Traveling to a new place is like a blind date: anything is possible. An ill mood may prevail, disaster could unfold, plans could go awry. On the other hand, things could play out in a spirit of frivolous fun; the tone is light, casual. But every so often? You discover a match mach made in heaven and find true love.
Indeed, I prepared for my recent foray into Florida and Grand Bahama Island with a date-like attention to my physique: I worked out, got my hair highlighted, shopped for new clothes. A couple of times I questioned the motivation behind my concerted effort to look my best. I tell myself that my beauty regimen consisted of things I would have done anyway, and that is mostly true. But I have to admit to some sort of strange desire to make a good impression, to be physically compatible with my island surroundings.
Our itinerary took us first to the Sunshine State, then onward via cruise ship to the Bahamas before winding down on American soil back in Florida. Florida and I had already met, at various points in my formative and adolescent years, so we were beyond both the initial wonder and uncertainty of a fresh introduction. Still, Florida went all out to impress with splashy smorgasbord of big-ticket fun in the skies and on the waterways. I left feeling suitably wooed.
Our introduction to GBI got off to an admittedly rocky start. Not unlike that awkward moment of realization when you discover your date intended to go Dutch and you didn’t bother to stop at the bank, we wound up hungry and irritated within the first hour. It seems the cruise line, that sketchy mutual friend who introduced us, told a lot of half truths and downright lies about the grandiosity of the spread GBI was prepared to put out for us. Grand Bahama was happy to have our company, but not prepared to play host to the extent to which our matchmaker led us to believe. Our time together would include dining, but it was up to us to procure the goods.
It wasn’t long before we realized that our disappointment wasn’t really Grand Bahama’s fault. The island hadn’t had a chance to speak for itself. So, like any good date, we started listening to Grand Bahama, discovering what the island had to say for itself.
As I tuned in to GBI, I discovered that despite the vibrancy of the surroundings and the boisterousness of the people (there was a “Friendly Bob” or a “Big Mama” around every corner, eager to hock wares or sell various services) the island approached me with a whisper, with hints of what was possible.
A shell-spangledled postcard I picked up at a drugstore with a name that made me predispositioned to love it (Regular Readers can guess why I may have been drawn to The Seahorse Drug Mart) tipped me off to the possibility of some great beach combing which sparked an after dinner walk covering at least three miles of ocean front.
GBI wasn’t prepared to give up its secrets so quickly, however. It offered up just these small Bahama Bits, pieces to represent potential treasure, waiting, for some other time, some other shore.
Postcards from The Seahorse spoke also of reef-dwelling wonders. Outfitted in snorkeling gear, I got a little peek of what was possible, there, as well, although the island whispered then, too, on my single opportunity to connect with it on a below-the-surface level. The seas were rough that day, and the island chose not to make it easy for me see what lies below. I battled 4-6 foot waves for ever single glimpse I got of the vibrant kaleidoscope of sea life swimming in those aqua waters. But I saw enough to know that there is a lot of potential. Potential for a deeper connection some time, some where on that chain of islands.
But if true love is best defined by a pining to reconnect, then it just may be Florida with whom we made a love connection. My husband and I truly enjoyed every moment we were there. The water, the scenery, the weather. And as an added benefit, during the entire vacation my husband’s surgically repaired knee functioned completely normally. At our Virginia home, he can’t comfortably do stairs, let alone three mile beach walks. All of our Florida raving along with the joint benefit has led to talk and more than a little joking about a Sunshine State retirement.
I’m not sure I’m ready, yet, for that level of commitment. I want to believe that there are many more blind dates, and perhaps a second shot at a Grand-er Bahama match up before I settle down in such an, umm…, permanent way.
In Other News
I know I alluded to the possibility of seahorse pics going up today, but a combination of dreary weather (I prefer shooting in natural light) and some last minute finish work pushed the photo shoot to sometime today.
An After-the-Fact After Thought (read: a fleeting thought I added to the post when it was several hours old):
What destinations have been true love for you, Readers? I'd love to know!