Last year, I wrote this post about our first year here. It’s time to revisit that post as we reached our two year Bahamaversary last week! (T arrived on July 31, 2013, and KLC and I arrived on August 4, 2013.)
My friend J in California grew up as a Navy brat and moved about every three years. Her mom always said that the last year in each place was the best. After two years, you are settled: you have friends, you know your way around, and you have routines. Unfortunately for them, they would then be required to move. We, on the other hand, plan to stick around a while and feel much more at home at the two year mark.
Highlights of the year
- Island Baby: By far, the highlight of the year would have to be welcoming our chill little island baby X.
- Visitors: In our first year, we had 12 visits from either groups or singles. In our second year, we had 8 groups of overnight visitors plus 2 groups who just came by to say hi for a few hours during their cruise/vacation. Three visits were in August 2014 from friends and family, then my family came for Thanksgiving, and then we went home to the US for almost two months for Christmas and X’s birth on February 5. Since his birth, we’ve hosted one set of friends and three sets of family, most of whom were here explicitly to help with the kids post-birth. Several other friends and family are on the docket to come, but figuring out appropriate accommodations for people is our biggest challenge as we don’t have extra beds right now in our condo.
- Travel: We did not travel within the Bahamas this year, which is a bummer since there are so many beautiful places to visit here. We had lots of time in the U.S., though. I traveled in September/early October for weddings, October for Baby K’s bachelorette party, December through February for Christmas + Baby K’s wedding + the birth, May to visit Wisconsin family, and June for a wedding and Michigan family. T met us for the last week of the weddings in October, spent Christmas with us and then went back-and-forth for work and the birth, traveled for work to a conference in April, and accompanied the entire family for our June trip. What was new this year was being able to leave KLC overnight. T and I went to California for a wedding when she was 20 months old, and it was the first time I had been away from her overnight. The trip was really wonderful but also quite emotional for me. She did great with my parents. I then left her again, this time with T at home, for a quick trip to Baby K’s bachelorette party in Georgia. When X’s arrival was imminent and T was back in Nassau, KLC spent a week away from me again as I recovered from the flu in Atlanta, too sick to care for her but too close to my due date to be away from my intended delivery location. The May trip I took to Wisconsin was only with X. Once again, KLC had a blast with daddy, and I was grateful for some down time.
- Friends: At this time last year, I was still pretty lonely here in Nassau. Pregnancy hormones + having even more friends leave the island were not a great combination. By the end of the year, however, we were throwing Kallisti’s 2 year birthday party for 25+ adults, and we came back to a solid support system on the island post-baby. This is by far the biggest development in our life here. One of the bookstores here hosts a community kids’ story time on Wednesday mornings, and that is how we have met almost everyone we know besides T’s coworkers and their families. One morning last summer, a lady came whom I hadn’t met. She had also been around about a year, and my go-to somewhat-desperate question, “So, is it easy to meet other families near where you live?” hit gold. She invited me to join a playgroup that was active and had kids around KLC’s age or a bit younger. Through that group, I have met quite a few ladies. Also at the bookstore, I met S whose son is 1 week older than KLC (though ironically his due date was a month later–she was induced for medical reasons at 37 weeks, and KLC was finally coaxed out of hiding at 42). With her and a few others, my trick for evolving small talk into a real conversation was asking about their pregnancies. (P.S. have you read this article about how it’s hard to make friends after 30?) On top of the playgroup ladies and my friendship with S, we were blessed with more neighbors in our complex as a new hire moved in next door with his 10-month-old daughter and wife and another single coworker was joined by his girlfriend. Their presence in our lives has significantly enriched our day-to-day activities.
- Boat: We got access to a boat just before year 1 ended, but we didn’t use it much until all our visitors came in August. I enjoy the boat, but for T it is a game changer. He could be happy here forever, I think! He and our neighbors get up for 6 AM wakesurfing runs when the conditions are good on the regular.
On top of all the developments above, I feel more settled as I observe more of the subtleties of Bahamian culture. For example, many businesses employ “packers” who expect to help you to your car for a tip. In a small town in Tennessee, tipping anyone besides your hair dresser or waitress was never necessary. I have never been comfortable tipping, but here it has become a very normal part of running errands. At first, I was paranoid about not having cash at a tipping opportunity, but that has only happened once in our two years. What I did have was a $5 Dairy Queen gift card, and that packer seemed pleased.
Another Bahamian cultural thing is that everyone takes the summer off. Of course, schools are out, but so are daycares and preschools and Bible studies. Preschools do typically offer “summer camps” that are open to the public for a weekly fee. We thought about sending KLC for a week but decided against it. Many other options are available also for older kids like sailing camp, zoo camp, and art camp. This all probably isn’t that strange, but what is a little different is that most people travel off the island for a good chunk of the summer. One friend is going to Minnesota to see family for a month, one friend is in Canada, a family we know is RV-ing across the U.S. for six weeks, and of course we’re once again attending all the weddings.
In my last summary post, I wrote, “I hope the coming year will bring more growth outside our home with friendships and community involvement.” I think my hope was fulfilled, don’t you?