Thursday, November 30, 2006

air miles

Let me begin with a reminder: Bermuda is not part of the Caribbean & is nowhere near it. It's considered part of Atlantic North-America - more or less parallel to Charlotte, Virgina or Nashville, TN to be exact, above Florida & the Caribbean Islands. Here's the irony though: if you want to travel from Bermuda to the Caribbean you have to pretty much get a connecting flight to the US, travel north to NY or maybe Philly & then back south past Bermuda to the Caribbean. There are no direct flights to the Caribbean. If that's where you're from, good luck my friend.

Travelling to Canada is a little easier. Apart from Air Canada which flies non-stop daily to & from Toronto (3 hour flight tops), we also have a few other choice airlines. But the choices are American & they include stop-overs. And while they boast their own entirely separate funky boarding lounge at the Bermuda airport, they really can't boast about their in-flight meal service, which at most times is next to nothing.

If you're a Brit expat, however, travelling back home can be a bit of a price shocker. British Airways has a monopolistic presence here in Bermuda. There is no other airline that flies direct to the UK from Bermuda & so they can really charge what they bloody well please. But they do have good airline food & great customer service. Or so I've been told.

With the growing number of expats from Asia, travelling home for them is a minimum 19 hour flight all preceded with pricey airfare. Most of these airlines stop over in the UK and that ups the ante on airfare. While in most cases flights originating from NY to anywhere in the world are a cheaper alternative, this unfortunately is not an option for our Asian friends. Most need a visit or a transit visa to even set foot in an American airport & these visas are no longer approved like they used to pre 9/11.

And so like everything else that's expensive on this rock, so is travelling. In the wake of 9/11, security personnel add ons have caused airport fees to rise to asinine levels. Of course the burden is borne by the customer who is liable for these costs for both the departure & arrival ports. How nice! Add to that Air Canada, like other airlines, are blissfully aware of the sheer number of it's country's citizens working as expats in Bermuda & are honning in on their strategy of price discrimination. Especially during Christmas. Come on airliners, give us a break in this season of giving!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

i've got a lovely bunch of coconuts

Know what I miss? Coconuts! The big green kind pictured here. The kind where you cut the top off, gulp down the liquid & then scoop out the jelly inside. When left on the tree long enough, the liquid dries up, the jelly hardens. Most don't know about the jelly when it's in the soft stages (and when I say most, I mean most non-brown people), but the jelly is the best part. Yum! I can attest to that. So if you're ever in a tropical country & are presented with one of these, I recommend you take advantage of it. Not only are they delicious, but soothing for your system, especially for that common problem that ails most when travelling.

During our Indian holiday, we indulged in one of these everyday. They were a dime a dozen. Ok, maybe not, but they were the equivalent of a dime each. In Cuba, however, the cost was nada - but only because we were at a resort & the property caretakers would ever so kindly chop one down at our request. They were surprised, however, when we'd ask to crack it open after, to dive into the jelly. I guess they figured we'd have not known about it. Others began to follow suit (other non-brown, non Spanish people). And we loved educating the masses. Anyway, I thought Bermuda would have an abundance of these coconuts - being a tropical island and all. We went a year without spotting any coconut trees because the island predominantly hosts palm trees. More specifically, palmetto palm trees. Doesn't do a lot of good in my opinion. Ok, so maybe it provides shade, cleans the air & bears fruit that's used in pig feed but I haven't seen a pig on the island & it still doesn't bear coconuts.

But lo & behold, we at last spotted a couple of coconut trees & right on our street too. Guess we weren't paying attention before. The problem is that it's on private property. Add to that, these coconuts are pretty high up. The one pictured is just about ready & I actually stood there for a few seconds hoping it would fall off so I could claim it for my own. Sigh, better luck next time, eh? Maybe!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

turtle love

Bermuda has recently celebrated the return of its loggerhead turtles after three decades of no show from the waters around the island. It was thought that the loggerheads had gone extinct as one had not been seen for years. Until last summer. The return of the loggerheads signifies a change for the better - environmentally.

