Renting a car for our first trip to Eleuthera was the first indication that island life is different. The vacation rental owner gave us the name and email of a car rental guy, Stanton Cooper. I promptly emailed Mr. Cooper with the dates we needed and he responded a few days later with a simple “ok.”
Clearly, this was not Avis. With a few more emails, I learned that our rental would be $60 a day, we could pay with credit, and that all we needed to do was ask for “Stanton Cooper” when we walked out of the door of the airport.
Sure enough, we found Mr. Cooper very quickly. He walked us out the the parking lot where he had a random collection of cars, eyed us, then chose a burgundy Impala as our ride for the week. He filled out a carbon copy sales receipt with our credit card number and name, then instructed us to put the copy in the glove compartment. We dutifully placed ours on top of a pile of receipts, filled with names and credit card numbers from people all over the world.
Our Impala was a well-loved beauty. Multiple warning lights flashed unheeded reminders from the dash, the empty c.d. player refused to turn off, and there were no working seat belts. We loved this car. With the windows rolled down and scratchy tunes from the A.M. radio, we had found instant summer, circa 1980.
The week that followed was unbridled, family-island adventure. Stanton Cooper’s Impala took us past the most beautiful turquoise water in the world. I wonder if the island-wide 45 mph speed limit is imposed knowing that drivers are distracted with the stark beauty of this place.
That Impala took us to the most amazing, and nearly empty white sand beaches.
Of course, those beaches are the reward after taking some back roads better suited for SUVs. Nonetheless, our Impala persevered. To prevent very bad things from happening to the transmission, we did get out every now and then to provide a bit more clearance. In all our adventures, she only lost a bit of side mirror.
It’s true that the residents of Eleuthera are as beautiful as the water. In fact, headed back home, we dropped the car off with Stanton Cooper in the airport parking lot. We were settling down to wait for our flight when I realized I had left our passports back in the vacation rental, 20 miles away. Holy crap.
I ran back out to Stanton, who was busy with a bucket and rags, washing returned rental cars. I was panicked and told him what happened. He’s a robust man, with a kind face and so genuinely replied, “Well, you’d better get back in that car and get them.”
Nevermind the 45 mph speed limit. I flew. Smartly, I counted the James Cistern speed bumps on the route north so I could maximize my speed on my return. In a mad panic, I arrived, passports in hand, to the airport parking lot. I could see the plane, still parked (it was the only jet that morning) and exclaimed to Stanton that I was so relieved that it hadn’t yet left. His reply? “Honey, they weren’t going to leave without you!” Actually, there’s a chance that’s true. Island life really is different and we love it.
In the Governor’s Harbor Airport, mere seconds before panic ensued.