The final stop off on our luxury Caribbean cruise was the tax haven Nassau. Cruise ships around the world are licensed in Nassau due to its tax laws/lack thereof and the exploitation shows. Nassau was the most confronting port in terms of cultural and economic disparities. By this stage in the trip, I felt slightly repulsed by any association with the crowds of tourists swarming from the cruise ships, unfortunately association was inevitable. As Zane and I made our way past the docking gates, groups of hagglers surrounded us offering their taxi services and gifts of jewelry (that they made you pay for as soon as you touched). Most tourists then took the transport to the famous Atlantis resort, however Zane and I decided to do our own exploring.
Turning left at the town square led us down a road with abandoned buildings lining either side. Although the buildings were empty, the traffic between them was ceaseless - slowing occasionally when a battered horse dragging a wobbling tourist or two trotted by. Through a gap in the buildings we sighted the famed Atlantis resort - however the barbed wire and port-a-loo made everything feel dismally dystopic. We decided to return the way we came.
The other side of the town square offered a more in depth insight into daily life on Nassau. I ignored the designer and jewelry stores and made a steady path towards the famous straw market - excited for my first real market experience of the trip...but I shouldn't have bothered. Every stall in the market was the same and no one was very happy to see you. Sighting a pile of bags with Hello Kitty woven onto the front was my final straw (hehe) - painful cultural assimilation expelled me from the market place.
The destroyed, colourful object outside the market matched my mood. The endless guys offering us Cuban cigars and weed didn't help either (although in retrospect, it was kind of amusing). Neither did the tiny beach. Nor did the overcast weather. The only thing that made Nassau O.K. was a sneaky little upstairs bar called Tropicana. Zane and I basically planted ourselves at a table on its balcony and proceeded to drink countless bottles of cheap Caribbean beer. As we drunk, we scorned the tourist couples with their matching outfits as they waddled by below us (these were the same people who got all excited and bitchy whenever they saw us drinking alcohol).
Unless you're just really, ridiculously old and/or enormous, cruising the Caribbean... just ... don't. It simply can't be good for you.