Pre-Thanksgiving Celebration, Part Two

Thanks for your patience with part one – nearly 2,000 words and we hadn’t made it halfway through Saturday yet.

After hanging out in the surf for a while we decided to walk along the beach and see if we could find our way to the music fest.  I didn’t plan on staying long there – it wasn’t the type of music I normally listen to – but I wanted to at least see things.  We wandered the beach for probably 15 minutes before we decided to try crossing through the resort to get to where we needed to go.  The nice guard at the entrance gave us directions and, after another 20 minutes of follow-the-instructions wandering we made it to the ground.  Atlantis is HUGE.

We walked in the back way as they were setting up the show.  Wiz Khalifa was on stage for the sound check so we got to hear a little “Black and Yellow” while they got things ready.  We sat down for half an hour or so while we waited for the ferry to get there so we could head back to the ship and get cleaned up.  There were a couple of volleyball courts there but alas – nobody was playing and playing by myself wasn’t an option.

By now it was about 1:30 and I hadn’t eaten since 8am so when we got back to port we wandered back out to the city to find some authentic Bahamian cuisine.

#FAIL.

We walked around the city for a good 45 minutes before we found a restaurant that wasn’t Chinese, Mexican, American or some other kind.  It was a little hole-in-the-wall down a side street called the Uptown Deli.  We were looking for some seafood, figuring it was probably pretty good.  No dice – they were out.  So I had curry chicken instead with corn and plantains.  It was pretty good, and since it was nearly 2:00 it tasted even better.

After lunch it was some more walking around the city shopping for some non-Cuban cigars since I wanted to bring some back into the US (you can’t bring Cuban cigars through customs).  We finally found a shop that sold Bahamian and Dominican cigars as well as Cubans – every other place (and there were a lot of them) sold only Cuban cigars, probably because it’s the closest place to the US you can get them.  I grabbed a Cuban to smoke on the deck of the ship just so I could say I’d done that, along with a couple of Bahamian cigars for a friend of mine who enjoys the occasional pleasure.

After that we returned to the ship to clean up and grab a quick nap.  I wandered the ship for a bit, checking out some of the shops, and grabbed a few things at the duty-free shop.  We grabbed some dinner and a couple of drinks (Bombay Sapphire and water – cheers, boss-man) along with – imagine this – some beer and then I did some more novel writing before retiring about 11.

I went up on the top deck around 8 to see what Nassau looked like at night, and when I looked towards Paradise Island you could clearly see the bright lights of the stage.  Bud Light owned Atlantis that night.

Then Sunday.

Oh, Sunday.

I remember most of it – and I’m pretty sure I could have died during the part I didn’t remember and it STILL would have been an awesome trip.

It was up early for some breakfast and some pictures of the island.  Coco Cay, a private island reserved for guests of Royal Caribbean, is a small island surrounded by beautiful ocean.  We hopped on the tender about 9 or so, and that was an adventure in and of itself.  The seas were relatively calm – just a little chop that you don’t notice when you’re on an 880-foot long, 74,000 ton ship.  But when you’re on a much smaller boat (it probably held 150 people) that’s tied to that large boat every wave becomes an adventure.  People were green by the time they sat down on the tender…and those were the ones who hadn’t had anything to drink yet.

We made it without incident and docked in a little cove on Coco Cay.  We hopped off the tender and immediately I tossed off my flip flops and donned my Bud Light straw hat because this is what heaven’s got to be like and when I go there you can be sure I’m going barefoot.  Fine sand everywhere you walk, surrounded by palm trees, blue water and angels in bikinis.  I’m not entirely sure they were all angels (although I did see some with wings tattoo’d on their shoulders) but they certainly were in bikinis.

But I digress.  Sort of.

It was gorgeous.  Absolutely beautiful.

The first stop was some beach chairs.  I set my stuff down and proceeded to head into the water.  It was slightly chilly at first – it was 9:30am after all – but once you got into it and let the sun beat down on you it was perfect.  I swam out about 100 feet or so and looked down at the bottom of the ocean, watching fish of various sizes swim past me.  After a while I hung out on the beach chair and grabbed some sun while some of the later arrivals commented they’d seen a ray and a small shark down just a little further.  I went in search of something to drink and discovered something I should have thought about earlier – FitBits are allergic to seawater.  Actually I suspect if you submerge them in any kind of water for, say, 30 minutes at a time they’ll hate you.  I can assure you that’s the case with ocean water because i realized that  I hadn’t taken mine off before I got in the water.  Oops.

