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Bahamas Week part two

Our flight went without a hitch on the way from Miami to the Bahamas, and the plane landed on the island of Great Exuma after we were treated to a pretty bird's-eye view of the neighboring islands. At customs, Bahamian personnel opened and searched our luggage (which you will recall was in fact our wives' luggage due to the earlier mix-up and therefore contained exclusively women's clothing and underwear), but thankfully made no comment and waved us through.

A native islander greeted us by family name when we walked outside. It turned out that he had transported the girls to our villa when they arrived and had returned to wait for us, not knowing whether we would be coming that day or not. When he made a comment about our luggage, my dad asked him if our wives had bags when they arrived. That was a negative. It also turned out that, as is SOP with Bahamasair, they had failed to communicate with the fairer half of our party and inform them of the luggage/arrival situation.

But when we got to the villa for our happy reunion we didn't even care that our luggage was AWOL or that the quick ride cost $40, or that we were all starving and had nothing to eat, because we were in the Bahamas at last. I mixed myself a drink with the complimentary fifth of Bacardi gold and went to bed early with J.

Roosters woke me up at 0500h. the next morning and continued crowing all day long. When we got up and out of the house we discovered that February Point was Chicken Central on the island. Heidi Bond would have been in heaven down there, I'm telling you. All different types of beautifully-plumed roosters, fat hens everywhere, and at least one family scurrying around with a half dozen little juvenile chicks. Every time we walked down the street, we saw chickens tilting forward with their necks stretched out and wings held up yet tucked in and folded, dashing away from people and cars. At night we saw hens perched high up in trees and calling from their roosts:

"bukbukbukbukbukbukbukbuk buh-KAWW!!
bukbukbukbukbukbukbukbuk buh-KAWW!!"

It was a beautiful thing. Our first full day was productive. An unseasonal cold front was still blowing in from the north ("It was so cold the other day, I had to wear a jacket," our driver had exclaimed on the previous day). You know what they say about a bad day in the Bahamas better than a good day in Minnesota, but it kept us out of the water and we decided to rent a car for the day to explore the island's interior.

We headed south and mostly failed to find a beach or anything interesting, although we did see a group of wild goats in the road ("Look! deer," said my mom). It was when we drove into Georgetown that we saw a car with "RESPECT MY GANGSTER" printed in Gothic letters on the rear window. In town we bought some food at the island's one grocery store and brought it back to the villa to make ourselves some lunch. Our luggage was delivered from the airport, and I immediately shaved and applied some Old Spice, for which J. was extremely grateful.

That evening, we went to the island's "fancy" restaurant since it was out of town and we had the rental car. The maitre d' made a fuss about seating us without reservations, but reluctantly allowed us a table in the back. The room was empty except for one group in the corner, and nobody else came in for the entire time we were there. The average price for an entree was about $30, which made my parents' jaws drop open. Luckily, they accomodated my request for vegetarian meals for my wife and me, and charged us only $10 each. My dad and brother got $30 chickens and my mom ordered $25 shrimp. I also got a $3 bottle of Kelik, "the beer of the Bahamas." The label touted it as "export quality," although we wondered whether it had ever actually been exported anywhere. It was pleasantly good.

Since my parents had paid our airfare down to the island and basically covered all other costs for the week, proclaiming it to be a family vacation, I paid for the dinner that night. Paid through the nose! With my wallet still hurting, we drove back to the villa and I plunked down to read more Infinite Jest, which seemed to have an infinite number of pages remaining even as I crossed the 200 mark. The book really started coming together around page 200, and it kept getting better.

The Jest was just what I needed to keep me distracted and occupied in the times when I would normally be pounding through the intricacies of my own book-in-progress. It was hard for me to be away from my novel and I was feeling withdrawal symptoms already. In a way, however, it was a relief to get away from it. David Foster Wallace (the author of Infinite Jest) talks about writing here and describes the process as like a "hideously damaged infant that follows the writer around". The extended metaphor is grotesque, hilarious, and absolutely captures my own experience with it. When Holly Lisle writes that your book is not your baby,* this is not the kind of baby she was talking about.

Okay, that's all the time I've got for now. Tomorrow: beachcombing, grilled cheese, and must-see-TV! More photos will be up tonight.

*Encouraging authors to think of writing as an active, grueling ordeal with frequently flawed results; rather than as a natural gestation period that unfailingly produces a perfect, adorable infant

Categories: travel

2 comments:

Shannon said...

This is a great story :) I'm glad you're back, SG!

PS - Thought you might be interested: Last night at the Salman Rushdie talk someone asked him what he thought of David Foster Wallace. He replied that he likes anyone who has the ability to "write 200 pages on any topic." He later, more seriously, mentioned that he did like his writing quite a bit.

sui generis said...

Glad you're enjoying it, and thanks for sharing! On that note, an interesting post about Rushdie was recently posted here.