Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bahama Mama

My family has always loved the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Our first visit there was back in 1995, and we've been back practically every chance we've gotten since then. It's one of those places that has everything you could possibly want to do, all in one location, so everyone is happy. It's big enough that we can go our separate ways, but still one hotel, so technically we've been together the whole vacation. Plus, it is about as commercial and touristy as a place can get; this satisfies our family in that we are not especially a group that seeks out settings which can be described as relaxing, tranquil, or serene. If we want to commune with nature, Atlantis has an aquarium.

When we arrived last Thursday, my dad told the front desk he is a frequent guest and he wanted an upgrade. Imagine my shock and awe when they did just that--to what they call the Imperial Club level, to a junior suite with views of the ocean and the harbor, right beside the huge bridge suite where all the celebrities stay. We didn't have to use the regular people elevators (commoners!), and they cleaned our room so often I found myself trying to make a mess but having no luck (and for an OCD-stricken person, that is quite a feat). This whole situation was particularly impressive because two years ago, I asked for an upgrade, and Atlantis gave me a free rum cake. And at the time, I was ecstatic. Now, after the Imperial Club situation, I am realizing how cheaply I was bought. Allow me to illustrate:

See how happy my hubby is with that little cake? Bless our hearts. Anyway, once we settled into our fantastically upgraded accommodations, we proceeded to take the Bahamas by storm. Our first day, we got all adventurous and signed up for a Segway tour of the waterfront and the fish fry area in Nassau. Now, Clint and I rode Segways last year here in Charlotte, and the most daunting thing we had to navigate was steering around fire hydrants and bankers on their lunch breaks. Imagine our surprise when we started our orientation in knee and elbow pads, and there were orange cones, ramps, and speed bumps to negotiate.

Any worries I had about my parents enjoying the Segways went away immediately; they took to it like a fish to water. As it turns out, it was Clint who got a little overzealous and wound up falling off his Segway, the image of which still makes me laugh out loud. All that got hurt was his pride, so once he was upright again, we zoomed on. We ended our tour at the slalom obstacle course where we raced head-to-head with other members of our group to see who had mastered the Segway best. The other family on our tour was Canadian, and I do not think it an exaggeration to say that the USA dominated that obstacle course. Way to go, 'merica. 
We did a little shopping at the straw market, enjoyed eating at some of our favorite places (okay, based on the six pounds I gained in five days, really enjoyed eating), and spent some quality time by the pool and on the water slides. Since we cannot pass up any type of gimmick or tourist trap, naturally we were drawn to a gentleman on the beach calling himself Dr. Feelgood, selling drinks in real coconut shells. So what if it turned out to be spiced rum and Gatorade? It came in a coconut shell, people. You can't get that here in Charlotte--because if you could, I would force Clint to go with me to wherever such a place exists at least once a week month. Besides, everything's better in the Bahamas. Even the Gatorade.

It wasn't all rest and relaxation down by the pool, however. Some good sun-loving soul had managed to lose their hair piece right on the sidewalk by the Mayan Temple pool. And while it's all fun and games until someone loses their 'do, I have to say that watching people's reactions to this busted up weave provided us with an entire afternoon of entertainment. I think it could be described best as a mix of disbelief and disgust, with a healthy dose of hilarity thrown in the mix. A few other people took souvenir photos of it as well, so I know we were not alone in our appreciation of such lovely locks. I am offering a cash reward for the back story on how this follicular folly came to be, so if anyone can find out exactly how it happened, do tell. I picture some chick arriving at her lounge chair with Rapunzel-like finesse, only to find that after a day of what Atlantis calls "Aquaventure," she returned to her room with a bedraggled bob instead. Talk about your hair raising experiences. Whatever the case, thank you, thank you for sharing.

I told you we ate plenty of good food (six pounds worth, but who's counting?), but now I want to tell you about The Best Food. This food can make the blind see and the lame walk. It will change your life. Okay, maybe not, but it will make you forget about all of that while you're eating, so bon appetite. Our last dinner of vacation was at chef Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. I won't make your stomach growl with all of the delicious details, but let me tell you that it did involve goat cheese queso fundido, shrimp the size of lobster tails, and a sticky toffee pudding that I'm pretty sure they serve in heaven on the days you've been exceptionally good. We have been lucky enough to eat at Mesa a few times, and it never disappoints. It's worth the feeling that your Spanx are giving you a collapsed lung, because you will waddle happily away from the table feeling full and fine. 

The guys had run out of luck (and spending money) at the casino, my mom was head-to-toe renewed from a day at the spa, and yours truly had already filled in my tropical drink bingo card more than once, so it was time to say good-bye. Storms along the east coast were causing flight delays all over the place, but we got lucky and Clint finagled us on an earlier flight instead of waiting around hours for our originally scheduled programming to finally get off the ground. We made it back to Charlotte earlier than we had planned, and ended our trip safe, sound, and sane. And with a family vacation, what more can you ask?

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