Leaving one paradise for another (poor me!), I’m soon traveling to Harbour Island. The journey to Harbour Island, a little paradise just off the coast of Eleuthra in the Bahamas, is one that merits some coaching. Here is, more or less, what happens. In my case, you take a cab to the Key West airport, tipping the driver for the 3 ½ minute, $13 cab ride. You fly to Fort Lauderdale, then board a plane bound for North Eleuthra , or “Nort Eleutra” as the locals there say. This will be a very small, very cramped plane, and as people crawl on board, they immediately reach for their cell phones to say goodbye to their loved ones before taking off for what appears to be a certain death. Miraculously, you leave the ground and fly out over the iridescent, green-blue waters of Florida and soon descend over the gin clear, blue-blue waters of the Bahamas. After what is usually a harrowing landing, you thank the powers of the universe for sparing your life and euphorically disembark into the warm Bahamas air. You will immediately notice that your bags have been secured by an earnest young Bahamian who will transport them the twenty or so feet to the customs station. Immensely grateful and full of vacation cheer, you tip this young man generously. You are left to your own devices to maneuver your bags the five or six feet to the customs officer but, while exchanging pleasantries with the good officer, you see that your bags have become the responsibility of another enterprising young man who takes them the twenty or so feet to the taxi station. He, of course, is tipped as well. Then you’re off for the 3 ½ minute, $13 cab ride to the boat dock. While settling up and tipping your taxi driver, your bags will quickly receive the full attention of a rather languid older gentleman, who mostly drags your bags the five to six feet to the water taxi that will take you to Harbour Island. He, at his age and for having been rousted from his rest, must be bountifully tipped, and so you embark on the 3 ½ minute, $13 boat ride to Harbour Island. While settling up and tipping your boat captain, your bags will be removed from the boat to the dock (about five or six feet) by a young Brilander, as the Harbour Island natives are known, who is happy to welcome you to Harbour Island. Of course, he is handsomely rewarded for his hospitality. At that point, at least for me, it is over. I throw my body over my bags to prevent any further assistance and walk happily to The Landing, a quaint little inn just a few feet from the Government Dock. However, if you are continuing on to the Pink Sands Resort or to a beach house, you will need to enlist the services of one known as the Preacher, who presides over the dock activities. The always nattily dressed Preacher will call for you a golf cart, and, while you are tipping the Preacher for such generous assistance, a young man will be loading your bags onto your cart. You’ve come this far, why stop now? Please, young man, accept this small token of our thanks! Then off you go, careening down the dock and onto the narrow, bumpy roads, swerving in and out of traffic until you finally realize that you’re supposed to be driving on the left side of the road! Soon you are off to SipSip! (Bahamian for “gossip”) for rum punch and lunch overlooking pink sand beaches and blue, blue water, then a late afternoon snack of conch salad from the Queen Conch . You slowly start to settle down, and, albeit somewhat poorer, begin your wonderful stay in Harbour Island, one of my favorite places on earth!
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