December 20, 2010.
Let’s talk about the crap shoot, that is, Bahamanian Immigration. There’s just no rhyme or reason to it. When you check into the country the boat can automatically stay for a year. The people on board, well, that’s something completely different.
It’s entirely up to the “whim” of the individual Immigration officer. It’s a huge pain in the ass if you’re only granted 90 days or less if you want to spend a lot of time way out of the way in some remote place like the southern Jumentos.
We were granted only 90 days and that means we’ll have to travel to the nearest Port of Entry to renew our cruising permit on March 16th. That means we’ll have to travel a day north, a day east and then a day west to arrive in Georgetown to renew our permit. What are the chances that the wind and weather in general will cooperate for us in the correct order to allow us to accomplish this? Slim. This simple 3 day trip could take us 2 weeks or more, oh yeah and it’s right in prime lobster season. Bitches.
So deciding where to check in is something not to be taken lightly. The last 2 years in Lucaya we were granted 94 and 90 days respectively. Screw Lucaya. We’ve never heard of anybody getting less than 180 days in Morgans Bluff, so Morgans Bluff it was.
You dinghy into the local pub and someone will call Customs and Immigration out at the airport and they’ll head out to see you. The woman from Customs showed up in less than 30 minutes and was professional and personable as she took care of us and our 3 compadres. The Immigration experience was a little different.
That woman showed up after 3 hours and the first thing out of her mouth before even looking at any paperwork was “Everybody’s getting 90 days and that’s that”. Bitch. She went on to explain that it wasn’t her fault, that it was a new policy and that her hands were tied. My ass. I wondered, if her hands were tied then how has she been eating those 5 square meals a day that she’s obviously been packing away. Overweight Bitch.
Since we had weather coming and the main office for Immigration is in Nassau why not travel the 35 miles over there and see WTF? So the next day we traveled to Nassau, pounding into 15 knots of wind and associated seas and found that the office was closed until Monday at 0900.
When we finally did get in to plead our case, Bob of the Savages talked his way in to see the wizard. He tried to explain what a pain in the ass this random immigration policy was and how it made it so difficult for tourists (us) to see the remote areas of the Bahamas. The woman he dealt with assured him that she was the top dog, the grand pubah, the boss of bosses but that there was nothing that she could/would do. Useless bitch with a throne.
I’m sorry, I’m confused. In these difficult economic times, has the Bahamian government decided that they don’t need or want the cruisers dollars? The cruisers come here and spend money, we come here and give, what do we take? We pay insanely crazy prices for fuel and food. We eat out at their restaurants where you can get your food fried, fried or fried. We are not some of the cruisers who make a beeline to Georgetown, Exumas and sit there for 5 months, though certainly they spend tons of money there. We like to visit all the islands, from the Abacos all the way down to the Ragged Islands. We support all the little settlements, attending all their fund raising events for the schools, churches and whatever other event there is. We support all the little businesses along the way. I wonder what the percentage of income from the cruisers, fisherman and Mega Yachts is for say, McDuffs on Norman’s Cay, Highborne Cay YC, Exumas Land & Sea Park, Compass Cay & Sampson Cay Marinas, Staniel Cay YC, Emerald Bay, All of Georgetown, Island Breezes of Long Island, just to mention a few. Then there all the little people, Lorraine and her “Mom”, who have small businesses which cater to the cruisers. Trifina in Long Island depends totally on the cruiser’s to support her for the year. I wonder how Maxine in Duncantown, Ragged Island feels about the cruisers not being allowed to stay in the Bahamas long enough to visit her and support her tiny store. We bring school supplies, seeds for gardening, eyeglasses and lures for the fisherman. Yet, we can not stay as long as we would like.
So we were forced to leave with our 90 day permits but not before I was able to extract a tiny bit of personal revenge. Of the 8 of us, Di on Far Niente and Judy from My Destiny kind of have a resemblance. They’re both about the same age and have cute smiles, are quick to laugh and a twinkle in their eye. An immigration officer was walking through the waiting room and looked at them and said “sisters?”. They smiled and said “no” but I jumped in and said “Mother and daughter, can you tell which ones which?”. The woman all of a sudden got that deer in the headlights look, mumbled “mother and daughter?”, refused to guess and backed into an office and disappeared.
Fight the power.