7 Facts about: The Bahamas

Sandyport Beach, circa 2010

Things you may or may not have known about the archipelago that is know as the Bahamas.

lucayans7. Lucayans (Indians who are believed to have migrated from South America) ruled the Bahamas for several hundred years before Columbus arrived in 1492. When he did arrive, he abducted and enslaved all the Lucayans to work and they died in the gold mines of Cuba, or diving for pearls in shark-infested waters. Spain had little interest in the islands, which had no precious metals or stones.

6. On October 12, 1492 Christopher Columbus (in search of China) changed the world when he dropped anchor on the island known as San Salvador (Holy Savior). The island was claimed for the King and Queen, Ferdinand and Isabel.

5. On July 10, 1973, the Bahamas became a sovereign nation, being previously under British rule.

4. Its government is based on the Westminster model– including Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, a 2 chamber Parliament and an appointed Governor General, representing the symbolic head of state.

3. The archipelago (cluster of islands) consist of 700 islands, most are which uninhabited.

2. One of the local delicacies, known as the “snail of the sea” is conch. Conch is the firm white meat of a mollusk, and cooked any way you want it. It comes in conch fritters, conch chowder, conch salad, conch burgers, and even cracked conch. (Source)

1. Tourism is the driving force of the economy in the Bahamas. The tourism sector is worth an estimated $2.3 billion. A new resort mega resort, Baha Mar, is scheduled to open in December 2014.

The-Bahamas-FlagEXTRA FUN FACT: The Bahamian tri-color flag: black stands for a unified people, gold is for the natural resources of the land and aquamarine is for the country’s ocean water.

7 Facts about: The Bahamas

Hispanic Heritage Month: The African Contribution

At 28 years old, I’m still learning about my history as a proud Afro-Costa Rican!

Los Afro-Latinos

by Kim Haas

One of my greatest pleasures is the study of Afro-Latino culture. In September, I had a wonderful opportunity to write about the African contribution to Hispanic Heritage for one of the oldest black newspapers in the United States, New York Amsterdam News. The newspaper, which was founded on a $10 investment more than a century ago, has a distinguished history of being at the forefront of covering major issues and events involving people of African descent.

What an honor to share the article with you!

Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, offers an opportunity to illuminate what is too often overlooked—the African influence and tradition in Hispanic culture. Today, approximately 150 million Latin Americans have some African ancestry.

For more than 500 years, Africans and their descendents richly contributed to the fabric of Latin American society. During the Middle Passage, an estimated 12 million enslaved…

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Hispanic Heritage Month: The African Contribution

It Gets Real in Mont Real

Enter, if you dare...

The picture above is just one of the very charming places we visited during our too-short weekend in Montreal, Canada or Mont Real as I now affectionately call it.

This post is a little overdue, not because Montreal is not worth writing about, but because I’ve been so overwhelmed with my mid-semester responsibilities. But, here we are, another place to add to the list and that I will definitely return to!

Mont Real, is a nice {re}treat if you enjoy culture, food, nightlife, sightseeing and French culture. According to WikiTravel, Montreal is unique in that its maintained its Francophone culture; it’s the second-largest city (behind Paris) that has French as it’s official language. That means that most people function in French both at work and at home, and living one hour away from this great city it took me a little while to feel like I was really in another country since I didn’t have to travel long on a plane to be surrounded by all the sexy-sounding words coming out of people’s mouths.

Don’t be dismayed if French is not your forte, most people any way involved in the tourism business (hotels, restaurants, shops) have bilingual staff, and for that we were grateful. Also, according to Wikipedia 56% of the population is able to speak both English and French. It was still nice to practice the little French I was responsible for in HS (which is none, because I cheated and took Spanish as my foreign language). I did carry a trusty little phrase book that taught me a new favorite request, L’addition, s’il vous plaît, (the bill please) and by the time we left I was saying this to anyone and anybody who would listen.

We ventured up North during an unexpected heat wave that hit the first week in October, and what a beautiful way to be greeted! Mont Real is a multi-lingual, hip, bright city full of natives, immigrants, and transplants. It was nice seeing a population that reminded me very much of the blends in New York City. The Metro system was easy to navigate, although not 24 hours like the Big Apple (NYC).

What We ATE

  • French Cuisine at Les Deux Gamins 
  • Dessert: Ice cream on Prince Arthur East

  • Thai Food at Thai Grill Mile-End, Montreal 
Crab cakes, Mmm...
  • Homemade Crepes
I get very touchy around food...

  • Foie Gras (French Delicacy)- If you missed that episode, catch up here. Or just watch the video

What We SAW

  • Olympic Stadium
  • Protest against Olympic Stadium
  • Colonial and Stately looking buildings
  • Leaning Tower

  • Chinatown
Every major City has some Gatekeepers...
  • Old Montreal

  • Convenient & Easy Bike Rentals (known as the BIXI system)
Look Mommy, I can read a map!

  • Directing our French-speaking cabbie back to our B&B
  • Finding and AMAZING Bread and Breakfast (A La Carte B&B). The only downside is that it was about a $20 cab ride away from Downtown. But the place was beautifully renovated and warm! (They have 2 suites and an apartment on the second floor, we got the opportunity to stay at both) Pictures courtesy of the website.
Juilliard Suite
Kitchen of apt
  • Metro System

What YOU should know (as an American tourist):
If you’re coming from the States, exchange rates FLUCTUATE daily. Know your stuff, download an APP on your Iphone or check the internet (or the front desk) before you leave the hotel and be assertive! During our 3-day stay, there was never more than a difference of .03 and .04 cents between the Canadian and American dollar but that didn’t stop vendors from trying to get over!

You don’t necessarily have to exchange ALL your American cash, most restaurants we went to accepted both currencies, but do be careful of their ‘in-house’ exchange rate. Don’t get got!

When you rent bikes with the BIXI, they do charge a $200 (deposit) on your card/per bike. If you bypassed or skimmed the ‘rental agreement’ at the machine, you might be shocked to check your statement hours later. They do refund the money within 7 days of the rental.

Have you ever been to Montreal? If not, is it on your Bucket List?

Until the next adventure,

It Gets Real in Mont Real