A postcard from Bermuda.
St Georges, Bermuda.
17th May 2009.
A quiet Sunday in St Georges is for most, a day of rest. For the crew of Libertad, it was a day to explore more of this beautiful island.
Last evening we had the opportunity to go to the yacht club for a fish supper but decided on Anglo French Entente Cordiale in the galley, did you know that the "galley" is so named after the galley ships, I assume that it was an uncomfortable place where one is expected to work hard! I have also discovered the word "Slave" comes from the Slaves of eastern Europe, as in the former Yugoslavia who were enslaved many centuries before we thought of the idea of bringing Africans to the Caribbean and the New world and to London to drive our buses, history was never my strong point. I am told the Egyptians also enslaved workers to build the pyramids, who said that travel doesn't broaden the mind? Enough of this exploring the large gaps in my education. I digress.
Last evening a feast of some magnitude was prepared, we had roast beef with roast potatoes, fresh carrots and cabbage, what no Yorkshire pudding? I hear you cry, it is a very small oven! That was the Anglo part of the meal, followed by Lucien's creation of” Le tart aux poires”, washed down with a cheeky little Merlot from the Barossa region of South Australia and some Wensleydale cheese and crackers as a finale. Both Guy and I had a dream filled night digesting that lot.
Setting off at the crack of dawn, well 09:30 a.m. in reality, we took Doris to the ferry dock to catch the 10:00 am ferry to the Old Dock yard only to discover that the ferries do not run on Saturday or Sunday from St Georges, so a swift sprint to the bus stop and a no 10 bus bang on cue, roars over the crest of the hill coming to a stop like a metallic serpent, hissing brakes and snorting exhaust we board as the driver wishes us good morning.
The ride is at brake neck speed more like riding on a fire tender with siren and blue lights than a service bus; it must be something in the Caribbean's nature to always be in a hurry when driving but to slow to funereal pace when walking, I suspect it is something to do with not expending energy I suspect. The coastal scenery is spectacular, the twisting roads, hugging the coastal contours all the way to Hamilton. We stormed in to the central bus station as if our lives depended on being on time. The bus to the Old Docks was waiting for us. As soon as we were seated the door slammed shut and away we sped, again at break neck speed, it must be part of the training for Bermudan bus drivers.Fourty minutes of clinging to the seat in front found us at the terminus, the reborn and highly redeveloped Old Docklands. The first thing you notice is the towering mass of a cruise liner disgorging many hundreds ,if not thousands of overweight Zimmer pushing ( and they are the walking wounded) passengers followed by the wheelchair bound obese that have given up any thought of walking ever again unless forced by famine or to forage for food.
The predominant accent is that of the U.S they are herded into Dotto trains and taken to the shopping malls to ensure that their dollars are extracted from their wallets and purses as painlessly as possible. Thus relieved of as many $$$$ as possible they return from whence they came clutching bulging shopping bags of T Shirts emblazoned with every Bermudan logo imaginable or caps with Skipper" embroidered on the brow and gold brade on the peak, maybe I should have brought one, or perhaps not.
Well worth the visit is the Bermudian National Maritime Museum, worthy of the World Heritage site status awarded to it recently. It is housed in the old Navy buildings, now lovingly restored to their former glory; the Commissioners house filled with rare artefacts and paintings over three floors depicting four hundred years of Bermuda’s turbulent history.
The Islanders have always been resourceful and to this day their entrepreneurial flare has given the population a standard of living that is the envy of the world. The present economy is based on international banking, Insurance and trade. The past has seen the lucrative production and export of tobacco until Virginia cornered the market, cotton was also tried until Alabama decided to get in on the act and even spring vegetables were exported to the eastern seaboard of the U.S and Canada until Mr Frigidaire invented his cool box enabling growers from farther afield to compete. Tourism became an important currency earner in the post first and second world war periods. Initially the ocean liners brought tourist from the United states in just a few days .From the early thirties Imperial Airways and their flying boats secured the air route. From the early fifties, BOAC and Pan Am competed for the U.S traffic. Pre Second World war there was no airport on Bermuda but in 1941 the Bermudan/British Governments came to an agreement to lease an area of land that has now become the international airport with regular global connections. Since the end of the cold war the relinquished the lease back to the Bermudan Government.
The only attraction that I feel marred this historic site was the dolphinarium, I appreciate that I have the advantage of seeing these wonderful creatures in the wild on a regular basis but watching these trained captive animals perform for food is I think demeaning to them and to us. They are held in a small stone pond with little to stimulate them other than the very attractive girls clad in fashionable swim suits, I could have watched them all day, please let the dolphins go.
Meeting up once again with Guy and Lucien we needed some sustenance and retired to the “Jolly Jack Tar” bar and restaurant,” you all have a nice day, your welcome I am sure”, we were joined at the trough by hungry Americans who it would appear needed refuelling before returning to the ship for lunch.
The return bus ride had that same roller coaster feeling but this time hurtling north to Hamilton stopping frequently to pick up or set down passengers. We roared into Somerset Village and its small bus station to change drivers One on and one off they both turned to their trembling passenger and with a smile wished us all ~Good Afternoon ,at the end of his shift the departing driver roared off on a scooter, one imagines to the bosom of his relieved family, he survived another shift. The new driver prepared his cockpit, a sheepskin seat cover place with considerable care over the driver’s seat and then disgorged the biggest ghetto blaster from his rucksack, the largest have ever seen. It was placed with the reverence of an altar boy on the front dash board ready to play those popular Bob Marley numbers at a decibel level guaranteed to reach the hard of hearing at the very rear of the bus and beyond.
We skidded to a halt at one stop to pick up a group of boisterous teenage boys out for a Sunday night of sing-along at the local Baptist Chapel; the driver turned down his music and reprimanded the boys for their behaviour saying “I hope you are going to keep that noise outside”! They respectfully said “yes sir” and climbed the steps showing their passes each saying to all the passengers as they moved to the back, “Good afternoon to you all". I do like this society, one that has respect for others, long may it last in this mid Atlantic outpost.
The bus careered through the high street of St Georges stopping only to spew the remaining passengers on to the pavement and left those choking on exhaust fumes as it sped off to its depot. We decided to lubricate our throats with a welcome pint before taking Doris back to Libertad.
Drew has also had a busy day scrubbing bottoms, other peoples I think, He is learning to dive with a guy he met from another boat. It appears they have started a small business together scrubbing the barnacles from the bottom of boats for $50:00 each per boat. It seems rather like an underwater version of the carwash lads at Asda on a Saturday morning. I think I will have to get in on the act and charge a percentage.
As you may have gathered we are all well, having a wonderful time and only just starting to look at the five day forecast for Wednesday ,thirty knots from the north, north east, !!
With best wishes to you all from the crew of Libertad and Paul.