Bermuda: Paradise Proper
On an island of civility: spacious shorts, good roux, and a close encounter with Darth Vader
More on Bermuda:
>Where to Eat & Drink
>What to See & Do
>Meet the Locals
>Photos from the story
Going to Bermuda with a banjo on my knee. Going to Bermuda with a banjo on my knee. Supposed to come from Alabama and go to Louisiana with a banjo on one’s knee. Bermuda is better than Louisiana and Alabama for the banjo-knee-going, sweet home or no. I know about the sweet home, I went to school with ’em boys what became Lynyrd Skynyrd, I knew Allen Collins, the skinny girl-beautiful guitarist, I put Allen Collins in every travel piece I do, travel writing is harrowing, going to Bermuda with a banjo on my knee.
Travel writing is harrowing. You are in paradise, more or less, having to prove it is paradise. It is hard to have a good time trying to figure out a way to say you are having a good time, whether you are having it or not, even in paradise. The harrowing will make you daft. As I have, I think, amply demonstrated. Let’s move on. Let’s do Bermuda in Moments, with subjunctive Points of Advice.
A Moment in History
Bermuda was slow in colonization. People couldn’t find it, it was so low, and when they did find it, it was usually the hard way, foundering on reefs that ring the islands (the Bermudas, 181 islands) for miles out. It was not on the way home from the New World, outside the prevailing westerly winds. When people wrecked on the reefs, they spent five months, three months, a year rebuilding their ships or building new ships. Then they got away. Hogs were put on the islands, deliberately and as victims also of shipwreck, providing eventually a handy maritime pork store. The first money coined on Bermuda after it finally did get some colony action going had pictures of hogs engraved on every piece and was called hog money, according to Mary Gray, who has written the shortest, and until I saw Rosemary Jones’s Bermuda: Five Centuries, my favorite, serious history of Bermuda. The first known black man on Bermuda was called Venturilla. In 1738 the governor was named Alured Popple. I credit Allen Collins with having had the wit to come up with Lynyrd Skynyrd to make fun of Leonard Skinner.
A Moment in Geography
Bermuda was also difficult of access because it was not in the Caribbean with the other islands. “The Bermudas” sounds like “the Bahamas,” but it’s not. Bermuda is not even tropical. The charm of the tropics—the heat, the chaos—is not there. If you dragged Barbados 1,364 miles north toward Greenwich, Connecticut, or if you dragged Haiti 1,035 miles north and replaced the mad French influence there with the civil British footprint (the same civil footprint in Kenya and India), you’d have Bermuda. Another way to make Bermuda would be to collide Greenwich, Connecticut, with Barbados in the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland. Either way, dragging or colliding, same result. The hot sauce the color of yellow road paint made from Scotch bonnet peppers in the corked bottle in Barbados that will remove yellow road paint from a road if applied for that purpose and that you store with the cleaning supplies under the sink when you get it home and that no one will put on food is not to be found in Bermuda. You can see a chicken fight in Jamaica, and you can see two feral chickens on a golf course in Bermuda, or one feral chicken on a fancy hotel lawn.