I suppose being from Oregon, it was a little odd that my first international trip wasn’t to Canada and took me awhile to get around to. In fact, I still have not been to Canada at all (though I am planning to change that as soon as I can). Instead, I ended up heading to the Bahamas, New Providence Island more specifically. I owe this entirely to my boyfriend and it hurts my ego only a little that I could not be responsible for my first international trip alone. I had planned on getting a passport before even beginning to date him, with the plan of going somewhere possibly in Europe alone. Things changed.
This opportunity came about around about six months after my return from New York. My boyfriend’s job has him traveling on occasion, sometimes to less exciting places, sometimes to great places. This time they wanted to send him to the Bahamas. He had been there before, but I had never even thought about going there before. Luckily, he had already pushed along my plans to get a passport earlier. I would have it in time for this trip.
I requested vacation at my job and hooray, I got it! I was so amazingly excited over the idea of getting to go along on his business trip. The only reason I still consider it a fairly “solo” trip is because he would be working for much of the time and I would be on my own to explore.
I knew absolutely nothing about the Bahamas and was informed we would be staying at a Sheraton Hotel. I promptly looked it up and saw it was sort of a beach resort type of place, not really my style as I prefer to be more immersed in places, in ‘real life’ type of areas and not resorts. However, I obviously was not going to complain as it did look like a great hotel, and just enjoy myself. I can definitely enjoy a place like this though it would not be my first choice when booking my own trips. I can say I was very impressed by the photos on the site, especially the sight of the beautiful ocean.
Amazingly, I had saved up vacation time at work for some reason (I guess I had no plans to do anything so I just didn’t end up using any for awhile) enough that I had two solid weeks. I had up to that point never taken a vacation that long and have yet to do so again at this point. I would be there with my boyfriend for two whole weeks. I love the sunshine and the beach and the ocean, so this sounded heavenly. Anything to escape the rainy spring season in Portland. I hoped that by the time we returned, maybe the sun would come out here at home.
I was exceedingly grateful that my first international trip would be to a place where English was spoken and American currency could be used. Just to ease me into the idea, not because I am a huge jerk and hate languages foreign to me, but because I only speak English and very little Spanish and am embarrassed at the idea of going somewhere where I cannot communicate in the native language. I hate feeling like I am intruding and inconveniencing people.
Up until this trip I had never even taken a flight that required a layover. The idea terrified me. Thanks, anxiety, for making something that turns out is not such a big deal into a frightening ordeal. I was happy to go through it with my boyfriend and realize it is not so troublesome after all. Our flights were a bit crappy just because it took awhile for his work to approve the trip so it was booked a little last minute. Our arrival flight had a layover in Atlanta, and I had heard unpleasant things about that airport, mostly involving delays. Our return flight was way worse: a layover in Atlanta and another layover for 7 hours in San Francisco. The second layover was the most upsetting because the flight time to San Francisco from Atlanta would be about the same as if it were to go straight to Portland.
I had also avoided checking luggage for a very long time mostly due to fears of it getting lost. I don’t know why I was so concerned. This was the first trip I’d actually check a bag for, and even though I still pack fairly light, my bag was larger than I was used to simply because of the length of the trip. This was also less of a big deal than I thought, and my one and only checked bag was free because it was an international flight.
I had felt in need of a relaxing vacation for awhile and was so excited to go back to a place that would remind me of Hawaii, just because of the beaches of course, and I was happy I’d get a chance to swim in the Atlantic ocean which I found a lot less terrifying than the Pacific, not to mention warmer. It would turn out this trip would change my life in really amazing ways just like the Hawaii trip did.
I don’t remember a lot from the flights arriving there, but I do remember getting to the Lynden Pindling airport in Nassau and being introduced to the immigration and customs situation. I was most worried about this, as I had no idea what to expect and had never been through anything like it. The lines for immigration were huge and a band was playing in the airport. There was so much noise and I was exhausted, the only thing I could think of was getting into a crisp, clean hotel bed and napping for awhile. This was the longest trip I’d ever been on at this point. I was not used to the level of exhaustion that comes with long flights and layovers. Of course, I would find out later that I apparently had undiagnosed severe sleep apnea, so no wonder. It probably took a lot more out of me than it would have had I been in treatment.
There were many long lines for immigration but it seemed to move fairly quickly. When we got up to the person who would put the very first stamp in my passport, I found it fairly easy to handle. We had filled out forms on the plane which we handed over with our passports. They simply asked why we were there (business or pleasure) and how long we were staying. Stamp, stamp. On to customs.
Customs in the Bahamas seemed pretty relaxed. They just asked if we had anything to declare, we said no, and we were sent on our way. No bag searches or anything like that. We were off to get a cab and head to our hotel. Taxis in the Bahamas are usually privately owned vehicles with licensed taxi drivers operating them. We saw a lot of older vans and even some limos used as taxis. However there are also people operating as taxi drivers who are not licensed to do so. The rates are fixed by the government by distance, which is helpful for knowing fare in advance and not being ripped off by someone who may try to pull one over on you. Can you tell I have had poor experiences with cab drivers in the past? There is even a helpful listing of taxi rates for certain areas, listed here on a Bahamas travel info site.
The roads are designed for left-hand traffic. This is the first time I have ever seen such a thing. Though because of the Bahamas close proximity to the US, some vehicles are left-hand drive and some are right-hand drive. I could see this becoming very confusing and was glad we weren’t renting a car. Also, there were tons of roundabouts which always confuse me. Our cab driver seemed to like to tailgate people but we quickly noticed that was just how it seemed to go there.
We arrived at the hotel exhausted, checked in and napped. I felt like I had never been happier to see a bed in my life.
Next installation will come next weekend!
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