Recently returned from an eight-day adventure/family vacation/journey I’ve come to appreciate my life a little more. My family and I went on a four-day, which really means four nights and the fifth day you return to the original port of departure, Disney Cruise with some great friends and their family. We went to the Bahamas. My main focus of thought with this blog post is appreciation. Appreciation in general. And appreciation for everyone’s story, whatever that may be.
While on the cruise one of our ports of call was the port of Nassau. We took a tour around the island and soaked up its rich and violent history. We heard stories about its corrupt government. Its horrible social and economic status. But, of course, we also soaked up its beautiful people.
Towards the end of the tour we were taken to a beach. While there an older local woman approached us. She was “hustling” her trade, braiding and beading hair. We declined for the moment as we were trying to get settled. As our time on the beach passed my friend’s daughter asked to get her hair braided, which of course triggered my daughter to request the same.
Now, I don’t quite remember where I heard it, so I’ll paraphrase here but I remember hearing or reading something about how everyone has their own story and whatever it is, it is an important one. Maybe I read it from a Neil Gaiman Tweet. Or maybe I read it in an introduction of one of Neil Gaiman’s book. Or was it John Crowley’s? Either way, I remember reading or hearing the about the importance of stories.
When it was my daughter’s turn to have her hair braided and beaded I asked the woman if I could take some pictures of her. Forgive me, but I forgot to ask her what her name was so for the sake of this post I’ll refer to her as Bahama Mama, because she was in fact one.
Bahama Mama tells me that it’s okay for me to take pictures. I thank her. My daughter is complaining about how much her braids hurt. I laugh and tell her, “I told you so.” And Bahama Mama says, “Hush child.”
Keep in mind, we could have her hair braided on the Disney ship but why give them more money when you can give directly to the community itself?
Bahama Mama is talking about how she’s out walking the beaches everyday hustling. Island life isn’t all you would think it is. She’s getting older, she’s 55. She’s anemic, she needs new blood. Her daughter is lazy and doesn’t work. She, Bahama Mama, has to take care of her 5 grandchildren. She can’t do this forever. She’s tired. Her hands hurt, braiding and beading hair for hours on end is hard work.
I sit there in the white sand listening. I ask questions, so does my daughter. Bahama Mama shares what she knows. She shares her story. I thank her.
This is Bahama Mama.
Your journey starts with a step, where are you headed?