When I was a little girl back in the eighties I used to hear all these stories about planes disappearing in the Bermuda triangle. It was a big thing back then, there were so many movies, TV shows, reports about all manner of mysterious events, that it was easy for my childish imagination to be excited. I would think about that strange place where everything must go after it vanished; that other dimension where pilots and their planes were stuck forever. As skeptical as I have always been, there was no question that something supernatural was going on in that perfectly outlined section of the seas.
What I didn´t know back then, was that the Bemuda archipelago is actually in the Atlantic Ocean, and not quite as tropical as the Caribbean islands. This I only learnt the day I first set foot in Bermuda.
I will never forget that afternoon. I was inside the cruise ship´s outdoor Jacuzzi, looking out into the sea, enjoying the bliss of a sunny day when, all of a sudden, an unreal darkness covered the clear skies. Everything turned black, one would have thought it was the middle of the night, and I couldn´t help shuddering, and feeling that whatever the Triangle´s secret was, we were at its mercy, willlingly sailing into the Earth´s darkest recesses, perhaps never to return.
But it didn´t swallow us, the good old triangle, and I did, finally set foot in Bermuda. We docked at King´s Wharf, by the side of a magnificent fort, whose beautiful pinkish hue stretched out into the bluest of seas in utter perfection. This meant that if you wanted to go to Hamilton town, the capital, you had to take a ferry. The ticket was inexpensive, unlike the shops, and the restaurants I would later visit. Bermuda is part of the British Commonwealth, it was once a British colony, and the queen of all currencies, the pound, is still queen there. Coming from the States or the Caribbean, the prices there will prove scarier than the unreal tales of planes and ships swallowed by the triangle over the years.
Spreading along the turquoise ocean´s edge, Hamilton is lined with pastel colored cottages with their perfect little gardens, and full of friendly little shops, good old English pubs, restaurants with glorious vistas, the occasional cozy bookstore and everything you might desire, as long as you can afford it. If you are planning on staying in the Hamilton area, the Royal Palms hotel, with its charming gardens and relaxed atmosphere is definitely a safe bet.
However, my dearest memories from Bermuda are not from the glorious stone walls of the fort, the glass factories where big red-haired boys in Green Day T-shirts blew the glass into perfection, or the photos of the whitest sands and turquoise waters my friends had taken, after smartly renting scooters to go beach-scouting, and I´m talking gorgeous beaches with wide stretches of sand, and not a soul (or a building) in sight, the kind of photos that make you wish you were there. My coolest memory of Bermuda is and will ever stay Edith.
I met Edith on the ferry back from Hamilton. She was a black woman of sixty-something, perhaps more, with a perfect British accent, descended from African slaves, as the bulk of the Bermuda population. In the few minutes the ride took from the city to our dock, she charmed me with her stories and her gorgeous pride to be Bermudian.
She told me about how Bermuda came to be British. The story (or Edith, in this case) tells that when the Spanish conquerors first came ashore in Bermuda they heard terrible wails, and they thought they had entered the gates of hell, that´s why they called it Devil´s island, and went on their way. They thought they could handle the Aztecs, but, religious as they were, they evidently thought that the devil was a bit out of their league… So, the British, who were not deterred by the mad wails, took their chance and settled there after a bloodless conquest. What the Spanish had heard were wild pigs. To prove this, Edith produced a Bermudian coin, a penny. The figure on the penny was, unmistakably, a pig, one of Bermuda´s true original dwellers.
Edith was a widow, and she had got a job after her husband´s death “because (she) needed something to do”, and thus, she would drive her car to the pier everyday, and then take the ferry to the city. As it turned out, I met her on the way back from work; she was a public offical of some sort. It was sad to see her walk towards her car, knowing that I would never see her again. To me, she was Bermuda now, that place that I had learnt to love in just one day, Edith, with her unmistakable African roots, descended from estranged slaves brought to a paradise where once the Queen of England had replaced the King of pigs.
On our way back to New Jersey there was a mysterious blackout. But the triangle spared us. After all, a shipload of three thousand people must be pretty hard to swallow, even for the Triangle…