From a small aircraft, the beauty of the Abacos was nothing less than breathtaking. Nearly 12,000 feet above the earth’s surface, one could see white sand basking in the ever-present sun, and beaches idly stretching to the vibrant border of the Caribbean. From above, the sea was clear and calm; even the coral reefs along the ocean floor were visible. Once I saw the inimitable turquoise of the Bahamian waters, I knew this would be far more special than another simple family vacation.
Many people seek this region of the Bahamas only to relax and take in the scenery. However, my family’s trip was celebratory; the opportunity for this vacation had been seized to mark the thirtieth anniversary of my parents’ marriage. Some may call it extravagant, but a lasting love and a happy family are certainly not to be taken for granted. As the expression says go big or go home, right? And with a planet this amazing, why in the world would a person want to go home?
My family, with four of us in all, decided this would not be an average trip to an Americanized resort. We ended up booking our accommodations and transportation all in one; it was decided that my father would captain our very own boat, in which we would cruise throughout the islands. Through The Moorings, a rental service stationed in Marsh Harbour, our reservation was made for a thirty-seven foot power catamaran. Using this accommodation, my family and I were able to travel on our own version of island time. With a personal itinerary of island-hopping and exploring small towns, we never looked back.
With each day came the adventuresome promise of discovering a new place. In all, my family traveled to and anchored at five different cays: Hope Town, Man-O-War, Great Guana, Treasure, and Elbow. Swimming, snorkeling, sunset watching, stargazing, and shelling were all on the agenda, along with a few unforeseen lessons on how to gracefully transition from boat to dinghy to dock and back again. As a crew member, this became rather important to me.
The culture found on the islands created such a contrast when paralleled to our usual bustling lifestyles. It became very clear that the islanders make a priority what we as Americans often miss completely: time set aside for other people. The residents of the Abacos were effortlessly kind and caring, never pushy or hurried.
The goodwill of the Bahamian people was plentiful compared to the apparent financial deficiency of many of the residents. We toured several small towns, none of which seemed to be very developed. Almost all necessities were imported, making them quite expensive. Even so, it appeared that most available jobs made a minimum profit.
Nonetheless, not a single islander appeared to be remotely stressed. The unwritten policy among the islands seemed to be compassion for people comes first, and finances are far from second. Just maybe these people have something right, something we should learn from, about the way to truly live.