Day 4: The Password Is Bermudaful


…oh, you wanted a blog entry, too?

Okay, fiiiiine.

Yes, I did make it up in time to watch the ship dock. While my iPhone doesn’t seem to want to actually acknowledge that an alarm was set, Wendy was super awesome and brought me a few of the pesto tomatoes, and called me in the morning to let me know she had done so. Wendy wasn’t in the ST lounge when I looked, so I just grabbed a seat in the aft section of the top deck and took some pictures. I went back to my room to change and prep, then headed out.

Did I have a plan or a destination? No. No, I did not. There was a ferry about to leave, and I got on it. Did I know where it was going? I didn’t know that, either…but if I was about to get abducted by the little known group of Bermudian pirates, I have other questions. More directly, the crewman on the boat who was prepping everyone told everyone that in order to get back on the ferry, we had to have our cabin keys, and to say the password “Bermudaful”. The ferry ride was about 20 minutes; I turned on my phone for the first time since NY and let the texts flood in, responding where practical.

The ferry took us to the other side of the island. I got off, picked a direction, and started walking. I did a LOT of walking. The weather was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Enough sun to feel like I’m on vacation, enough cloud cover to make up for the fact that I was a derp and forgot my sunglasses at home. Warm enough to allow me to walk for a good distance, but not so warm as to make the walk unbearable.

The first place I went to was a small public park; it seemed well maintained but I was surprised that there wasn’t a plaque or anything indicating anything about what prompted its creation or who pays for the upkeep.

Next up, the Gates Fort National Park. One of the amusing things I’d noticed was the difference in scale. This national park had less square footage than the smallest restaurant at which I’ve eaten dinner on the ship. The building itself was the sort of building straight out of a video game; I was half expecting to find some ammo or a health pack in there. I didn’t…but given the set of cannons there, the building probably did legitimately hold ammo in the past. One of the slots that presumably held a third cannon was empty, and it was possible to walk along the rocks and look out at the ocean. I heard my mother telling me to be careful…and I was.

There were plenty of geckos around there…like, I really thought one of them was going to save me 15% on my car insurance. As I kept walking, I came across the next place where the British stuck some anti-naval guns, equally in need of a little WD-40.

As I kept walking, there was a bench in need of repair…and I was in need of 5 minutes of a bit of shade. I saw some steps, and going down, there was a tiny beach…like, size-of-my-stateroom tiny. Two other individuals found it and were sunbathing; I hung out there for a few minutes, took the sand photo, and kept up on my journey.

The boat I saw had me confused. There was enough overgrowth to make towing it out in a truck problematic, and it was on blocks, rather than a boat trailer. The other side led to a cliff several dozen feet up, so it’s not being pushed into the water that way. At the same time, it wasn’t rusted or rotted out; someone was maintaining it. Hence, it got the nickname ‘the Gibbs boat’.

I was surprised to see livestock around the island. While I guess it ultimately makes sense for cows to be there, I definitely wasn’t expecting to see them. Similarly, I was surprised to see not only chickens, but wild chickens. I was annoyed I couldn’t get a picture of the one I saw crossing the road. I asked him why he did it. He wasn’t very insightful. Also unpictured because getting wildlife photos with an iPhone is more luck than anything else, was a particular bird with very bright yellow feathers under its wings. Finally, a few of the houses had cats camping out on their front porches. One, a black cat, acknowledged my existence by meowing at me in the low, angry tone that seemed one step away from a hiss and a swat. The other, a white one with brown stripes, refused to even make eye contact with me. Say what you will about how I’m a stranger to these small tigers, puppies almost always seem excited when a human greets them.

More walking, and there was a big building under construction, but strangely, I didn’t see any construction workers. I saw one guy, but I got the “espanish…no inglish’ when I tried talking to him, so I wished him a good day and didn’t belabor the point.

A bit later on, I passed another gentleman and started speaking to him, primarily asking where everyone was. I’d walked nearly two miles away from the pier at this point, and I only saw one guy with a leaf blower at the first park, the Spanish-speaking day laborer, and other tourists. Yes, I’m from New York and used to insane population density, but it really seemed like there were more people on the cruise ship than live in Bermuda, so I asked the guy. He was nice enough, and said something to the effect of “everybody is at work”. Seems logical, but after looking a bit more at the map, I think the corollary was that we were on the half of the island that seems a lot more residential, so the population was simply where the businesses were – the half of the island where the ship docked, rather than where the ferry took us. The gentleman apparently knows someone who lives in Babylon; I told him it’s a nice place (though not “Bermuda nice”), and that I had been there many times. He asked if I knew his friends, to which I had to respond, “Long Island has 5 million people on it”. He was understanding, but I was impressed that he knew of a specific town I work in and pass through regularly. We ended our conversation with him telling me that he was a Jehovah’s Witness. I took his card, we shook hands, and we parted ways.