I found some Bud Light (go figure) and a Rum Runner and headed back to the beach chairs, stopping by the sand volleyball courts to see if anyone was playing (not yet).  Then it was pull out the camera time and see what we can get.

Let me take a quick aside here.  One of the things I enjoy most is being social at parties like this.  I don’t have any problem mingling at a party by myself, no qualms meeting new people and no issue at all with making a fool out of myself should the situation call for it.  Some people call that a lack of pride – I call it being completely at ease with myself.

For me it was as natural as wading out in the water and on the beach, holding up my camera and giving an inquisitive glance that said: “may I?”  With two exceptions the entire afternoon (from the time Young the Giant started, through the All-American Rejects and until well after Brad Paisley had left the stage and the party) everyone was more than happy to pose with their friends, spouses or whomever happened to be closest to them and let me snap a few photographs of them.

One more short aside: I really enjoy making people smile.  It’s not really about the health benefits or the fact that a smile makes people more attractive (those are just bonuses) – it’s more because I’m a fan of happy and a smile is typically associated with being happy.  That’s one reason I probably couldn’t take pictures for magazines or ad agencies that do the serious look – I just can’t make the shutter click when I do that.

So I made it my mission to find people who weren’t smiling and take their picture.  Why?  Because when you’ve got a photographer in front of you (defined as “some dude who’s got a camera”) it’s almost an automatic reaction to smile.  You don’t want some photo of you all frowny appearing somewhere, do you?  Of course not – so I sought out couples who weren’t smiling and asked to take their picture.  Did the smile last beyond the picture?  No idea (except for the two cases where I came back and recognized them – one was smiling, the other not), but that’s not the point.  The point is at least they were smiling.

Now, granted, that wasn’t my only reason I was taking pictures.  There were plenty of people smiling the entire time and I was a fan of catching their picture, as well.  I’m an aspiring photographer and so snapping shots of people is something I enjoy doing pretty much any time I have my trusty Nikon with me.

So off I went, snapping close to 1,000 pictures over the course of the trip with about 2/3 of them coming on the soft sand beaches, warm lapping surf and palm tree-lined paths of Coco Cay on Sunday.  Admittedly I usually take a quick succession of 2 or 3 pictures for every shot (just to make sure I get the best image), but still – that’s still a lot of people.

I love it.

But the day didn’t end with me taking pictures of random people who I’ll likely never see again – it was just getting started.  What I forgot to mention was that about halfway through the concert the complimentary Bud Lights came out.  And I mean tubs on top of tubs of iced-down, Bud Light and Bud Light Lime aluminum bottles.   If you stacked them all up top to bottom you could probably walk back to Miami from the Bahamas on them.  Maybe I’m overstating it a bit, maybe I’m understating it a bit.  But the point is there were a lot of beers being popped.

And, naturally, I had to partake.  And partake I did – over the course of my short photo shoot I downed over a dozen beers.  Luckily I also slammed a number of glasses of tea and water to help compensate, but I’m pretty sure you could have used my blood for sterilizing things by the time we were standing in line for the tender back to the ship.

But I’ve jumped ahead – we’re only halfway through the party on the island.

Before we finish it and as a final aside, one of the other things I enjoy doing is crashing parties.  Not the kind where you whine that you weren’t invited to take a shot with everyone else – I’m talking about sneaking in somewhere and then pretending like people should know who I am to get my friends in.  Or seeing a VIP tent and deciding that I clearly belong there even though I didn’t get a fancy wristband.  Sometimes it’s as simple as pretending you belong; other times you have to get creative.

For this particular excursion I had to use both.  After taking picture after picture of people while I was roaming around outside the VIP party I decided I needed to get in there and see who qualified as a “VIP”.  The problem is there were people stationed at the entrances that were not inclined to let people through, no matter how charming they were.  I was at a loss – I needed to get into that party but I couldn’t see a way to do it.  So I did the only thing I could think of – I slammed two beers and then asked one of the guards if he knew where a trash can was.

 

I fully expected him to say “out by the beer” or some other place, or maybe take them and toss them into the bags piled up a few feet away.

OK – break time.  My fingers hurt and I suspect your eyes hurt.  And maybe your brain, too – it could be a sympathy hangover.  So we’ll stop here, take a break and pick it up later.

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