I know it’s been a month, but I’ve been busy. Here it is:
As many of you know, Tom and Tasha and Mike and Sierra and I went on a cruise to the Bahamas last month. On the second day of the cruise, we docked in Nassau (or Na-zoo, as Sierra called it, which, frankly, I like better… gave the place a Fraggle feel). After wandering out of the tourist areas, Tom and Sierra and I opted to rent two scooters and really see the island.
I love going somewhere and really seeing the place and the people that live there rather than what the local tourism board wants you to see. Often times, there’s a reason that the tourism board feels that way, but I don’t care. How many people have been to Disney World and say they’ve seen Florida? They never see the glades, the rivers, dolphin, or the cool little inbred towns that dot 41. Nassau was no different; I wanted to SEE it. Fortunately, I have the good sense to hang out with people who see the world much the same way I do (I know, I know, Sierra’s only 16, but she’s Tom’s daughter, so she has the same of-the-moment thing going on. Tasha is Tom’s, too, but never developed that “I want to live on the edge and maybe get a few scars along the way” thing. She’s going to take care of us all when we’re old and broke, and we love her for that and so many other reasons).
So we get two scooters. I mean, I guess you would call them scooters. They certainly LOOKED like scooters, although I like the think of them (fondly) as Nassau Death Machines. We debated taking pictures, but agreed that no picture would do these vehicles justice. My scooter pulls severly to the left… so much so that I can literally only make left turns… and has no brakes, so I bring it back. The second one doesn’t pull but still has no brakes. It also has no working gauges (neither did Tom & Sierra’s) and is held together entirely with cable ties. You can’t make this shit up, folks. As the rental “agent” wheels it out, vice grips fall off some part of the scooter. I mentally file this information under “things to be alarmed about when I’m halfway across the island”. Why do I agree to ride off for foreign parts unknown on it? As far as I can tell, the parts of me that didn’t inherit all the self-destructive behaviors intrinsic to my DNA have been replaced by the “Why the hell not?” gene. Keep in mind, that gene got me out of my county job, a marriage that I really never should have committed to, and exhorbitant mortgage payments, so I’ve learned to respect the gene.
So… we hop on the scooters and I quickly find that I have no steady control over the throttle. For those of you who don’t know, the throttle is your right grip and is basically the same as a car’s gas pedal. On my scooter- MINE, not the rental- once you turn your wrist to get the throttle to a certain point, it stays there as long as you keep your wrist in that position. Not so much on the rental. I have to keep hitting the throttle to maintain speed, and even then, it’s shaky.
Did I mention that the Brits civilized the Bahamas? I used the word “civilized” to mean wiped out an indiginous people, brought smog-churning factories, and taught them to drive on the wrong side of the road.
So I’m on a scooter with no brakes, no gauges, a faulty throttle, and, oh, yes, it’s held together with nylon ties. We’re driving on the wrong side of the road, have no map, and no clue where we’re going (this is the best part) when I lose Tom and Sierra.
Because I could not maintain any sort of constant speed, trucks and Bahamians constantly pulled out in front of me. No big deal; Tom would pull over or slow down until they passed him, too. Or when the trucks would turn off, he would be right in front of them. But at one point, the trucks finally turned off and I see no Tom and Sierra.
While I can be as irrational as the next woman, I generally don’t panic. Just keep swimming, right? Yeah, well, that (more and more as my ovaries ripen) doesn’t apply so much the few days before my period. Which this little excursion was. I panicked like a -pardon me, mom- cocktease at a Pike fraternity party. I had all but consigned myself to sleeping in a Bahamian gutter for the rest of my days when Tom and Sierra come into view at the next light.
Never mind that the ships in port were basically the tallest things on the island and you could see them from almost any point. Never mind that I am a mature, intelligent woman who lives in cracktown- ALONE- and manages OK. Nevermind that I could have ditched the scooter and gotten a cab back to the port. Never mind that there is no way in hell Tom was going to leave me on a Bahamas island. Never mind that he and Sierra were out of sight for two minutes at the most. He waits for me at the light and apparently can tell something is wrong and asks if I am OK.
At this point, I am about to cry but realize how foolish I am being, so I just nod in an attempt to hold back the tears. No go.
“Are you about to cry?”
“No,” says I as my eyes water (don’t you just love women?).
“Do you want to take a break for a few minutes?”
I shake my head. Tears start to stream down my cheeks. I try to smile in an attempt to convince him I am OK.
This is the blessing of someone who knows all your freakieness and doesn’t care.
“Well, I’m pulling over there,” says he, indicating a parking lot “so if you want, come over.”
Which I do. And I start to sob, realizing all the while how ridiculous I am being. Sierra, to her credit, doesn’t do what I would have done at 16 and pretend not to know me but just kinda waits it out. She’s been here with me before. I love these people. She’s the one who tells her dad why I’m crying- keep in mind, I don’t say much, she just gets it- although I suspect he already knew. Who says teenagers are assholes? Seriously, I will probably never have kids because they would never compare to Tash and Sierra.
After a few hugs, sympathy, and eventually, choked back laughter (Tom) and full on laughter (me), we find this hovel of a place to have lunch. I had goat curry, I think. It made up for the scooter ride; I WOULD live in an alley in the Bahamas if I knew I could still afford food like that every day.
Then we head off in search of a beach. Before lunch we found prisoners (complete with black and white striped garb, who knew they still did that?) working along the road as well as the island’s garbage dump, so we figure the other way will get us to the beach (the reasoning there is that prisoners and old refrigerators probably rate the cheapest land you can get, which is generally furthest from waterfront property). Which it sorta did, but not before we – and you haven’t lived until you’ve done this- went downhill into a roundabout on the wrong side of the road after a rainstorm on a rainsoaked road through puddles that were actually potholes in rush hour.
It was the coolest thing ever.
Then Tom’s scooter kinda fell apart. The front part that holds the headlight just… fell off. Fortunately, it was held together by the wires connecting the headlight to the scooter, so it just swung around to his knees.
We got the beach- rocky, not pristine sand like the day before in Freeport- and played for a while and then returned the scooters. We did NOT fill them up with gas as requested.
Oddly enough, I did not feel guilty.