Bermuda is supposed to be a friendly place, and having been there before a number of times, I thought that going through customs would be a piece of cake. I only was going to be there only one day and two nights, on the JetBlue “All you can eat” pass. Tourism is the island’s bread and butter after offshore banking, so why would they want to make enemies?
But no, the guy guarding the exit told me to go to the inspection line. This was really strange as I had only a small backpack with swim trunks, and a single change of clothes. So, behind a bunch of people who had brought the entire contents of their houses, I waited…and waited…and waited. Several other people complained as well as the customs inspectors were apparently taking a break.
Finally, I got to the front of the line. The woman looked at me with disdain and said:
“Are you carrying illegal drugs and other contraband? “
“No,” I replied.
“All right, you can go.”
An hour for that?!? I fumed to myself. I could have gone, unpacked and left my hotel already, and headed off to Hamilton, the only city on the island, and bought souvenirs, but Noooo!!!
Then there was the interminable wait for the bus. Usually Bermuda has one of the best bus systems in what was once the British Empire, but today, well, by the time I got to Aunt Nea’s Hotel in St. George, the cheapest on the island that’s allowed to advertise. I was fuming.
There were two guys sitting on the front porch, who informed me that Aunt Nea wasn’t there, and that wasn’t surprising since she is fictional, but the person who owned the place wasn’t there either and had left everything for me in an envelope behind the front desk. (This is why this otherwise delightful hotel isn’t expensive.)
While I was heading to my room, I heard one of the men on the veranda tell the other about a huge to-do over on St. David’s Island. The Bank of Bermuda was having its annual picnic.
"Ah Soooooooooh!!!!," I thought to myself, I will crash it and have dinner on the Bermuda government’s dime… Revenge!!!!!!
Bermuda isn’t an island; it’s an archipelago--a series of small to tiny islands that look from the sky like a fishhook. St. David’s is the one with the international airport, and a large public beach. When I got to Clearwater Beach, where the thing was at, it was beginning to get late. True, there were plenty of people there, but they looked satiated and the people giving away sodas were demanding tickets? What to do?
I wandered around slightly dejected at the idea of having my revenge foiled in such a manner, but what could I do? I went to the tent where there was a huge buffet just sitting there. I was stopped.
I explained that I was a poor hungry tourist who had heard of the good works of the wonderful and charitable Bank of Bermuda, which was partly owned by HSBC, and he told me that he’d have to ask his supervisor, a young girl no more than 16, or so she looked. She gave me a dirty look but then said that I could come in as long as I was unobtrusive about it. I promised to be so and then went to the buffet, where I began filling my plate with hamburgers, hotdogs and Mac and Cheese, (Bermuda doesn’t have particularly exotic food) and finding a ticket on the floor, I got myself a coke. I thanked the guards, and then stuffed myself. Revenge was mine!!!! Ha-Ha!!! And it turn out to be a grand time.
The reason I went to Bermuda was three-fold. JetBlue had this amazing $600 All-You-Can-Fly fare, with which you can go to as many places as possible within the space of a month (a one time only thing, dammit!). Then there’s the annual film festival, which I had missed. I wanted to see the venue, which is at a place that nobody could locate for some reason. And finally, there’s this place called The Nine Beaches Resort that has been sending me emails, and, since I couldn’t afford it, I wanted to take a bit of a look at it.
I looked, it was nice--mostly a bunch of bungalows--but that was it. It was just my luck that it was raining most of the day, and I had to run to catch a bus which, fortunately, stopped nearby the entrance.
The next morning, I flew home. There’s not much to do in Bermuda without spending a ton of money. I guess that’s why they have a film festival. The Bermuda International Film Festival (http://www.biff.bm). And that a whole nother story.