Cheshire grins and knowing eyes gave me that warning soon after I moved to Bermuda, or “De Rock” as the locals lovingly call their fishhook-shaped island in the middle of the Atlantic. Perched on top of an inactive volcano, this archipelago of 181 islands is the northernmost point of the Bermuda Triangle. The closest point of land is North Carolina, 1030 kilometres to the north-west. Its name comes from the Spanish explorer Juan de Bermudez, who discovered it in 1503. Isolated in the North Atlantic, as the island’s unofficial anthem declares, Bermuda is another world.
I came to the island as an expat employed in one of the island's hotel chains. After marriage, I found myself working in the prison system as a teacher of GED Social Studies and Science, and eventually in the accounts department of a charity where I stayed for 11 years.
I can still remember the first time I stepped off the plane and into this paradise. My lungs were tickled at the freshest air ever encountered (air pollution is zero). The sun enveloped my pasty Canadian skin in the warmest of embraces. However, the biggest prize winners were my eyes. The hypnotic ocean is visible in every direction, since the island’s widest point is just over three kilometres. Powdery pink sand beaches, lush green flora, and unique pastel coloured buildings with their glistening white roofs completed the visage.
As I crossed over the causeway from the airport to the next island, a closer view of the water made my mouth drop open. This reminds me of an anecdote shared by a friend who was the concierge of a hotel on that stretch. A guest had once come up to her desk with five baby jars. She wanted to fill each one with a different color of water to take home and show her friends. I wonder how many jars she had to fill before reality hit. Clueless woman aside, pictures do not do justice to the variety of blues that will delight your eyes.
The locals were toying with me with their warnings. My breath probably smelled like worm, and metal was undoubtedly poking out of my cheek. From the moment I had stepped foot in this utopia, mouth agape, the hook had slid in cleanly and without obstruction.
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 more than 20 countries, she has recently realized Dorothy was right: “There’s no place like home."