Posted by: adorsk | January 14, 2009

Bermuda

The Oceanus arrived in Bermuda on December 10th.

We would be docking at St. George, Bermuda’s Easternmost islands. When we picked up the pilot outside the St. George harbor it was windy with choppy waves and slightly cool. At first I couldn’t tell how we would enter the harbor. Then I saw the inlet, a narrow passage barely wide enough for us and the pilot boat.

Inlet to St. George harbor

Inlet to St. George harbor

“We’re going through that?!!?” We just squeezed through.

The wind and waves dropped off as soon as we entered the harbor. It was quiet and there were only a few small boats on the move. The water was a shade of blue-green, a unique color that I had not seen anywhere else.  We pulled up to the dock and the science party from the previous cruise started to unload their gear.

CC throws the dock line to shore

CC throws the dock line to shore

CC guides the gangway into position

CC guides the gangway into position

The next science party wouldn?t arrive until later, so I had some free time.  I walked into town just a few minutes away. St. George is the oldest continually inhabited English settlement in the Western hemispher, first settled in 1612. I found that the town still retained much of its historic character. Cobblestone streets led me past antique houses and shops and towards the main square. Replicas of stocks and bonds (the correctional, not financial, variety) had been placed around the square along with a dunking chair and numerous explanatory plaques. There were craft shops and art galleries, a grocery store, and some restaurants. The town had a very British flavor to me, a pleasing quaintness.

And it was where my torrid Bermuda love affair began.

Bermuda Love

I met her in a parking lot in St. George. She didn’t say much, but I could tell right away that she was the one for me. There was just something about her. Her voice was deep and rich, almost a growl. She was trim and sleek. She wore leather. She was Italian.

She liked to move fast. We left from the parking lot and went all over the islands. We had our share of stops and starts, but for the most part we were inseparable. I kept my arms around her the whole time.

I’m talking about my rental scooter.

JA the steward and I rented moped scooters and rode all around the island. Scootering was like a drug for me. I loved feeling the force of a turn and having the wind blow tears into my eyes. It cleared my mind, made me feel ecstatic. I forgot all about the ship. I would sing to myself or make up ridiculous rhymes as I motored along; the thrum of the engine insulated me from the rest of the world (or perhaps the other way around).

JA & I scootered all around during the first day. In the afternoon we went to hike around a nature reserve by the ocean. Ecologically speaking, Bermuda was a very funny place. At one turn it looked like a tropical island with palm trees and sandy beaches. At the next turn it looked like the coast of Maine on a chilly Spring day.

Bermuda, land of tropical wonder

Bermuda, land of tropical wonder

Bermuda, land of temperate wonder

Bermuda, land of temperate wonder

JA near the coast

JA near the coast

JA inspects caves in the sea cliffs

JA inspects caves in the sea cliffs

We scootered to Horseshoe beach on the South shore.

Horseshoe Beach

Horseshoe Beach

A footballer on the beach

A footballer on the beach

When we got to the beach I had a strange feeling of deja vu. And then I remembered, I had been to this beach before! When I was little my family had taken a trip to Bermuda. Until that day I had only had vague memories, occasional flashes of images. But I suddenly remembered swimming my Dad in a cove near the beach and seeing fish. I find it very strange how a place can slumber inside the mind for years and then suddenly spring back into memory.

The Proustian cove of memory

The Proustian cove of memory

In the evening J & I drove scootered to Hamilton, the main city of Bermuda. The streets were bedecked in Christmas lights.

Hamilton at Christmas time

Hamilton at Christmas time

We found an Italian restaurant that served excellent thin crust pizza, and then scootered back to the ship.

But I couldn’t get enough of my scooter. I took her out early the next morning before the sun was up. There was no traffic, just me and her. I rode all the way out to the other end of the island just in time to catch the sunrise.

My baby in the sunrise

My baby in the sunrise

Later I rode around the rest of the island. I found old forts and scenic points all around.

Tobacco Bay

Tobacco Bay

An old fort

An old fort

Tenacious Bermuda shrubbery

Tenacious Bermuda shrubbery

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

The British strategy for defending Bermuda was to first overwhelm attackers with cuteness (the cat at the left) and then bombard them (the cannon)

The British strategy for defending Bermuda was to first overwhelm attackers with cuteness (the cat at the left) and then bombard them (the cannon)

A compass at Fort St. Catherine

A compass at Fort St. Catherine

Sun & Pine

Sun & Pine

But the day ended sadly. I had to return the scooter. It was with great sadness and heartbreak that I left her back at the lot. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever find another like her again.

That night the next science party (who were from the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences) hosted us at their private bar, ‘The Passing Wind’. Very generous of them.

We had one more day before we were supposed to sail. The science party came by setup their gear and later I rode JA’s pedal bike around St. George. I had to forget my memories of sweet effortless speed, and return to the land of leg-power. But it was a fine time anyway. I biked around the old forts and parks.

There was a small farm on St. George, with goats...

There was a small farm on St. George, with goats...

...and fowl

...and fowl

In the afternoon I happened to bike past a souvenir shop near the dock. I noticed one of the shopkeepers was trying to fix a high overhead light above the shop door. I offered to help, being tall and not wholly without electrical know-how. I ended up putting in new wall plug for them and having a cup of ginger tea while the three middle-aged shopkeeper ladies told me about life on Bermuda.

They also told me about the St. George Christmas Walk-About, which would be that night. The Walk-About was fantastic, definitely one of my favorite nights of the entire trip. The entire town was brilliantly lit up. Businesses stayed open late and handed out truffles and mulled wine. Old houses had been dressed up to look the way they would have looked in Victorian times. There were concerts in the churches, and musicians playing in the square.

I went to listen to a bell choir at St. Peter’s church. It was a memorable experience. The church itself was worth seeing. Rough-hewn timbers came down from the arched ceiling and candelabras illuminated the room. Plaques and friezes covered the walls, showing the long history. Then the bells took me to another world. I had never heard a bell choir before. The bells had such a pure tone that they startled me at first.

Later I sampled chocolate truffles at the town bank, and watched the festivities in the main square. Families walked around and chatted, kids climbed about the stocks and played tag. It was a very fine night.

A Brief Delay, Then Back to Sea

We ended up spending an extra day at Bermuda. On the day we had intended to sail the weather was particularly nasty, so we waited it out in St. George!/s. There were heavy rainstorms all morning. Sheets of rain poured of the warehouse near the dock. Later in the day it cleared up and I walked along the old railway trail.

The original sailing board, pre-weather

The original sailing board, pre-weather

Before the rain

Before the rain. 'Red sky at morning, sailors take warning...'

After the rain

After the rain

We pulled out on the next day. It had been a great port stop, one of my favorites.

<i>Oceanus</i> at dock in St. George

Oceanus at dock in St. George

Back out to sea

Back out to sea

Other Pictures

Bermuda coast

Bermuda coast

Lizard

Lizard

Palm fan

Palm fan

One house in St. George had rows of juice bottles filled with colored liquids, a very interesting sight

One house in St. George had rows of juice bottles filled with colored liquids. A shrine to kool-aid?

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Responses

  1. This was such a great post, Alex – I’ve been fascinated by all of your adventures! When I click on pictures, they don’t enlarge, though…which is sad because you have so many beautiful ones! Let me know the next time you’re in Boston – my new favorite thing to eat in Harvard Square is a frozen yogurt place named Berry Line so we must go sometime! 🙂

    • Hi Christie,

      Doh! Thanks for catching the picture link bug. I think it’s all fixed now. I hope all is good for you.

  2. […] Bermuda […]


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