Up and at ‘um bright and early this morning! Decked out in pink Drake gear we hit the road early to get to the Susan G. Koman starting gate. What a fantastic event this was. Gathering with everyone else that was walking/running was neat, and although we made a spectacle of ourselves again dancing (whoops) it was overall a very high energy and attitude morning. The race took us over a bridge to Paradise Island, and after weaving around the streets there it ended on a beach with a large celebration. The group stuck around there for a while before walking over to Atlantis a bit to explore. Luckily it was early enough in the day that things were pretty low key/not busy so we took some time to site see (and check out all the “sail boats” (yachts) that were docked there.
After lunch we returned to the El Greco and rested a bit. At this point we felt like it was 4 in the afternoon but to my memory it was only about 12. Wow what an awesome day. Somehow we had some energy left though, and decided to play volleyball… make that 11 on 11 volleyball. Did I say we were a spectacle on this trip earlier? Because I think this event topped the rest. We played several very intense, high spirited, and seriously funny games. At one point we had some other beach going retirees as line judges, and I caught several people that were touring for the day from the cruise ships taking photos of our group. I guess it isn’t everyday you see that large of a group on a volleyball court though.
This game really felt like a family gathering. It was great to see everyone playing and not worrying about ability because it was just fun. We got intense at points and just goofy at others. And of course jumping in the ocean doesn’t hurt for a break with all this activity.
Knowing that our time in Nassau was drawing short a few of us took the opportunity to explore the 66 Steps. This area was built by slaves over about 15 years. Getting to this area was a neat adventure in itself. Up the hill away from the beach we were weaving through side streets and some residential areas. The site is actually right next to a hospital, and the guards were nice enough to let us know we were headed in the right direction. When you approach the area you can’t see the steps right away, but rather a gash carved into the side of the mountain at least 80 or 100 feet high and as long as a football field. There are plants growing up and down the walls now, and a fountain running near the steps on the far end of this area. As you get closer the steps appear – 66 of them carved up and out of what then felt like a cavern. After climbing up the steps we saw another small fort (which some of the rock was harvested for) before returning down the hill and stopping at some other historical sites.
It’s hard to explain all of the elements of this trip, but one thing that stuck out today was the connection that is growing not just between classmates, but between the class and this place, Nassau. While we are still “tourists” we came knowing many things and are able to ask more informed questions and take time to understand things that people are sharing with us. It’s amazing to see how I am connecting and becoming more comfortable here, as well as the class as a whole.
I’ve become more and more amazed with my classmates everyday of this trip. Waking up here seems completely natural and I love being surrounded by all of them as we go on this journey together. I find myself smiling uncontrollably still and despite some lack of sleep I’m ready to jump out of bed and go for it. Today was no exception.
Today’s adventures started a little later than previous, and really our last chance to sleep in past 7. This morning we started out with a meeting with Pan Richardson, the volunteer coordinator (and overall planner I believe) of the Bahama Marathon. It’s so nice to people like her throughout this trip that are just as interested, if not more, in us as we are in them/her. She’s done an excellent job getting us water station and other positions (for those that aren’t running). Overall it was an assignments meeting, and more practice at assembling for a group photo!
After this we spent some time getting things pulled together and headed out for a quick bite to eat. This time I went with a smaller group (just four of us!) and we wondered into a little church on a side street from downtown, before finding a Jamaican Curry restaurant. As it was 10:30 and we were ready for lunch we didn’t even consider places may not be ready, but the women was fantastic and let us know what was ready, so each of us ordered something different and we all shared. So happy I found some people to have fun exploring food with! And still loving how welcome and excited to see us the locals are to us.
The afternoon brought some epic things. Okay, that probably wasn’t very funny…. but we visited the Norwegian Cruise-ship Epic! As we walked towards the ships I was really surprised at how large they were, although the thousands of people we were passing made it quite believable at the same time. Once again we traded our passports for visitor badges and cleared security (after clearing with the Bahama Government earlier to get on the dock). This was my first time on a cruise ship, and although I’m glad to have seen it, I’m also really glad for getting to be on a smaller sailboat. The best part of this visit really though was getting to meet with who we did – The Director of Entertainment, Director of Guest Services, and Director of Food and Beverage. Talk about a power trio, these three were great. We learned some really great situation leadership examples (managing 900 very strong personalities) and many examples of dealing with each situation as it comes but also how to use resources wisely and be efficient. Overall a very good trip.
