By Mariah Moyle
It's no surprise that throngs of tourists flock to tropical locales for the holidays. Who wouldn't want to celebrate their much needed days off in a dreamy tropical setting? If you plan on being a part of the destination holiday bandwagon, just be forewarned that in order to celebrate in a relaxed and carefree manner, you'd better be sure you have stocked up as if preparing for the end-of-the-world apocalypse.
2014 was the first Easter I spent in the
"civilized" Bahamian world. The previous Easter holidays throughout
my island tenure were spent either in Miami or on some far-fetched remote
island where I had no idea what was going on in the world of commerce. Last year I was rudely awakened to the fact that the entire country shuts down for
4 full days over Easter weekend. To top it off, no one bothers to affix signs
on their shop windows to alert the shopper of their altered holiday hours; you're just supposed to know.
I was raised a good Catholic girl and attended private
Catholic school from preschool until the 9th grade. I went to church, said my
prayers and proudly sported my plaid uniform and Mister Rogers sweater. I was
privy to the Easter Jesus story and of course like any American child,
simultaneously looked forward to a visit from the Easter bunny. In the
religious sense, we recognized Good Friday and Easter Sunday but I don't ever
recall the entire country going into lockdown mode.
My introduction to the Bahamian version of the
Easter holiday weekend started on Good Friday. I can't remember the exact
details, but I know we had just come back to town from being away. Our fridge
was barren and even more horrifying, we had no alcohol. Not a drop - no wine, beer
or even a splash of rum buried in the back cabinet. I had promised to host a
dinner party for a few close friends that evening so my husband and I went out
to run our errands and stock up for that evening. On occasion you will find
business establishments closed for no apparent reason. The hardware store,
although not advertised, closes from 12-2pm each day for lunch and is closed
every Saturday and Sunday. Occasionally the shop gal will have to pop out to
pay her power bill and the pharmacy will be closed for 45 minutes mid-day.
Usually the grocery store will stay open, unless there is a wedding or a
funeral, in which case, the owner and every employee will be attending.
On this particular Good Friday, upon a quick
circuit of town, we realized that everything was closed. Hmmm. No food, no
booze. We even swung by a liquor store which is known for being open for a few
sneaky hours on Sundays. The owner was sitting nearby drinking beers and
playing dominos. When we asked him when he was opening for the day, he laughed
at us and said that nothing is open on Good Friday and we should have stocked
up yesterday. While the rest of the island was preparing to spend the day in
deep reverence for the resurrection of Christ, he was settling in to work on
his domino slapping skills, so we decided not to push it.
Feeling defeated, we made our way to our local
watering hole where our familiar bartender greeted us and our usual drinking
companions were already posted in their usual drinking spots. We plopped down
on the bar stool and requested two Kaliks.
"No alcohol on Good
Friday" said our bartender.
She is known for her sassy attitude in good
spirits so we presumed she was messing with us.
"I'm in NO mood to
joke" I replied.
But alas, she was serious. Evidently no place of business
is allowed to sell or serve alcohol on Good Friday. I knew of this on voting
day, but Good Friday?! Every 5 years on voting day the entire country shuts down and no
alcohol is permitted to be sold so that everyone can fill out their votes with a
sober pen. I must have had a look of absolute grief on my face (or the look of
a pathetic alcoholic, I can't be sure), but our bartender looked around to see
if anyone was watching before sneaking us a couple cranberry juices spiked with
a good helping of vodka. This was also what our drinking companions were
sipping on, but assured any inquisitors that it was just good ole fashioned
After my nerves were calmed to a level that I was able to regain
functionality as a “normal” member of island society, I realized that I was
still dealing with the conundrum that we had nothing to serve our dinner
So being a child of the Social Media era, I did
what anyone would do in the event of a disaster: I reached out to my trusty
friends in the world of Facebook.
Facebook friends immediately came to my rescue offering up bottles of liquor
and wine. I had friends that were out of town for the weekend and I knew where
their hide-a-key was so I generously took them up on their offer to borrow a
bottle of vodka. For good
measure, we raided the wine refrigerator too.
Everything was eventually replaced after the holiday weekend, but thank goodness for a few bottles in a
It's not that we can't survive a Friday evening on the island without a bit of
booze, but the principal issue is counting on your ability to purchase
something, only to realize that you can't purchase something is a
regular occurrence on
this island. We bought a printer about a year ago from the local stationary
store, thinking that since they sell that particular model that they would keep
printer ink in stock. They haven't had that printer ink in stock since we
bought the machine. Lesson learned: when
you see something you need, or think you might need in the near or not-so-near
future, buy it. Buy it all
Anyways, our Good Friday dinner turned out wonderful. We have a large chest
freezer with enough meat in it to feed the entire village in the event of a hurricane,
so I pulled out a few steaks to grill and rounded up some veggies and potatoes.
Another island lesson: make due with
what you have.
So it wasn't the biggest catastrophe ever.
The stores ended up opening for a few hours on Saturday so I was able to stock
up for the rest of the weekend. Easter Sunday was quiet and relaxed. I made
deviled eggs and we had a lovely afternoon roasting a whole lamb at a friend's
house. "Easter Monday" (I had no idea there was such a holiday, but
evidently there is a sizable list of countries that observe it) was also quiet
and business resumed as normal on Tuesday.
This year I'm fully prepared for an island style Easter, but for good measure I
also put an alert in my calendar: "Easter Weekend - Stock Up!!"
will not be foiled again!
Labels: bahamas, easter, harbour island, holiday, island living, out island life, QUIRKS & CURIOSITIES