We have been on Grand Bahama Island for three weeks now. It seems nearly every day we are meeting people (locals) that we know.
The On-duty Bus Driver
Our first trip to Solomon's Grocery store was by bus. We were the only passengers on the bus at that time. The driver dropped us off at the curb in front of the mall, and said he would meet us out front when we were done. Well, he was serious. When we came out of the store 40 minutes later, there was the bus and the driver, parked in the parking lot waiting for us. We loaded our groceries and he drove us straight back to the yacht club. Can you imagine if the TTC offered service like that?
Well two weeks go by and sure enough, we catch a bus and its the same driver.
The Off-duty Bus Driver
Every Wednesday there is a fish fry down at the beach. We went there when Ben & Michelle were here. Well the buses stop running at 5:30, so around 9pm we were walking back to the yacht club when a woman and her daughter stopped and offered us a ride (this happens all the time in the Bahamas). Two weeks later Charlena and I catch the bus back from Solomon's (the grocery store), and it's the same woman who is the bus driver. She once again has her daughter with her, this time also has her two grandchildren on board. The kids were delightful and we enjoyed meeting them and chatting with the driver again.
The Hospital Visit
Each time Kyle goes for a dive with the local dive shop he has to fill out a medical form. One of the questions is do you have allergies. Kyle asked a question about that, and so they insisted that he now get a doctor's note to clear him for diving (even though he'd been diving with them several times). Well the hospital has a clinic on Mondays at 4pm. We arrived at the hospital around 3 pm and waited in the clinic waiting room, chatting with some of the other people. Two days ago (about a week and a half after the hospital visit) Charlena and I went for dinner in Port Lucaya. A woman sees us get off the ferry and asks us if we have a moment, and if anyone has shown us the "virtual tour" they are offering (it's a time share thing). Then she says, "Oh, I know you guys, you were at the clinic last week. How is your son doing? Is he okay now?". Well we explained he was just there for a doctor's note and chatted a bit while we walked to the restaurant.
I'm going to digress for a moment, and talk about medical care here.
We first got to the hospital around 11:30 for the vaccine clinic (Mondays 8am to noon), as we all needed Hepatitis A and B vaccines. These are recommended for people living or traveling in the Caribbean. In Ontario they are given by the health units and cost about $70 each. Here in The Bahamas they are standard, and free. Total cost for 6 vaccines for three non-residents? Zero. Free. Nada. Zip!
Wait time for vaccines? About 4 minutes because there was one guy getting his when we arrived.
Kyle had to pay for his medical care, and since we were not in an excused group (children, seniors, government employees) we had to pay full price for the visit. Fifteen dollars. Yup, one, five.
Wait time for the clinic. We arrived at 3 pm and there were two people ahead of us. By 4 pm when the clinic "started" there was about 10 people. The nurse said that the doctors hadn't yet arrived because they were still doing their rounds in the hospital. By 5 pm there was about 20 people, and some were getting down right testy in having to wait so long. There was the one guy who appeared a little drunk (though it could have been a mental illness) who was talking loudly about all the problems with the government (and with Trump), and he was really pissing off one woman who wanted him to shut up. But he couldn't because he didn't have a girlfriend to make him be silent, maybe since she was such a pretty woman she could be his girlfriend... (that didn't help her mood, but it certainly lightened everybody else's mood).
Having been in Canadian hospitals where waits are measured in hours, we were fine, and were done and out by 6 pm. Less than three hours for a walk-in, non-emergency, would be a record in Ontario.
The Bus Depot Conversation
On the day of Kyle's hospital visit, we went in to town early to get a few things done. While I am in the bank, Kyle and Charlena are waiting outside when a guy walks past and says to Kyle, "Hey mon, how's it going?" and high-five's him. They chat for a bit and Charlena asks for lunch recommendations. He was about to offer his favourite, but finding out we had no car he recommended The Bus Depot. It's a small takeaway at the bus depot, called "The Bus Depot" (not that hard to figure out where it is). So we head there for lunch and order some takeout.
We sit in the bus waiting area and eat our lunch, chatting with other people who are waiting for their buses. In one of the conversations with two local ladies, one says to the other, "Oh, you know Randall over at [government office], he has to go in for surgery next week". Well, not only does everyone in town know everyone else, it seems we do too, because WE know Randall, he was one of the first people we met on the island (and a very nice gentleman, hope everything goes well for him).
The Calgary Bus Driver
We caught a bus and while talking to the driver, found out he had lived in Calgary. His daughter still lives in Calgary, teaching Violin. Since Kyle is currently learning to play the violin we had a nice chat with him. The other day we are coming back from the hospital (see above) and end up with the same driver. This time Kyle is with us so they get to meet each other as well.
The strangest thing is, these five incidents are not all, this is happening all the time. You would think the island has only a few hundred people, but no, there are more than 50,000 people here. Fair enough, that's not Toronto. But that is like North Bay, Ontario. While you certainly meet people you know in a city that size, keep in mind we have only been here three weeks.
Part of the reason for this is that the people here in The Bahamas are so friendly and cheerful. You can not walk down the street without passing people who all say "Good morning/afternoon/evening". It doesn't matter that you've never met them before, because that only means you haven't met them YET. Well, now you have.
This also happens here at the Yacht Club where three boats sailed in the other day, and we knew them. They had been in the slip next to us last year at Holland Marine when we bought the boat. I have heard that meeting other cruisers that we know will be a regular thing. Apparently you can travel to the furthest corner of the planet, and then pull into a bay and find someone you met in some other far off and remote corner of the planet.