After this long day we needed some downtime, and with this trip it meant a trek to the beach or hanging out near the hotel. I took some time with another classmate to wonder through the straw market and downtown some. After a brief meeting we decided to all go to Senor Frogs for dinner and some more hanging out time. This was great to just get away from the hotel a bit and share a fun evening with friends. Obviously this was a very touristy place, but lots of great laughs were had. Knowing we had to wake up at 3:30 the next day we all ventured back to the hotel to unwind and hit the hay early.
Yet another fantastic learning and growing experience was had… until tomorrow..
There is so much to share about today that i’m not sure where to begin. While bullet points make this shorter… it may be the easiest way to explain the hectic-ness of what occurred. I do look forward to returning to all these things that happened though and processing them for myself and possibly to share here later… there were just so many amazing moments.
Here we go!
9:30 meeting at the Embassy! Clearing security and various entry points before being escorted to a meeting room. There we spoke with the Charge d’Affairs Dinkelmen who talked about his duties as well as those of the entire embassy. Following his discussion we had a great conversation and presentation from the US Coast Guard member that works in Nassau. This was so wonderful and the class definitely took a lot away from the visit.
Lunch with a large group! Oh what a joy it is to have 22 students try and divide up enough to eat somewhere (we did do okay though – a great time to get to meet people I wouldn’t have normally been around prior to this experience)
College of the Bahamas! How often do you get to sit in a college in another country! During our visit we met with the President of the college, some students, as well as representatives for the Minister of Tourism and Minister of Transportation. They shared so much great information about how and why the service is as it is in the Bahamas and their goals and dreams for future projects. (The Bahamians pride themselves on the excellent level of service, which I would have to very easily agree with them on. They discussed how prices may seem high at first, but the level of service is so wonderful and that is one aspect to those prices (along with that it’s tourism and lots of importing has to happen)).
As our meeting concluded we were told we would get to have one more special visit. A tea party hosted by Her Excellency Lady Joan Foulkes with the Ministry of Tourism and People-to-People. The members of People-to-People were there, along with the special guests from the International Tennis Club. Oh, and 24 of us from Drake that had no idea what we were walking into. If only there were photos of our faces when we realized (while walking to this elegantly decorated deck) what was going on. To say this was an honor and exciting is a complete understatement. Throughout the event there was dancing, singing, a fashion show (with Miss Bahamas in it!) and lots of wonderful food and tea. Oh, and just to top things off we met couple who were Drake graduates! What a crazy and fantastic afternoon this was. I’m still amazed at what happened and how great it was, especially given how long of a day we had already had at this point!
Luckily that was the end of our day, and we all sat around with smiles plastered to our faces as we relaxed before some time out and away from the hotel together. Oh, and we’re only on the second day here and we’ve already visited a gazillion places formally and on our own wondering as well as crashed a tea-party. Wow.
*Photo slideshow to come*
What a long day it has been already, and we’ve only been in the Bahamas for a few hours! Successful flights and clearing of customs, as well as loading into taxis and getting to the hotel. Laughter was a key element (and continues to be) and I praise everyone for being suck good sports all day. It was very nice arriving to the hotel and jumping into suits and heading to the beach – yes, we had a celebratory beer as well (it’s Bahamian beer!).
As we descended to the Cable Beach and then Junkanu Beach area the water completely took my breath away. Exploring just a bit makes me excited for more to come, and the relaxing at the beach was just the quiet time I needed to refresh from travels and gear up for the busy few days ahead.
For our first dinner we ate at the Fish Market (a specific restaurant at the market, but apparently you just refer to it as a whole). It was an awesome dinner and loved everyone I ended up sitting with and sharing food with! This meal was on Drake as part of our trip, so we had a lot of fun picking out things for our table, which we just passed around as we tried everything. There was Lobster, Conch (fried), Grouper, Snapper, and Shrimp! The sides common to the area that we also had a lot of are MacNCheese (more backed with bigger noodles), Peas and Rice, and Coleslaw). It was a very very fun meal and the food was DELICIOUS.