Thwap, Slposh! The torrents of spray attacked my foul weather jacket, pulled close around me. I retracted my hands into my reflector-ringed sleeves to avoid the salty sting. Two fingers ventured out to fumble with the piece of plastic covering my good shoes. Just another ordinary outing for the Cowan family. In fact, this was my parent’s anniversary, and we are on our way out to dinner. The four of us are a blur of florescent yellow chugging across the bay in our inflatable. Ashore, we scurry to the restaurant through the rain and extract ourselves from our foul weather gear.
This was how most of our stay in Bermuda had been. Because of the endless wind and rain, we would have to suit up like firemen if we wanted to go anywhere and be dry when we arrived. The dark, ominous cloud hanging over Bermuda signified the end of our tropical fun. But, for a few glorious days towards the end of our storm-lengthened stay, the clouds parted and we were able to satiate our wanderlust one last time.
The island of Bermuda is so small and the roads are so narrow that the renting of cars is not permitted, but renting mopeds is very popular. The high-pitched whine of speeding mopeds that resonated throughout the island had been slightly annoying, but when we decided to splurge and rent two of our own, that noise went from obnoxious to sounding quite pleasant.
Off we sped past neatly manicured lawns and pastel houses, by palm and evergreen trees, majestic forts and sandy coves. The temperate air whizzing past whipped stray strands of hair in my eyes, and tickled my cheeks. This was our one chance to freely roam the island, and we did not want to miss anything. We zipped over to Hamilton, which by bus seemed far away, but by moped took no time at all. Compared to colonial style St. George, Hamilton had a very metropolitan feel. The streets were lined with boutiques and fancy department stores. There was a park in the heart of the small city that resembled New York’s Central Park. Even the fort that once protected the city, Fort Hamilton, resembled a park. With its vibrantly green lawns and exquisite gardens, you would never imagine this place had been used for the purpose of warfare. The moat that was once used to keep out undesirables is now a beautiful walking path with vines and other jungle plants crawling into the moat and narrowing the path.
Up next was Spittle Pond Nature Reserve. Aptly named because of its numerous, odd-shaped ponds, Spittle Pond is host to a wide variety of flora and fauna. The sweet pine scent of Bermuda cedars mingled with the soft chirping of tiny tree frogs. We spotted one of these one-centimeter long crooners hopping along the mossy forest floor. This reserve also has very unusual geological formations. There is one area of black and white checkered rock, crisscrossed with cracks, forming a near perfect grid. You could almost play chess on it!
The next marvel we visited was mechanical rather than geological. From the outside, the Bermuda Perfumery looked like a cottage nestled among fields of exotic flowers. But, on the inside, with the large vats and squishing and extracting machines, it looked more like something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. We learned all about how perfume is made today, and also how long ago it was made from whale fat. After the tour, we ambled through fields of hibiscus, Easter lily, oleander, and passion flower. The passion flower was particularly interesting. It was an odd yet beautiful combination of purple, white, and green, although the number of parts of the flower is what made it truly fascinating. The flower gets its name from Christ’s Passion: the 10 petals represent the apostles present at crucifixion; the 72 filaments represent the number of thorns in Christ’s crown; the 5 anthers represent Christ’s wounds, and the 3 styles with rounded stigmas represent the three nails.
As much fun as Bermuda had been, we were getting a bit antsy to leave. And we were not the only ones. All over Bermuda, harbors were crowded with boats of all shapes and sizes, just itching to be moving on. Recently the weather had been horrible, with one nasty storm right after another. It was as if they had been moving along a conveyor belt. A few boats that had tried to leave ended up coming back because it was so rough. Everyone, from the tall ship Picton Castle to the numerous small sloops, was waiting for good weather. Being stuck on Bermuda together, we made quite a few new friends and solidified bonds with others we had met elsewhere. We met a man who also happened to be from Maine, and owned a beautiful sloop named Alice. We even met a few kids close to our own age, who were from Canada, and were also anxious to get home to their friends, and spend some quality time with their televisions. But most of all we enjoyed spending time with the crew of Spartina, whom we had met in Dominica. We had seen them on and off during our trip north, but this was where we would part ways. We were heading north west, home to Maine, and they were heading north east, to Europe. We had some good times with them, hiking thought rainforests in Dominica, shopping in French grocery stores in St. Martin, and here on Bermuda we had quite an interesting experience.
One evening the six of us decided to patronize a locally well-known, upper crust pub. When we stepped inside the relatively small, crowded interior, we anticipated a long wait. When the host asked how many were in our party, my mother replied, six, and the man just gave us a quizzical look. After a pregnant pause he asked, dumbfounded, “Did you say six?” A bit confused, my mother replied, “Yes.” Still flabbergasted, the man said that there had just been a cancellation for a party of six, everyone else there had an hour’s wait, that our table was ready, and he could seat us right away. We could not believe our incredible luck!
Finally, after two weeks of waiting, we were ready to make the last leg of our trip home. We had been given the all-clear weather wise, and everything else had been ready for ages. It was now a matter of days, not months, or even weeks, and I would be home. But we were not there yet.