Fallon gives me a ride to the airport since she’s on her way to work and Caleb is already in his vacation spot of the year (between work and hotel in Mobile, AL) so I can catch an American flight on an American holiday to one end of the island not knowing that my friend, Dean, who invited Caleb and me to stay with him lived on the other end which is about an hour’s drive at 23 mph posted speed limit along a winding road. A taxi delivery would’ve cost me at least $70.
I was the first passenger of the day through the TSA checkpoint with 30 pounds of carry-on, mostly dive gear, and while waiting in the pre-boarding area was asked if I was a gymnast while stretching in prep of living on an airplane for the day. The flight from SAN》PHX consisted of a nap sandwich with a quick photo of the sky between the bread. I had some water and a girl took my cookies that I didn’t want because I wasn’t feeling well and neither was the toilet when I finished with it.
The flight from PHX》MIA had me sitting next to a doctor from NAHEC (one of five program centers in Arizona) traveling to Haiti for his 31st time since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit in 2010, this time to fix a girl’s arm because he enjoys returning to help the less fortunate. After some conversation, the doctor let me nerd out on a surgical book in his possession which reminded me of when us kids, my siblings and I, would look through my stepdad’s EMT book at the steps to take to stabilize major wounds until the patient could be accommodated in the ER or operating room. I have a love/hate relationship with the gruesomeness of these people’s misfortunes and the lesson to be learned, “Don’t try this at home or work!”
I stretch in front of an exit row seat with a bag strapped in like a child (lucky bag) with an owner who thinks I’m a yoga teacher. I put my legs up separately, did some crossed-legs push-ups, and a backbend. I decide to save the headstand for the next airport in 100 minutes. I go back to my seat to read some more of a boring book I brought to put me back to sleep.
I land in Miami and get on my next plane that maybe has a third of its seats filled. MIA》BDA I don’t want the airline to charge me for upgraded seats so I don’t move up any rows but enjoy that I can stretch out in the row to myself. I do some crosswords and sudoku in a magazine and the guy across the aisle offers to take my picture “for the view,” so I indulged him since it was with my phone.
The plane is driving awhile once on land which makes it seem like the longest taxi, especially for a small island. I walk off the plane and up to a building that could be a bungalow for 80 or just two rich couples on a weekend getaway – it’s the airport at night, but the bright Bermuda blue still shines in the darkness with the sunshine white light of customs behind it.
I met Dean at the gym months ago and we found we share a love of cycling and mostly talking and being near or deep in the water while also sharing food. Tonight I get to meet his sons, Dustin and Dane, the eldest who was in the local Regiment and the younger one visiting from college in the Bay Area. I didn’t know what to expect out of the trip, except hoping for some discounted diving, and that was part of the appeal of coming to this semi-casual island.
We stop at Harbor Nights on Front Street to celebrate the fact that I showed up as I guess others have been shy to take up the offer (to save over $800 from the cheapest Airbnb to rental scooter). We walk along the weekly market as it begins to close up after 10 pm and I’m happy to get a malasada for $2 as I think it will taste like the ones in Hawaii, but I’m pleased with the new experience and flavor.
We reach one end of the market and while the guys talk with some family I take in the yellow lights against the water and listen to the new accent that surrounds me and appreciate this opportunity to explore another culture. We turn around and are about to buy two cupcakes when the baker lady hands me a pack of four for free. We walk a circle back to the car and drive to a late-night burger place, Ice Queen, so the guys can have first or second dinner.
I suppose I should’ve done better research and realized that a Wednesday on the island is like a weekend in the States. The guys were ready for a night out and I was worn down from flying but I wasn’t about to turn down their offer for entertainment. In all my years of air travel I may have bought one bottle of booze at the duty-free because it was difficult to find elsewhere; this was not one of those times so the guys were hoping that the base was open for cheap drinks since a beer here costs the same as a 6-pack in the States.
With the base closed, we drive the other half of the island to get home and I get to see the elusive tree frog around midnight (8 pm in SD). I’ve only had a 17.5 hour day and Dean wants to go for a scooter ride to show me his boat, but we end up at Fun Zone instead. The place appears to be a place to drink and dance on the beach and there is a fort in the darkness as we approach the two-story tower lit up in blue as a shelter for the rainstorm that quickly passes.
Dean orders each of us a rum swizzle, Bermuda’s national drink, made with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, which is basically a Long Island but only with rum, to sip on via paper straws while he yells over the speaker blasting music in our faces to pass the time. I’m happy that he’s so excited and when we get back to the house at 1:30 in the morning I crash on the couch.