Street Walk In Hope Town

This blog post is primarily for me, and my father, it may not be very interesting to other people.

When I was about 9 years old, my mother, father, sister, me, and my family’s friends began taking vacations in Hope Town.  This was 1978.  The town that we lived in on the coast in Florida was not over-developed, or over-commercialized at this time, but Hope Town was even much less developed and much less commercialized.

In 1978, the Bahamas had only been granted independence from Great Britain for six years.  In Hope Town, there were only slightly more American tourists than British tourists and German tourists.  The majority of the property owners were Bahamian or British.

Everyone had British accents, you drove on the left hand side of the road, the currency that was used in the stores was Bahamian, Canadian, U.S., and some German.  There was only one constable in the entire town, he did not possess a firearm, and he rarely left his house.  In the town, you could not drive a motor vehicle, you could only walk or ride a bicycle.

My family, and my family’s friends, enjoyed the simplicity, the quiet, the peace, the slow laid back lifestyle.  Hardly any home had a telephone, or a television.  All of the stores and shops closed from about 12 noon until 1:30 p.m. so that everyone could walk home, eat, and take a nap.

The wonderful thing about Hope Town, was that it was so completely different than the United States.  Everyone had to walk or ride a bicycle to get where they were going.  There were no fast food restaurants, convenience stores, or any kind of American franchises.  The shops were like what you would find in a small village in Europe.

In about 1980, my parents and their best friends bought a home overlooking the harbor in Hope Town.  The main floor of this house was the second floor, and you had a complete view of the entire harbor.  It was about 100′ to the waters edge of the harbor, and about 500′ to the beach on the ocean.

My favorite things were fishing from the dock in front of the house, snorkeling in the ocean, riding my bicycle, and sitting at the dining room table eating fried grouper fingers or conch fritters while watching the boats in the harbor and the people walking to and from town.

For all of us, we loved walking down the narrow old streets, with the cooling breeze from the ocean, rustling and bringing the smell from every kind of exotic tropical plant: coconut palms, bread fruit trees, date trees, sea grapes, and hibiscus flowers.  For us, and everyone that we knew, this was all that we wanted from this small town, to walk to the small village shops just as they were, to go to the beach and take long walks or swim, to fish, to ride bicycles on longer excursions, to eat and drink.  We didn’t want anything to change.

Living in Florida, we could tell from the development that was occurring in Florida, the ruining of life as we knew it where we lived, it was only a matter of time before Hope Town was ruined.  The only thing that protected it, was that it was so hard to get to.  Only small planes could land at Marsh Harbor airport, and then you had to take a water taxi about twenty miles to get to Hope Town.

My parents and their friends sold the house in Hope Town in about 1993, after owning it for about 13 years.  I was having a very difficult time at the University of Florida trying to graduate, my sister was having a difficult time in her marriage and graduate school, so neither of us gave much thought to the house being sold at that time.  It was like everyone had had enough of it, and all of us figured that we were going to move on to other things.

As life turned out to be shitty for me and my sister, I know that each of us missed going to the house in Hope Town more and more.  My sister received two masters degrees, but made very little money in Washington D.C., and I know that it killed her to have to commute in heavy traffic on congested icy roads, and live in crowded dingy poor apartments.  I hated living in Tampa, stuck in traffic for two hours each day, so I moved to the western U.S., just to get the fuck away from people.

Through my thirties, it was really too painful for me to even think about how happy I had once been, compared to how things turned out to be as an adult.  It wasn’t until I was in my forties, that I was ready to just briefly look at photographs on the internet of Hope Town.

This past year or two, several times I have looked on the internet to see photographs of Hope Town, expecting it to be exactly like I remembered.  It got commercialized, to suit the interest of people who could not stand to go somewhere that was simple and rustic.  I have had a hard time finding photographs or video that show the town as being simple, everyone tries to make it look glamorous.

Finally, I found a video of the Hope Town Harbor Lodge, which has been ruined, but later in the video, they show what it is like to walk towards town.  I cropped this video, hoping that my father never sees what they have done to the Hope Town Harbor Lodge, and begin with the walk towards town.

He should remember this walk, which he has taken hundreds of times, especially right at the painted white benches under a gazebo which was just up the hill from our house, then the view from this park looking down hill past the back of our house, and then, right at the 4:45 mark on this video, the hideous porch partition wall with the dolphin, that is our house:

Coincidentally, at the 6:00 mark on this video, I think that this motor sailor yacht might even be the one that I wrote about in my blog post titled, “Tales Of Womanising”, that was owned by Pat, I believe that it is.

 

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