Spanish Wells - Slightly Unnerving
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So what about tourists? Why isn't Spanish Wells beach swarming with visitors gorging themselves on tasty crustaceans? Our family of four makes up the majority of tourists on the beach for much of our three-month vacation. An occasional cruise ship or yacht sails beyond the reef, moving between the Bahamian capital of Nassau and other Caribbean locales, including the nearby tourist trap of Harbour Island, home of supermodel Elle Macpherson and the legendary Pink Sands resort.
The Pink Sands Beach is said to be one of the world's most beautiful. One day, we took the fast ferry to see it for ourselves. It truly is stunning. But we weren't sorry to return to our out-of-the-way little island, with its laid-back little village.
The lack of tourists doesn't come as a complete surprise. Spanish Wells has long had a reputation as an inward-looking, conservative, religious place where outsiders aren't welcome. Our Lonely Planet guidebook called the island “slightly unnerving”. “Do be prepared for some frosty stares and passive displays of hostility,”it said.
We arrived wondering what kind of reception we'd get. In fact, we couldn't have found a more hospitable spot for sojourn. The close-knit islanders have an Old World kindness and generosity. Everyone we pass on the roads waves and says hello. Our social calendar is full of invitations to dinner parties, kids' birthday parties, spear-fishing trips, and, of course, church. (Bahamians are considered some of the most religious people in the world, with more churches per capita than any other country.)
Our new friends drop off lobster thermidor, guava duff (a cross between bread and cake), and homegrown bananas, and the gifts don't stop when we don't go to church.
There's very little crime on Spanish Wells. We never lock our doors. The delivery man comes in and leaves our groceries on the kitchen table when we're not home. We leave money on the front stoop under an empty water bottle when we need a refill.
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