Feeling a fool turned to feeling sorry for myself when the moment the café in which I was scouring the internet for affordable accommodation closed was the moment it started to rain, not London drizzle but tropical downpour and I was yet come any closer to a place to stay for the night. I sheltered under the café’s awning long enough for the rain to let up and made for the campsite one of the lifeguards on Horseshoe beach had pointed me toward, all the while keeping an eye out for a place to curl up and stay dry for what was surely to be a long, wet night. That is when I came across Mr Davies or rather he came across me, I think it was the odd sight of a lonely traveller laden with bags trudging along beach paths unknown to tourists that sparked his curiosity. We stood on the path and discussed my plight for a few moments before another local walker joined us and they invited my to join them on their walk. I obliged, figuring that one of them might know of somewhere I might stay the night. Weighed down by 35kg of luggage I just hoped it would be a short walk.
The walk took us past the campsite I was in search of, here Mr Davies recognised a group of campers enjoying evening drinks now that the sun had broken through the clouds. One of the campers, Jay, worked with Mr Davies at the National Trust and introduced us to the rest of the campers including Nita who had been setting up camp in the same spot for the past 28 years. They listened in amusement as I explained my situation and without hesitation Nita said there was a spare tent, albeit a leaky one, that I could have for the night. Accepting the offer I joined the rest of them for some swizzle (Bermuda punch) and a game of cricket before dinner.
|Nita and Mike|
I am not sure whether it was the drumming sound of the rain on my tent or the drops dripping on my head but by the time I managed to pry my eyes open my feet were floating in a puddle at the foot of the tent and evasive action was required to save my luggage from getting soaked. I grabbed my camera bag and made for Jay’s tent, it was only once I had stored my bags in the dry safety of his tent that I noticed Nita and Mike sitting sipping coffee whilst watching the downpour waving me over to join them for the morning coffee hit and breakfast. They informed me that the rest of the camp had already gone off to do their daily duties and invited me to spend the rest of my stay in Bermuda with them, in the dry comfort of Jay’s tent to boot.
The next couple of days were spent watching the world pass by slowly as it dealt with the relentless rain. During the brief moments when the rain let up we would head up the hill to take our guesses at how long it would be until the heavens opened again, Nita inevitably being spot on. Occasionally someone would stop by with provisions of beer and snacks or just to join the rain predictions but for the most it was Nita, Mike and myself discussing life in Bermuda and exchanging tales of travel and adventure.
|The relentless rain.|
|At least I got to take a shower.|
|Another storm brewing.|
Finally the gods stopped weeping and I was able to explore the island. I hopped on the excellent bus service which is about the only affordable thing on the island and made for Southampton parish and the dock yards. There I found myself surrounded by tourists rushing through the sites while clock watching in order to ensure they were not left behind by the cruise ships. I couldn’t help but want to be back at the camp enjoying a slower pace with friendly conversation, so after a $20 pasty and my own speed tour around the sights I made my way back to join my Bermuda family and watch the world disappear into darkness with another beer under the stars.
|Nita and Mike enjoying some sunshine.|
|Walking the line.|
On my final day I decided to head off on foot to explore the other side of the island, this took me through tropical forests and along harbour road where I unintentionally had to strip naked and take a dip to retrieve my sunglasses which fell off whilst peering over a jetty. Refreshed and a bit salty I continued, walking gingerly on the barrier wall as there was no side-walk, all the way into Hamilton which is when I finally caved to hunger and thirst and joined two homeless guys in a park for lunch of buns and plastic American cheese. I spent as much time as appropriate scouring Hamilton for some sort of trinket to remember Bermuda by and still came up empty handed. I concluded that the best memory would be the conversations and with that I stocked up on beers and jumped on the first bus in the direction of camp.
The first bus turned out to be the wrong bus and took me to the opposite side of the island, right by the church yard I had spent my first night in. By the time I had walked up the hill, this time weighed down by beers instead of backpacks, the beers were warm and I was soaked in my own sweat. Looking like a monastery taking in weary travellers on their perilous journey over the Pyrenees a liquor store presented itself at the top of the hill, this afforded me the opportunity to exchange the beers for cold ones and purchase a couple bags of ice for camp. Little did I know that ice collection would raise me to godly status in the near future.
That evening I bumped into Mr Davies again on his daily walk and was invited to dinner and to meet his wife. Over dinner he educated me on the Boer war prisoners who had been held captive on a small island off the coast of Bermuda and showed me his collection of artefacts which they had carved. Knowing that I had to get on a plane the next day, I took the opportunity to save my fellow passengers from my stench and had my first warm shower of the week.
|Our dinner view.|
In the morning Nita and Eldene drove me to the airport and hugged me goodbye, ending a week that started off looking like a disaster yet turned out to be a heart warming interaction. I got not only to see parts of a country many overlook but also to feel and interact with a version of it that those in $150 hotel rooms must find difficult conceive. For this I feel truly privileged and thank all those who made it such an incredible stay.