Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bermuda Books and History

There are very few bookstores where you can ask “Do you have the Jarvis book?” and they will know what you are referring to, fewer still where they'll reply “Usually we do, but we're sold out. We should be getting more in next week.” Bermuda is actually, probably, the only place. The “Jarvis” book to which I was referring is the 600 plus page, 10pt font, meticulously-researched, heavily-footnoted, scholarly-tome, In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture) .  Published in 2010, the book is a credit to the Island's history. The fact that is it a nation-wide best-seller is a credit to the Islanders.

I was a bit confused however to find that while every bookstore carried an extensive list of Bermuda history titles from Dispatches from Bermuda: The Civil War Letters of Charles Maxwell Allen, United States Consul at Bermuda, 1861-1888 (Civil War in the North) to Rogues & Runners , the actual Island seemingly disregarded their history.

It's taken two weeks to understand this apparent contradiction. It is in its relationship to history that Bermuda seems to be its most British. Why they  make little of their historic buildings and forts (forts from 5 centuries line the coast), but at the same time read books like the Jarvis book. This morning however, it became clear. Like Britain, there is so much history everywhere, and in everything that making monuments or museums to every piece would necessitate turning the entire Island into a museum but everyone knows the history, everyone reads the books – at least enough to support a significant Bermuda History section in every bookstore.

That said, Bermuda is hosting a conference in June on its maritime history. With tours and lectures it sounds, at least to me, like lots of fun.

I'm thinking of getting a Kindle Fire, Full Color 7" Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi and also some sheets: 1500 Thread Count Queen 4pc Bed Sheet Set Egyptian Quality Deep Pocket Sage

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Little pink, and azure, and chartreuse houses for you and me

Even under the relatively muted February sun, a white Bermuda house looks sad, especially when compared with its brightly painted neighbours. For a staid, New England girl, this observation was totally unexpected. I'd heard about the colorful houses and dismissed them as garish, needlessly showie, certainly not something that 'fit' within the landscape of even a semi-tropical location such as Bermuda. But driving through the streets of St. George, I had to admit, it was the bright chartreuse house, or maybe that deep azure one that looked most at home.
House sizes and configurations varied from one story 'shotgun” style to multi-story, rambling mansions. Some homes are situated on suburban-type lawns, some right on the street (and by on, I mean no front yard, no shoulder, the house wall-less-than-three-inches-from-bus-mirror on the street). Others are built into, or out of the limestone clifts.
And while the houses vary in both shape and color the roofs are all of white, stepped blocks, channelled so as to collect rain water into holding tanks. All the homes have shutters, sun, hurricane or both, and are built of stone, cement block or stucco and painted pretty much any color except white. And all have porches or patios - living space outside being as important as living space inside.

Bright outside and in, sounds like home to me!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Three and Three are Fourteen

"Pardon?" I asked.

The information desk woman repeated her previous mathematically impossible statement verbatim, "Three and three are fourteen. Board either the 7 or 8 bus at the Dockyard,  ask for a transfer to the 10 or 11. Transfer at Hamilton, that will take you back to Flatts."

I've come to believe that getting to know the public and private transportation systems of an area is a good way to get to know a place. Bermuda is no exception.  The well maintained pink buses travel from one end of the 21 mile-long-island to the other along the same incredibly narrow, limestone-carved, shoulder-less  roads as the cars and bikes (motorcycles and moped with engines no bigger than 150 cc)  The people on board are polite, and quietly gregarious with one another.  At every stop someone would get on, sit in a seemingly random empty seat and begin talking about aunt so and so, or what happened last night at Joe's.

The bus fair system, like island life, is effortless to the locals, but enigmatic, apparently hard to explain, and really very simple. The island is split into 14 zones. Anyone and everyone will tell you that, however, they're not clear on where those zones are and zone maps haven't been printed in years. But really, that doesn't matter.  There are few options. You can either buy a day, week, month or three month unlimited pass, you can pay $3.00 (in coins) every time you board, or you can purchase deeply discounted 3 Zone tickets.  A 3 zone ticket will allow you to travel through 3 of those unknown zones. And here's the tricky part: 2 three zone tickets are used for any travel over 3 zones. 4-14, it doesn't matter, three and three are indeed fourteen.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

From the Rail Trail to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club

My first inclination after landing in Bermuda was to find a seat on a sunny patio and order up a frosty rum drink.  I fought that urge (for a little while at least) and followed my second, and usual habit when coming to a new place. Within an hour we were walking the Rail Trail down to the Shelly Beach, checking out the native Bermuda Cedar Trees, sandy beaches, green turtles and  colorful houses.

And everywhere is that famous azure blue water.  65 degree azure blue water. Clear and bright.  I just had to go swimming. How could I resist? It was 70 degrees and sunny,  warmer than most days I'd gone swimming last summer.  S.D. 'forgot' his swim trunks so could only watch. The Bermudians ignored the whole thing.

Finally then it was time for that drink! And while they won't swim in the winter, they do drink Dark and Stormys all year round.  Goslings rum remains the official alcohol of the island, even though it is no longer made here.

We followed up cocktail hour with a rum swizzle at a bar in Hamilton and dinner at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, waiting until after dinner to explore the old trophy rooms, bars and patios and find photos of all those CCA folks whose papers I'd arranged back at the Seaport.

I was just starting to get a feel for the place, and it turns out, my first inclination was as much a part of that as my second.