An Orcadian Abroad –

Well, Sort-Of-Orcadian!

By Bernie Bell

Pics by McB

Mike was due to go to a meeting in the Bahamas.  He was all packed and ready to go, on the Friday morning – watching the weather reports for the Bahamas, as Hurricane Dorian was heading for the area he was heading for!  We were very relieved  when he received an email saying that the meeting had been cancelled.  If only the hurricane could have been cancelled too – that would have saved a lot of distress to the people there.

So, a couple of months later, the fisheries assessment meeting was re-convened, and he set off on his travels.

When he rang to say he’d arrived safely, I asked him if Nassau really is funky  ( ) , to which he replied, yes, the plane was welcomed by a calypso band!

Think about it, he left Orkney on Wednesday, 30th October – remember what the weather was doing?  Typical October gales and rain.  He arrived to 30 degrees, sunshine, and high humidity.  Not the best conditions for a Celt to function in.

The business part of the trip over, he then had a bit of time to mooch around Nassau town, which is on the island of New Providence.  He had a good day on Saturday, being a tourist, and one funny thing was – he was having a wander around Nassau town, which was very busy as….there were five cruise liners in!  He said it was just like when the cruise ships are in Kirkwall, and, as he’s obviously not local, people kept talking to him because they thought he was from the cruise ships, which was nice and friendly.

Cruise ships in Nassau M Bell

And remember, as with Kirkwall, the folk from these liners were visiting a small group of small islands.

It was all a bit hectic, so he headed out along the coast, had a walk, then a seafood lunch in a bar.  No’ bad.

bar in Nassau Mike Bell

He crossed a bridge, to the, even smaller, Paradise Island, where he found this display in another bar  – it wasn’t all beer and skittles – he’d done a lot of serious work, too!  He took the photo, and explained to the bar-keep, that he lives on the island, where that whisky is distilled – as they say – a small world.

Bar in Nassau Highland Park M Bell

I asked if the islands are recovering from the hurricane which postponed the meeting, previously. He says the  island where he is, wasn’t hit too hard – still some debris on the beaches, but life wasn’t disrupted too much. It was farther north, that the real damage was done.   The people are recovering, and  re-building – what else is there to do?  It was the same in the north of Japan, when he went there to work with the people who are getting the fisheries going again.

I don’t like it when he goes to places with erratic weather patterns – or, as with Japan – a tendency to earthquakes!  It is all part of his job, though, and he does find much of interest, on his travels, including an awareness of just how very resilient and adaptable we humans can be, when we need to be.

And, people are people, everywhere you go – Mike noticed an unusual love token, in the form of a padlock on one of the small boats in the harbour….

love token padlock Nassau M Bell

When he goes away, he likes to bring something home – something associated with the place he’s visited.  I say the main thing to bring home, is himself, safe and sound,  but if he sees something that’s just right – he goes for it.  In this case, the pic. shows a sample of the shells which can be found on the beach where he was.  Aren’t they lovely?   He says they were too smelly to bring home, but he bought one from a fisherman, which had been cleaned up, and brought that home, instead.

shells Nassau M Bell

Though his free time was limited, he also visited the Museum of Slavery and Emancipation.

Museum of slavery and emancipation Nassau M Bell

I have written of the situation in the Caribbean, before –

The Museum of Slavery and Emancipation presented the line of succeeding inhabitants of the Bahamas, beginning with the series of indigenous peoples…..

museum of slavery and emancipation Nassau M Bell

The  European invaders/colonisers……

museum of slavery and emancipation M Bell

The enforced introduction of people there, to work a slaves, and how this led to the majority of the population, being, ultimately, of African origin……

museum of slavery and emancipation M Bell

A nation becomes aware of its possibilities….

museum of slavery and emancipation M Bell

And, in 1973……..INDEPENDENCE!!!!

museum of slavery and emancipation Nassau M Bell

There is also a reminder of the realities of today’s world, where slavery still exists, and people, are prepared to trade in …people………

museum of slavery and emancipation Nassau M Bell

The Museum also has exhibits about the folklore and customs of the Bahamas – this one could be another link with Orkney!

proverb Nassau M Bell

These remind me of torques – and were also seen as symbols of status and wealth…..

customs Nassau M Bell

Another aspect to this trip, which was of great interest to Mike, both as a biologist, and as an inhabitant of this beleaguered planet of ours, was this……………where he was staying, there were lots of insects, including some lovely butterflies – Mike couldn’t get photos of them, as they move too fast!  He was talking with one of his colleagues about the insect life, and this man, who is from Florida, said that there are very few insects there, now.   This is because the Zika virus, carried by mosquitoes, became a real problem. The official solution, was to spray, wholesale.  ‘Planes flying over, spraying, indiscriminately. This means that area are sprayed, to kill the mosquitoes, but the spray also kills the other insects, so – there are whole areas which are devoid of insect life.

This is seen as a public health issue, but – what about the public health issue of the people being sprayed?  And the other animals, too?

Thank goodness, there is now a worldwide awareness pf how desperately we need and rely on the bees, to pollinate our food plants. Presumably the bees fall foul of the spray too?  And so, what happens to the food plant pollinating?  And, what about other creatures, which feed on the insects? The man from Florida didn’t mention if there are also less birds – I wonder?

Increasingly, this appears to be the attitude in a lot of western nations.  Nature, whether in the form of disease, or accident, is not allowed to play a part – a sterile environment, and fences around everything – seems to be the answer.

In the West, we are tending more and more, to adopt a mind-set whereby we must dominate nature. I’m not saying we shouldn’t control or eradicate diseases, but – there must be some other way, than wholesale spraying, which wipes out all insects, with a knock-on effect on plant life, and, surely, could turn out to be as much a public health issue, as the diseases, themselves?  How long will it be, until someone is suing the Government, or the organisations which do the spraying, for illness due to the spraying?  Just some thoughts – prompted by Mike’s conversation with the man from Florida.

Even in our Internet World, talking  with people, discussion, is still a good way to share and spread information, and to make people aware of what is happening in nations other than their own.

It could seem to be a whole other world out there – we could feel grateful,  that it’s not so bad in Britain, and especially in  Orkney, where we can appear to be far from such madness.  But…it is all one world, and we are part of it.  It’s all part of the strange way we humans are dealing with the world around us, these days.

Nassau isn’t all beaches and colourful places, Mike also saw some of the dereliction there, and noticed, that nature finds a way………

Nassau M Bell

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2 replies »

  1. I wrote this to someone, then thought I’d add it – you’ll see why………..

    When Mike went to the Bahamas, I checked to make sure that his flight had gone, and, looking at the Heathrow departures, was shocked at how many planes fly out from that one airport. Take any time, let’s say 10.05, and there are just lists and lists of planes. Page after page. Madness. In fact, I thought the computer was playing up and showing the same page repeated – but it wasn’t.
    Some will be necessary, but, I find it hard to believe that so many, are. I suspect it’s a lot of people zooming about, making themselves feel important. That many, simply can’t all be necessary for the world to function. Of course, the world is starting to function less well, because of it.

    I checked for his flight arriving back in Heathrow, and it was the same story. We are home bods most of the time, and I wasn’t aware of just how crazy this air travel business had become.

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