“HOLY JESUS, DO YOU THINK THEY DRIVE ON THE LEFT THERE???”
It took a surprisingly long time for that realization to hit me when planning a scooter day-trip on Grand Bahama with Pilot Guy
When you’re exiled in Flatistan, it’s actually an attainable feat, both financially and logistically, to go to the Bahamas for the day. So we did. One must make the best of one’s exile.
We crept through the Port Everglades security checkpoint on foot in the darkness before dawn (kinda weird, since it’s not designed for pedestrians, which is par for the course in Florida), fumbled our way, slightly lost, through a dank parking garage, navigated wholly unimpressive security, and clambered up a broken escalator to board the Pinar del Rio*, our super flashy, double hulled, fast ferry to Paradise.
|Pro Tip for Best Seats: Up and Back|
Some of us have to go through Hell to get to Heaven. Thankfully, we are not those people**. But our boat was rocking enough to make even us, who grew up on boats of one kind or another, scratch our heads and wonder, “This can’t be normal, can it?” When equipment such as fire extinguishers came flying off the walls, when passengers were ordered back to their seats, but admonished not to run, (we weren’t running, we were literally being thrown across the deck by the tossing of the boat), and when staff started circulating with pre-emptive barf bags, the answer to our question was made obvious. No. It wasn’t. Normal. I nearly got on bended knee to thank God neither of us was prone to sea-sickness, even in these conditions. Except I was too tired and hungry from not having had breakfast yet. If it’s bad enough, it’s quite clear that seasickness isn’t just a bout of nausea and vomiting. It’s fully incapacitating. The staff started shuffling off the incapacitated.... somewhere. We never did see them again and wondered aloud if they had been thrown overboard. The only discomfort we sustained from the rough crossing was that the concessions line was closed before we managed to secure some very expensive and very bad coffee with sticky sweet (not in a good way) muffins. I did talk a staff member into that bad coffee and muffin a bit later. Tip: Ferry Food falls into the category of Zoo Pizza, and makes you yearn for the haute cuisine of your corner convenience store. Your best bet? A mini box of cheerios.
Upon our safe (yay!) but delayed due to rough seas (boo!) arrival, I had a very specific food goal in mind. Reminiscent of the clam cakes we ate every summer as children, but spicier, and possibly even more oily…
…conch fritters courtesy of “Billy Joe, the Conch Man!”
|“Coco Frio” recipe: whack open green coconut with machete. Insert straw.|
Now on to the business of scooter renting. Only an experienced motorcyclist would comprehend just how ridiculously dangerous this little adventure really was. Scooter Rental Guy remarked, “It’s the ones who know what they’re doing – those are the ones you gotta worry about.” Here I am, on an underpowered scooter, lacking any ability to accelerate out of the way of anything faster than an earthworm, riding on the left-hand side of the road, navigating unfamiliar routes, trying to keep myself from squeezing the imaginary clutch lever (which on a scooter is a brake lever – oopsy-oof!), all while wearing little more safety gear than a Ducati bikini and an ill fitting three-quarter helmet. Insanity. I could have used a touch of blissful ignorance at that moment. Deep breath, ready, and… Activate Supersonic Defensive Driving Skills!
|Island Safety Gear: Ducati Bikini, (of course I’m wearing a cover-up!), flip flops, 3/4 helmet that doesn’t fit. Scooter Instructions: “Don’t fall off, Mon!” Really.|
For comparison’s sake, here’s my usual 16.5 (“feels like 30”) pounds of safety gear:
|Motoport Monroe Kevlar Jacket, leather Alpinestars Stella Bat Pants, Shoei TZ-R full face helmet, wimpy hiking boots because I was touring (I usually wear my Sidi Vertigo Lei), and Racer High End kangaroo leather gloves. (Oh, wait, those aren’t in the photo either, but I can tell you they are as good as their name is dorky.)|
So. You see what I’m saying.
Riding on the left hand side of the road is equal parts terror and hilarity. Each individual situation needs to be carefully recalculated on the fly: left turns, right turns, passing, being passed, pulling out, round-abouts (ooh, tricky!), all while following the spidery pen line scratched on the map by Scooter Rental Guy. Miraculously, we were wildly successful!
Destination Achieved: Lucayan National Park!
Should you begin your park visit by descending the little spiral staircase to view the caves, you’ll find bats, fish, the palest aqua water, and that you wish you had a tripod.
|Burial Mound Cave|
After that little diversion, you would, of course, approach the beach. That is the whole point of it all, right?
The trips back to the scooter rental place and mainland were both, thankfully, equally tranquil.
*Owned by the Spanish company Balearia
** Usually, anyway.