January 7, 2007
Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas made up of over 700 islands and cays, beginning just 50 miles from Palm Beach, Florida. Nassau itself is just 150 miles from the Florida coast just south of Cuba. The Bahamas are comprised of a total land area of 5,358 square miles surrounded by 100,000 square miles of water. Nassau itself is only 21 miles long and 7 miles wide.
Of the 350,000 people who comprise the total population of the Bahamas, 200,000 people live in Nassau and is one of the smaller islands. When Christopher Columbus landed in 1492, some of the Bahamas were inhabited by Lucayan Indians. The Spaniards abandoned plans to stay when they discovered there was no gold on the islands. About 150 years later English Puritans came to the islands from Bermuda seeking a new way of life.
For many years, pirates and swashbucklers dominated the waters with Blackbeard among those of greatest notoriety. In 1717 Captain Woodes Rogers, once a pirate himself, was enlisted as governor and initiated a clean-up offering full amnesty to all pirates who lowered their flags. Those that refused were destroyed.
Over the course of the next 200 years Nassau prospered and fell many times. In the late 1800's Henry Flagler came to the Bahamas with the money and power needed to build the island into a major resort town. With the advent of World War I travel in the Atlantic was stopped and Nassau suffered economic devastation.
Prohibition in the U.S. afforded the islands some unusual luck. The first casino opened in 1929 and Pan Am began service to Nassau from Miami, bringing wealthy American tourists to the island. Today it is a playground for vacationers from around the world.
We arrived at Nassau at 7:00 am and booked a garden / city tour. The city tour wasn't much to write home about. In the photo above you can see some of the Christmas decorations that are still hanging from a light pole. The pink colored building in the background is the most common color for building in the city.
One of the stops is an old fort atop a hill in the midst of the city. It was never used for battle although that was the original intent for its construction.
Looking over the parapet wall we can see a portion of the city. The photo on the right is one of the many tourist traps that abound.
The gardens that we were expecting to see turned out to be a zoo. We were greeted by the parrot and the sleeping pig as we entered.
As we walked along the path the head of a black swam poked above the wall. The last time we saw black swans was when we were in Australia.
Almost all of the animals were caged. I think the cat above is a member of the lynx family.
We arrived in time to see the flamingo show. The birds in the photos that follow have been trained to march military fashion by their trainer. He has been training the flamingos for over 30 years. Flamingos can live to an age of 40 years.
Notice how they march according to his commands?
Lynn was invited, with some other guests, to join in the show. Although it isn't evident, in the left photo the flamingos are just milling about around him. When he stood on one foot and opened his arms the birds immediately rushed to flock around him as a part of their training.
When the show was done they paraded around the show yard and made their way to their favorite swimming hole.
We departed from Nassau at 1:00 pm. The little boat above is the there to retrieve the pilot that had been assigned to direct the captain through the narrow channel from the sea to the island.
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