Things to consider when visiting a Family Island

The Bahamas is more than just one island. It is comprised of several hundred islands and cays although all not inhabited. You may have even heard of a few celebrities that have bought their own islands (Johnny Depp, Nicholas Cage). Most persons when they visit The Bahamas will stay on one of the larger islands, namely New Providence (Nassau) or Grand Bahama which are the capital city and second city respectively. An occasional few may have even visited the Exumas, Eleuthera or maybe even Abaco. The latter three islands and the rest of the lesser known inhabited islands are what we call the Family of Islands or Family Islands or ‘da island. I guess it would be the equivalent of someone saying you live in the country side where it’s not as populated, people live simpler lives and they’re not as developed.

I may have mentioned in a post many moons ago that I grew up in a settlement with about 600 people on the island of Abaco but it’s been several since I’ve actually lived there and spent more than a week there. When you spend so much time away from home like when you go off to school, you tend to forget some of the nuances that make living on ‘da island feel so homey and rustic.

Fast Food?! Bish where? Sorry, I just had to try the phrase out. It’s what the cool young folks are saying now, but anyway. On Family Islands you are not likely to find your favourite American fast foods like Wendy’s, McDonald’s and the like. Instead, you may find that Tina down the road makes pizza or Martha cooks and sells chicken snacks from her home kitchen (RIP Martha, your snacks will be missed). There will be restaurants of course and little take-away style joints where you can call your order in and pick it up and when you arrive, it’s literally just a building to pick up your food. Just ask the locals where they go to get grub.

There ain’t no 7/11. So it’s 10:30 at night and you feel like having a soda so you want to run out and get one from the nearest gas station. That’s not going to work out well for you because most gas stations close when the sun sets and may or may not be open on Sundays provided that there is a gas station in the settlement itself. In the Marsh Harbour area of Abaco, there are gas stations that will be open at that hour because it has a little more city vibe to it, but not in Exuma. Ohh no! One gas station is run by this little old lady who looks to be about 75 years old so she’s not about to keep shop til 10pm so you can quench your thirst or more importantly fill your tank to make it the last 45 miles to your house. No, nah, nope!

Cash Rules. After spending time in the States where I can literally use my debit card to buy a piece of candy, when you come home and don’t have any cash, you tend to grunt and make the Ugh sound quite a bit. Sometimes the ATMs are inconveniently far and some places that do take credit cards have a minimum amount you can spend or their machine may not be working that day. Before you arrive, it’s best to bring some cash with you (USD is used) and supplement at an ATM in the main town as needed.

Mosquitoes recognize foreigners. Yea they do! You had better get familiar with OFF! brand of insect sprays, smoke coils and the like because the mosquitoes will you drink you like a mojito on a hot day. In my settlement, if the mosquitoes didn’t get you, the sand flies surely would and they would have to fog the mangroves because the mosquito swarms were ridiculous.

CP Time. Some call it colored people time but we operate on island time. It’s already a very laid back environment so don’t go with a rigid expectation that things will start or finish on time. If you’re not doing business, just chill and hakuna matata the situation. Some people though, are very time specific, like my Dad so it’s pretty much the luck of the draw on that one.

Whichever island you choose to visit, enjoy the night sky. Take a stroll on one of our many beaches.  Talk to the locals to find out where to get the best conch salad. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun.

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