With the help of Beldwin and his trusted van ‘Devonstar’, I befriended the island. Beldwin, who was my taxi driver, told me so many stories in between my visits to hotels and resorts that I became dizzy. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because there was so much information to process. Stunning landscapes, colonial architecture, and then the social history that Beldwin himself has been a witness to.
“My mother said that I am colored, but after some time I could finally say that I am black and be proud of it,” he said of an early memory. Bermuda suffered the scourge of racism, and Beldwin has been witness to the long road towards racial equality. He remembers the day when voting rights were linked to land-ownership and color. He remembers the frustration of the first time he was able to vote: he was 27.
The day went by visiting lush properties, inspecting rooms and hotels for my client. The elegant and historic properties Elbow Beach; the newly constructed international Newstead (an older version of which was historic, and housed Mark Twain); the stunning views of The Reefs or the upscale tastes of Cambridge Beaches. I get the feeling that visitors to this destination consider it their second-home. And when I say hotel, don’t think of a tall building in Shanghai or any high-rise for that matter. Rooms here are more like cottages, and high-end Bermuda treats visitors in a more personal and personable manner.
I am generally averse to describing food or restaurants – after all, culture is my deal. But the moment was special. A little tired, I ate lunch at Coconuts Restaurant at The Reefs hotel. The Reefs is located on a little cliff, and has a spectacular private beach. Lunch started with a healthy Dark ‘n’ Stormy, a Bermudian drink that is made up of good Rum and soda. Started with an appetizer of avocado and baby shrimp cocktail which was so amazing, with the shrimp melting in your mouth with a saucy vinaigrette. My main meal was grilled rockfish with coconut rice, roasted cherry-tomatoes, and a lemon-butter sauce. The sun warmed my face, my view a beautiful landscape of Azure-blue waters and sandy beaches. Life is good.
My day also ended with a Dark ‘n’ Stormy. I returned to the Verandah Bar at Elbow Beach to meet with Starla, a local events planner. As we drank and became acquainted, behind us were a group of corporate-types having a very important meeting. Only, this was a Bermudan business meeting. Get this, the guy – probably in his sixties – was wearing a smart suit and tie – AND – real-life Bermuda shorts and long socks. Personally it looked rather funny. It was like seeing my Nigerian brothers at the Abuja Carnival for the first time in their comfy gowns. So, this was Bermuda business wear!
Starla ended up inviting me to the opening of G-135, in Hamilton, to a very cool concept space that will be my hangout tomorrow. Three young guys set up the space, with its wide open industrial look and a ceiling that reached the skies. In the center are couches for internet surfing, and eating. All around the room are the works of craftspeople, designers, painters that are rented by the week, month, quarter or year. A really great idea. But the prices are decidedly Bermudian. I liked a special edition Zebra box. Price 875 dollars. It’s a Bermuda box!