St. George’s was the original capital of Bermuda and is one of the few communities on the island that cater to residents and tourists interested in learning more about the island’s history. Stories about Bermuda’s early years can be heard around lunch tables, during short chats in the souvenir shops and most famously, in a reenactment of 18th Century Trial by the St, Georges Town Crier in King’s Square. To explore more about the latter years of the culture requires several bus rides across the island, where on any given day you will discover chunks of its culture hidden behind the beautiful pastels homes and picturesque walking trails. Since I’m still at the start of my cultural quest, I learned the best place to start should be on the North side of the island. I thought to snap some pictures of St. Georges during a time and day when the community seemed to be at peace.
The pictures are surreal and the stories, heartbreaking! Like many who were fortunate to not have suffered through the horrific Hurricanes that caused havoc and destruction in the Caribbean and in the Southern US states these past couple of months, I nearly escaped this dilemma just a year ago. In October of 2016, I had just began to settle into my new environment, when I received an email at work that quickly force me to adapt to my new reality. The email was an alert from the Bermuda Weather Service and the Ministry of Education informing the residents about “hurricane Nicole”, a category three storm set to hit the island in just short of 72 hours. The email was also accompanied by a “Hurricane Preparedness’ attachment, instructing residents on how to get ready for what was thought to be the second largest storm to hit the island dead on. Immediately after learning of the news, the Government responded quickly by closing schools, while most businesses began their “Hurricane Nicky” sales of food, supplies, gasoline, water, wood for boarding and everything you needed to get ready for the storm. My view out the window on the ride home were of families nailing down shutters, boarding windows and doors, pre-filling generators and unloading the trunk of perishable goods to store as the countdown continues on with Nicole fastly approaching. Living in the Midwest all my life, I was accustomed to heavy winds, freezing temperatures and snow. Finding myself in a crunch, preparing for a Hurricane shook a fear into me as I could only reflect on images I’ve seen on television about places that had suffered through these storms, the lives that were lost and the spirits broken. I would never forget the images of Hurricane Katrina and ironically learning of the news about this storm forced me to act quickly so that I wouldn’t end up like most of those poor people. Having no means to travel by car, nor by flight I was force to wait out the storm.
With fear settling in, I had already began to leave messages in my DM and Skype family members until I was unable to do so, as the island would later shut down the telecommunication towers and which left me without power for a few days. While I completed my most of my shopping, ran enough water in my bathtub for sanitary use, grab cash from the ATM to make emergency purchases, pre-cooked some items to eat, the downpour was just beginning. Having to commute mostly by public transportation, I made it to the library just in time to get some novels and to send my mind into another space reading the works from my favorite author by flashlight. On day three, while less than 100 miles off the coast, the storm was downgraded to a category one but the rain and winds caused large amounts of damage to the exterior of homes, lawns, roads and businesses in town. I set out with my landlady to take pictures of the destruction and to check on my elderly neighbors.
With only suffering through not having power for a few days and a few broken tree limbs, I have officially survived my first tropical cyclone Not to sound joyful, but grateful as I now can see the trauma a strong storm can cause reflecting on the Caribbean, Houston, Florida and now Puerto Rico. I have since began volunteering in the outreach programs supporting the victims of these natural disasters, the thought will never escape me that this has now become my new normal. I have discovered the Summer and Spring months can be quite relaxing on an island, but truthfully, assimilating into the Hurricane seasons in the Fall is very unnerving and quite timorous.
Shopping on any given day quickly reminds me of the small things I took for granted back home. Just today, my cravings for any summertime delights were stifled when I stumbled across this barrel of Watermelons. Fresh produce are considered precious commodities on an island, I have to keep reminding myself that. Just in case I forget, the hot pink stamps will make sure the price is highly visible! To have to spend this amount of money to indulge, your truly “0ne in a Melon”!
It’s been a year since I moved to Bermuda, an experience that has changed my perspectives on life, education and culture. While I can easily adapt to new environments, being a newbie to the island lifestyle can pose a huge challenge for a city dweller.
For instance, my introduction to the island culture was quite brief while living in Asia I toured Thailand. A very tourist and popular destination with a host events to keep you entertained during your stay. While I haven’t had a chance yet to tour the Caribbean, I was fortunate to land a job on the beautiful North Atlantic gem to get me started.
Bermuda sits just east of Florida and only a couple of hours away from the mainland. A beautiful relaxing paradise that ironically never comes up in international conversations. During my research, I learned of the expensive urbanity, everything from the six-dollar loaves of bread, to the one dollar apples and fifteen hundred-dollar studio apartment rentals were mind boggling. I learned very quickly, networking here is mandatory and not optional especially if your seeking to land a job and are contracted to stay for a while. While on the tailend of settling, I struggled with the stagnated and snaillike demeanor which can easily be misunderstood for laziness. I learned the greatest asset this country have is the warm invitation from the local community. I was able to make connections via social media and email quickly and soon found a cheap apartment, furniture and learned of the best places to shop for food. Visitings websites such as http://www.nothingtodoinbermuda.com and http://www.emoo.bm and the The People’s List page on Facebook opened the door to monthly calendar events which provided more of social life as the environment is very family oriented.
While quite beautiful, it’s very small, 22 miles long to be exact! In most cases in the US it would be considered a neighborhood. The island consists of nine parishes (or communities) all are easily accessible by boat, bike, car or bus. There’s a railroad trail converted into a walking path, great for late evening and afternoon cool downs.
In my short time, I complete The End 2 End Marathon, (for which I walked), attended my first Carnival and Soca Parade and the international sailing competition the America’s Cup, for which America lost. In total, the experience was priceless.
While I have yet to find a great eatery, I have sampled their signature dishes, which are the The Traditional Fish Sandwich and Fish Chowder and wasgiven more suggestions about others spots that I plan to write about in later posts.
With so much more to unravel about this gem and the infamous “Bermuda Triangle”, I can honestly state that my time thus far has been notable. I plan to continue to stroll the shoreline of these pink sand beaches to explore more about this unique peninsular otherwise known as Bermuda.