However, caution is still required. One of the major pollutants is the plastic bags or balloons found in the ocean. Once let go, helium filled balloons, eventually pop & end up in the ocean. Unbeknownst to them, turtles think that the balloons or plastics are food & of course ingest them. Unfortunately, these inedible items are unable to pass through the turtles' system & so become permanently logged in the their system resulting in bloating. This further gives rise to infections or of the turtles eventually dying of starvation. It's a sad fact.

lly, I love turtles (I have yet to spot one while I'm snorkelling but all in good time). And what's not to love? Who can forget Squirt from Finding Nemo - my favourite character. In reality, this species has a lifespan going well into the 100's. Seeing a tiny baby turtle making it's way into the ocean to forage for itself - that's a major feat. Add to that the ability to survive in the vast ocean for a couple of centuries. It is no one's fault but our own that we have begun to invade & damage their habitat with our rubbish, contributing to their disappearance & decline. The government has been urging it's residents to dispose off plastics responsibly & to be ever so mindful before indulging in helium filled balloons. The time has come to be environmentally responsible. Lets give the turtles a helping hand, shall we?

Monday, November 27, 2006

the spanish rock

Taking advantage of the hot weather this past weekend, Hubby & I went 'hiking' by Spittal Pond atop to the Spanish Rock. The trail itself is rich with local flora & trees that encompasses you as you make your way through. As usual, the views are nothing short of spectacular. The Spanish Rock greets us, perpetually stationed, firmly grounded & exposed to the elements, it awaits for smooth hands to run over the inscription it bears.

A sign not too far from the rock reads:

'One of the earliest signs of human visitation on Bermuda, this deeply carved rock inscription bear
ing the date 1543 was originally believed to have been carved by Theodore Fernandino Camelo who was given a grant by the King of Spain to colonize Bermuda. However, there is no other evidence that Camelo fulfilled his purpose. Historians now believe that it may have been carved by survivors of a Portuguese vessel which was stranded on Bermuda for 60 days in 1543. Under this interpretation the initials are believed to be R.P. = Rex Portugaliae followed by the cross of the Portuguese Order of Christ.
The bronze cast made from a lead mold taken in 1893 now caps the site of the original carving. which was destroyed by weathering and vandalism before 1940.'

Friday, November 24, 2006

make me an offer

Ex-pats & Bermudians alike prefer to buy most of their necessities off the island. For ex-pats it's the trips back home that have them scurrying to cross items off their shopping list. For most Bermudians it's a vacation/shopping trip all rolled in one. But what do ex-pats do with their collected wares when they're ready to move back home permanently? This is where the 'Leaving the Island Sale' comes in. There's also a site where these items & many more tangibles can be advertised for sale.

It's called e-moo. e what?
Oh sure it sounded funny to me the first time I heard it too but it grows on you. So what is e-moo? It's a local website that features hoards of items for re-sale. Anything goes from appliances to baby items to electronics & even cars! Items that are brand new, some barely used & most in good condition. Most sell off their used merchandise at practically the price they paid for it x number of years ago. And if you do manage to buy something, you can pretty much sell it for the same price when you're ready to leave. There's something good coming out of having to pay duties on everything that's brought on the island. And even so, many a good deals have been procured via e-moo. It's like depreciation doesn't quite exist in Bermuda.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

toe talk

One of my favourite things about Bermuda? It's almost December & I can still wear open toe shoes/sandals. Those who know me, really really know me, know how much I'd rather wear open toe shoes all the time. I hate having to wear regular shoes & will avoid doing so as much as I can. I've been known to be stubbornly attired in my open toe shoes even in the dead of Canada's winter. And I love walking barefoot (no not like Britney Spears who took barefoot liberties while making trips to public washrooms).

In my case, is it style before comfort? Doesn't it seem so? It’s actually the other way around. I have wide feet (thanks dad!) & this makes me adverse to any sort of restriction placed on my toes because the darn shoes start to pinch after a while. Fortunately shoe stores are now beginning to increase their wide toe selection to the market to cater to ones like me. Apparently there are lot of us out there.

But old habits die hard. It was no surprise when my good friend Kate, snidely stated last winter: So you're still wearing sandals. Sensing mockery on her part, I replied: Course I am, it's Bermuda & it's warm, so why the heck not.

So if you're like me & love the foot freedom, then come on over to my side where you can get away with exposing your toes all winter anytime, even with the a/c running at work.

Monday, November 20, 2006

the other kind of weed

We were away last week. The best part about coming back to our home away from home? It's the birds eye view of the island & its water especially when the colours are glorified & intensified on a sunny day. This is my wish for anyone visiting the island - that the sun shine & blaze to reveal the true colours that is the very essence of Bda's beauty.

