Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bahamas: Part V

In St. Lucia, we didn't dare travel outside the bounds of Sandals, because the entire island looked a little sketchy for tourists. In the Bahamas, we felt a little safer so we decided to go downtown to a couple of tourist destinations we read about.

We left pretty early on Wednesday morning, although we had to address the fact that at some point I lost our Sandals id cards, and we went outside the resort to catch the No. 10 bus. We saw a bus station across the street by Burger King — I guess American fast food is everywhere — but none going in the direction that we wanted. So we crossed the street and caught a bus that said it would take us downtown.

A few more people joined us, and then most got off at the downtown stop that included the famous Nassau straw market.

I wanted to purchase something for my mom and mother-in-law as well as look for a holiday ornament like I have gotten on our other vacations and something to set on the accent table that Nate had just made for our living room.

And I wanted to do it all on $30, because we forgot to hit the ATM in the U.S. before we left and that's all the cash that we had.

We started to walk around the straw market and attempted to avert our eyes from the vendors that were calling at us the moment our strides started to slow. I read a review that said do not stop and look at anything or talk to them, because they will not leave you alone. So I tried to see what they had to offer without slowing or looking interested, it was difficult.

Nate said I should employ his dad's trick, that whenever anyone would talk to him he says, "Hot coffee," so they just think he's insane and stop bothering him. We did say it, but mostly to ourselves, because we felt ridiculous.

I saw a beautiful wooden flower at several vendors and thought it would look good on our accent table, so I was ready to make a deal. A woman said it was $40 and gave me the sales pitch about how amazing it was.

It was pretty, but No. 1 it wasn't worth $40 and No. 2 we didn't $40.

"I'm thinking more like $5," I said.

She said she couldn't do that and again told me it was made of mahogany and the petals came off for travel and she could go down a little bit.

"OK, I'll give you $10."

She didn't like that and said no lower than $30. Well, I couldn't give her all our money and didn't think the flower was worth it, so we walked away.

Within five minutes, we tired of the people calling us "Sexy" and "Beautiful" and trying to get us to buy crap we didn't want, so we left.

We started to walk down the street and went into a souvenir shop, in which we found a similar flower to the one I had bartered for, and it was $19.95. I knew I was being ripped off earlier.

Down a couple of stores, there was a linen shop and it had a Christmas Village inside, so I went in search of my ornament. We had checked the gift shop at Sandals before we left and saw that ornaments cost about $20. Many in this shop were around that price, but a group of handpainted balls were only $9. They were pretty and even handmade, so I purchased one as our memorabilia.

We knew we would need some change for the bus fare back, so Nate stopped in Dunkin' Donuts — exotic yes? — and purchased a bottle of Dasani water. We hoofed it up a couple of blocks to Graycliff Hotel, where Nate had read about Cuban cigars made there.

The story is that Fidel Castro's own cigar roller started a cigar business at Graycliff, and the people making the cigars today are still all Cuban. It's basically a Cuban cigar but made in the Bahamas, so it's legal to bring in to the U.S.

Graycliff is supposed to be a five-star hotel, but when we walked in, we were a little shocked. It was old, but very pretty. The grounds were covered in trees, and a path wound around to the different destinations outside. We found that not only does it have a cigar-rolling place but also a whiskey distillery, a chocolate shop and several restaurants.

The place was huge, and there were seating areas everywhere. But there were no people. It was like being in a ghost town.

We found the cigar shop, watched people roll them — but they acted like they wanted to be left alone — and purchased several to bring back home. We then got lost trying to find out way back out, and when we left we decided to head back to Sandals. We were not liking being out in a strange place with no protection and wanted to get back to the gated resort.

We caught the No. 10 bus, and by caught I mean we literally jumped in a bus that was passing by as the driver slowed down for us, and I was sitting on the plastic-covered seat in my sundress thinking how I was starting to sweat in the heat of the sun coming in the open doorway. A native in front of us reached over and tried to close the door, but it was strapped back.

The driver asked her if she wanted to move to the back of the bus and slowed down so she could switch seats to get out of the "wind" that was making her cold. COLD! I cracked up that she could think this weather was cold.

The afternoon was spent lounging in the sun, with not a care in the world.

That evening we had hibachi, and although it was fun and a good try, the Bahamian man making it just didn't quite have that Asian edge.

We went to bed satisfied and excited that we still had two full days of vacation left.

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