It’s been quite a while since we’ve posted on the blog. One excuse is that we’ve moved to The Bahamas this year, to the island of New Providence now, and have spent a bit of time settling into new jobs! Other excuses just don’t cut it, so I’m getting back on the horse and planning posts for the next six months. Today. All at once.
When we arrived on New Providence, Bahamas last summer, we had a really posh, but temporary, place to stay for a few months. During that time, we began working for an incredible non profit organization called YESI, or Youth Empowerment through Soccer International. The kids mostly come from the oldest settlement of freed slaves in The Bahamas, called Gambier Village. Gambier is considered a “disadvantaged” area. The homes there are modest to minimal, many without indoor plumbing or other things many of us consider to be conveniences. Visitors to Nassau often take the trip out to Gambier to see the community, including St. Peter’s Native Baptist Church, Dino’s conch stand, fishermen working at the boat landing, and the park in the heart of the village. The YESI soccer field sits next to the park, its storage trailer perched at the end opposite Gambier Primary School. Scott and I jumped right into working with the YESI kids and their families, holding summer soccer practices and later helping tutor many of the students at the school in the afternoons. We have been so fortunate to have been welcomed here! We’ll keep you all updated on YESI happenings as the year goes on.
Also during our first months here, as well as on any free weekends we have, we set out to explore our new rock. One of the most popular places to check out on New Providence is Clifton Heritage National Park. Situated on the western end of the island, Clifton encompasses walking trails, a gift shop and picnic area, beaches, and the ruins of a slave village.
It appears that you can park at Jaws Beach, just up the road from the park, and walk into the trails of the park at the west/south end of the beach- we haven’t tried that yet, as there is parking at Clifton itself, and visitors must pay a small entrance fee at the gift shop there for things like walking trails, picnic tables, and snorkeling at the BREEF site. We’re all for supporting the park in whatever way we can! Here’s an additional website outlining some of the things to do at Clifton.
Once you are parked or dropped off at Clifton, head over to the shop area to pay your fee ($5/person for residents, $10/person for non-residents), receive your wristband, and find out what’s on offer.
Inside the main area are the gift shop, snorkeling gear for rent, and the “Internet Cafe,” a fenced area for eating or gathering. Across the road is access to the slave village- you’ll need to pay an additional fee to get a tour and the history of the ruins.
Heading down the main road to the beach, you’ll see signs for various walking trails, as well as for the BREEF Sculpture Garden, Flipper Beach, Jaws Beach, and more Lucayan and early settler ruins.
On a particularly calm day in October, Scott and I headed straight to the sculpture garden launch. At this particular beach, you can lay down your things on a chair and gear up for snorkeling. Wading into the water and settling your face under the surface, you’ll find numbered coral “reef balls,” or concrete, rounded structures placed on the bottom to encourage coral growth and marine life. Following the numbers leads you out to the sculptures, which are roped/buoyed off about 20 yards offshore.
As we approached the first sculpture by Andret Johns, called “Lucayan Face,” I stared down at it and then swam on to come face to face with “Virtuoso Man”, created by Willicey Tynes. Just in front of “Virtuoso Man,” as if leading you to her, you can’t miss the 18-foot “Ocean Atlas,” the world’s largest underwater sculpture. Designed and built by Jason deCaires Taylor, this figure of a Bahamian girl holding the weight of the ocean on her shoulders was also created to become a haven for coral and other marine creatures as it ages.
Around the sculpture garden are individual coral formations popping up through the deep blue waters, teeming with fish. We took some time to float around, taking video with our little underwater camera.
Later, drying off as we laid in the beautiful Bahamas sun, we couldn’t help but pinch ourselves.
“We live here.”