However, as the plane neared the island something in the water caught my eye. There was a lot of brown something littering the waters around the island & it stretched for miles. My first thought was that it was run off from the sewage system. And because there was so much of it my next thought was how can Bda's water get so dirty so fast in just one week! Something at the sewage plant must have overloaded or gone bust. I'd already decided there was no way I was going in the water after this.

I didn't think much about it until we drove down on Sunday to spend some ti
me at the beach for Hubby's b'day. En route I saw this brown stuff again & of course was pretty disgusted. It was not until we hit the shore that we saw tons of the same brown stuff on the shore. But it's not what I thought it was all along. Not run off but it was seaweed. Seaweed that browns up & dies out during the fall, floats & washes ashore. Apparently this is the time of year for it.

Where were we last Nov to not notice this? Well surprise surprise, I guess this was our first proper seaweed dump viewing perhaps because we decided to make a trip to the beach. So we'll know for next year. Oh, I am so relieved. The waters are safe & more importantly clean. It was not polluted with run off but with good ol' natural seaweed. Dead seaweed but nevertheless natural. Hey at least it's not crap.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

the long way home

So it's dark by 6:00 PM. Not a big deal if the streets are lit up right? Well, that would depend on the street. While all major roads are lit, the inside smaller streets are not. It's pitch black when the moon's not shining & it's so dark that you can barely see where you're going. You'd best be carrying a flashlight or you'd be fumbling. The only way you know where you're headed is by looking straight ahead & trying to make a bee line for top of the slope all the while hoping you don't step on a tiny toad, or a frog or even worse a roach. On the days I commute home via public transportation, I'd be smart to remember to carry a flashlight. If not, I am left to my own devices & depend on the flashlight emanating from my cell phone to guide me home.

But as long as my path's lit I've no qualms about walking up our street from the bus stop. It’s a great workout because the street has a sharp slope leading to our cul-de-sac. But wait, there's still the driveway to account for (see the picture on the right). Those that have visited us thus far, never fail to comment on the workout they receive walking up to our place. Making up the driveway on a scooter requires quite the momentum & most cab drivers are reluctant at first to drive up there. But this is Bermuda, where most inside streets are not lit & most houses are up on little hills where each driveway is just as charming as the next.

Monday, November 06, 2006

time after time

I'd really like to know who in blazes invented Daylight Savings Time (DST)? Yes, I know I could look it up but that would cause me to deviate from my rant. DST just confuses the heck out of everyone & throws everything off all the while making winter more depressing.

For those of you who don't know, DST is a concept of having the clocks spring forward an hour in the spring to maximize the hours of daylight in the summer. The clocks then fall backward an hour in autumn.
DST is practiced in North America & some countries in Europe. The rationale behind this brilliant idea (insert sarcasm here) is that less electricity would be used during the summer hours & an availability of more hours of daylight at our disposal to do with as we choose.

The problem is when we have to fall backward come autumn, which technically is when we align ourselves back with the rest of the world. Not only do we now have to get used to the early darkening during the fall & winter months, it is depressing when darkness takes over earlier. See I think they should just eliminate DST altogether. Why make one go through the enjoyment of summer hours only to have it yanked away at autumn? Who in North America would care if we didnt have DST? Seriously, thanks to DST, it's dark here in Bermuda by 5:30 on a cloudy day.

The concept of summer hours in the Middle East or India didn't exist & growing up, I didn't know any better. I didn't enjoy myself more in the summer due to the extra hour of daylight but at the same time didn't get bummed out when the time zone was cruelly changed back. Why do you think so many people harbour the winter blues? I believe there's a song about it & I bet it was a cowboy living in one of those DST observing states that wrote it.

Honestly, I'd rather have an extra hour of daylight in the evening rather than in the morning. I am not a morning person. Most of you know that by now. Besides even if you naturally are a morning person, you're on your way to work anyway. Do you really have the liberty of enjoying that hour of daylight in the morning? Most of us don't even have the luxury of a window seat at work and even if we did, that would be the equivalent of stopping & smelling the roses. Yeah! Who really stops to smell the roses?

Do you see the problem? The questions that arise all because we have been made acutely aware of the shifts in time & light that DST has brought about.
Its a right pain & a huge inconvenience having to remember that the clocks need to be changed when the time arises. That meddlesome moron (apparently it was Benjamin Franklin - I knew it had to be an American), well, he should have just left it as is. None of us here would have known any better & we would have been happier!