In late July Shannon and I spent five days on Grand Bahama Island to celebrate our two-year anniversary. While the weather was perfect and the resort grounds were gorgeous, our trip was overshadowed by the fact that aside from wandering the marketplace literally across the street from our resort, there was absolutely nothing to do in Freeport. NOTHING. The only option we had to “explore” was walk across the street to Lucayan Marketplace. And considering the marketplace had the most random and unpredictable hours, as well as the crappiest crap, it was more frustrating and annoying than enlightening or informative or whatever-the-fuck we assumed it’d be. It was setup to have a “locals” vibe, but it most definitely isn’t where the locals shop. The shit that was sold there wasn’t even authentically made in the Bahamas, or by hand. Such a let down.
Aside from parasailing and snorkeling, all we really wanted to do was explore. Like, legit explore. On the chartered ride from the airport to the resort (about 15 minutes), we saw so many small native villages and neighborhoods and I was dying – DYING – to take my camera around and document real life on the island. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t safe to do so. The local hotel staff advised against us going out on our own; the cab drivers said if we were going to go explore the local areas of the island that we better take along someone we “trust” (which was obviously no one since we’d never been there before and didn’t know anyone); the hotel staff pretty much told us flat out our idea was a “dangerous” one, informing us if we went out into the local areas we wouldn’t “come back”; even the car rental agency advised us – two “pretty white girls” by themselves – that renting a car and driving around on our own wasn’t a good idea. If they were willing to tell us to not spend $200 renting one of their cars, we knew our idea of exploring native life must really not be a good one.
Our second night in town we caught a cab from our hotel in Freeport to the famous Fish Fry in Smith’s Point (about a 10 minute drive). Everyone told us to go early because the lines get long fast, but we arrived wayyy too early and decided to kill time wandering the area.
Holy shit. A 10 minute drive made a galaxy of difference. Unlike the pristine, immaculately-manicured grounds of the resort beach, this “local” beach was…well, look at it. Empty alcohol containers, condom wrappers, piles of trash, dirty and dilapidated (and abandoned) structures (including a falling-apart, locked-up dock)…
The thing is, these weren’t even true local beaches; they were just the next step down from resort beaches. These are the beaches to which condo-renters had access. I can only imagine what the true local beaches looked like; the ones completely devoid of tourists, even the ones unable to afford to stay in a resort. I’m telling you, the scenes of the local neighborhoods and villages that we saw from the cab windows were straight out of a gritty cartel movie.
Here are a few side-by-side comparisons, just to get the point alllll the way across.
The resort lifeguard station vs. the not resort lifeguard station:
The resort beach vs. the not resort beach:
Resort beach shops and stands vs. not resort beach shops and stands:
I’m not saying the entire island needs to be fancy like the resort beaches but COME ON, PEOPLE. Clean that shit up a bit. Put money into ALL of your community, not just a teeny part of it. Be proud of your community; love your environment. Because really, I don’t even have feelings and this made me sick and angry. The people of this country are SO FUCKING POOR and 97% of the people who visit – the ones who vacation “right” and stay on the resort grounds the entire time – have no fucking clue.
So yeah. That was that. Don’t even get me started on the condition in which the “wild” dolphins they pimped out to swim with…