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Travle Connections

Make new friends on Grand Bahama island through innovative tourism cultural exchange program.
By Keren Engleberg

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “I wished to lived deliberately...I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” The quote came to me on a recent visit to Grand Bahama island. The philosopher, no doubt, had a more austere existence in mind when he wrote it. But the sentiment somehow jibed perfectly with the noisy revelry of Fish Fry, a weekly Wednesday night community beach party and an island tradition. My husband, David, and I were there as part of a getaway to relax and to experience an authentic taste of the Bahamas.

Goldsmiths

Above: The Goldsmiths know how to have a good time. Keren Engleberg photo

Below: A sample of Grand Bahama island’s natural beauty. Bahamas Ministry of Tourism photo

island

Grand Bahama island is the second most populated of the 700 isles that make up the Bahamas archipelago located off the eastern coast of Florida. Most visitors go to New Providence island, home to Nassau, the nation’s capital, and the Atlantis megaresort. But the quieter scene on Grand Bahama, which is known for its natural beauty, appealed to us more.

We planned to kayak through mangroves in 40-acre Lucayan National Park, snorkel among reef fish, and laze on postcard-perfect beaches. But the People-to-People program was perhaps the activity we most looked forward to enjoying. The cultural exchange program, run by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, pairs visitors with volunteer Bahamian hosts for an activity. Our hosts were Terry and Dorothy Goldsmith, who would be taking us to Fish Fry.

They picked us up promptly at 6 p.m., hugging us as they said hello and putting us at ease. Dorothy was black with short gray hair, glasses and a wide smile. Terry, too, was gray-haired with a ruddy complexion, glasses and a Cockney accent. While we drove to the beach, the Goldsmiths filled us in on their story.

Dorothy is a native Bahamian, whereas Terry is originally from London. He’d moved to Grand Bahama when they’d married, some 42 years ago.

Fish Fry was in full swing when we arrived. A long line of people curved out from the door of the oceanfront shack, where plumes of smoke suggested that this was where to find the food. Beyond it were picnic tables, a dance floor and a bar already filled with people. The four of us joined the food line, discussing what to order. The fried fish dinner seemed a must and the Goldsmiths assured us that was so.

We each pointed to the fish we wanted then waited while the cooks fried them in a large pan and served them to us with peas and rice, mac and cheese and potato salad. Over the Michael Jackson music coming from the dance floor area, we made easy conversation. We talked about our careers and bragged about our newest additions to the family. The Goldsmiths shared photos of their many children and grandchildren and waxed nostalgic on their initial courtship.

“As soon as I saw her, I knew I had to meet her,” Terry told us of the day he first spotted Dorothy aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth where he was a chief petty officer and she was a passenger.
When we thought we were done with our meals, Dorothy smirked and said, “In the Bahamas, we eat the fish head, too.” We politely declined, instead offering over the remains of what had been a delicious dinner. Terry didn’t hesitate. With an impish grin, he took the head from my plate, removed an eyeball and popped it into his mouth. We laughed and groaned in simultaneous amusement and disgust. But I had only the deepest respect for a life philosophy that dictated you eat the whole fish. If there had been marrow, I have no doubt they’d have sucked it out.

Keren Engleberg is associate editor of Texas Journey magazine.

May/Jun 2011 Issue


 

Island adventures are plentiful

Story and photo By Deborah Reinhardt

resort

One of the towers at Wyndham Nassau Resort rises above the lovely pool deck. Most of the rooms face the pool or ocean. Five restaurants and a casino add to the resort’s amenities.

New Providence Island and Nassau, located just 180 miles off the coast of Florida, is a good choice for an activity-packed island getaway. With the resorts along Cable Beach, downtown Nassau and the Straw Market, gaming, snorkeling tours and attractions like Blue Lagoon Dolphin Encounters, New Providence Island will not disappoint the adventurous traveler.

For island accommodations, consider the Wyndham Nassau Resort on Cable Beach. The selling point here is the large Crystal Palace Casino that’s part of this AAA Three Diamond resort. With 400 slots and 40 gaming tables, there’s more than enough action. Crystal Palace is one of two casinos on the island; the other is at the megaresort, Atlantis, on nearby Paradise Island.

Wyndham Nassau Resort offers 559 guest rooms and suites. Ocean rooms have astounding views of the turquoise water, and large sliding glass doors allow tropical breezes to lull guests to sleep. Watch cruise ships pass by from the balcony or check out the action around the resort’s outdoor pool.

Dining options at the resort are varied and plentiful. Outdoor options include the Tiki Hut. Try the grouper sandwich plate for $12. Every resort has a steakhouse, and Black Angus Grille certainly was top shelf. But my favorite restaurant at the resort is Moso, an artful combination of various Asian cuisines. In all, five restaurants cater to just about anybody’s taste. Prices seemed to be in line with resort fare.

Make reservations for a Stuart Cove snorkel ($65) or dive trip from the Wyndam or interact with dolphins at Blue Lagoon, a private island located about 25 minutes by boat from Cable Beach. Dolphin Encounter experience ($98) allows participants to stand waist-deep on a submerged platform, touch and get a kiss from a dolphin. After the experience, spend the day on this beautiful private island and get free access to the beach. Lunch and water sports packages are extra.

Shopping is another favorite activity with many of the designer shops along Bay Street, downtown Nassau. Fragrances, handbags and fine jewelry are the main event here. Don’t forget to see the well-known Straw Market, which was scheduled to move into its new home on Bay Street this year. Browsing the market is an experience that’s best followed by a drink at Señor Frog’s and a place in the conga line.

Deborah Reinhardt is managing editor of AAA Southern Traveler magazine.

 

BEFORE YOU GO

Room rates at the Wyndham Nassau Resort start at approximately $170 (excluding taxes and fees).

For more information about visiting the Bahamas or the Ministry of Tourism’s People-to-People program, call (800) 224-2427 or click on www.bahamas.com.

Let AAA Travel help you plan a getaway to the Bahamas. Call (888) 366-4222 or visit AAA.com/Travel.


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