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“It’s Better in the Bahamas”

Laura Leedy

The Bahamas have been plagued with an image of unfriendly and unhelpful people in the airports and in other areas, despite the friendly nature of the people. This has led to a campaign calling for everyone to be as friendly and as helpful as possible. So when the normal wear and tear of the body and mind became a bit too much; it was time to put the campaign to the test. I called Mary of Travel Center of Hickory to help plan a trip to the Bahamas. She can be reached at 828-345-5000, or you can visit www.travelcenterof hickory.com. All the airlines from Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale to Georgetown were booked. We had to fly from Charlotte to Nassau to Georgetown. If you have to pass thru Nassau to connect to another flight, be sure to leave at least an hour before the next flight. It is a huge airport and you will need the extra time. We took a taxi to the Palm Bay Beach Club (The villa can be reached at 242-336-2787, or by e-mail to: info@hideawayspalmbay.com.) From the airport to the villa, it cost $30.00 and tips are greatly appreciated. My lunch at the hotel’s restaurant “Splash Bar and Grill” consisted of conch soup and it was delicious! It wasn’t long before we went swimming in the ocean and then later in the swimming pool. The ocean is amazing; the water is clear and warm. It is so relaxing that the stress will washes away and you will not want to leave it. The next day we spent the entire day swimming in the ocean and swimming in the pool. Plus, we learned how to kayak and the how tired it can make you after a few minutes. The next day around noon we took a water taxi to Stocking Island to the Chit and Chat restaurant; it has tee shirts hanging from the ceiling and is complete with an open air vibe. A huge stingray swims around the island. A member of the group sat in the ocean and the stingray swam just inches from the person. We snorkeled in the clear water and even saw a huge sea cucumber. Another person managed to see fairly good-sized starfish. We learned that the shallow part of the water is clear, and the deeper the water, the bluer it becomes. The only downside is that our sunblock had a SPF of 50 and was a bit wimpy, so we ended up being quite crispy. I compared it to fried chicken. Around five in the evening we took a water taxi back to the hotel villa. Wednesday our sunburn was still bad so we decided to go to the straw market and shop for souvenirs. They were selling hand woven straw hats, basket, and handbags. They also sold an assortment of handmade goods from boxes with Bahamas engraved on them to dolls, and jewelry. The ladies who make the basket have been doing so all their lives. It is incredible how fast they can weave a basket or a bag! Just down the street, we ate at a local eatery and then continued to browse the other shops. We took a taxi back to the hotel where we decided to go swim in the ocean and the rest of us decided to just rest. That evening we decided to venture out to a nearby restaurant for dinner. It was ok, but maybe next time, we could find one that has someone playing the steel drums. That evening we packed everything up and put what we would need for the following day on the top of our suitcases, we would be leaving the next day. We rose early on Thursday and walked around the premises taking our last pictures. We ate breakfast and shortly afterwards the rest of the group departed. Myself and one other would be leaving that afternoon however, our travel agent alerted us to a change in Bahamas Air’s flight path. Instead of going directly from Georgetown to Nassau, the flight would go south to Deadman’s Cay and then would fly north all the way over Georgetown to Nassau. That would have left us 20 minutes to get through a two separate terminal airport to catch our US Airways flight, it would be impossible. I had to speak with someone from Bahamas air to see if they could get us an earlier flight, so we would make our connection. The agent said she would call us back and let us know what she could do. In the meantime we went and ate lunch and  noticed a sign on the wall that said ‘What Happens in EXUMA We Talk about all Week”, I thought it was humorous. One hour later the agent called and told us to immediately come to the airport that she had booked a flight for us. We took a taxi to the airport checked in for our flight went through security and after about 20 minutes boarded our flight called Sky Bahamas. It was a very nice airline, at the time only six passengers aboard and they even served us a drink. Which was very nice considering it was slightly warm on the plane. When we arrived at Nassau we checked in for our US Airways flight went through security and even US customs. We were then taken to the gate of departure at which time the porter left, and a few minutes later they announced that the gate was changed to one gate over. Then it was time to board the plane and the captain said that we would be arriving in the US earlier than expected by eleven minutes. By the time the plane took off we were exhausted and glad to be going home. Our plane departed at 4:30 PM and arrived in Charlotte by 6:20PM and we were off the plane by 6:44PM. We were assisted off of the plane and taken directly to zone A so we could be picked up by a Holiday Inn shuttle. The Holiday Inn shuttle was free and the hotel was very close to the airport and it was nice. The next day our ride picked us up and one hour later we arrived in Lincolnton.

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