We landed at the diminutive North Eleuthera Airport. My arrival at most airports start an immediate increase in heart rate, sweat starts to roll like an Appalachian flash flood, my brain has to release enough endorphins to combat the stress of walking into the terminal feeling like a cobra slithering into a mongoose burrow.
But this, this was so different. We were met with a sweet-tempered, warm rain and big broad smiles. My wife and I parked ourselves on the front porch of the terminal as if we were waiting for a seat at Cracker Barrel for an after-church dinner. We waited for my cousin and his lovely wife, who were our hosts for the week. They were coming in on a later flight and arrived about a half hour later.
Instead of the anxiety storms in America, I was awash in serenity from the gitgo. I felt like I was in the eye of a lilt.
My cousin rented a car from “Big E”. When Big E’s rep shows up to give him the key and go over the paperwork, the front seat of the rental became the office. When the transaction had been finalized, my cousin asked, “What do I do with the key when I return the car?”
Big E’s rep, “Just put it under the mat.”
Cuz, “What if someone steals it?”
Big E’s rep, “We are on an island. Where can they go? We just drive around till we find it.”
Occasionally, my attempt to engage in banter with the locals would take a strange turn. I decided to cook dinner one night so we went down to the local dock to peruse the latest daily catch. I found a local fisherman proudly displaying his wares.
Me, to local fisherman, “What kind of fish is that?”
Me, “Does it taste fishy?”
Fisherman, “Does it taste like fish?”
Me, “I mean, does it taste too much like fish?”
Fisherman, with a little less smile and more confusion, “Don’t you want this beautiful fish to taste like fish?”
Me, ” I don’t think you understand what I’m asking.”
Fisherman, now totally exasperated, ” I think you want chicken!”
Evidently engaging in tete-a-tete in Paradise has a different thought process than the day-to-day in eastern Kentucky.
I left the poor confused soul muttering something about Americans with fish brains and bought a hog snapper instead. I figured with a name like “hog snapper” it had to have enough of an identity complex so as not to taste too much like fish. I was right, it was scrumptious.
In addition to dialogue taking different directions, time also seemed to take a not-so-American sense.
Me, to my cousin, “What time is it?”
Time is difficult to explain. Recalling my high school and college physics classes…well I can’t really recall them. That seems to be one function of time. Anyway, I always thought that time was the measurement between two physical events. Of course this is measured by a functional clock.
My observance of the relativity of time in a physical sense came from my wife. She runs her life with the precision of a Swiss watch. After a few days on this island, she removed hers from her wrist. Time seemed to have a physical presence, not in an obtrusive, annoying I-wish-you-would-leave presence, but in a genteel, pleasant I-wish-you-would-stay presence.
One other conversation to report. After the ATM gave me Bahamian dollars, which I mastered the exchange rate after about four days (it’s 1:1), I stated, “Why does it give me Bahamian dollars?”
Cuz’s lovely wife, ” Do we have to have the fisherman conversation again?”
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