I decided to try my hand at sensationalism. When I saw a story on the news about two Bahamian men who went fishing, met up with a storm, and clung to the bottom of their capsized boat for eight days, I called to ask if I could write and publish their story. They agreed.
Life left Mike Russell and Anthony Douglas’ bodies bit by bit, like the skin that sloughed off after more than a week of constant exposure. Mike embraced death and slid off the fiberglass hull into the dark ocean. Anthony refused to let his friend give up. He dove after him and pulled him back onto the inverted vessel.
“As long as you have breath, you have hope,” Anthony insisted.
Breathe and hope were all the two men had. They knew life would only last a short while longer. The Coast Guard rescue arrived when they truly had nothing left.
Here I am in Freeport, Grand Bahama where Mike lives. We took a day trip today to see Anthony on the neighboring island of Abaco. I got to interview the two men in depth and take a grand tour of native island life.
Things I learned in the Bahamas.
- Do not eat pigs feet. They are of a slimy, jellied texture impossible to enjoy, unless you like slimy, jellied things. Gross.
- Malt isn’t just a liquor. Nope, it’s in bottles in every cooler where a local might go.
- Apple products are not popular here. Apple, if you’re listening, I have a great idea for a new store location.
- The smaller the aircraft, the scarier the ride. The ten seater to Abaco rattled enough to entertain a nursery full of babies.
- Small aircraft passengers are seated by body weight. Yep, the pilot eyeballs the group gathered around the steps and puts the largest people in front.
- The friendliest people of the world live here. All this time I thought Oklahomans were the nicest.
Things I learned from Mike and Anthony.
- God can save you from anything. They give Him all of the credit for their life and survival.
- Second chances exist. They have a second chance at life and intend to capitalize on it.
- You are loved. Even if you don’t feel it right now, just go and make people think you are dead and you will see.
- Even with near-death motivation, life change is hard. It takes continued commitment and effort.
- When you make major changes in your life the people closest to you cannot always go along.
- Money cannot buy the most important things in life: family and fresh water.
Warning! Political soap box coming up! If you are a progressive and do not want to be offended, stop reading now!
Parallels between the Bahamas and the US.
- Illegal immigration creates a double standard favoring the lawbreaker. Haitians have come into their country and developed their own communities outside of all laws.
- Government health care affects life beyond health. Ivy had surgery nearly two years ago. Her insurance is still negotiating with the government for payment. The government won’t allow Ivy to travel until the debt is paid.
- Low cost labor creates the illusion that certain jobs are beneath you. Haitians do the lawn work while Bahamians remain unemployed.
- Government housing can look nice on the outside, until you are behind on rent and need to go visit your relatives in Florida and there’s a hold on your Visa.
- Excessive regulations, taxes and fees are crippling the economy.
- People really need hope and change.