Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Shoal



Wednesday night, after the snorkeling, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal out. We had been doing a lot of eating in the executive lounge and the cheap-o Imperial Cafeteria across the street from the hotel (perhaps worth of a separate entry). So we decided it was reasonable to spend a few bucks on something fancier. I looked through the guidebooks and came up with The Shoal Restaurant & Lounge. Somewhere I probably lost the "fancier" idea...

We went downstairs and got a taxi. When we got in, the driver asked where we wanted to go. Forgetting slightly, I asked to be taken to "Shoal's." This request confused him to no end. He kept asking the bellman at the hotel if he had ever heard of this restaurant. Finally, we checked the guidebook and mentioned that the restaurant was a few miles up Nassau Street. A light bulb appeared over his head and said, "Oh, you want to go to The Shoal. Not Souls." He kept repeating that the name of the restaurant was not "Souls" -- I guess my accent threw him.

Anyway, he was delighted that we wanted to get out of downtown to a non-touristy restaurant. After we established that the fare would be $10 (approximately what I figured it should be if metered -- but no taxi driver ever turned the meter on for us), he started giving us a tour of the "Over The Hill" neighborhood. Several guidebooks had warned us against this neighborhood, and our driver in fact referred to it as the "ghetto". Christina remarked that it was the nicest ghetto she'd ever seen. There are places near our house (that I'd feel comfortable driving to) that aren't as nice as this neighborhood.

When we got to the restaurant, the driver gave us his card and said to call him when we needed a ride back. I tried to pay him the fare, but he said we could just pay him on the way back. That was remarkably friendly and trusting and set a good tone for the evening.

At the restaurant, we had what was probably the best meal of the trip. After having a salad (me) or soup (Christina), we enjoyed some delicious grouper (me) or snapper (Christina). We finished off with way too much guava duff, which we couldn't finish. During the meal, the manager (the owner?) kept coming over and giving us information about the Bahamas. He explained, for example, that Bahamians have the same last names as Americans because they are largely are descended from Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution...and their slaves. He further expressed optimism that things were only going to get better in the coming months, because they were due to replace the government in an election. I'll watch for the results with some interest.

Once our meal was over, our driver was waiting for us. He took the pictures displayed in this entry, in fact. On our drive back to the hotel, he explained that he normally doesn't work this late, so he went across the street to a bar and had a beer. (As Christina pointed out, at least he said '''a''' beer.) Thus ended our one venture into a local neighborhood and one of the high points of our trip.

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