Living Until I Die #2: My Second Trip To Exuma, Grand Bahamas

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I recently visited Exuma, Grand Bahamas for the second time last week and it was as beautiful as I left it two years ago. The weather was perfect when we arrived. We were escaping Florida’s rainy season, and we just missed the week of torrential rains and thunderstorms in Exuma. I was looking forward to the next few days of beautiful weather, crystal blue waters, fresh conch salad, and the slow pace of island life.

On my first visit to Exuma, I came on New Year’s Eve, which not exactly a good time to experience island life. Also, my first trip was one full of unexpected and unplanned hiccups. Like one of my friend’s federal law enforcement colleagues promised to take me out on a fishing trip which led me to cancel my planned charter.

The trip didn’t pan out, and I was pissed. And while this colleague gave us a wonderful tour of the island, he also wasted a lot of our personal time to see the island on our own. He took us around but made long, personal stops in between which annoyed us. We were at his liberty.

Lastly, he was based with the Royal Bahamian Police. We got to go meet them, see their quarters, and I got my boobs felt up during over in the night by one of the top officers at the base. He was a silent, very frisky, married drunk. I literally fought with him every time we got into the car to go to the next island party spot. Needless to say — never again. My accommodation on the first trip was terrible. Our hot water leaked into the apartment below entire weekend. We had to take cold showers for the rest of our stay. There were no other rooms available, and they shut the entire island down for the New Year holiday weekend. It was a horrible feeling to say the least. I had had enough of the Bahamas on my first trip if you get my drift.

But this time, I had few plans and low (no) expectations so I wouldn’t be disappointed. This time everything was perfect.

The Second time around in Exuma was beautiful. As soon as I arrived, there was a rainbow waiting for me.

The second time around in Exuma was beautiful. As soon as I arrived, there was a rainbow waiting for me.

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Fluffy author catches a rainbow on her first day in town. It’s a sign. Photo by Marley K.

I just knew I was supposed to be there, and the place where the rainbow ends is destined to be my home (in my mind anyway). I just need to work harder to make more money to make it happen (lol). I’m also take donations for a piece of Stocking Island or a hurricane-ready mini cottage.

On our second go round, we stayed at the resort next to the one we visited the previous trip thinking we’d be spared from the never ending partying from the last stay. Nope.

Our old resort, which was right next door to the new one, made my time at the new resort a living hell. They had a party on my second night that lasted from 9pm-4am. On my second night, the resort next door had a pool party that started at 4pm in the afternoon and didn’t end until… you guessed it, 4 am.

Island people work hard and they play hard on the weekends. Who can blame them after having to deal with ungrateful tourists all week? Working in a service/tourism industry is stressful. People need to have an outlet, and the local social gatherings are a place for hardworking locals to unwind. I must admit I was a little was disappointed though. I could have stayed home and went to South Beach for the overpriced party scene and save a grand or so. I was tired from not being able to sleep, my partying all night days are over, and that type of good time is low on my priority lists. Other guests like me were undone by the rudeness of the barely hanging on resort turned party venue. Hotel management said it was beyond their control. They said they don’t even know how this business continues to get permits to do those kinds of parties in a resort zone.

I was stuck like chuck. I made the best of my unfortunate mess. During the daylight hours, I walked over to Jolly Hall Beach, which is a pristine beach no one really visits. Each day, I had the entire beach to myself. It was the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to. And to have the rare blessing of being on it alone… it was unforgettable.

I slept on the beach to recover from the party I didn’t pay to attend. I also needed to prepare for the party being held in the next few hours. The beach was fun, and I even had a chance to skinny dip and sunbathe nude most of the day. Communing with nature is a must if you haven’t done so already.

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Jolly Hall, Exuma. Photo by Marley K.
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I had this entire beach alone. Jolly Hall, Exuma. Photo by Marley K.

Later in the day, someone’s dog broke free and decided he was rebelling from his everyday life too. I didn’t blame him. He was a good old dog. I felt bad for him. He had a chain on his neck, and a roam that didn’t experience freedom in solitude often.

