Yesterday's Nassau meeting was quite an event. I did not come away with the
deed to the preserve in hand, but it sure seems that will be forthcoming.
Nadine Smith (a member of my board of Directors) and I arrived at the House
of Assembly and were escorted to the visitors' gallery. I have to admit I've
never been to see a session of the US congress, and it was truly impressive
to be right at the heart of this far flung archipelago's government.
"Ground Zero," as a friend described it. After we arrived the Minister of
Tourism introduced us to many of the Country's other Ministers, among them
the Minister of Works, the Minister of Aviation and Transportation, the
Deputy Prime Minister and many other officials who have realized the horses'
We were then whisked away to a private meeting room and the Prime Minister
himself came in and talked about the horses with us for nearly ten minutes.
We were later told that he is so strongly behind the project that he delayed
a departure to Jamaica just to meet us.
Well that was pretty heady stuff. Then we went back to the Assembly room
where parliamentary representatives of the two parties sit across from each
other under the stern eye of the Speaker of the House. We heard
presentations about a piece of legislation regarding tourism, and then the
Prime Minister gave about an eight minute talk about the horses and what
they mean for the future of Abaco and the Bahamas. He was not only
eloquent, he used no notes whatsoever and it was very clear that he was
thoroughly versed in the facts and was very familiar with the whole problem,
it's history, and potential future. He graciously drew the attention of the
Assembly to our presence and we were rewarded with a low rumbling thunder of
palms slapped on desktops which was a far more impressive gesture than a
smattering of handclaps. I found out later the whole session had been
televised and that we will be able to get a tape of the segment pertaining
to the horses.
Good heavens, it didn't stop there. After the session was adjourned other
Ministers and officials introduced themselves, we did a brief newspaper
interview and finished up that part of the adventure with an interview with
TV ZNS in company with the Ambassador to the Environment who also heads the
BEST commission (Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology). ZNS will
likely be in Abaco next week to film a longer program about the horses, and
we are hoping that the Minister of Tourism and the Prime Minister get to
Abaco soon as they have both said they are eager to see the horses first
This was followed with a ride to the airport from our local member of
Parliament from Abaco. Friends now jokingly refer to me as the Member of
Parliament for the Equine Constituency.
I think it's safe to say that just about the entire country is now aware of
the project, the PM himself has said that he will spearhead the efforts to
get the preserve going as soon as possible.
I feel as though I've awakened on a new planet. Ten years of uphill climb
with no end in sight and then with the determined and knowledgeable help of
Anthony Bostwick, the President of our local friends group, we are now on
the other side of the mountain. I find I compare the adventure, so far,
with surgery I once had for a broken leg. There was the misery of the
injury, not knowing what would happen next, just the certain knowledge that
there was a serious problem and help was needed from many people. Carted
off, I waited for a long time in trying circumstances and worked hard just
to keep things together and to keep breathing. Finally, I was wheeled off
yet again and suddenly woke up to find that it was all over, that part was
forever in the past. Many hands had made me whole again. Recovery and
healing were not easy or pain free, but it was a whole different ball game
and there was to be a future.
The real meaning of all this was brought home to me when I was told last
night, at a surprise celebratory dinner, that last Monday a Texan had called
the Prime Minister himself and said the Minister should name the price, he
wanted to buy the whole herd and would send his men in to take them away as
soon as possible. The Prime Minister, with, I am sure, the inimitable grace
and charm of the Bahamas, informed him that they were not for sale under any
I slept very, very well last night.