"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

07 March 2011

What I learned this week: a trip to the Bahamas

Oprah Winfrey has two houses.  On the beach.  In the Bahamas.  Big ones.

I always figured it wasn’t nice behavior to take seconds before everyone had had firsts. 

And what on earth does she do with two houses?  Next door to each other.  She can’t live in them both at one time. 

How could someone who comes from working class roots be so oblivious to the realities of poverty and homelessness. 

There seems to be no middle class in the Bahamas, except maybe a few who work in the established tourism industries.   Just up the beach from Oprah’s double estate women sit in the market making things out of palm fronds and pestering tourists for a sale.   

I walked through the market… a more cultural and educational encounter than the established tours could give.   The voices never ceased; “Make you a deal… only five dollars… only a dollar… see something you like? Braid your hair, mum?  Carriage ride, mum?  Taxi, mum?”  and the brazen guy who insisted on a tip for selling me a bottle of water.     We ate fried conch (not bad but the texture wasn’t my favorite).  We visited Parliament House (and did take that carriage ride… why not?  Its slower than a taxi and I wanted to really see what was out there).  

There was something not real about Nassau.  Not destitute, not third world.  Even the wizened “native crafts” being touristy and tainted.  

An island over, a day later, Freeport was much more real to me.  Industry greeted us at the port, not tourism (even its native form).  And while we took a tourist excursion that day we were in a national park; we rode there in a rattletrap van (that almost didn’t start on the close call hurry back to the port) on open and undeveloped roads with a guide who shared the stories of the island’s history.   We explored real nature, kayaking up a creek, visiting a cave, a nature walk, an afternoon on the beach. 

And I find it strange that the unreal world of a cruise ship tour was more real than the reality of a walk on our own through a Nassau market.   Strange that a rattletrap van would be more real to my western eyes than Oprah’s two houses (yes, I saw them… from a distance).   That reality is more beautiful than  design and how little money has to do with any of it.

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