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It's taken me nearly two weeks to finally edit my pictures and build the webpage, but I finally did and now, here are some pictures from the trip I took to the Bahamas for my birthday!  The whole story and many, many, many more pictures are at www.theinnbetween.net/bahamas.html and even more pictures in the Photography section (spread out in among several categories).  How I ended up being able to afford a trip to the Bahamas is actually pretty interesting, so I recommend reading all about it.

Our hotel was right on the beach.  We stayed there 4 days and 3 nights.  Here's a sunset picture from the beach that our hotel was on:



(I have added an amusing story to the end, because I forgot about it when I first posted, so if you've already read this, you might want to go back and read it again)

So, the first day, we took a cruise ship from Ft. Lauderdale to the Grand Bahama Island.  We had to board at 0-fuck-thirty in the morning (translation:  6:30 AM), but we got there just after lunch.  We had breakfast onboard, but I was too sleepy and a bit too seasick to eat lunch (I never used to get motion-sick, but it appears to happen more and more often as I get older).  So, we got checked into our hotel, which was georgeous!  It was bigger than my last apartment, and prettier too!



It had the most fantastic view!



We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, which is actually an outdoor restaurant by the pool (with good food but REALLY slow service), then we turned in fairly early because of the lack of sleep from the night before.

The next day, we were actually going to sit in on time-share lecture because they promised us a free vacation as incentive, but we slept right through it and only got up in time for our afternoon Dolphin Experience:



I had never played with dolphins before and I had a blast!  Now I want to do it again, only next time, I want to do the swim where we actually go out in the ocean and I have to wear snorkel equipment!  But even within the harbor, it was wonderful!  My waterproof camera cases got a workout!



We walked about a mile or so down the beach to this little beach bar called Bikini Bottom, which was cute and had a pretty decent chicken sandwich.  Then we hiked back to the hotel for another night.

The next day was our longest tour.  It was an all-day Jeep tour around the island.  I got to drive (stick shift, of course).  Because the Bahamas are a former-British colony, everyone drives on the left side of the road, but the vehicles are all a mix of right- and left-drive.  I was hoping our Jeep would be British too, but it wasn't, it was American standard.  That actually made it a little more difficult to remember the whole left-side-of-the-road thing, but I managed pretty well, I think.

Anyway, we stopped off first to see the dolphins again, then drove to see a couple of underground caves that are apparently very popular for cave diving.



We had to go off-road with the Jeeps, and I got some fun video footage of that over on the website.



Our final stop on the tour was another beach.  There are no private beaches in the Bahamas, so anywhere there is beach, people are allowed to go.  The only way to get a private beach is to own the entire island.  So, we parked our Jeeps and began a trek through the swash to the last beach, where they had a little picnic area set up for us with some sandwhich fixings for a light lunch.  We also had some of the natives waiting for us to welcome us and to beg for food:



They were very friendly and utterly charming.  I nearly forgot to eat, I was so captivated by them!

Then, after lunch, we shucked our dry clothes and explored what the Bahamas is so famous for ... sunny, sandy beaches with crystal, temperate water and breathtaking views:



My underwater camera case got another workout when we spotted a starfish in the shallows:


Then we headed back to the Jeeps and the end of the tour.  Later that night, we went to the nearest marketplace, Port Lucaya, for dinner and ate at this charming little Italian restaurant that had really good food.  We wandered around some, and eventually called it a night.

The final day, we got up early, checked out, stored our luggage, and took our final tour.  It was the Grand Bahamas Island tour, which took us all around the island and spoke about the people, the culture, and some of the infrastructure that our Jeep tourguide mentioned the day before.

Apparently, the Bahamas is a "privately-owned" government.  From what I remember, basically some guy came down and wanted to use the resources of the Bahamas, and they let him in exchange for him funding the roadways, canal system, schools, hospitals, and other such public works.  He did so through is own fortune and through business deals with other private investors.

Something I found interesting, was that our tourguide told us of some of the laws in the Bahamas.  It is illegal to be gay.  Actually, the word he used was 'sissy", which means a homosexual man (like many patriarchal societies, there is no such thing as homosexuality among women, or something).  They believe that being a sissy is damaging to the psyche of children, so they do not allow men to be sissies, which could influence children to grow up to be sissies themselves.  Since the tourguide has absolutely no political sway, I held my tongue through this explanation.

