Really, I’m surprised Angie had the courage to invite me back to the Bahamas, knowing my infamous luck—or lack thereof; where I go, cyclones tend to follow—and having traveled with me a couple years back. On that particular trip, I caught some mysterious stomach bug that had me spontaneously puking off the front of our sail boat and rendered me useless for two days. (The same time, Holly had some intense allergic reaction in which her lip swelled up to Angelina-size proportions; she also sprained her ankle while we were frolicking on the white sands of Green Turtle Cay.) I’d say, knowing all this in advance, Angie had the events that transpired this past week coming to her.
Sure, it’s hurricane season. But the Bahamas has yet to be hit by one this fall. Instead, tropical depressions decided to accompany us to Nassau and beyond. Let’s just put it this way: I hardly had need for a shower the whole six days I was in the islands.
Actually, I landed Saturday a week ago in beautiful weather after an 18-hour, overnight trip that entailed three flights. It was sunny and warm, and I thought maybe—just maybe—this visit to the Bahamas would bring better luck. I often think wrong; it’s one of my greatest character flaws. The next day, gloomy clouds followed us around as we sped about the bay by jet boat. That night, we drove a long 45-minute journey to a meal that was interesting for a lack of a more positive term, then 10 minutes into our return trip, our limo hit “a crater,” as our driver said, and blew a tire. One handy traveler had experience changing limo tires and jumped to the rescue. Only the tire thingamajigger he needed to do the trick was not in the trunk. So we sat and waited and joked about all the times in your life you can use the phrase “our limo blew a tire and so we’re stranded in the middle of nowhere on some island in the Bahamas.”
And then—for a fleeting moment—maybe luck was on our side. A dinky little compact car blew a tire in the exact same “crater,” skittering to a stop beside us on the side of the road, and did have the tool we needed. So Brett changed that guy’s tire, changed our tire, and finally we were ready to rumble.
On the third day, it was up and at ‘em early for our regional carrier flight to Exuma. I took a nice little spill on the runway—for comic purposes only, of course—as my left big toe got into a fight with the concrete, spewing blood and skin and leaving an impressive hole on top. I re-stubbed this same toe no fewer than 17 times the remainder of the trip; that, for once, is not an exaggeration. There were only eight of us on the little puddle hopper, so when we arrived in George Town to find that not a single bag had been placed in the cargo section, you can see why we were perplexed. Sure, it might be understandable if one person’s luggage was missing, but the entire passenger roster? It miffed us, I’m not going to lie. Luckily, Angie had had the foresight to recommend we pack what we needed for the day in our carry-ons, so I had all my electronics, as well as a bikini and sundress on my body. Good thing, as this is what we wore for the following 36 hours (to sleep in, to dinner, on the boat, you name it).
But hey! Everything was fine! We be in the Bahamas, mon! It didn’t hurt that we had the best guide known to man, Sharmain, as our chauffer/guide/Bahama mama extraordinaire. We got off the plane in George Town, stocked up on snacks at the local supermarket, then drove to the west side of the island to Barreterre to board a boat that would take us all over the Exuma cays.
Sure, there were spots of isolated sunshine here and there—mostly around Great Exuma—though by the end of the day we were darting in and out of threatening storm systems, stopping on Little Farmer’s Cay for a good two hours to let it get far enough ahead of us. During one such sunny patch, our captains Pat and Andrew stopped the boat in Starfish Bay. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what marine life populated the shallow waters.
Apparently, though, you should never pick up starfish and try them on as a coconut bra unless you’re 100 percent sure you’re not allergic. A red, bumpy rash started rising on my chest just moments after I jumped back on the boat. Because I am daft was suffering from serious jetlag, it took Angie explaining to me what probably happened for me to figure out why I was suddenly dying. I guess it’s a good thing then that I’ve spent more than $500 at the allergist in the past month getting medicated and such, as I had all the proper tools in my carry-on bag that one needs to combat such a reaction.
Amid clouds and drizzle, we arrived at Staniel Cay that afternoon and went to see the famous swimming pigs. Only, it seems the pigs didn’t get the memo that we were coming and, instead, went on vacation, as only one sow emerged from the bush and, according to Pat and Andrew, she is the finicky one who doesn’t even like to wade in the water. Naturally. We returned the next day to find a similar scene: not a single swine sunbathing on the beach. Everyone who lived on Staniel kept proclaiming, “I’ve never seen such a thing! But the pigs, they’re always here.” That’s supposed to make us feel better? That we’re such social pariahs, even hungry pigs don’t want near us? Next trip, I suppose.
But that’s alright, because we still got to dive! The visibility wasn’t great and the water was more than rocky, but there were LOTS of sharks (stay tuned for that recap on Wednesday). Coral and anemones, too, and I only realized the next day that perhaps I swam a bit too closely to the marine life when my arm puffed up into a grid of six welts. My coral sting still itches six days later, and I’ve gone through more than one tube of hydrocortisone.
The whole scenario we found ourselves in became so laughable that we began predicting what would go wrong next. “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if those allegedly docile eight-foot nurse sharks we were petting thought it would be a funny prank to leap out of the water and take off our entire arm?” “Wouldn’t it just be fitting if a hurricane touched down on Great Exuma, swiped up our waterfront cottage as if we were in Oz, and deposited us on some Lost-style island where we’d be stranded, never to be heard from again, and I had to go all Lord of the Flies on your ass and pick off your body parts one by one for sustenance?”
When I was in NYC a few weeks back, SVV and I were regaling friends with our travel trauma in trying to reach Borneo this summer. Ryan commented in response: “I can’t see you stressed out about anything. If that happened to a normal person on their honeymoon, they wouldn’t be able to cope.” (Which only made me laugh, as I think of myself as one of the most stressed out individuals I know. Have you heard that I am both self-employed and self-employed in a dying industry? That should say it all.) But it’s true: When it comes to travel, I’m surprisingly zen. Perhaps it’s because I know with my Luna Luck that something is always bound to go wrong. Or maybe I’ve just been doing this so long that I have come to realize that a missed flight here and there or being locked in a bus station overnight in Sevilla by a cop who doesn’t speak a word of your language is hardly the end of the world. When you travel, rarely does everything go as planned, and if you acknowledge and accept that up front, you’ll be a lot better off—more calm, cool and collected when drama does strike. And trust me, friends, it will. (Particularly if you choose me as your travel companion.)
That was the unspoken mantra of our trip: “Don’t worry ’bout a thing ’cause every little thing…is gonna be alright.” Despite all of the above—and the fact that the sun only reared its head for a few fleeting moments here and there (though we did see a handful of honest-to-God double rainbows!)—this journey was epic, perhaps the most fun I’ve had on a trip in years. That can only be a testament to the people with whom I traveled, as well as an amazing destination like the Bahamas in which it’s hard to have a frown upon your face, torrential downpours or not.