Monday, 15 March 2004

Swimming with Sharks


I know that they are out there.

I've been thinking about them almost constantly for the past few weeks. Whether I'm walking the streets of Downtown Nassau, or lying on my bed in my hotel room, they are always in my thoughts. And when I sleep, they even find their way into my dreams, slipping in and out of my consciousness like guilty thoughts.

When I look at the waters that surround these islands, I can almost feel them...out there, just below the surface, waiting for me, my destiny. And now it's time for us to meet...

This coming Thursday I go swimming with sharks.

It's the reason I came here, to the Bahamas, and though I don't feel nervous yet, on Thursday afternoon when I board that boat and sail a few miles out to sea and ease myself into that crystal clear water and the multitude of fins come ever closer, that's when I'll start to feel, well, more than a little nervous.

And if the sharks don't kill me, then American Airlines might.

I hate flying, more than I can say, yet these 3 weeks have included ten flights crossing numerous oceans, cities and time zones, flying with the terrorists' favourite airline.

Actually, it's not so much the flying that frightens me - more the crashing, the burning and the being smashed up into a million little pieces. (Three flights down, seven to go).

Then there's the helicopter ride around New York City to worry about. I arrive in New York on March 23rd after spending 3 days in Miami. I'll be an Englishman walking the streets of the Bronx wearing a Versace jacket which says: "Mug me, I have no fashion sense."

Then there's always crime-ridden Miami to worry about and four days I'll be spending in Michigan - perhaps I'll be shot dead by Robocop when I fly into Detroit...

And if this all doesn't kill me, I'm also having a go at paragliding, which involves being attached to a parachute-type-thingy and then pulled across the sea by speedboat.

So lots of opportunities for a grisly and painful death.

For as long as I can remember, I've felt that I have a self-destruct button, and these 3 weeks are about pressing that button...again and again and again. So these could well be the last entries made by this Professional Englishman...lucky you!

This entry comes to you from a little Internet cafe, with three computers, in Downtown Nassau. I'm staying here in Nassau until Saturday when, sharks permitting, I fly to Miami for a few days.

I don't like Miami. I was there for a day and a half last week. As you know, I've written some negative things about America in the past. I had hoped this visit would banish some of those prejudices, but my time in Miami has served only to reinforce them. I will, however, reserve my final judgement until the last days of my visit.

So where was I? Oh yeah: I don't like Miami. I arrived in the sunshine state last Wednesday after a ten hour flight from London via New York. I checked into an awful hotel full of awful college kids.

On Thursday I met a nice Russian boy called Gerasin - as you know people from Eastern Europe are my favourite people - and we drove together to Key West. Key West is nice - it's small and it has a lot of character. Gerasin and I visited a seafood restaurant together and I sampled everything from their buffet.

I made a point, however, of avoiding the shark meat on offer. I didn't want to tempt fate - if I eat sharks then it's only fair they should eat me!

The following day I left Florida and boarded a flight to the Bahamas. The Bahamas is an interesting and exotic country. Palm trees line every street in Nassau and the colourful, colonial buildings are a reminder of the country's imperial past.

The Bahamas was a British colony until 1973 - the year of my birth - and today the islands are a curious mixture of British, American and Caribbean culture.

The people here seem nice, although having said that I did meet an asshole yesterday. I was walking through a nearby shanty town - a hundred black men watched my every move - when a guy called Troy approached me and offered to be my bodyguard.

He took me around the city, introducing me to his friend who tried to sell me some "powder". After a while Troy started to bark orders at me and became quite obnoxious. He followed me for an hour until I eventually told him to get lost.

Today I feel quite angry at myself. I should have been more assertive. Instead I tolerated this guy. He was an asshole. Hopefully today he's gone to play basketball with some bull sharks.

And that's it for this Bahamian entry!

Providing I survive my shark encounter, I will add another entry on Friday before I leave the Bahamas and head to Miami. So long as I don't come across any bull or tiger sharks then I should be okay...maybe. If you don't hear from me on Friday, then worry!

Before I conclude this entry, I would like to give a mention to everybody I left behind in Exeter in England: Ben, Tim, Sylvia, Craig, Jenni, Karl, Reza and Lakshmi - I miss you all and I hope that we will meet again in Exeter one day soon.

And that's it.

From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

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London, ENGLAND, United Kingdom
This is me. Read a few entries and they will tell you more about me than I can fit into these few paragraphs. Many of these entries started their lives as mass emails. That was before I discovered blogs. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for visiting my blog and reading about my life. Both a work in progress.