The Bahamas (Undiscovered) - My Family Travels

I’ll never forget how culturally disappointing my summer of ‘06 trip to the Bahamas turned out to be.  The weeks leading up to the trip were dedicated religiously to fantasizing about the music, food, and other aspects of the Bahamian style that I expected to be enormously different and wonderfully unique.  My usual episodes of Law and Order were replaced with National Geographic features on the Bahamas. Everything appeared so distinct from what I was accustomed to.  I even tried to gain weight when I heard that Bahamians favor larger proportioned women to the stick figured women such as myself which they describe as malnourished and sickly looking.  How they must have wanted to call the local doctors when I arrived!

          Upon arrival at our hotel, I witnessed something that would make even a taxidermist cringe. My dad, whom I love whole heartedly, threw an infamous Angelica from the Rugrats style temper tantrum when the receptionist informed him that he’d have to wear a wristband.  The highlighter colored wristband was to inform everyone on staff at the hotel that he was indeed an adult, as if there could be any doubts of this. Although the hotel we stayed in during our vacation was gorgeous and had an incredible pool that was five steps from the beach, numerous decorations were provided by the college kids that riddled the resort. Decors such as beer pyramids, cigarette butt monuments, just to name a few.  I will admit that I secretly envied all the freedom they had. 

However, none of the vacationers staying in our hotel spent more than a few hours at night and several in the morning at the hotel, because there was always somewhere to take a ride to with the locals who wanted to proudly display their cultural clone of western civilization.  Cruising down the streets catching passing glimpses of Kobe Bryant jerseys and stylish jeans, recognizing scents of fried chicken and burgers, and hearing the hottest rap and rock songs made me realize that not only was tourism their source of income, it had also become their source of belonging. Conformity had crept in and soon instead of sporting bold patterns rich in color, cooking with the bold recipes of their ancestors, and embracing the sounds of an island deep in cultural sounds, they had instead lost everything to the steady stream of outsiders.  Breath taking scenes that were cemented in my head via weeks of the Travel Channel, soon gave way to the realistic sights of large disgustingly colored party boats, flea markets selling American merchandise, and elderly natives looking distraught and torn between conforming to Americanization and remaining loyal to their proud roots.

But like most places that have lost the very thing that drew foreigners in the first place, there is always a tiny village or town that still holds true to its humble beginnings.  My family was among the few who actually got to taste delicious Bahamian meals flavored with old family recipes, all while being entertained by the true Bahamian flair that I had been longing for.  I can remember it raining the day that I discovered the true Bahamas. The steady rain seemed to wash away all the disappointments and let downs that I’d experienced prior to that day. I then realized that like the rain, tourism through the years had cleansed the island of its culture and had in return left it with a sparkling chance of restoration and survival.  From that day on I ceased psychoanalyzing and started enjoying the warm hospitality that the host island lavishly extended unto their guests.


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