Going Aloft, Chapter 15

There are at least two cities named Nassau. The one you see is the one you can afford.

One is bright and glittering and attractive, the leisure grounds of the imperial visitors who arrive there on sleek white ships. The other, hidden safely from sight from the tourists, is rife with the darker issues of cities anywhere: crime, violence, poverty. Every city has some level of this, but tourism destinations especially mask their problems so as to sustain the life-bringing dollar, painting over all that is not pleasant with a welcoming, saccharine-smiled veneer.

The city of Nassau is really spread across two islands: Paradise Island and New Providence, connected by two thin concrete ribbons of bridges that arc over the harbor. Paradise Island, which houses the Atlantis resort complex, is shiny and manicured. Visitors here are usually swept over the bridge in air-conditioned taxis from the cruise ships or the airport, never setting foot on or exposing themselves to the harder edge realities of life on New Providence. New Providence isn’t  a slum by any means; in fact, it’s a generally pleasant place, but people actually live there. It’s real. It has hospitals alongside watering holes and libraries, nice houses as well as shacks. Paradise is all luxury condominiums and marinas, a constructed playground for those who can afford to cross the bridge.

It’s an easy metaphor for income disparity around the world. The one percent get the nicest beaches, the choicest restaurants, the finest hotels, while the rest of the population has to deal with reality, for better or worse. The more money you make, the more you can afford to be insulated against the hardships of real life. On the schooner, we saw both worlds from our little Tantric vessel, anchored as we were between them.

Fun Fact: Before the Atlantis developers got their hands on it, Paradise Island used to be called Hog Island.

Read it here.

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