Another thing I found interesting was how their local economy works.  Apparently, neighborhoods get together and pool their resources, and every year they rotate, one member/family gets that money to build his own house.  When he runs out of money, the work on the house stops until he gets more.  The upside is that , when your house is built, you own it outright.  Their government also provides jobs for anyone who wants one.  It might not be the kind of job you want, but if you're jobless in the Bahamas, it's because you chose to be, or so he says.  They have a minimum standard wage by profession.  And, when a man gets married and builds a house, it belongs to the wife.  So if the man divorces or gets caught cheating, or gets caught gambling (which is also illegal for native Bahamians, but not tourists), the wife gets to keep the house.  The tourguide joked with us about women pressuring men to build them houses.

On this tour, our first stop was the Botanical Gardens, which were in honor of their founding island patron (whose name I can't remember, but is responsible for the canals, the roads, the schools, etc.).  We then stopped at another marketplace that was on the beach, and I got a couple more beach pictures:



We also went to the International Bazaar, which used to be the island's main market place.  Apparently it was quite the bustling hive of activity, with everything from stalls for native wares to big-name designer stores for jewels and clothing to top quality restaurants from around the world.  But when the big hurricane hit the Bahamas several years ago, many of the stores could not afford the repairs and just moved out.  Many of the businesses moved to Port Lucaya, but I never saw any of the designer names that I saw on the rusty, falling down signs in the International Bazaar.  There were still a handful of local vendors there, and our tourguide said he likes to stop there to give them some business, since without the tour buses, no one would ever shop there anymore.



This tour ended just in time for us to catch the shuttle back to the harbor and depart the Bahamas, where I took a couple of pictures from shipboard of the oncoming storm:



I did have an interesting bit of complication at the immigration counter at the harbor.  First, I apparently needed some form to get back on the ship that they had given me when I boarded in Ft. Lauderdale.  I didn't realize I needed it and had thrown it away a day or two before.  So I got to the counter and they asked for the form.  I said I didn't have it.  The girl told me to step to the side and search my bag.  I repeated that I didn't have it.  She asked if I searched my bag and I said no, I had thrown it away.  Her co-worker next to her leaned over and asked what the problem was and the girl said that I didn't know what this form looked like.  So I said, very loudly, that I knew exactly what the form looked like and I didn't have it.  So her co-worker told me to step to the side and seach my bag.  Rob then pulled me off to the side where I stood and glared at the counter for a few minutes, then walked back. 

This time someone new helped me and we went through the same process all over again.  This time, when the new "helpful" co-worker asked me, I yelled at her that I knew what the freakin form looked like I didn't fucking have it.  She said it was standard policy to ask and I replied that was fine, but I have already answered that question, now what can be done about not having the form.  She passed me on to her supervisor who started from the beginning.  I cut her off and said that I knew exactly what the form looked like, I didn't have it, so what can I do about that.  She looked confused for a moment and said "well, you can fill out a new one".  I said "Great!  Give me a new form!"  So I stepped out of line and filled it out, then cut back in line and gave it to her.  We were then processed to the bag check-in station.

Here, my bag went through the scanner and got flagged.  I thought "shit, they found the switchblade and they're going to confescate it!"  It's an expensive knife and since it was packed in the checked baggage, I didn't think there would be a problem, since the airlines let me check my tools.  So, another woman opened my bag in front of me and started rifling through my stuff.  She found the knife, held it up, announced to no one in particular that I could see "pocket knife" and tossed it back in the bag.  Then she dug deeper ...

and pulled out my Hitachi Magic Wand.  For those who don't know it, this is a rather large item that plugs in.  It was originally billed as a "neck massager" in the '60s or '70s so it's not immediately recognizable for its purpose if you don't already know what its purpose is.  She held it up in the air and asked, loudly, "what is this?"  So I said, equally loudly, "it's a vibrator".  She paused a moment, then packed everything up and cleared my bag.  It almost made up for the hassle about the form.

I had a really good time and I'd like to go back again someday.  If you like any of these pictures, please go check out the rest of them on the website - I took a LOT more than just these!
 
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