Friday, February 15, 2008

The Bermuda Triangle

by Cathy Anderson Corn

To keep those creative juices flowing, writers need to periodically pack a bag and fly to where the palm trees grow. Besides that, who knows when you'll need a foreign locale for your next novel. Since Alan and I wed last year on February 8, this gives us a perfect excuse for a winter getaway. We just returned from a four-day trip to Bermuda to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.

So much to write about this island paradise. It's off the coast of the Carolinas, not in the Caribbean, so it's cooler in the winter (60-70 degrees). Once a British colony, this roughly crescent-shaped island 21 miles long abounds in spectacular views. We learned that a shipwreck of the Sea Venture, bound for Virginia in 1609, started the colonization of this island. John Rolfe, one of the survivors, later travelled on to Virginia and married Pocohontas. We saw buildings from the 1600's in St. George, and within a park nearby, the burial site of the heart of some dignitary named Somers. (What did they do with the rest of him?)

Everywhere we traveled on the bus system (on the left side of the road), we saw beauty. Houses of all sizes were painted shades of color pastel and bright--blue, yellow, pink, purple--over stucco. The local newspaper talked about poverty, but we never saw anything other than immaculately-kept residences.

We never before spied so many different varieties of palm trees in one place. Bermuda looks like a big park, with its beautiful vegetation. We visited Horseshoe Beach, one of the pink sand beaches, and were impressed by the scenery, the volcanic rock formations, and clear water.

Our strangest encounter happened on Saturday, as we rode public transportation to the beach, to dinner (Meals were expensive. Where do the locals eat?), and back to our hotel. By riding the bus, we mingled with the native Bermudans.

As we left Hamilton, a man behind us with white hair confined in a knit hat and only one eye started talking to Alan. Alan craned his neck to listen and nodded and occasionally made a comment.

"Can't understand very much of what he's saying. These people always seem to find me," Alan said during a brief intermission in the man's mostly monologue.

"I didn't know about this. How long has this been going on?" I asked him.

"All my life. Started when I was sixteen," he said before turning back to the man who'd resumed talking.

He said goodbye when we departed the bus for the beach. That night, as we waited for the bus in St. George for our hotel, it started again. This man was taller, his black hair peppered with gray, his attitude not as sunny as the first man's. He greeted Alan (the conversation magnet) and began to complain about every institution on the island, including the government and military.

Alan tried to ignore the second man, but he just kept talking, even after the bus came, and on an impulse we got off early at an ice cream shop.

"I just couldn't take any more. I had to get away from him. I could barely understand him, anyway," Alan said. We just had time for an ice cream cone as the shop was closing. We moved outside to wait at the bus stop.

The third man materialized out of nowhere and propped himself before us, asking questions. His voice soft and hypnotic, this boy/man mumbled more quietly than the other two had. We understood maybe one out of every five or six words. He was on disability, had an accident nine years before, paralyzing his left arm and affecting both legs. He fell into conversation with us like we were long lost friends. He'd been to Atlanta and San Francisco, and wanted to go to London. Eventually, he got up unsteadily and moved away, exposing the sling supporting his arm.

When our bus came, he jumped up from the side to wave goodbye to us, his face full of light and joy. His joy made it all worthwhile, Alan's ordeal by mumbling of the triangle of Bermudan men. Had we entered a Twilight Zone where one spirit shape-shifted, reappearing three times?

Any experiences of boosting your writerly creativity using a passport? Any strange events in your travels?

12 comments:

Tory said...

Thanks for the info., Cathy. Somehow, I hadn't ever realized Bermuda wasn't in the Caribbean. Is it its own country?

Definitely on my list of places I want to travel when I have the money and time!

Joyce said...

That's precisely why you rent mopeds instead of taking the bus!

Jerry and I went to Bermuda on our honeymoon way back in 1980. I'm sure much has changed since then. We stayed at a place called Mermaid Beach. I don't remember much about the food, but the Rum Swizzles were very good.

Tory, Bermuda is only 300 miles off the coast of North Carolina--only an hour's flight from Baltimore. It's really fun landing on an island that's only twenty miles long and two miles wide!

Annette said...

Ahhh, thanks for the interlude from the snow and ice, Cathy.

