The day has come. I’ve been dreading this day since I booked my trip but I know that is no way to live. Being present in the moment seems like an impossible thing to master but I definitely improved that skill over the last three weeks in Exuma. This trip was certainly life changing to say the least. I’ve learned so many things about myself. Primarily, things I took for granted and never appreciated. It’s easy to say you desire the simple life as I have stated in my “About Me” page , but it’s not easy to execute by any stretch. Simple and easy are not synonymous. The Bahamians certainly don’t have it easy. And I appreciate the hell out of that.
Perhaps they are such happy people because they have fewer choices. I encourage you to watch this TED talk called the Paradox of Choice. It’ll make you rethink your decisions and the catalyst of your happiness (or lack of). Many Bahamians don’t know the myriad choices possible as they’ve never left the islands. They are better off not knowing. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t either.
During my first week, I ran into a lady at the beach in the front yard. She was a taxi driver waiting for her customers to return from kayaking. Because she was early, she walked around picking up coconuts and was so thrilled to show me the small black garbage can she found washed up on the beach (from Hurricane Joaquin) that she could use to collect her coconuts. Her smile was infectious and I couldn’t help but adore her excitement. All over a plastic garbage can.
Rosemary taught me to appreciate the most simple things in life. The clouds and storms rolling through Elizabeth Harbour, the sound of the birds, the butterflies in the garden, the importance of the honey bees to the island, the millions of stars in the sky, and the flowers in her garden to name a few. These are the things that make her tick and I’m embarrassed that she had to point them out to me as I’ve always taken them for granted and never stopped to appreciate their existence.
I didn’t turn on the TV once. I wanted to be fully immersed and focused on everything the island could provide, both literally and figuratively, tangible and intangible. I didn’t read a book or even start one. I just soaked in as much of the sights and sounds as possible. I felt as if I sat inside during the day, I was wasting precious time that could be spent on the porch overlooking Elizabeth Harbour. I chose the porch every time.
It’s the people, however, that I’m missing the most. They are incredibly resourceful, resilient, and heartfelt. On the surface, they can be direct or brazen, but take the time to get through that first layer and you will find they are a kind and passionate people. Please, just take the time. They have great stories that you need to hear. Everyone of them contributed to the amazing experience I had and some of them I have only spoken to once: Rosemary, Kendra, Shephard, Ron, Deon, Frank, Darren, AJ, Reynaldo, Alli, Catherine, Robert, Tamara, Dallas, John, Lyn, Peter, Sarah, Neville, Susan, Ron #2, Chris, Rashad, Greg, TO, and even some tourists I met there like Mark and Allison, Dean and Tracy, Ethan and Katie. They all had an impact on this beautiful adventure.
Leaving Rosemary was painful. She is a ray of light that beams bright even during the most difficult of times. She always has the right things to say and listening to her speak is like reading from a 19th century novel. My heart is full because I met her and I long for porch time with her again. I just can’t believe I’m not waking up at her house today. It hurts.
I don’t want to downplay the fact that I love my country. I am grateful for the men and women that served and continue to serve to protect the freedoms (and choices) I enjoy every day of the week. And the Bahamians don’t have that. They are suffering in some ways that I will likely never experience in my lifetime here in America. If you have the opportunity to take a vacation for a week or longer, I would encourage you to give the Exumas a shot. You need this experience and they need your money. It is a gem of an island chain that appears to be just a decade away from major transition. I love it just the way it is but I see it’s potential, and it’s infinite.
I am now in my old hometown, Cocoa Beach, FL. Not a bad place to call home, nor a bad place to return to after a vacation. It is a paradise in its own right. Situated between the intracoastal waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, it’s just a little strip of land with so much character. I love my home and I love Colorado, but for now, I’ve left my heart in Exuma. And I hope that in very short time, I can reconnect with it again.
Until next time Exuma…