In the Bahamas, there is a way of transport for those who want to slow down and enjoy the moment.
“It’s not about the destination but the journey”. This is a phrase most of us have heard thousands of times, but we rarely apply it in our daily lives. We are stuck in a period when not being connected to the outside world or automatizing our everyday tasks means missing out. Food and products are delivered within hours, trains, planes, and cars connect cities faster than ever, and the craving to be constantly active on social media somehow makes us lose our true human identity.
For some of us, not being connected all the time even means something is wrong, and we should report immediately when we can.
I visited the Bahamas with the assignment of informing me how to travel around the archipelago using mailboats – an easy task that would take me a few hours of research and another few of travelling by boat.
My first boat ride from the Bahamas’ capital, Nassau, to the nearby island of Eleuthera was scheduled to be six hours. But don’t worry. I downloaded several movies on Netflix, created a Spotify playlist, found a comfy place in the corner of the small passenger section, and took some sleeping pills to shorten the ride. Unfortunately, there was one last thing I forgot to consider: time in the Bahamas works differently.
Our 7 AM departure time was more like 11 AM, and the six-hour boat ride turned into nine to ten hours. My easy task didn’t look so easy anymore.
More than twelve hours later, I was begging to get out of that boat. I was also expecting to find a dozen other mailboat passengers frustrated by the delays, the lack of mobile signal, and probably even seasickness. However, everyone looked like they had just returned from a well-deserved holiday break.
A cruise for those who hate cruises
Anyone can travel around the Bahamas using the mailboat – just the logistics are not simple. With a few spaces for common passengers and unregular departure times, you will have to inform yourself property if you want to do it.
Finding the phone number of the mailboat captain, asking him when boats depart and hoping he lets you is very exhausting. Additionally, for some boat connections, you have to get the ticket in advance at some office in the middle of nowhere, and of course, you have to get ready for a long unreliable boat ride for almost the same price as a flight ticket. To be honest, who wants to be part of such torture?
I found interest in this journey after travelling some of the most exhausting routes worldwide. Travelling by mailboat around the Bahamas felt raw, adventurous, and unnatural. I wanted to boost my ego and be one of the few who said, “I’ve done it”, – even though my plan was to do it as quickly and simply as possible.
However, I was travelling wrongly to the Bahamas, and I had to wait for a Bahamian to explain why.
On my second boat ride, scheduled to be 10 hours, I met Archie Johnson, captain of the Bahamas Daybreak mailboat, and a man who exchanged a job as a bank manager to become a mailboat captain. “I was travelling for days with my family around the archipelago, and I wanted to be in the ocean the whole time, ” he told me.
On that boat with Archie, I also had the opportunity to spend some time with Kenwood Collie, a proud Bahamian who welcomed me with a smile and a long story of why Long Island is by far the best island in the Bahamas. He told me how he takes the mailboat several times per month and why he loves these long rides I complained so much about. “Being on the mailboat is like therapy. You just sit, listen to the ocean, and feel like a new man”.
Some Bahamian love to take the mailboat to reset their stress levels. They see the slow rides through the middle of the Caribbean as a way to spend time with other people and not start checking their phones or feeling in a hurry because something is going on.
Once you are on the boat, there is no way back. The internet connection goes away, problems are left on the land, and anyone can either be alone in calm or enjoy a conversation with the others who chose to stop time for a while like you.
For me, that second boat ride was more about my curiosity to learn about slow travel. I wanted to feel the calm and peace Bahamians have while being on these long mailboat rides and know more about the lives of these people who choose this form of transportation.
My second journey through the Bahamas by mailboat was still long. But come on! Therapy does not work on the first session, and I guess I will have to return several times and learn the art of slow travelling in the Bahamas.