At this point, I was getting a bit thirsty, and was once again very surprised that I didn’t pass somewhere that sold anything to drink. Back home, I’d have passed four gas stations and twelve 7-11’s by now. I walked a bit further and came up to the beach at Tobacco Bay, where there was a beach, some taxis, and the sort of small food-and-drink shack one would expect to find at a beach. I ordered a seltzer, and since the awesome Trinidadian lady yesterday was adamant that we should all do so, I also got a rum swizzle. The guy who served the drinks told me there was free wi-fi there, so I was like, “finally! I can post all these pictures!” …yeah, I’m beginning to think there’s no such thing as good internet on this island. It’s pretty bad when the internet on the ship is ‘the good internet’.

After battling with the internet connection to try and get the pictures uploaded for about 20 minutes…the rum hit me. Now, one other thing I should note: at home, our streets are nice and wide, complete with a shoulder lane and a sidewalk. Here…two vehicles passing each other is done with approximately one molecule of space in between them. There is no shoulder, sidewalks are sporadic and thin. I wasn’t wasted, but I stuck around the beach a bit more to let the drink wear off because walking down the road was a bad idea.

I walked to the other side of the drink shack, and there was this separate small area of beach that was probably fully submerged during high tide. The water was very shallow, so I took off my shoes and stepped in. I acclimated to the water after a bit, but the water temperature definitely reflected the fact that I was visiting Bermuda in October.

As I stood there, feet buried in the coral sand, the small fish swimming in the four inches of crystal clear water, the small waves gently crashing on the rocks, and the faint sound of the crowd on the main beach, I had ‘the moment’ – the moment for which every vacation exists. The one where every server project, every time entry in Autotask, every political Facebook post, every unread e-mail, the hideously neutral ringtone of my Blackberry, every bill that’s due, every contact I debated deleting…every last bit of it completely faded away, and I was able to be fully present, in the moment, without any care in the world. It was the absolute best half hour I have had all year.

Before I left the beach, I saw a guy talking to an individual with a blue shirt and a name tag about…something, I don’t quite remember what. When the other tourist was done, I asked Carl what he does, and what it’s like to work with tourists for a living. His answer reminded me of the lady on the beach in the Bahamas: the overwhelming majority of tourists are nice, friendly, and easy to work with. There is the occasional jerk, but for the most part, he is happy to work with all the visitors. Clearly an extrovert, his job was to maintain and upkeep the beach – stacking the beach chairs, getting rid of the occasional piece of trash that is left behind (he made a point of saying that the majority of people are very good about keeping the beach clean so his time spent on that task is relatively minimal), and on rare occasion, deal with a safety issue – typically people who had one too many rum swizzles and are more a danger to themselves than other people on the beach. He ended his story by saying that there was one time he had a guy come to the beach several days in a row, while being a member of the KKK. I laughed and asked, “uhm, was he aware of where he was going?” Carl and I had a good laugh, and he said, “apparently not”, but by the end of that guy’s time there, they shook hands and the guy gave Carl a $50 tip. It was a touching story, and I was grateful to have been able to take a few minutes and talk with Carl.

Freshly hydrated, and with my BAL close enough to normal to not be a safety hazard, I started to head back to the pier to pick up a ferry back to the ship. The next place I stopped at was The Unfinished Church. It was at that point I realized that I’d been there before, which then led me to realize that my memories from my senior trip are *very* faded. The Unfinished Church looked familiar, and I remember doing the dance routine to “Shackles” in that park somewhere, but other than those three minutes, I have zero memories of my time on the island when I came here in 2004.

While I was at the church, I ran into two other tourists, who asked me to take a picture for them. I was happy to do so, and they reciprocated.

Oh, and at this point, it started to rain a bit.

