Eleuthera: First Impressions

Eleuthera Map Bahamas

Eleuthera is an island in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The beaches are beautiful, the people are friendly and the government is corrupt. We returned from there recently, and I thought I’d share a few memories, and I’ll go day-by-day until the point where our travelling party is settled in. My web host and I are having some FTP issues right now and I have been busy, so for the moment I’ll point you to my photos on Gab. This should all be rectified eventually. Right now I’m on island time.

Preparation

To make the flight, first we had to have a negative PCR Covid test no more than three days prior to the trip. Local doctors don’t conduct these any longer, as they have been proven to be an ineffective measure of contagion throughout the plandemic, so we had to arrange for this service through Walgreen’s. Somehow, we scheduled two tests and ended up having them at two locations a couple miles apart from each other. The tests were conducted differently, the expectations of how long the lab work would be completed were communicated differently and the results were delivered differently from different labs. It all ended up being acceptable and we uploaded our information to the Bahamas travel website.

Saturday: Travel

We had a 2-hour flight from Atlanta to the North Eleuthera airport. When I say “airport” I don’t mean a mall with terminals surrounding it. I mean a shack next to an airstrip. Quite literally. Our plane came to a stop and we exited down the steps and our checked luggage was carted over near us, bur we weren’t allowed to collect it until we had cleared customs. We stood in line on the tarmac for a while and no bathroom facilities were available so my wife had to return to the refueling plane and beg to be let on to relieve herself. Planes taxied, took off and landed not far from where we stood. If you ever go, do bring earplugs!

Huge airport! North Eleuthera! | Photo

Once we got past all of that, we walked to a nearby lot (I use the term loosely) where a bunch of cars were parked. This isn’t an American rental company. There are none of those. This is a local business owner who has acquired quite a few different cars and is making money renting them out. The man working there didn’t have a credit card reader so he took down my phone number (I have no service in this foreign country) and asked for our address. We told him we were staying in the Dolphin House on Rainbow Bay and that was all he needed.

Cupids Cay shack | Eleuthera, Architecture, Cay

As we (three couples) drove to the house, I quickly noticed a few things. There are no painted lines on the road. Everybody drives on the left side of the road and the steering wheel might be on either side of the car. The Queen’s Highway (the only major road on the island) is flanked for the most part by thick, overgrown jungle, though you do pass through settlements (their word for a town) and you do see the occasional broken down vehicle, usually in one or another degree of being stripped down for parts. The buildings are mostly dilapidated, with the occasional large mansion here and there. Seeing oceanfront houses that are crumbling outer walls and no roof is the norm. In the settlements, there are larger buildings that would have been high value condos or hotels that are decaying in the elements. Across the street is a beautiful harbor.

I was happy with the house we stayed in. The air conditioning was adequate and the plumbing allowed for paper goods. Nobody drinks the water out of the taps there except for the poor who can’t afford bottled water. The house had a cistern that collects rainwater and that was adequate for showers, but the water was never warmer than lukewarm, and even then only for brief moments. The view we had was spectacular, with our own ocean access into the Caribbean Sea. After an introductory dip, we unpacked our clothing and the food we brought and visited a beach. I’ve lost track of the various beaches we went to, but each one had its own defining characteristics. We swam with sea turtles that came up to us as well as a few stingrays. I avoided sounding like Steve Irwin around those!

Sunday

Step one was to get a few items at the nearby store. The store prices were higher than what we are accustomed to in the US, but thanks to the economy we have been enduring, the sticker shock wasn’t as acute as it would have been just a couple years before. The bigger problem is variety of items. There are no large stores on the island. A medium sized, clean grocery store found in almost any town in the US would seem like a wonder of modern innovation to one of the locals. The shop sellers get whatever they can and sell it to whoever can afford it with some of the owners making runs to the US to stock up in Costco for items to resell. I have no idea what that looks like, but the customers pay the Costco price plus the shipping plus the VAT tax plus the cost to operate a business. It all adds up.

If you buy a single beer, most shops will offer to open the bottle so you can drink it as you drive down the road.

Don’t knock It Till You Try It.
The Glass Window Bridge

We then visited the Glass Window Bridge. I didn’t noticing anything made of glass, except for beer bottles, but you can see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on either side of the bridge. The majority of the island is less than two miles wide, but this is the thinnest divide there with a section of it being only wide enough for a single lane of traffic. There are no street lights of any kind, so motorists just figure it out.

The beach we went to after this was shallow. It started at our ankles and we walked probably a quarter mile before the water was up to the bottom of my shorts. It was beautiful, but the side road to get there was a little bit suspect.

Dinner was at a roadside stand, “Mel’s Snack Shack” and it was awesome! I tried a conch burger for the first time. Conch is the meat from a conch shell, and it needs to be pounded quite a bit to tenderize it, and is frequently served breaded and fried, or in the local terminology “cracked.” If something on the menu is listed as “fried” that means pan fried and not breaded. Once I understood the distinction I wondered why we haven’t used these words universally all along.

Dayna’s allergies had been affecting her voice and she was nearing the point of no return… a visit to a foreign clinic that doesn’t accept American insurance. I’ll recount that soon!

Takeaways

  • Don’t fall for the silliness that the plane may be a bit chilly and wear jeans with a sweatshirt. You won’t wear either during the trip and you will not enjoy your wait on the tarmac to be processed into the country.
  • Do bring earplugs. They can help with the pressure changes and they will help on the tarmac of the airport.
  • Do set up a car rental before you travel, and prepare yourself to drive on the left side of the road.
  • Do wait until the COVID silliness goes away. The PCR test has been discredited, so the last reason to take it in order to travel is to continue the theft as well as the forced compliance.
  • Do bring cash and/or some food. No joke, people in my group brought pasta, canned meat and even eggs in our checked luggage.
  • Swimwear and coverups are pretty much all you need. Maybe a pair or two of shorts. And do bring some hiking sandals. You will walk on a lot of corral!
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Published by CoffeeSwirls

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