Fate had it that on a particular day I would travel to the south west part of the island and it so happened that I found myself on a beach in the area of Coral Harbour. It was my usual out and about movements but this day would impact me in a profound way. Im usually along the coastline of the island of New Providence sometimes I walk miles as far as I can go looking at the ever changing coast and to find interesting locations I can photograph for my fine art images on Rashad Penn Photography. This day what I saw startled me so much I almost forgot what I came all the way out there for. Garbage, Trash, junk, filth, waste, rubbish or debris whatever you want to call it, it littered the shaded beach area. How disgusting!
South Coral Harbour
I remember this beach used to be a major hub for Bahamians during holidays and weekends. Because it was a weekend I was hesitant to go there as I dont like to photograph persons in my seascape images. However as I got closer to the entrance area I noticed that the area was virtually empty. What luck I thought so I proceeded into the parking area.
I had not been in this area for such a long time so I wanted to take a few shots with my smart phone to post, since it was such a beautiful day I thought I would take a few images to upload to the facebook page and instagram account. I noticed a few white pieces of papers on the ground but nothing I had not seen before on beaches. A minor fix ill just pick em up if they will ruin my shot I thought. Boy did I think wrong. I had seen garbage indiscriminately left on beaches before, even been a part of a few clean ups but this...this was ridiculous. What I saw left me dumbfounded for a moment, I sat in my car looking around me at the filth sprawled about. This reminded me of a time ago when a sloop capsized off the North western part of the island and the rocky beaches were littered with clothing, even hurricanes dont leave this kind of filth. No this was made humans...nasty filthy humans in particular of the Bahamian kind.
Its great to see broken beer bottles glistening in the Bahamian sunshine and broken bottles of cheap wine ready to puncture my feet not to mention the heat generated from the sun that can heat these bottles on dried cedar tree pine and possibly cause a fire. Good job Bahamians.
I slowly opened my car door while looking around hoping to atleast see or hear voices of a large group of people that was responsible for this. I walked slowly in one direction but the closer I got to the bushes the worse it got. I stopped and turned around and headed in the other direction and it was worse than the first area. WHO WOULD DO SUCH A THING? WHY WOULD ANY ONE LEAVE TRASH IN SUCH ABUNDANCE TO FESTER? This confused me so much that i started to become irritated. Upset at the type of mindset that would visit a beach bring all their party goods and then just leave it there as if the beach fairy would make it all disappear. What simple minded troglodyte would do this? My family have been beach goers from since I knew myself. My uncle would always go out early to get us a good spot and we would all come later and enjoy a day out on the beach. At the end of the day he would send all the children (and there were alot of us) in a search pattern to pick up any trash in our area. We would put them in those large black garbage bags and he would throw it on the back of his truck or someone would put it in the back trunk of their car and on passing the dump site on Harrold road would dispose of it. This was what I was brought up to do, I thought all families did this. Oh man was I wrong. This went against all I was taught, its almost like that moment you find out as a child that Santa Clause isnt real. Its overwhelmingly heartbreaking. A few pieces of garbage here and there is normal and easy to clean before I leave but this...oh but this was...SIGH!!!
It seems when a dumpster, or garbage can is not available its not your fault just chuck that junk into the nearby bushes, no one will ever notice and eventually it will all bio degrade right?
I just could not stand it. I went back into my car to catch myself. Sitting there I saw another vehicle pulling into the area. It was a taxi cab. He pulled further ahead of where I was parked and I remember thinking I hope this guy did not bring a tourist out here. The driver got out the vehicle first and went straight for the back door. Ohhhhh no how embarrassing. Ever had a guest stop by your house while you were in the middle of rearranging or cleaning up? Your home is not as nice as you would like it to be at that time so you feel a bit shame that guest will see your home in disorder. I had that feeling that day watching the tourist step out of the vehicle and looked around them. The male had a camera in his hand and i slouched in my car seat, please dont take any photos please. I could over hear them talking but my mind was screaming louder please take them away then the male tourist walked along the beach shoreline Doh! Face palm. The look on his face as he walked back to the car...unforgettable. For a second the taxi driver eyes met mine and I knew he felt the same way i felt but he honestly didnt seem as if he knew the beach was this filthy. Thumbs up Bahamians good job on being ambassadors for your country. You have successfully given two visitors a memorable vacation.
A trick to being proactive - Hang you garbage from a tree to keep it away from the rats, or flatten your beer boxes to minimize space and the ever popular, throw it behind a wall to hide it until the beach cleanup fairy arrives.
What can I do?
After the taxi cab left I got out of my car, took a few images with my smart phone and sent a message to a few photographers to organize a clean up. Something has to be done about this. To make an already long story short the response I got up to the time of writing this story has been educational. While willing to participate the general consensus from those who have done it before and who judgement I can trust seems to be summed up in the words of one person. "You wana clean up the beach to make space for nasty people to throw out more stuff?" As discouraging as those words seem it took me into another direction. I spoke with other persons who had cleaned that exact beach time and time again only to have the filth return by the mindless persons who continually have no regard for their environment. I discussed many alternatives from trash bins or dumpster, speaking with the minister, gathering sponsors to adopt the area and a few others. All which have been tried and failed. Then it hit me. The willingness by the public to keep it clean is there, as is the willingness to not keep it clean. The solution is not to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result but to attack and stop the actual problem. THE PEOPLE. The nasty filthy persons most likely Bahamians who continually go to the beach to have a good time and then leave in a drunken stupor with all their trash left for the beach fairy...and yet we complain when we dont have beach access, interesting. The laws of the land need to be enforced, in a country that depends on tourism we tend to focus on the big things like the 'Bahamar situation'. What is the use of having a mega resort when your people are disgusting, no manners, filthy beings? how is that suppose to impact your visitors in a positive manner? Time to focus on the little things that once made the country great, we talk about having pride but how can you have pride and leave such filth behind you? We have a relationship with our environment, our country and our visitors and like every relationship its the LITTLE THINGS that count.
Dont have enough money for a hotel, or too many people in your home?, No problem the beach is a great place to have sex and discard your dirty filthy used condoms and condom wrappers.
From now on, every time I see garbage left indiscriminately on beaches, in the bushes or wherever, I will photograph it to show the world. Remember Casey Gill & Joseph Oster and their video of the downtown area? Remember Nellie Day who wrote that article about Bahamian life and what about Jim Walker of the cruise law news. Boy did we raise a stink about those things but honestly I'm beginning to think those guys were persecuted because they were foreigners in a xenophobic society. Well im a Bahamian and Ill be making your videos, showing off your photos and writing your articles until you as a citizen demand that something be done to clean up this dirty little island and punish the offenders to the fullest extent of the law. Enough is enough...its the little things that count.
Enjoy your filth.