National Geographic : 1954 Feb
Bermuda, Cradled in Warm Seas 203 With Her Beaches Soft and Pink, Britain's Oldest Crown Colony Teaches Thousands of Visitors a Lesson in Serenity BY BEVERLEY M. BOWIE National Geographic Magazine Staff With Color Illustrations from Photographs by Charles Allmon MY affair with Bermuda was not a matter of love at first sight. Many a visitor, I know full well, has stepped off the New York plane, looked once at Bermuda's turquoise waters, pink coral beaches, and lily-bordered cottages, and given his heart, in perpetuity, to the Isles of En chantment. But I came, I saw, and nearly two weeks elapsed before I was conquered. In this interval Bermuda admittedly played coy. She pouted behind rain clouds; she blew hot but mostly cold; she even threw a tan trum one afternoon and unleashed four small tornadoes, which flipped autos into the bay and sent roof tiles whirling about like feathers. Master Will Shakespeare, writing about the "still-vex'd Bermoothes," charged Prospero and his sprite Ariel with having "bedimm'd the noontide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds, and 'twixt the green sea and the azur'd vault set roaring war." I cannot, of course, be sure it was they whom Bermuda employed to hex my first fortnight. All I know is that every resident insisted this weather, even for March, was "most unusual." In the end, however, Bermuda relented. The last squall scudded across Hamilton Har bour one April morning, the sun broke clear of its dirt-gray woolpack, and the islands lay before me, glistening, freshly laundered, scented with cedar. As friendly now as she had been shrewish, Bermuda bade me enjoy her various delights. A World in 21 Square Miles Over the weeks that followed, I sailed her bays and inlets, dived along her coral reefs, explored her sea-carved cliffs, lay torpid as a lizard on her talc-soft beaches, scrapped and painfully rebuilt my backhand on her pastel tinted tennis courts, left portions of my pride on her rugged, windy links, and pedaled a bike down almost every flowered lane of her nine parishes. I think I came to know her. Only 21 square miles in area, Bermuda has "infinite riches in a little room." No one of her parishes (each named for some English gentleman linked to her history) quite resembles another: Paget's prim beauty looks askance at Sandy's rural ways, and St. George, former seat of Ber muda's Government, thinks of them both as Johnnies-come-lately. Yet, for all her diver sity, Bermuda is small enough to be grasped and comprehended as a whole. Though she lies 650 miles from the United States, more than 3,000 from Europe, and is, in fact, one of the most isolated spots on earth, Bermuda has never lacked ad mirers (map, page 208). Mark Twain said that Americans on their way to heaven stop at Bermuda and think they have already arrived. Bermudians themselves may question the ultimate destination of some of their visitors, but they can hardly doubt their affection. In greater numbers every year, Americans flock to this "pint-sized paradise"-91,000 in 1953 alone. Three out of five now come by plane; other throngs arrive by Furness Bermuda liners. War Ended the Horse-drawn Era If you had inquired at random of a dozen such prewar tourists why they had come, chance would have favored this answer: "To get away from the automobile age!" For Bermuda meant to them a haven untainted by gas fumes, unruffled by the honk of horns. It meant a quiet, dusty road, a slightly creak ing surrey, an unambitious horse clip-clopping through the night, the silver tinkle of a car riage bell-in a word, peace (page 230).* Unhappily, Bermuda means that no more. World War II severely curtailed the islands' imports of hay and oats, and the Americans who set up and manned the Kindley Air Force Base required trucks and heavy-duty equipment Pressure mounted to have the roads black-topped and taxis permitted to * See "Happy Landing in Bermuda," by E. John Long, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, February, 1939. t See "Americans in the Caribbean," by Luis Mar den, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, June 1942.