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Palm leaf broom

Palm leaf broom

Nassau 1979 Part 3

I

We plan to go on the glass bottom boat in the morning and swim in the afternoon. The day starts off overcast but warm. It is not clear where to get the boat. After we eat our breakfast in an outdoor restaurant, we head for the bus. (Hotel help are busy sweeping with a palm leaf broom!)

The first bus is not going to ‘the ferry’ but some tourists were going our way. They said it was only a short walk. It turns out, they are lost and depending on us for directions. After taking more directions that are fruitless, we take a cab.

The ferrys and the glass bottom boat are the same – old wooden boats that crisscross the bay to Nassau on a very flexible schedule. They leave from the Paradise Beach stop on the bus. Once on the boat a couple gets off by mistake and has to be chased down before we can leave.

The tour passes homes of Richard Harris and Americans. One author’s house is surrounded by water. There seemed to be much feeling about the Americans expressed by the boat-boy. He pointed out the Yoga Retreat which seems to have a pyramid built on the grounds. He has a sense of humor. Later John thought he may be Haitian, as his accent was so difficult to understand. We pass  the Club Med and see the people exercising, playing tennis and having sail surfing lessons. Paradise Beach is said to be the best beach but I could not see it from the boat. We pass a large house under construction which belonged to a Casino operator.

The guide said the Shah had stayed behind the Cloister when he sought refuge in the Bahamas (May 1979). He must have stayed at the Ocean Hotel where we got on off the bus yesterday.

Our boat meets another ferry with a couple, his mother and a small child. The captains move the boats so that we can take them aboard. The floor boards are removed so we can see the fish, coral, and sponges on the bottom.  We are told there is a $1000 fine for fishing. Food is thrown overboard but the fish are not hungry.

II

We decide not to go swimming but to go into Nassau. The guide asks if we enjoyed the trip and that he will collect money. But the captain told him not to ask for money and to sit down. Those going to Nassau pay another $1. We get off at the Straw Market. Most of the workers are women and young girls. They are very industrious and make items while trying to get the tourists to buy. Two of the women get into an argument and talk fiercely, not to each other but to men standing inside a building. It is hard to understand what they are saying except the bad language. There is little difference in the straw work but bags and hats can be personalized. The workers closest to a small park seem to have the most imaginative work.

Teen boys chisel logs while sitting on the ground. They sometimes sing while they work. Some sell shells as the conch and starfish are plentiful. We pass these up while touring the small shops. Shoes are cheap. I see a pair like my green ones which I may get. You must pay a $4 cash head tax when you leave the Bahamas so we must not spend all of our money. A small art gallery is over a clothing store with prints by Maxwell Taylor. We had seen these at the home of President Walter Leonard. Original paintings range from $400 to $1200. Prints are $140 unframed.

Most interesting were the ceramics of the Straw Market women and police women! They are about the size of a coffee mug and cost $20.There is no duty on original art nor antiques if 100 years old. You must have the authentication. The Nassau Art Gallery is about the size of a fishing shack seen on the wharf. It has originals and prints by Elyse, who designed the Bahama stamps. Her prints sell for $7.50 colored, $5 black and white. Another shop had her colored prints for $5 but I could not find it again.

 

Edited from my journal. (To be continued)

Note: Trip, at the invitation of Board President, Fisk University, to John S. Harwell, who, at a critical time, brought skills in managing University student loans (used as comptroller, Harvard University) to put Fisk in a solvency position.

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