I looked for somewhere to eat; I was again surprised that I’d passed neither a restaurant nor a supermarket after several miles of walking. I did end up finding somewhere – about the only place within another mile of walking – a “Mr. Chicken Express”. I decided to go for it; though it was a walk-up and walk-away sort of a place, there was a waiting bench and the people there were fine with me sitting and eating. There was definitely a human touch to the chicken; KFC, this was not. While I was there, another guy by the name of Justin was ordering his food and started talking to me. He works for a warehouse and unloads palettes for a living, so he doesn’t typically interact with tourists and was happy to talk to me for a bit and ask about New York and why I chose to come to Bermuda and so on. We only talked for a few minutes, but it’s moments like that which are common in Bermuda but rare most other places of the world, especially places with tourist-heavy economies.

Adjoined to Mr. Chicken was a small convenience store; though the chicken was good, I was again parched. I got a ginger beer, and was incredibly happy because while some I’ve tried have been incredibly sweet, I’ll never forget the one time I got some at Aldi’s with my sister and it was basically like trying to drink a carbonated ginger root. This stuff was the Goldilocks of ginger beer – juuust right.

I high-tailed it back to the pier, and of course, I’d missed the 3:15 tender boat by about ten minutes. Another one, however, was right behind it. It wasn’t the one from the cruise line, but it was brilliant in that they charged $5 to get to the same place. I learned my lesson, but it was a good thing I did. While it was drizzling a bit toward the end of my walk, it was legit-raining by time I got back on the ship.

I got back to the ship, checked my Apple Health, and it said that I walked about seven miles today. I’m not quite sure I buy that, but a fantastic day it was. I fell asleep for about 40 minutes, and went to the ST.

Unsurprisingly, our 5PM meet-up was sparsely attended, to the point where Kareem decided to kick the can on our salsa dancing lesson and opted for trivia instead. Yes, Wendy and I did pretty bad, but in our defense, a LOT of the questions are geography based.

I went back to my room, only to find a message on my stateroom phone that my excursion to the Bermuda Triangle had been canceled due to the weather. I think I’m making it a rule to just stop trying to schedule excursions because I inevitably pick the ones that get canceled – Between this trip and the one to the Bahamas, I’m 3.5 for 4; if my snorkel excursion on Friday (rescheduled from today) gets completely canceled again, I’ll officially take it as a sign to give up.

So, I went back to sleep for a little while longer, woken up by Sweetie, my housekeeper. I took it as a hint to get back up and finally try and get my pictures uploaded. I hope you were all entertained, because between resizing the pictures, getting them uploaded, battling WordPress to deal with the low-bandwidth connection to the point where I had to manually enter the HTML code and upload via FTP, and write this 2,500 word blog entry…I’ve been at this for the past three hours. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?

While I was on the pool deck doing this work, the kids program came up and did this whole spiel where the kids marched in line and their director person led them to battle a pirate for their treasure…or something like that. I didn’t exactly have a great view of it, but I heard it. That’s been something I’ve been curious about; I see entries for the ‘Guppies’ program, but for bleedingly obvious reasons I’m not one to exactly take a tour of how they handle the kids. I would imagine they allow the kids to stay in their own area for long stints at a time; the longer mom and/or dad are in the casino, the more money the cruise line makes. Additionally, I’m sure that even the most loving parent still looks forward to having their child in good hands while they can unwind…but that leads me to think a bit more about the logistics of the kids programs – How do they deal with the child whose parents lost track of time? How do they keep kids entertained for ten hours a day, or deal with kids being a bit too rough with each other, or the fact that children still learning to communicate may have challenges understanding some of the heavier-accented cruise staff? If the kids programs run while parents are on the island, how do they communicate if the child needs their parent? Can I even ask these questions and not end up on a list somewhere?

Aaaand, just to double down on making sure I end up on a list, after the kids fought the pirate (and, I’m assuming, got treasure?), the pool deck cleared out for the teens pool party…which seemed to have its challenges. I feel like the guy who was overseeing it got handed the task in a raffle or something. He was DJing, but did a pretty bad job – jumping genres wildly, no beatmixing, cutting songs off pointlessly…definitely not one of the regular DJs on board as all have been pretty good; this guy could have improved things dramatically using iTunes automix. They did a few minute-to-win-it games and just kinda hung out in the pools and hot tubs, but this guy clearly lacked the sort of enthusiasm and stage presence required to keep teens engaged.

I should probably find some dinner.

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