A story written by Jakemond… If you missed part Forty One, read it HERE
As soon as we got out of the airport, we hailed a taxi and headed off to Cable Beach. The first bit of trouble was something I hadn’t anticipated. I did not speak Bahamian English, and when we arrived at the guesthouse, I could barely understand the lady who welcomed us. Nonetheless, we managed to get a room for two days. The plan was to stay there until I could reconnect with my family and get my Bahamian passport. After we settled in, I told Maria Joana that I had to go into town and see my folks. In reality, I was going to study the town, learn where different places were, see if it was possible to convince some people to play the role of my family members, and find out how to get a Bahamian passport.
I walked all over the city and even went to the adjacent island, Paradise Island, which had some of the most beautiful hotels. I talked to many people, trying to get a feel for how things were done in the Bahamas. My quest for a passport would have been more possible to accomplish if it had been in an African country, especially Nigeria, where everything goes. In Nigeria, if you had the money, you could not only get a passport, but also a whole family to play the role of your family. However, the more I tried, the clearer it became that I would not be able to pull this off here. Though the Bahamas was a predominantly black country, its culture was more Western. Things were more organized and the rule of law prevailed. Even though some corruption and fraudulent activities might have existed, they were not obvious to me. I didn’t have much time, and that made the situation worse. In the past, I had been able to pull off the most impossible schemes in the shortest periods of time, but that wouldn’t be the case in the Bahamas.
By evening I was exhausted, so I gave up and headed back to the guesthouse. On my way back, I decided to come clean with Maria Joana, but I had to find the right moment and do it in the least humiliating way. First, we went out to enjoy ourselves. We ate at a restaurant that I had discovered in the afternoon, and after that, we explored the nightlife in Nassau.
When we returned to the guesthouse, I decided it was the right time to tell her the truth. She went to take a shower, and I sat on the bed and started crying like a baby. When she came out, she asked why I was crying. After some hesitation, I started by telling her how I didn’t deserve her at all, that I had betrayed her trust in me. I said I hadn’t been entirely honest with her all this time, and that I would understand if she didn’t want to talk to me or see me ever again. She said she didn’t understand and asked what I was talking about. I continued to cry, and she came close and sat by my side, holding me in her arms. I confessed that I wasn’t Bahamian, and that I didn’t know anybody in the Bahamas—in fact, I was a Nigerian, and I had traveled from Nigeria to Liberia and had finally ended up in Spain. I explained that I had no choice but to claim refugee status so I could live in Spain.
I expected her to explode, but to my surprise, she calmly told me that she already knew. She said she had always known I wasn’t Bahamian and had suspected that I was actually a Nigerian, but since I kept insisting I was Bahamian, she had seen no reason to argue.
I was so relieved. I wished I had told her the truth all along, especially since it had clearly never mattered to her. The whole scheme had taken a toll on me. It was never easy having to live a lie—having to keep track of all the lies, and having to make up new ones to go with the ones already told.
With that matter settled, things became somewhat normal again between us. Still, I had a feeling that even though she wasn’t showing it, she was deeply hurt by my lies. Therefore, I thought it best not to return with her to Spain. When I told her, she didn’t seem to have any objection. We decided to enjoy and make the most of our vacation, and not allow my situation to ruin the trip. We switched to tourist mode. After a tour of Nassau, we went to Paradise Island and spent the rest of the day at beach. We tried the Bahamian delicacies, rice and peas, and the famous conch (pronounced “conk” in Bahamian English).
After two days in Nassau, we flew to the Grand Bahamas, another beautiful island. The Bahamas has seven hundred islands, most of which are not inhabited. The noticeable difference between the Grand Bahamas and the other Bahamian islands is that the people in the Grand Bahamas are mostly white. The demographic makeup of the Bahamas is eighty-five percent black, twelve percent white, and three percent Asian/Hispanic. From the Grand Bahamas, we flew to Governor’s Harbor, where we spent the night. After that, we returned to Nassau. We decided not to spend the next leg of the vacation in the Bahamas; we would continue on to Jamaica.
We sailed through immigration at the airport in Kingston, Jamaica. Milling just outside the arrival hall were some Jamaican big mamas who then teased me loudly, saying they wanted “a little piece of this brother man.” Their carefree attitude was a breath of fresh air–everybody was nice and friendly, and the people seemed happy and vibrant. There were plenty of cabs waiting at the airport wanting to give the “brother man” and his lady a ride to wherever they wanted to go. We chose a cab and asked the driver to recommend a cheap place where we could spend the night. One has to be careful what one wishes for; the cab driver took us to a ghetto-like neighborhood, and since it was late, we had no choice but to stay at the hotel he took us to.
The next day, we went on a tour of Kingston that included all the important places, including the Bob Marley Museum. However, we were both unimpressed with Kingston and didn’t want to spend another night there. But we did obtain some good information from a tourism information center and were intrigued by Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
The next day, we left the hotel and took one of the bush taxis to Ocho Rios. After hours of driving through winding roads and around mountains with spectacular views, we checked into one of the hotels that provided breakfast and dinner. Ocho Rios was everything the book said it was: beautiful and touristic without losing its Jamaican flavor. There were many foreigners and sweet-talking Jamaicans wanting to sell us one thing or the other. The Jamaicans were smooth and reminded me of Nigerians, Igbos in particular. We settled in at the hotel, grabbed some food, and started exploring the city. It was challenging walking around because there was always somebody looking to be our tour guide. We finally hired one of them, and he showed us around and took us to an outdoor market. I was surprised to find stalls at the market where people openly sold different species of marijuana. It reminded me of afro-beat king Fela Ankulapo Kuti’s Kalakuta Republic, a place in Lagos founded by Fela where everyone from ordinary citizens to diplomats can go and enjoy not only Fela’s afro-beat music, but also freely smoke marijuana.
As we toured the market, I noticed that Maria Joana and our tour guide seemed to really be enjoying their conversation. At some point while we were at the marijuana section, I left them both to buy something elsewhere. Then we continued our sightseeing and returned to our hotel. Maria Joana said that she wanted to rest a bit, and I decided to go and hang out with other tourists. When I returned to the room later, I got the shock of my life. In bed, under the sheets, was Maria Joana. The lights were turned off and she was laughing uncontrollably. I was confused and couldn’t tell if she was alone or with someone. I immediately turned on the light and found her alone. I asked her what was going on and, looking at her closely, I noticed that her eyes were red and glassy. She kept laughing and wouldn’t respond to me. Then I smelled the marijuana. Apparently, after I had left the room, she had indulged in some weed. I investigated a little and found some wraps of marijuana lying around. I realized then that our tour guide must have helped her buy some at the market when I had left them alone.
The whole incident, though irritating, was also funny. The weed must have been very strong because she laughed the entire night. At some point I became concerned, but given my own experience, I knew she could come out of it. I made her drink some milk and raw eggs. The next morning, she was okay and told me exactly what had happened. Indeed, our tour guide had convinced her to try some weed and had helped her buy some.
To Be Continued…