My dad was like Alan. Never met a stranger. No matter where we went, he'd find someone he knew or someone he HADN'T known previously to converse with. Definite conversation magnet.

Saddly, I have never traveled anywhere requiring a passport. How pitiful. However your post has inspired me as I head out to Ohio this afternoon on my own little road trip. I'll keep my eyes open for those interesting little oddities.

Nancy said...

My mother is a magnet, too, Cathy. Except people end up weeping when they talk to her. How many times have I come aroudn a corner at an airport or hospital or shopping mall to find some perfect stranger hugging my mother and bawling into her shoulder? Countless!

Break a leg today, Annette!

Gina said...

In response to your final question - I love to travel, particularly to neolithic and other ancient sites. I've been to Malta, Knossos, and Avebury, and would love to visit many more. And I've walked the Cotswolds in England, the Highlands of Scotland, portions of Wales, and Crete. I'm not sure how this helps my writing, which tends to be set in the present time in Pennsylvania, but any enlightening experience is useful for a writer, right?

Cathy said...

Tory,
I think you'd like Bermuda, especially with the British influence and history. They are a territory of Great Britain with a government of their own.
We flew two to two and a half hours out of Philadelphia to get there.

Joyce,
Do I look like a moped person? We expected rain most of the time from the forecasts at home and there. We got only five minutes of it, right before we got off the bus for the beach. I like the sound of Mermaid Beach--must have been one great honeymoon.

Cathy said...

Annette,
Ohio is a very foreign country and should require a passport. (I was born and raised there.) I hope your day in Ohio is exciting and fun. (I rarely use the words "Ohio" and "exciting" in the same sentence.)

Nancy,
This mother of yours, I've got to meet her. When she's not attracting men in physical therapy, she's letting poor souls cry on her shoulder. Again, what a woman!

Gina,
When you finish the series on your jobs, you can start on the places you've visited. The list is totally amazing (like you).

I do think travel stimulates creativity and gives us a world perspective.

NL Gassert said...

This isn’t technically a travel post. I lived in Japan for some years and had this crazy idea to finally write a novel set in a place that I knew. I chose Japan. I realized pretty quickly that Japan wouldn’t work, because I didn’t know enough about Japanese police procedures and the legal systems. Right around that time friends of mine returned from a vacation to Guam. They loved it, and according to my map it was the closest American outpost to Japan. So I chose Guam. Never mind that I had no clue about anything Guamanian. Well, I have a suspense series set there now and a library full of books about the location. One day I might even buy a ticket for a research trip/booktour (tax-deductible).

So in a way my friends’ travels inspired me, and I ended up with a very exotic, very fun setting no one knows about (ah, the creative freedom) :-)

Nadja

Martha Reed said...

IMHO, traveling is the greatest thing out there, and the one place that really knocked my socks off was Rome. I expected to like Florence better, but Rome still had the power.

I had to send my old passport in for renewal last week; does anyone know, do you get the old one back when they send the new one? The State Dept. used to, but now, I think perhaps they might keep it and I will miss going through the pages and seeing my port of entry stamps. They have sentimental value.

I'm noodling with the idea of going back to England/Scotland this year. I'm for the older sites, too, and will definitely visit Sutton Hoo. I'd like to see the reconstituted Globe Theatre and if I'm feeling really bold, a train trip to Loch Ness might just be in order.

Tory said...

Martha: when I renewed my passport in Oct. '06 I got the old one back, with a hole punched in it to indicate it was no longer valid. I wanted to save the picture of me, to remember what I looked like when I had big glasses, long brown hair, and was thin.

Cathy said...

Nadje,
I checked your info and learned you live in Hawaii. That is one of my all time favorite locations and exotic even if it is in the USA. I like your Guam location, too. I'm writing about Madagascar and would love to go there.

Martha,
I just got my passport renewed in expedited form to go to Bermuda, and it only took a week. I got the punched old one back, too.

Your trip idea to the UK sounds great. I love traveling there.

caspers said...

hi . hey i am ready to take the risk of going to bermuda triangle . if anyone wants to experiment on bermuda triangle i am ready to go there and i do not care about not commming back from there and nor do i care about my life . so if anyone is interrested on reaserching there pls contact me