Day 3 in the Bahamas, the bottom of the ocean is visible even from a half mile inland. It couldn't be any more stereotypically gorgeous here, and I'm finally old enough to appreciate it's pure, un-ironic wonder. Lizards wander in and out of your bedroom with no concern, and you learn to return the favor. There is a drought several months strong now, so we don't flush the toilet very often, but the short term upside is that there is absolutely no rain in sight and the weather is perfect. Hot and sunny during the day and breezy at night.
We arrived from Miami on Saturday morning, after a 1 hour flight over hundreds of tiny coral formations peeking majestically out of the bright blue Atlantic. The contrast between Miami Int'l. and the Marsh Harbor landing strip was a nice jolt that primed us for the lazy tropical mentality of the islands and their friendly natives. We had lunch at the Conch Inn next to the ferry over to Guana Cay, an insular island community detached even more remotely from the real world than Marsh Harbor, very much like The Pines. The conch burger was chewy and bitter, and even deep-frying couldn't hide it's connection to the salty home it was forced to leave.
We had to take the 3:30 ferry, as lunch took over an hour to arrive. There is no sense of urgency here, and my personality doesn't adjust quickly to it. I find I'm at my laziest and most calm when the world is moving at a blur past me, and the stillness here stands in stark contrast. Our luggage, which we had left on the dock by the ferry, was conspicuously missing an ugly puke-green paisley carpet-like bag. I had become convinced on the flight from New York to Miami that American would lose my luggage, which is uncharacteristically paranoid of me, but I had packed perfectly for the week, and Murphy's Law suggested that the only thing that could go wrong would go wrong. On cue, the luggage carousel finished it's 354th journey from the bowels of Miami Int'l. and there was no sign of my ugly bag. Once the large plastic-wrapped boxes of freight started rolling by I began to panic. I accused one poor luggage handler quite rudely of losing my luggage personally, and then took umbrage at the fact that he refused to placate me in any way as a representative of American Airlines. Once I hooked up with our friends from Dallas and was slipped a timely Vicodin to plug a whole in my increasingly belligerent mouth, I left the stagnant baggage claim line and hoped that my luggage had been forwarded on to Marsh Harbor just as theirs had. Luckily they had been tipped off by their check-in girl of this fact. The Sofitel next to the Miami airport was fabulous in a very Miami kind of way. The only city in America where you can pay $300/night for a hotel with Blue neon detailing the contour of the entire building. The Cuban staff seemed alien to me, even though I dwell among a myriad of Latin communities at home. Go figure. There was a city attitude to them, but slightly different from the one I am used to, and it grated the nerves a bit. Damn good vanilla cosmos, though. midnight by the pool drinking too many cocktails, and a light sleeping pill later, I was blissfully asleep.
So the overwhelming cruelty of finding my bag missing at the ferry, after I had finally secured it in the Bahamas, almost sent me into a rage, quelled almost immediately and fortunately by Captain Beverly, the butch ferry driver whose mother had sold the house to our friend's mother where we were staying. Nothing goes unnoticed here, and the two-way radio serves as a type of community bulletin board, with everyone's handle barked back and forth in an efficient and charmingly archaic networking forum. Beverly asked me a few leading questions about the nature of my bag, and then told me that it was waiting on the dock of the Cay, once more arriving prematurely at our destination before I did. The humor value beat out the annoyance, although I'd still like to know how anybody with a brain could have mistaken my gruesome bag for theirs.
The 35 minute ferry ride cut through the seaside of the area, opposite the ocean and though crystal clear blue water. You can see every rock, piece of coral and starfish that skimmed by the boat, almost 15 feet below the surface. Water always brings out the absurd astrologist in me, connecting to my Piscean roots on a deeper level than my conscious mind can comprehend. Seeing it in it's purest, most pristine form was nearly religious for me. It's difficult to absorb the picture-perfect idealism of a place that I was only familiar with through photographic cliché.
We arrived at the Cay harbor after a wonderful conversation with Beverly, who was oddly married to a man after all, one that she spoke of with an ease that testified to the sincerity of their life together. It was comforting. Her charming description of a mainland Bennigan's as "the best restaurant I have ever been in" cast her in a beautiful light, and I think we all secretly envied her blissful ignorance.
My bag, more punctual than I will ever be, was indeed sitting all alone at the dock, not bothered by any of the casual inhabitants of the quaint community we were about to enter by golf cart....