Eleuthera, The Bahamas
A short, half hour plane flight and we were transported to Eleuthera, a long, narrow island famous for its beaches. The airport was way down the south side of the island, about 90 kilometres from where we were staying. A taxi would cost over $100. Our hitch-hiking in the Bahamas had been extremely successful to date - we would see if this friendliness continued on Eleuthera.
It did. We had only walked 15 minutes from the airport when a van with two local women stopped to offer us a ride. They said they were only going 10 kilometres up the road and could drop us in town. It was a start. When we arrived they asked us to wait in the car. Danny and I looked at each other, hoping this was a good thing. A minute later they came back with bottled water and a Vita Malt drink for us, and said they would drive us all the way to Governor's Harbour, about halfway to our destination. They wouldn't accept any money. These people are amazing.
The amazingness continued. In Governor's Harbour we hadn't walked more than five minutes before the next lift was presented. A Canadian woman asked where we were staying, and incredibly she knew where the private apartment was. Before we knew it she was driving us all the way there, despite not going that far herself. We made one little detour, to a secluded beach where she was building a cottage. I asked lots of questions about this dream life she was living.
Our apartment was beautiful. It was a proper house, with full kitchen, living and dining areas, backyard and not a soul in sight. The closest town was a scorching 30 minute walk away, which we reluctantly made to stock ourselves up with expensive food supplies. The beach was much closer, only a 5 minute stroll. It wasn't the nicest beach, with sharp rocks scattered around and a strong surge, but there were snorkeling opportunities and the water was excellent. We loved our house so much that we spent the rest of the day lounging around on the couch or in the gardens, drinking fresh coconut water that Danny hacked out of a coconut he found on the road. Seriously, we needed to move to the Bahamas.
The next day the relaxation continued. While Danny went for a run, I didn't move from the couch until lunchtime. While it was great having no pressure to be anywhere to do anything, we thought we should see something while we were here. So in the afternoon we packed some sandwiches and headed off on our own sight-seeing tour.
The Queen's baths, a series of rockpools on the Atlantic side of the island, were four kilometres away. We walked three kilometres before being offered a lift for the final kilometre, which we gladly accepted due to the searing heat. The rockpools were difficult to climb down to, but we persevered and were rewarded with coolish water. Sea urchins were hiding everywhere, causing us to be vigilant in our foot placement. It wasn't the most comfortable setting, so we didn't hang around long.
Another kilometre down the road was Glass Window bridge, which crosses the narrowest section of the island (about nine metres, if you were wondering). On the bridge you can look one way to see the turquoise Caribbean Sea, then turn 180 degrees to see the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. It was surprising to see such a stark difference, with only a tiny segment of rock separating the two.
A ten minute walk later found us accepting another ride, this time all the way to the ferry for Harbour Island. A quick water taxi ride delivered us to the playground of people much wealthier than us. We hadn't seen other tourists on Eleuthera, and now we knew why: they were all here. The entire island was built up in an English, Colonial-style manner, with expensive resorts and restaurants lining the neat streets. Footpaths didn't exist. That's because no one walked. The primary mode of transport was golf cart. We were offered a ride to go 100 metres to the beach. You get an idea of the sort of people staying here.
Harbour Island was famous for its pink sand beaches. There is no way I would call that sand pink, but if you took out a magnifying glass you might be able to see rosy flecks sparkling in the sun. What it lacked in colour in made up for in texture - it was the softest, finest sand I had ever felt. Why couldn't all sand be this soft? We found a hut that didn't appear to belong to any resort and perched ourselves under it, taking a dip in the magnificent water every now and then to cool off. I wished we could explore every beach in the Bahamas. I didn't think I could ever become sick of them.
The following morning it was my turn to go for a run. It didn't last long. Really, really craving some cooler weather occasionally so I can run without feeling like I'm dying. Once I returned home and my core body temperature had returned to normal, I got busy doing zilch, zip, nada. I read, I listened to podcasts, I swung on the wooden swing outside, I strolled the gardens - nothing touristy at all. I could do all of these things back home (except the swing), so why do them while I was in one of the most amazing countries on earth? After five and a half months of travelling, I felt like I needed a break every once in a while. I craved downtime where I wasn't constantly planning, finding my way on a map, dealing with language/cultural barriers, absorbing new sights and new information, on the go 24/7. I needed to recharge. So that's what I did.
Naturally we hitchhiked back to the airport, again requiring two rides to make it all the way. We received a handwritten boarding pass and dumped our bags into a storage room. No security screenings here. There were no assigned seats on the plane but we were fortunate enough to sit together. It was a 30 minute flight back to Nassau, with a stop in the middle to pick up more passengers. We flew at such a low altitude that our plane didn't have oxygen masks. This made the safety briefing much shorter. We flew close to tiny sandbars and caused ripples in the sea. It was like a joy flight, a pleasant way to end our time in the Caribbean. I hoped we could return to see more of it one day.