Day 5: Nassau, Bahamas
- New Providence, the island which Nassau is the capital of, is only 21 miles long and 7 miles across and has about 200,000 people on it.
- The poorest on the island live in shacks without running water or electricity, which cost about $100/month. Our tour guide kept pointing out that there are no homeless people on the island because even the poorest can live in these houses, albeit without amenities. The middle class can rent (what I presume were apts.) for about $500-600/month, or buy homes which cost around $50,000-60,000. The wealthy, are wealthy just like they are here, owning ridiculously large and ornate houses whose values one can only guess.
- People on the island don’t pay taxes, for anything. Once you buy a house, it’s yours, so people pay in cash.
- Medicine is social. Doctors’ visits cost $10, visits to hospital $30, having a baby is $100. (Our tour guide says he calls his three girls his “$100 babies”).
- The main industry is obviously tourism, followed by alcohol (rum is a big one).
- Fruiting trees (like mangos) which hang over the street are fair game for anyone to pick from. Just can’t pick fruit from someone’s yard.
- I’m sure there were some other things learned, but that’s all I can readily remember. Wish I’d had a notepad with me.
I loved the idea of the “conch salad;” attracted to it by its exotic appeal (food native to the place I was visiting); summoned to it by a love of all the ingredients (though the conch was a mystery); trepidatious of what sickness I might get from the food, prepared in a modest hut, whose cleanliness might be questioned. And yet, I dug in and was so pleased by the flavors all tripping over each other, even enjoying the heat (I don’t do spicy well) of the mystery red pepper. I was surprised by the conch—a giant mussel—expecting it to be as soft as the mussels I'd had before. This was slightly tougher, which was also a surprise since the whiteness and cut of the conch looked like a gently cooked and small cubed chicken breast. All these mysteries and gloriousness came together into something I enjoyed with a local beer--cold cold cold on that hot day. Eating local fare with local beer, sharing the bowl with S and TSO, there was no where else I wanted to be in that moment. Life is good.