Life in Bermuda, or “De Rock”, was a dream come true. I love nature, so with the ocean sparkling in every direction, flowers blooming all year round, and the never-ending sing-song of birds and tree frogs, it was close to heaven. Then one day, a cockroach made my acquaintance by flying directly into my face while I was riding my moped. Yup, you heard me. FLYING cockroaches. That's not heaven. Cockroaches are the bane of island living; they are everywhere in Bermuda. Since they can’t dig into the limestone and make a home, they move into yours. You would think that they would prefer to live in the billionaire mansions in Tucker’s Town. But no, some of them wanted to slum it with me in my $2500 a month rental.
Did your jaw just hit the ground? That’s not a typo, paradise is expensive. Bermuda has one of the highest costs of living in the world. I was told by a taxi driver one day, “Yes I live in paradise, but I’m a slave in paradise.” No joke. Unless you were born into the one percent, you are going to work your ass off in Bermuda. Most locals have a minimum of two jobs, and three is completely normal. Don't get me started on the price of food and gas. Since Bermuda is an island, and a tiny isolated one, almost everything is imported. The only way for the 99 percent to survive is to embrace a simpler lifestyle, which is not hard if you appreciate the wonders of mother nature. Except cockroaches, they were sent by the devil.
So once I got used to the devil's pets, (i.e. I stopped screaming like a banshee and started smashing them with the closest hard object), and losing most of my paycheck to rent and groceries, it was a walk in the park; or rather a saunter on the beach. Lunch hours were spent swimming in the sound behind my job. Weekends consisted of fishing off the rocks, or someone's boat if I was lucky, hiking the Railway Trails, barbecues, beach parties, snorkeling, swimming, and lazy Sundays playing dominoes while watching the sunset.
My favorite time of year was Cup Match: a two day paid holiday right before the weekend. The summer sun is blazing, the water is warm like a bath, and the whole island shuts down and gets wild. For the sports fans it’s about the cricket game; for the party animals, it’s Beachfest, the Soca vs Reggae concert, and the Non-Mariners raft up; but for this nature gal, it was four days of glorious beachfront camping.
The tents spring up everywhere on this holiday: roadsides, parks, where ever there is water and a peg can go in the ground, there's a campsite. Locations are staked out the night before and extended families reunite at their annual spot. For the next few days, from one site to the next, it's all about yamming down barbecue, guzzling swizzle, and creating moments only Facebook remembers. Sleeping is optional.
Bermudians are some of the most charming, funny, and sweet people you will meet. Don’t you dare walk on by without a greeting. It doesn’t matter if you know someone or not, it’s practically an unwritten law. And don't forget to depart with, "Have a Bermudaful day!"
I can’t say enough about my island years. Some of the best I've ever had. Let me end with this video which shows what can happen on an average weekday night walking down the street in town. You turn the corner, and see a bunch of strangers doing this. Well in Bermuda, you just join right in.
Rina Gibbons is the mom of a self-proclaimed 5-year-old “Wild Child” - apparently the apple landed right next to the tree. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is now in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. Having travelled to over 20 countries she has recently realized Dorothy was right, “There’s no place like home.”