Little Island Bursting With Life

In order to make sense of some of the things I’m bound to say as we blog along together, perhaps I should first describe this little island in more detail.

I live on a small island in the midst of a chain of 356 small islands in the Bahamas. This island is teensy-tiny for as much as it has going on. It is less than five square miles, with fewer than 100 native residents. Added to that are a handful of full-time others – like me – and a host of multi-month residents, vacation home-owners, tourists and boaters. Because of a highly successful marina/club, and a reputation for friendly people and gorgeous scenery, this island gets a lot of traffic. Mega-yachts and patched-together sailboats alike pass through, along with a steady stream of vacationers to the rental cottages and private homes. This revolving door of people from all walks of life and a host of countries provides a culturally rich environment with international flair and loads of great people-watching.

The local Bahamians are the cornerstone of this community, in my opinion. Most are black or dark-skinned (from the legacy of slavery) with wide smiles and even bigger hearts. They boast a genuine love for their community and are proud Bahamians. With a solid understanding of the import of tourism to the local economy, the local people are gracious hosts, quick to laugh and eager to share their love of the island.

To generalize, the locals support themselves in three main industries: (1) Tourism – bars, restaurants, housecleaning rentals, etc., (2) Construction – booming development on the island and nearby islands, and (3) Water-Related – local tour guides by boat, fishermen, boat captains, etc.

I mentioned how small the island is, right? And you may have seen my Photo Tour pictures of the nurse-staffed clinic, one-room school and gazebo-like airport. To encapsulate it, the island offers:

  • One small general store, which also sells food, and two small food stores. I don’t use “grocery store” lest you imagine anything akin to a Publix or Whole Foods. This isn’t even a 7-Eleven size. More like a small bedroom stocked with shelves of canned goods, whatever produce was delivered by the mailboat, and miscellaneous razors, toothpaste and laundry detergent.
  • Two currently-operating restaurant/bars with full menus, another bar that serves native food at lunch and some Friday evenings, and a bar that somewhat arbitrarily opens on special occasions.
  • One health clinic with a nurse, one school, one church, one library and one unstaffed airport.
  • One “government building” where itinerant doctors pass through on a monthly (or occasional) basis. This is also where the local electric company shows up for a few hours once a month or so – we must scramble over there to receive and pay our bill when we hear they’ve arrived! No online bill pay, or even reliable mail-in service.
  • A dive shop for scuba/snorkel gear and related items.
  • A telephone company with a small office to pay bills, buy cell phones, etc.
  • A small boutique with gift shop types of items; also a gift shop in the marina/club.
  • A bakery of homemade bread operating out of the small kitchen in a local home.
  • A small shop sporting ice cream and snacks that also serves as a hub for golf/boat/vacation rentals.
  • Numerous businesses without a physical office: local guides, divers, fishermen, police officers, housecleaners, construction companies, landscapers, purse-makers, etc.

And that’s it! Truly, nothing more. No golf course, no spa, no mall, no hair salon, no gym, no nail boutique, no dry-cleaner, no American-style grocery store, no Target or Wal-Mart or Costco, no fast food, no gas station (we buy fuel at the marina’s fuel station), no clothes store, no shoe store, no movie theater, no bookstore, no coffee shop. Get the picture?

But I can’t emphasize enough – and I hope this gets conveyed over the course of time and blog entries – this is not a small-minded, back-water hick town. Turns out, the island really does have (almost) everything that you need to get by (most days). And, here, life is not lived for “stuff” anyway. It is lived for the bountiful experiences on, in, under and around these pristine waters, as well as through the meaningful relationships with the special people here. It is a vibrant community, bursting with life and laughter.

This is where I call home.

2 Responses to Little Island Bursting With Life

  • Tiffany says:

    Hi Dawn,
    I met you on a flight to the island in June of 2013. We sat next to each other, you were bringing a washing machine over :-). I just found your card and came to check out your site. I look forward to reading more about your life in the Bahamas. I look forward to making it back over there again one day.

    • Dawn says:

      Hi, Tiffany! Thank you so much for your comment and for checking out the blog. I am sorry it took my so very long to respond. I’m afraid I’ve neglected my blog terribly. However, being appalled at myself may have the silver lining of kick-starting me to post again! All is well; just got busy with new projects. Off to a Regatta. To be continued. 🙂 Hope all is well in your world! Thanks again for writing. Dawn

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