Nassau tonight.”

Huh?

SPECIAL SERVICES AGENT: “We’ll have to switch your airline and re-route you to another city, but yeah, we’ll have you there tonight.”

So, that’s how we ended up in Fort Lauderdale a few hours later. And a few hours after that, we took a 9 PM flight on Bahamasair to Nassau – the last of the day.

We got to our hotel at about midnight, and the couple in front of us in the check-in line had checked their bags and had only the clothes on their backs. We looked at each other and were glad that we had held on to our bags the whole time, so we went on up to the fifteenth floor and hopped into bed, thinking that our ordeal was over….

Day 2: …And it was. We woke up to a sunny, beautiful Nassau morning, and took a cab into town for breakfast. It was early enough that we had the town to ourselves. We walked down towards Prince Rogers Walk in search of food and saw a small sign in the marketplace reading “SWISS CONFISEUR.” Inside was a Bahamian lady behind a counter, making pastries. It cost us $2 dollars for two  apple turnovers, and $2 for two fruit juices. We ate at a tiny table behind the cafe, overlooking the beach. We agreed – it was the best breakfast ever.

Our tour began at Rawson Square, where we saw the Bahamian head of government and the library. Behind that was the Governor’s Mansion, which had a geocache hidden in the fence, and that’s how we ended up on that tiny piece sidewalk with traffic whizzing by us in both directions as I stuck my hand under the fence and got the cache (see: previous post on geocaching). We then went up to Fort Fincastle, and walked down the Queen’s Staircase. In the Straw Market, I bargained for souvenirs while Mom was…less than happy. We ended the day by going to the Ardastra Zoo and Gardens, where we got to walk around among the animals and get our pictures taken with a parrot. I also got to feed fruit to these small, brightly colored tropical birds (finches, I think). We also stayed for the flamingo show, where the flamingos marched around in a circle and I got to go in the pen and run around with the flamingos WHICH WAS AWESOME. Also, Starbucks in Bahamas is expensive.

Day 3: Saturday = relaxing day. I got Mom to jump in the clear blue water with me and watch as tiny fish swam around our feet. Then, I left Mom on a beach chair under a palm tree while I went snorkeling just off the beach.

Day 4: I begged Mom to let me swim with the dolphins, so we got on a boat to an island where I did just that while Mom took pictures and was surprisingly cool despite just having a) taken a boat, and b) landed on a tourist-trap of an island in the middle of summer. But, she agreed with me, IT WAS AWESOME.

Day 5: We said goodbye to the Bahamas, and our ride home was pretty uneventful, Nassau-Charlotte-Baltimore. Well, not too uneventful – Mom finished all that she had brought to read on the trip on the first flight of the day, so she spent the second flight being bored.

So that’s the story. My favorite part was when, after the trip, Mom actually admitted to enjoying running all around town with me. Unlike our past family vacations, where Dad enjoys wandering around, I obsessively planned the trip and our route around the city so we always know where we were, where we were going, what we were doing, and how we were going to get there. We haven’t taken a trip together since.

So…Happy birthday, Bahamas!

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