Sunday, June 26, 2016

Scootering around Bermuda, my Birthday present

St George Somers an excited pose, claiming these reefs and islands on the way to Virginia

 Bermuda apparently was discovered around 1503 by a Juan Bermudez, a Spanish discoverer, who could not read or write, but seemed to have been a very able and daring mariner, or so can be read in Legatio Babylonica by Spanish author and historian Peter Martyr. (Why does that guy not have a Spanish name?) Aha, I just googled him, he was an Italian living and working in Spain and his full name is Martyr of Angleria, because he was born in the Piedmont nearby the town of Angera.
 
 Copy of the wrecked ship Sir George sailed on
Nevertheless Bermuda's actual history began in 1609, when British admiral Sir George Somers shipwrecked on its reefs as he was leading a fleet of 9 ships from Plymouth to Jamestown VA, a new English colony, or so the tourist pamphlets all over Bermuda tell its visitors.
 St Peters Church in St Georges, the oldest Anglican Church in Bermuda built 1612 with Bermudan Cedar
I will spare you the rest of the story about Sir George, who died in Bermuda and who's body was returned to England pickled in a barrel although his heart was buried on Somers isles, one of the about 300 coral islands that make up the archipelago of present day Bermuda, a 20 square mile country connected by bridges and or landfill and in so creating a landmass, barely sticking out of the ocean with 64,000 inhabitants, all proudly British, wearing Bermuda shorts and long socks to work. Whereas Bermudez passed the islands, the originally left behind 3 Brits claimed Bermuda for the empire till reinforcements came to populate the colony. 

 There are an untold number of beaches and coves to visit in Bermuda

 
 
Sandee, who had been, before my arrival in her life, many times to Bermuda, surprised me with a trip to the island for my Birthday, since we have stopped trying to find earthly goods to give each other for such occasions.
 Every Bermudan seems to have a boat
 
 
The official Bermudan training sailing ship
She wowed me with stories about the clean pristine crime free surroundings, where her favorite pastime was renting a scooter and exploring every possible road one could find. Visitors can not rent cars here, only "peddle bikes" (a British term?) or scooters. 
  Scooters brought us these sights to enjoy all over the islands
 
Residents can own only one car, unless they are in a certain category of public service, like doctors and taxi drivers. In that case they are allowed a second car. Mrs. Smith, the very British owner of the Oxford House in Hamilton where we lodged, told us that MD friends of her that were retired were still having 2 cars, because they omitted to mention that they did not practice anymore. The taxi lady who drove us back to the airport mentioned that she owned several taxis, an industry limited to 600 licenses on the island and that she therefore had a few personal cars.
Below three pictures of Oxford Guest house where we stayed in the left upper bedroom, but first a picture
of what we saw at night from our bedroom window
  
 



  

Visiting the botanical gardens we found this magnificent India Blue Peafowl (Peacock) displaying its courting ritual

 
 
I truly enjoyed driving a scooter, while admiring my sweethearts backside as she expertly maneuvered the few roads that connect the 9 parishes between St Georges and the Royal Naval Dockyards, aptly named North Road, South Road and Middle Road. Unlike most of the Carribean islands, no blight can be found here, and the colorful houses, the azure waters, the flowers that enhance your multitude of human senses and the tree frogs that "sing" all night make Bermuda a unique although very expensive travel experience.
 
Fresh water is scarce. Every house has water tanks under the house fed by rainwater, see ribbed roofs with sloping guiding channels for the water to reach the roof drainage pipes.
 Lighthouses galore here, because of treacherous waters, with reefs all around making wreck diving a pastime 
 
 













Pink is a common color in Bermuda





 
Homes are stuck away in little side lanes
We enjoyed Bermuda's national holiday celebrating Bermuda Day, traditionally the first day that Bermudans start wearing their Bermuda shorts after the winter season, also the first day that they go on or in the water. We witnessed the traditional parade in Hamilton made up of floats built by the schools and civic organizations here.
 The big parade in Hamilton
 
 
 The parade onlookers gather in chairs under tents on front street, which is the water side street in Halimton,
 see hull of cruise ship in the background
We had Bermuda rum swizzles, visited the lime caves, and ogled at mansions, although the real good stuff owned by the very rich cannot be seen, because guard houses block entry to those neighborhoods.
 
One of two famous Swizzle Inns, where one really should drink a rum swizzle
 Pictures of our caves visit - and yes one visits two caves of an under ground river-system 
 connecting many more caves not open to the public
 
 
 
Bermuda's economy depends on international banking and insurance companies and on tourism secondly. Tourism accounts for 38% of their GDP, as the constant stream of arriving and departing cruise ships indicate. Cleverly the Royal Naval Docks at one end of the island has been transformed in a "Disney like park", so that the majority of cruise passengers never leave that area, or are loaded into buses to do the quick half day tour.
 Pictures from the Royal Navy Dockyard National Museum housed in the largest fort on the islands, where they also house the Dolphin Quest, where one can swim with the Dolphins.
 
 
 
Scooterers like us often have passing cars roll down their windows and a friendly passenger tells me that my friend stopped or took a turn a few hundred yards behind me. We did not have the best weather, so swimming never happened. But scootering was a blast. I thank my sweetheart for a lovely birthday gift in having me ride the islands for 4 days every day on any possible road we could find.
 
Oh and we and those bussed tourists had to watch of course in St Georges the "dunking of the nag" a wet adventure for a woman who does that every day in season:
 
A few hundred years ago, the Anglican habit of punishing blabbering women this way was very common. Is it time to reinstitute this system of control?
 

 
 Following here in silence again the ever and again pictorial display of our fascination with plants and flowers, wherever we go:     


















To end this blog a few pictures of surprises:
 
 What is Mark Twain doing here in Bermuda

Below: A nice Bermuda lady asked if we were tourists and then directed us into a large office building
 to find this surprise - a round fish tank

 




 
 This mailbox was the best reminder to me that we are in Britain