Hi Betsi! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’d describe myself as a globetrotter, sailor, writer, speaker and
entrepreneur. I’ve been travelling for 35 years, and my wanderlust has taken me to 23 countries on five continents. Exploring new cultures, making new friends and experiencing adventures bring me joy.
So, where’s your happy place?
My happy place is anywhere in the Bahamas. I love the culture, the people, the islands and the beaches.
How often do you have the chance to go to the Bahamas?
Jim, my husband, and I are slow travellers, as our mode of travel is aboard our 47’ Leopard sailing catamaran, named Indigo. We live in Florida, so we end up on the islands of the Bahamas two, three or even four times a year. Our favourite time to visit is from late winter to late spring and also during the summer. We love visiting the outer islands, like Abacos, Eleuthera and the Exumas. It’s prime time for lobstering in the Bahamas, and there’s nothing better than eating a freshly caught, sweet, succulent Bahamian lobster—unless it’s a freshly caught conch!
How long have you been visiting the Bahamas?
We’ve been sailing around the Bahamas for the last ten years. But prior to 2014, we were never able to stay for more than a month due to work constraints. These days, thanks to satellite telephone, Skype, and email, we are semi-digital nomads. This allows us to sail for more extended periods of time. In 2015, we spent more than 16 weeks sailing through the Bahamas.
Visiting the Bahamas so many times has given us another advantage. We’ve been able to immerse ourselves in the culture. The history of the Bahamas and its people is so varied–from being a major player in the slave trade to piracy and the loyalists–it’s fascinating. We get the chance to learn more about the culture and history of the Bahamas each and every time we visit. Take, for example, Nassau, which has roots in piracy and slave trading. Compare that island to several towns throughout the Abacos, as well as some of the other outlying islands. They were all founded under difficult circumstances by Americans, who suffered for resisting the insurgents’ forced break with England. The Bahamas have been hugely important throughout history and have had many faces; slavery, piracy stronghold, bootlegging, logging, timber and sugarcane. Each of these have contributed to the vast and rich history of the islands.
It’s a fascinating place. What do you usually do while you’re there?
Getting to know the culture of the Bahamas is an important facet of my love for the place. Just as important, is being able to give back to the community. This is where my ‘mission mindset’ kicks in. Indigo is not only our home away from home, she is an integral part of allowing us to give back. We bring over supplies, ranging from school materials like books, paper, pencils and crayons to basic home supplies, such as sheets and pillows. So, as we sail from island to island, we have made contacts through the years and are able to bless a community in need with basic supplies.
We also spend a fair amount of our time relaxing, enjoying the sun and water. We can often be found exploring the myriad of little coves and canals that run through many of the islands. Of course, we visit as many beaches as we can! We also entertain on the boat. This is such a great chance to really get to know other people from different places around the world, as well as from different parts of the USA. We have friends that we have met through sailing, who live all over the world. Sailing has given us both an open door to travel and native tour guides in different countries.
All images are by Betsi
Have you noticed changes in the Bahamas since you first visited?
Absolutely! We have seen areas such as Freeport on Grand Bahama Island really flourish. It now has the thriving International Market, has seen exponential growth and is slowly becoming a more desirable place to visit. Nassau, which used to be an awful place to visit because of the dinginess and rampant crime has become a very hip, vibrant locale with some of the best restaurants in the Bahamas. I daresay, several of the restaurants we visited there were better than some of the best places we’ve tried in the States. It’s a foodie’s paradise.
Can you describe the Bahamas in one sentence for us?
It’s a magical place with a unique history and varied cultural influences.
You can follow Betsi’s adventures on her blog or on Twitter.