Monday, February 25, 2013

Kate Miller 5: Nassau, Bahamas

A self-guided tour of Nassau, with some reflection on leaving a meaningful legacy...

5. Nassau, Bahamas
            Nassau was not the name of the island, it was the name of the city…the island was New Providence. Honestly, Kate didn’t know why they didn’t just name the island Nassau just to simplify things. Of course, the capitol city didn’t take up the whole island, but when one was simplifying things, small details like that didn’t matter much. Kate thought of their last cruise, during her honeymoon with Mister. They had stopped at another capitol island—Juneau, Alaska, a small town and beautiful place. But I guess that’s where the resemblance stops…at the small town, she thought with a shrug.
            They grabbed a map of the island-city and studied it in their cabin as they gathered things in a backpack to take with them. They made a rough plan to walk away from the harbor and up past some of the shops, then take Shirley St. to Parliament St. where they would find Parliament Square, the Supreme Court, Garden of Remembrance, and the Nassau Public Library. Afterward, they resolved to go to Ft. Fincastle, at the highest point of the island (up a small hill), and then back to the “Straw Market” for some shopping…maybe if they were feeling good, they would get a ride to Paradise Island, just offshore, where there were many more gardens and beaches.
            But when Kate and Mister stepped outside into the 80+ degree whether, their sunburns from the day on the island declared that Paradise Island and even the thought of beaches was positively out of the question. The weather, while beautiful, was certainly too warm for comfort, and Kate and Mister stuck close to the shade on whatever side of the street it could be found. Their first stop was to purchase a beautiful large conch shell. Kate smiled with pleasure as they picked out a medium sized shell for what Kate thought of as a “mere pittance.” Then she thought what IS a ‘mere pittance’ anyway? Isn’t it a small amount of money, or have I just been making that up? I really should look that up…
            The Garden of Remembrance turned out to be a lovely park with a large war memorial in the middle. One side was names and an inscription from World War I, then World War II, then two other wars whose history Kate was unsure of. But the inscriptions were moving and the list of names, for such a small island, was impressive.
At the top of the library building
 (no pictures allowed inside)
As soon as they walked in, Kate knew that the library would be her favorite part of their personalized tour of Nassau. The building was a converted prison, essentially round, with a winding staircase in the middle, three stories tall, with pie-shaped rooms branching off of them (with the tips bitten off by the staircase.) Each row held very old and fascinating books. When Kate saw The Minister of the Pirates, she double checked what section it was. Nope, not fiction, still biographies. How fascinating! She thought, I wish I could just sit down and read for the rest of my life! Then, thinking twice, It’s a good thing my wishes don’t usually come true. On the upper floor were artifacts and beautiful drawings from the time of Nassau’s founding (mid 1700s.) And at the top, a lovely balcony looked out over the city and harbor, shaded by large palms. Kate and Mister enjoyed the breeze and the shade until Kate felt another desperate urge for a restroom. A query downstairs brought forth the fortuitous information that the closest public restroom was at Ft. Fincastle, and “to the castle!” was the order.  
At the top of  the fort
It's shaped like a ship. We're looking over the "bow"
The fort was mostly interesting, not exciting, and had a splendid view of the rest of the island. Curiously, it was decorated for a wedding, though Kate couldn’t tell whether it was past or pending. Lord Dunmore had built six forts on the island (Fincastle being one of them.) It was an extraordinary amount for an island so small and out of the way. But the signs made clear that it wasn’t out of necessity, but merely Lord Dunmore’s obsession, labeled on one sign as “a colossal monument to wasteful extravagance and expenditure.” As they were walking back toward the ship and the Market, Kate said, “How sad to think that he was so obsessed with building forts and spent so much on them and everyone thinks they were an extravagant waste.”
“Even sadder that it was a waste.” Mister replied.
“Well, I want my life’s work to be honorable, noble, and useful.” She said decisively. Then, patting her tummy with a grin, “I suppose turning screaming savages into thoughtful, caring human beings could count.”
            “I should say so!”

*side note: Kate has now looked up the meaning of "pittance", and she was quite right in her assumption, though in the money sense it's mostly associated with wage/allowance/payment of some kind. If not money, it's just a very small or scanty amount.
at the fort

A lovely alley lined with vines and trees.
(The fort is up the cliff on the right.)

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