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A smart dog came by to enjoy the beach alone with us. He didn’t mind us and we didn’t mind him. Photo by Marley K.

On Sunday, I took a water taxi to Stocking Island to the Chat N’ Chill for the pig roast and fresh made conch salad. I did this the last time I was in Exuma, but this time it was a little different. We were the only Black/Brown folks at the Chat N’ Chill besides the locals who worked there. It was weird. I got special love from the locals which made me feel appreciated and recognized in a sea of Anglo/European/White tourists. I enjoyed watching the locals navigate rude, privileged folks who want things their way and expect things to move fast like it does in the states. Most had no clue they were being respectfully told off.

It was a sight to behold, and hilarious at times.

I asked the gentleman making my conch salad if I could have a photo of him working and a video pulling the conch from the shell (I had never seen it done before), and he thanked me for asking, noting most tourists don’t ask for photos. I think it’s respectful, especially if you’re going to post people’s photos online.

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Stocking Island, Chat N Chill. Man and a European spectator removing live conch from shell to make my tropical conch salad. Photo by Marley K.
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Stocking Island, Chat N Chill. Chef prepping fresh conch at his stand. He works 7-days a week except Christmas and New Years. Photo by Marley K.

The making of my conch salad. The final product was this tropical conch salad and Sands, one of the two Bahamian beers (neither have nothing on Red Stripe).

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Bahamaian Conch Salad and Sands Beer. I couldn’t wait, I had to eat and drink some. Photo by Marley K.

The conch salad was delicious. I can’t get this in the states. Because of a collapse in FL conch fisheries in the 1970s, it is now illegal to commercially or recreationally harvest queen conch in that state. The only place to eat fresh conch salad is in the Bahamas. I treasured every bite. It’s not the same eating frozen and imported conch.

Chat N’ Chill, the place to be on Sundays. I met some nice, privileged folks there. It was funny watching the locals set them straight without batting an eye. One family complained about how slow the conch salad was prepared. Another tourist was upset because the shack didn’t have a card reader (really???). One guy tried to walk off with the man’s good because his water taxi had arrived and he, the consumer, didn’t have change for a $100 bill. The man had to stop making orders to get change to keep the guy from leaving with his food. I couldn’t believe the disrespect. He and his friends started eating the man’s food before they paid for it. If that’s not the epitome of privilege and a lack of social awareness, I don’t know what is.

Sometimes White people and privileged Europeans can be too damn much. The islanders know how to hold their own.

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Look at the beautiful water. Stocking Island, Chat N Chill.
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Tourists waiting on their conch salad. Stocking Island, Chat N Chill. Photo by Marley K.
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Sunrise outside of my suite, Augusta Bay Resort, Exuma. Photo by Marley K.
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Food from the Sunday pig roast, Chat N Chill, Stocking Island. Peas and rice, Bahamian Mac N Cheese, roasted pork, coleslaw, and glazed carrots. Photo by Marley K.

On what I thought would be my last day, I got up early to catch the last sunrise. It was a beautiful site to behold. I wish this was my forever home. Mother Nature is too kind to us.

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Sun rising over Stocking Island. Photo by Marley K.

I packed my things, sad to be leaving once again despite all the obstacles to peace this go round. After arriving at the airport 2 hours early and sitting for nearly 3 hours for my habitually delayed flight to depart, the airline canceled our flight. They rewarded me with another night in a luxury resort on the airline, meal vouchers included. After getting over the shock of not going home, I got a taxi to the accommodation set up for me and stayed another night in paradise. There were plenty of folks upset about being stranded. Not me. I felt blessed.

I slept like a baby all night for the first time in two days. I had food, and I was safe. I enjoyed the gift of another night in paradise. I enjoyed the crashing waves and the sea breeze until my bedtime, thankful for another day on earth.

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Photo by Marley K.

The next morning I arrived back at the tiny airport. My flight was delayed a few times, but it eventually left Georgetown. I thanked Exuma for hosting me once more and boarded my flight back to SoFlo. Until next time Exuma. Until the next time.

© 2019 Marley K. All rights reserved.

#YOLO (you only live once)

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