Island Enlightenment | My Family Travels

In February, I went on a three day cruise to the Bahamas for my friend Stephanie’s 16th birthday. As soon as we got on the Carnival Imagination, we went up to the pool deck to check out the pool and enjoy the music. The food was delicious and we could tell that we were going to have a ton of fun.

Without a doubt, the most meaningful part of this vacation was the second day when we got off the ship in the beautiful Bahamas. As we entered a colorful marketplace, we encountered a very friendly tour guide named Quinton. Impressed by his description of an all-day Grand Bahamas Tour, we boarded his tour bus.

QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP

First, he took us to a government building where we were lucky enough to witness the changing of the guard. This was a special experience because the changing of the guard takes place every two weeks for 30 minutes, so we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. From there, Quinton gave us a tour of the richer areas of the island. We saw enormous houses in gorgeous neighborhoods. One house we passed by belonged to a woman who Quinton said had made her fortune by selling chicken and rice for $5 out of a little shack on a corner.

From there, we headed to the poorer side of the island. On one corner we saw the hut where that woman made her fortune by selling chicken dinners. We saw families who lived in one room huts and children playing in the streets. We also stopped at the community water pump that delivers fresh water to the neighborhood. Our final stop was at Fort Fincastle. This fort was used to defend the island during the war in which the Bahamas gained their independence. It has thick walls and was lined with gigantic movable cannons. Outside the fort was a tourist marketplace where we all bought souvenirs. I bought a beautiful photo album handmade out of banana leaves, straw, and organic plant paper. I also bought hand carved coasters for my mother. The amazing quality and intricate details of everything the shopkeepers made was stunning. Shopping was the perfect way to end the magnificent tour of the island.

This vacation meant a lot to me in many different ways. I was very grateful to have a friend as kind and as loyal as Stephanie is. I was so excited and a bit honored when she invited me on her birthday cruise. In addition, the tour of the island opened my eyes to how lucky I am to have all that I do. I don’t think twice about turning on the faucet to wash my hands or get a drink of water, while the people I saw in the poor community on the island had to walk to the pump to get their daily supply of water. Thinking back on this vacation I feel very grateful to be fortunate enough to live comfortably in middle class and to have once in a lifetime friends like Stephanie. Also, this trip showed me that anything is possible with hard work and determination. I saw first-hand how a woman used her cooking to earn her fortune and better her life. I learned to never give up on anything I truly believe in because it could turn out to be a huge success. In summation, this was a very meaningful vacation that was full of both fun with friends and important life lessons.

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