“I grew up in the Bahamas before going to London to work. I met my Dutch husband there. Apart from knowing that Amsterdam was known as the Venice of the North I didn’t know the slightest thing about the city. I first came here six years ago for my sister-in-law’s birthday. I felt completely at home and was sure this was because of the water. The Bahamas are made up of seven hundred islands and for all the years that we had lived in London I had missed that watery connection.
Apart from the water Amsterdam is nothing like the Bahamas. In the Bahamas the sand is pink, the water crystal clear, and you even have pigs that swim. But you can compare personalities; people are similarly broad-minded. Both cultures are quite relaxed.
When I came to live here three years ago it was a particularly hard winter. Everything was white and kids were walking on the frozen canals. When we went to bed in our new home, a bottle fell to the floor and rolled all the way to the other side of the apartment. People think it’s normal to walk on frozen canals and life in wonky houses here, but I was pretty amazed.
The feeling of freedom that I experience here is often greater because I compare it with my stay in London, where I would have to stand in the metro for forty minutes with my nose stuck under someone’s sweaty armpit. Here I can ride the bike. I love to go for bike rides and discover somewhere new every weekend. It’s a very elegant mode of transport. I’ve become quite good at it, although I really admire those mothers with a child on the back and a child at the front. And they are always ringing their bells to warn me that they’re overtaking me.
I appreciate the directness of the Amsterdammer. At first I had to get used to it, because the honesty would sometimes be quite a shock. However, now I’m also a lot more direct and honest and feel a little bit like an Amsterdammer myself. I don’t speak the language yet. My husband and I had decided to only speak Dutch at home every Sunday, but we don’t really bother.
The city is at its most beautiful in the summer, and everyone comes out from their houses. I love the feeling of community. At the beginning I thought it strange that everyone left their curtains open, but it’s actually wonderful that no-one has anything to hide here. It’s great that the neighbour will sign for a parcel for you and that everyone say’s hello. A village in the city.”
8 people in Amsterdam have the Bahamian nationality