Funky Nassau Indeed
As a Nassau transplant, people are always asking if I'm enjoying living in Nassau or what I think about Nassau on the whole and usually I give a generic answer like "oh it's not bad but I prefer Freeport." And while some aspects of living here aren't so bad, I think Nassau is absolutely disgusting and a huge health hazard and I'm about to tell you why.
First of all let's talk about the rats. Rats are literally EVERYWHERE! I lived in the Tri-State are and everyone knows that New York City is known for the huge and plentiful rats, however I'm 100% comfortable going on record with the fact that NYC rats have absolutely nothing on Nassau rats. In fact seeing a rat in New York is way less likely than seeing a rat in the city of Nassau. And before you start typing you can save it because I can count on one hand the amount of times I've seen a rat in New York. I can't say the same about here and I've lived in Nassau for a shorter time than I've lived there. I go outside to take out my garbage and rats are swarming my neighbor's garbage. Sometimes if my garbage is super full, a rat is there too. I go downtown, and I better walk super fast because if rats aren't scurrying in and around the garbage bins when you pass them, they're walking on the sidewalk right next to you. I go to Arawak Cay and I better be okay with rat droppings and/or actual rats being the seasoning for my meal because rats practically own the stalls there. In fact once a HUGE rat ran out right in front of me and when I started screaming the vendors acted like I was in the wrong and told me he was trying to welcome me to Nassau. If it takes a rat to welcome me to Nassau, I'll pass. If I park my car at a beach with shrubbery, rats are crawling in the shrubbery. After a heavy rain, dead rats are all in the streets. Park your car in the wrong spot and rats are chewing on your wires. There's a man on the side of the road selling rat poison - the only way he can continue to do that is because it's profitable. It's profitable because rats are everywhere. When I talk about the rat problem people either try to flat out deny it or are so used to it that it doesn't seem like a big deal to them. And the reason the bountiful amount of rats is so problematic is because rats are nasty, filthy and bring disease. But when I'm crying about how and why rats are so nasty no one here seems to hear my cry. Like does no one here see if for the huge health hazard that it is?!
Next up is the garbage issues in Nassau. For some incomprehensible reason, in New Providence the government isn't solely responsible for garbage collection. Instead, they have handed over this HUGE responsibility to several different private companies that basically do what they want and collect the garbage when they feel. In Grand Bahama, I could set my watch by the garbage truck. Where I lived, they came around 7am every Monday and Thursday unless it was a holiday and then they had a make up day some other time within that same week. In the not so lovely capital, no such thing as a garbage collection schedule exists and if it does exist, no one abides by it. Sometimes they come twice in one week, sometimes once a month, sometimes they don't come at all. There's been more than a few occasions where they haven't come in so long that we have had to put additional bins out. There has been more than a few occasions where garbage has been overflowing. There has been more than a few occasions where I have grappled with keeping garbage in my house rather than putting more outside because I had no clue when they'd come again and every outside garbage receptacle was full. This is a huge health hazard for various reasons. But mainly think about how more garbage brings more rats so the garbage and the rats produce a never ending cycle that I'm sure is affecting the health of many. Rats and garbage bring more rats and more garbage if nothing is being done about it.
But wait! That's not the end of the garbage problem in Nassau. When they do actually collect the garbage, the dump catches on fire! As if Nassau isn't nasty enough. I remember when I was naive enough to think that I was out of the line of fire when I first moved to Nassau, then one fateful morning, I woke up to my apartment full of smoke. I immediately starting contacting people to see if I could spend the night because I'm not about to sleep inhaling garbage smoke. But I thought about people who lived near the dump and had no where else to sleep. Then during another dump fire, Bahamar was covered in smoke and I felt horribly for people who were paying for this luxury vacation only to be breathing in the smoke of actual burning garbage. One time the smoke from a dump fire made it all the way to my job and I worked in the Airport Industrial Park at the time. Can you imagine the toxins we're breathing in every time the dump is on fire (which considering I've never heard of the same thing happening in Grand Bahama is WAY TOO MUCH). Can you imagine the types of respiratory diseases that can probably be connected to breathing in BURNING GARBAGE?! And this is a normal occurrence in this city and just like the rats and the garbage everywhere, people are numb to it.
And then we have crime, which is another huge health and safety hazard for many reasons. If you don't have PTSD or other mental issues from living in an area full of crime or around people who commit lots of crimes then you probably have anxiety worrying if the crime is coming to you next. And the way this summer is shaping up, this is going to be a huge factor. Thankfully up to this point nothing crime related has really happened to me. However, rapes and sexual assaults are on the rise even though no one is talking about it, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said there's no reason to be afraid but we're averaging at least a murder a day since summer started, and I won't even talk about robbery. People constantly joke about murders because they're so desensitized to it and/or if you don't laugh you'll cry. Nassau is a huge amalgamation of health hazards, crime and social ills. I often why it's people's choice for their place of residence but then I remember that the government and many Bahamians (read: Nassuvians since they make up the majority) don't give a damn about any place but here despite that fact that nothing is really being done to improve the look or feel of the place. Anyway I said I would give Nassau 3-5 years and I'm approaching year 3 so I've been working on my exit plan.