Monday, January 13, 2014

Random stuff about the Bahamas

This is our third trip to the Bahamas in a year because of repeated boat-fixing activities in the States. Although we have not visited as many anchorages as other boats, we have visited several places more than once and stayed longer than we might otherwise have. As a result, we have gotten to know more local people (non-cruisers) and learned various facts/nuances about life here that not every visitor picks up.

For example, electricity here is really expensive. A typical house in Marsh Harbour pays $600 a month. That's how much 8 months of electrical cost us for our 2-flat in Chicago in 2011. And the $600 surely isn't going into improving the infrastructure: the power goes out with a regularity that would have Americans stringing up ComEd executives faster than you can say, "Won't somebody please think of the ice cream?!" You would think solar would be a more popular option but I guess capital is an issue and there are pesky regulations about generators (which would be needed as back up on cloudy days).

We also learned that stray dogs are called "pot cake" dogs because they eat all the scraps available, including the burned rice caked  on the bottom of the pot. The dog pictured above is the opposite of a pot cake dog. He's owned by a Rock Sound restaurant/hotel owner and has to be one of the best fed dogs in the Bahamas. He'll bark at you for the first 30 seconds and then he is a typical "I have just met you but I love you" dog.
From a child-rearing perspective, corporal punishment is alive and well in the Bahamas. We were a little surprised when a well-meaning grocery store owner told Mark that he was sure to get a spanking if he didn't listen to his parents. We have heard that most public schools also freely spank children, sometimes punishing an entire class to enforce order. Matt witnessed two mid-twenties men roughing up a teenage boy that they said was "teefin'" (it took Matt a minute to realize they were saying "thieving"), referring to the way the teen was observed casing parked cars. The men did not appear to know the boy. It was island justice--capture, trial, sentencing and punishment, administered in 5 minutes.

We don't spank our kids but were raised in a time when almost no one spared the rod.  Therefore we're not offended by the cultural difference (from a distance that is--having our sons physically disciplined by a stranger would probably raise our hackles).  In fact, comparing the behavior of our often unruly youngest with the mostly well-behaved Bahamian children sometimes gives us pause to reconsider. Of course, not all the local kids are Miss Manners clones.  Anecdotally, the behavior of children here seems to mirror the range that you see in the States. Some have been angels, a few have been hellions (especially when their parents are nowhere to be seen), and most are somewhere in between.  But the fact that most address us and other adults with "Yes, Sir" and "Yes, Ma'am", makes it seem like they're better behaved than they are. It's comparable to the American south in that way.
Here in Rock Sound, we have been to the relatively well-stocked Market Store numerous times trying to see which items had been "reduced for quick sale" but were still viable.  We had some delicious conch fritters at Pascal's (a gourmet restaurant in the middle of nowhere) to quell our guilt over using their freely-offered water to fill up our jugs. We visited some truly prehistoric-feeling caves rife with bats. We crossed over to the Atlantic side of the island to see the pink (if you squint) sand beaches and play in the surf, dodging eager pot cake dogs along the way. Mostly we have enjoyed postponing most of the boat tasks on our to do list for a little while (although Matt did spend a full morning changing the oil and watering the batteries). We're still waiting to hear from the boat yard in Spanish Wells about the availability of their lift to decide whether to go North or South.


  1. I TOTALLY saw the pink sand before I read the post! Of course, you may have doctored it in may all be fabrication.

    Love the leading lines in the stair shot! And the blue sky! Watch the limb chops! (sorry, that was what they always say when you post on photography boards!)

    Wish I were there! I don't think I'd eat Conk though. It sounds like it might make a squishy squish in your teeth.

    1. I told Matt about your comment and he said, of course you wouldn't want to chop off limbs (not realizing we were talking about photography). Context. You would totally eat conch if it were fried up in a hush puppy like ball of dough!


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