Bahamas - Evacuating Hurricane Irma
Well, this has certainly been a whirlwind of a week (pun intended).
Lets start at the airport. We arrive at Miami International Airport after a hell of a traffic jam with about an hour before our flight departs. We are flying with Bahamas Air (please fly with these lovely people at least once in your life, they are truly a treat) only to find out at the check in counter that in order to be allowed entry into the Bahamas, we need to have proof we are leaving the country at some point ( i.e. a flight, ferry, etc. out). This is your first tip.
After sprinting to the closest wifi location, purchasing the first flights out we can find (to Cuba), we get back to the check in counter, show the nice lady our flights out, and board our plane with minutes to spare. We would later find out that we purchased flights from MIAMI to Cuba, not Bahamas. In addition, they didn't ask us for any sort of proof that we were leaving once we landed. But nonetheless it was a lesson learned. Check the visa or entry/exit requirements prior to purchasing flights.
Now, Bahamas. This place is incredible. And it's just not about the amazing white sand beaches or clear blue water. It's the people. We arrived around 11PM to a guy named Justin that we reached out to on Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a massive worldwide network that connects travellers with locals that have a spare couch for you to stay on. It's not about catching free rides, it's about meeting real locals that are genuinely interested in being hospitable and showing you around their town, country, district, etc. Justin picked all 5 of us up from the airport, crammed us and our massive bags into his car, drove us around the city a bit, and dropped us off at our hotel. Justin is a professor at the local university and he was incredibly accommodating. I STRONGLY recommend to any travellers, whether you're on a budget or not, TRY COUCHSURFING. You will come away with experiences you'd never get staying in hotels, air bnb's, or even hostels.
We stayed in an incredible hotel called The Island House, a 2-year-old 5 star hotel roughly 10 minutes from the airport. This place has everything you could ever need; Massive rooms with king size beds, free-standing tubs and rainfall showers, full gym's with ACTUAL weights, squash courts, yoga rooms, spa's, theatres, pools, restaurants - you name it, they have it. And the staff were super accommodating. If you have a little extra money to spend and wanna live like a king for a day or two, check this place out. Ask for Anja and tell her Alex from Global Degree sent you.
Our activities in Bahamas were spectacular. We were shown around the city by Bahamian Hospitality, where we rolled cigars and made conch salad, then went snorkelling at Clifton Park to the worlds largest underwater sculpture, and hung out by the beaches downtown.
And then things got serious.
We were told when we arrived in Nassau about a potential hurricane forming just south of the Leeward Islands called hurricane Irma. By now, you are probably very well aware of it. At the time of writing it has just devastated many parts of Florida. At first, it was a potential scary situation that could be sat through and waited out. As the days went on however, it ended up turning into the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the history of the Atlantic Basin. This thing was no joke. We saw the damage it did to Antigua, Barbuda, and The British Virgin Islands, and with thousands of dollars of camera equipment on board and a business to run, we had to make the tough decision of evacuating. 5 cancelled flights later, we found ourselves on the very last flight out of Nassau to Miami, with an overnight layover and a flight out of Fort Lauderdale the following day. We actually turned to Couchsurfing again and wound up going from the nicest hotel I have ever been at in my entire life, The Island House, to an actual trailer park in Miami. It was a somber scene as the owners and tenants of the trailer were preparing for the trailer to be blown away completely by the hurricane.
We woke up the following day, waited out the morning, and made our way to Fort Lauderdale for a flight that left a mere 3 hours before the airport closed for the hurricane.
Currently, we're in Cancun, Mexico, where we have just purchased our next flights to Cuba to try to get back on schedule. Can't wait to share some photos with you and keep you updated.
Stay tuned to my Instagram for more.