I was headed for snowy Highbanks Metro Park this morning and ended up in Bermuda. Sadly, this was not a literal event. If I could make that happen on a Friday morning, my purse would hold more than its standard necessities of dental floss, crushed red peppers, and “lunch money”. No; it began as a quick ten minute journey through some old photos, boxed and awaiting eventual organization. But, in searching for some ice-laden winter shots from my favorite running trails, I stumbled into photos from my first BYOB(C) -“Bring Your Own Birth Certificate”- trip. So, I guess Highbanks will wait… I’m remembering the thrill of getting up out of Ohio and spotting coral reefs through an airplane window for the first time.
I’d roped my ex-husband into some lower budget ventures in our first years of marriage, finding and exploring many of the natural areas in our surrounding states of Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. An early trip through Michigan severely tested the limits of a young marriage, however, with me insisting that we could survive on the bag of groceries in the back of my Toyota, and my ex-husband emphatically pulling into an all-you-can-eat-buffet that consumed the rest of our meager vacation budget. He was right, it turned out. I have a teen-age son now and a much better understanding of the significance of real food to males and the whole travel experience (but bagels with peanut butter are food too, right?).
Bermuda was a tangible affirmation of the value of travel.
We still cut reasonable monetary corners on the island, opting for an apartment on a hillside over one of the more expensive resort hotels. We also rented mountain bikes rather than the popular motor scooters, but that was more out of personal preference than an economic choice.
Peering down from a grassy cliff-side path and seeing actual tropical fish in the waters below expanded my horizons from ground level to ocean deep. We were at the edge of another world but had to get closer yet… We ventured gingerly down the sharp volcanic rock, fascinated by the clear cerulean blues of the seething waters. Eventually, from the edge of a calmer pink sand beach, we had to try snorkeling. Being novices to “tropical” traveling, we were unprepared but equally undeterred. I inquired about renting snorkels at a nearby hotel. There were none left to rent, but in what I found to be a charmingly typical kindness amongst the islanders, the desk clerk offered his own equipment to us, refusing our offers of payment.
I was completely hooked. Previously, my perceptions of the ocean were limited to what washed up on its shores or touched my toes as I swam. In Bermuda, I discovered a whole new world of fish and coral and creatures. Mesmerized, I followed fish that first afternoon until my lips turned blue (It was April and a little early for all but the most hearty Atlantic swimmers). I simply couldn’t leave the water.
Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the quaint, bustling towns of Hamilton and St. George. Riding mountain bikes along the Bermuda Railway Trail to catch a ferry across the Great Sound was also a great way to experience the island. The pastel-colored houses, profuse tropical blooms, and the whole British colony flavor of things was exhilarating to my Midwestern bred senses.
But my most lasting impression of Bermuda remains my vertical view from a dead man’s float. It revealed an enchanting new world, often silent but never entirely still. A fluid nation, hosting vivid personalities with unique languages and vibrant color…
It added new dimension to my notions of travel and gave me more than adequate excuse to aim for oceans occasionally.
I love exploring the geology and geography of our diverse earth. My first experience with snorkeling, back in Bermuda, felt a little like peering down to an “earth” from the heavens above. Undeniably thrilling.6 Comments