Nassau in the Morning -Libraries and Prisons

Not being the types to shop in the touristy markets that tend to cluster around cruise ship ports, in Nassau last week Kitty, justpaperskater and I went for a walk away from the main drag. I normally research a place before I show up, but work travel had eaten up all my spare time. So,  I asked a local.

How do we get away from shopping??

I suggested we might like to see the main government building, which I heard was very British Colonial and quite lovely.

As it turned out, we instead walked by a small park with an interesting octagonal building, with signs describing it the museum and library.  The library building was built in 1797 and originally served as a prison. Each floor has a central core, with wedge-shaped prison cells radiating outward.  Used as a library for over 100 years, each former cell is lined shelves, with a central stack in the middle. Each cell is labeled with a category. Fiction. History. Science. The central room on the ground floor serves as a computer lab.

The Nassau Public Library

On the upper levels, some of the cells house pictures, small tools,  old weapons, yellowed prints and, inexplicably, a shelf full of human skulls.  Most of the items are not labeled, which decreases its educational value as a museum.

View from the bars

I remember these

The librarian let us poke around, and directed us to the top, where a veranda let cool breezes blow into the open windows, and allowed us a peek around town. She also directed us to the Bahamian Historical Society down the street, but it happened to be closed that day.

Reading room in Nassau library

Central corridor, leading to cells

From top of staircase

Kitty went off for a cold drink and back to the ship for a rest, so Justpaperskater and I trekked over the the Queen’s Staircase. This cavern was carved by slaves into the solid rock, in order to provide a quick access for the government and military officials to travel from a small fort at the top, to the coast below.

Porous limestone allows roots to tap into moisture

We climbed, looked around at the fort ($1 and please tip the ‘tour guide’ who rattled off a two-minute memorized speech).  As we headed back, we ran into several of our party, and looked for lunch.

Simple food. I enjoyed my dish, but I wouldn’t recommend this place to anyone.

Taking a break in the shade

Again, I consulted a local. I asked another of the policemen where to eat, and after assuring him we were not interested in Subway Sandwiches or the Hard Rock Cafe, he directed us a place that sold ‘local’ food. As it was on the main tourist drag, it probably wasn’t where most locals actually eat, but we had a meal of fish, conch fritters, and cold drinks.



Categories: Friends, History, prison, Travel

Tags: , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Naomi is the best to travel with as she usually does a lot of research first…but in this case she just asks locals. How do I get away from all this stuff made in China…and see the real history. The library was really wonderful. It should be noted that even without AC is was fairly cool. The open windows had a cross breeze going that with the addition of a few fans made the library enticing to book readers and computer users.

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