Last April I went backpacking to bermuda and I found some writing of it, so i will post it here. In other news, i just climbed my first V5 the other day :D :D
My Travels: each and every of my trips are out of the ordinary and take a little more creativity, nerve and guts then the typically comfortable route of the american tourist
so here it is: the travels of i
the world as my backyard
chapter 1: backpacking in bermuda
so the initial plan was london. stewarts fam was this time around situated in the grand ole uk and it only took a 20 mile hiking trip to come to the idea for spring break.
it was... not called for- you know, the usual conversation college students engage in, places they want to go, countries to visit, cool people of places met, etc
i had driven out from gaithersburg md to purcellville, va, about an hour's drive for a long day hike on the AT. we were going to start at Raven's Rock and make north for harper's ferry, come home and make a meal or something. it was tim raveling, sophomore at patrick henry college and stewart lundy, a junior, also at phc. i had done this hike 3 or more times with tim and other phc students before. i was a little apprehensive- it had been more than 6 months when i last hiked more then 15 miles. i was a little late, even though i left home early, but we did eventually set of on a decently overcast morn around 9:30am. we walked. that's it. and while walking, talked. about the current status of our lives, school, people we know, music, movie, books, and history, and things we wanted to do and see and places we wanted to go to, life after college, careers, etc. aka, the typical conversation.
blast. geez, their shower was dirty. but it felt good to be clean after hiking up 18 miles of grime. it was an icy then muddy walk, various landmarks laid out etch a sketch my year before at phc. good times.
tim was making dinner - it smelled good and i think i picked to often at the red onions simmering in the jack daniel's sauce
stewart... or was it tim? sat up and said, 'what if we just... go somewhere for spring break?' stewart wanted to go to ethiopia. the laptops before us said no- ticket prices to africa were hefty. we tried asia. the same. europe? tickets to the uk were not too bad. "we could hike hadrian's wall" stewart i swear almost giggled at showing up on his parents doorstep during spring break, what a surprise that would be. dublin? irish pubs, hell yea! but still we were looking at around $500 per person. then, us, n our innocent youth, derived NOT to purchase any tickets whatsoever, but the moment class got out, head over to the local airport in the morning and demand to be sent out of the country, (with fingers crossed for great britain.) it was february? middle of the month i recollect.
in the next few weeks i tried to keep my excitement and plans on the down low, telling nobody. i requested off work for that time, with the excuse that i was probably going caving in west virginia ( i have never been caving). in my mind, i laughed silently at my insanity. we were 3 poor college students, deliberately choosing NOT to plan! it was madness, and brilliance! i had no idea AT ALL what would happen during spring break, or even more importantly where the hell we were going. it was comfort to me, and carried me through- dropping all my classes- one which i dropped by accident, and it occupied my thoughts, even when i got to go rock climbing outside, something that i rarely get to do. yet i was crazed, silent, smiling, imaginative. it could have easily gone nowhere. and that's what we thought when
one bright morning, the 19th of march, i asked my mother to take me to dulles airport in sterling. the coolant pipe in my car had broken off, causing coolant to drain from my car, and causing the engine to overheat within 30 minutes of running. so i was screwed, especially looking into the cost of fixing it- i had to buy another coolant tank, running around $300 for the part itself. i doubted i could install it myself, but when you're broke, that's kinda what you have to do- scrounge around for tools in the house, and utilize to the maximum the powers of google and internet car repair forums. at the time i needed to fix my car, which had just broken a few days before spring break, i had almost no money in the bank, probably about $200 with all my accounts combined. so i loaned 200$ from my parents, and crossed my fingers. the night before the drive to the airport, i had fled scuba class because i had left my bathing suit at home and was also tired from a long shift at work. all in all, i was a broke quitter, hiding from everything important. if i didn't go on this trip, which i had knowingly no idea what it held i knew things could blow up for me, i was due and ripe for disaster. so the break was also going to be for me a flee, an escape from responsibility and necessity. good.
it was early and cold! i was glad i brought a wind shell. all i had packed up was in a 40 liter backpack on my back. i also brought running shoes and a digital SLR camera. so i felt a little shamed when i saw that tim and stewart had packed much less. it was a day ago that i talked to tim on the phone and he told me that max shrumpf, their roommate decided he was coming too. i didn't tell my parents that i was planning to flee the country with three boys. oh well. it just sounded strange, i knew each one of them was fine and cool. still, it felt a little strange.
with packs strapped on our back, tim, stewart, and i entered the dulles airport. apparently max was still awaiting the arrival of his passport and didn't come this time.
it was awkward at first, but after the first try, it got easier.
"Hi.... we're basically 3 poor college students who want to fly out of the country for spring break."... "um specifically? the uk we hope... oh. okay. thanks. bye."
the airport was filling up. we were there at how early? 8 or 9 am. not too early. it was bustling. there were no tickets to be found. instead, most desk attendants at the various airlines, advised us against what we were doing- or rather the method of it. the internet, the commended to us. sigh. back to square one.
but another hole to crawl through was found - airline 1-800 numbers. from jet blue to taca to united airways there were 3 various youth buzzing of by windows with packs, requesting to be sent anywhere.
i called taca. an airline like ... taco. apparently they only had flights going out to countries in south america. and all the tickets to south american countries were gone. PROOF of the vast amounts of illegal immigrants in the US the freaking airline sells out!
then tim called jetblue again. rebecca? the name of the phone attendant...? she found tickets to a place called bermuda, for 525 dollars, leaving in 3 days on sunday, tim cupped a hand over his cell, and called out to stewart and i. all that went through my mind was a book when i was ten or twelve. it was about the bermuda triangle, a mysterious whirlpool that swallowed up ships and sea worthy vessals. it's out there in the carribean, said tim. okay, i'm in i said after maybe 2 thoughts - the recollection of the book and the color of the water there.
525$ is a lot of money to pay for a plane ticket. but then again, it's not the death. at $500, the ticket beckoned to me, it's vitality. it wasn't a $500 ticket to puerto rico or costa rica. it was "bermuda" to me an island aligned with scientific mystery. excitement is worth $500. i could survive $500. yea... yea, i could!
bursting out in the rain: the moment we landing in bermuda, i unbuckled and popped up. i was excited and wanted out. i looked up the window, already i knew it was stormy and at a minimum raining. we had experienced turbulence on the way in. ii put on my raincoat, caught a breath and with a heave pulled my pack over my back and buckled up, bursting out of the plane in the pouring rain. it was warm, not hot, not cold. nyc was cold. sterling was windy. bermuda was warmish. and rainy. as we entered the terminal, we walked by a middle-aged native man, set up by tourists i love you and your money, wearing a hawaiian shirt, and playing jolly ole island music on a small guitar. the americans before and behind me were happy by this show of hospitality. we checked out, all of us passing through customs, lying through the teeth that we planned to reside at "aunt nia's inn" we exited the airport and taxi drivers hailed us, trying to get us to enter their miniature vans. a lively elderly black man succeeded in apprehending us and led us across the street to his vehicle. he had a strong british accent and his car played island music from the 1950's. "where to?" "are you heading to St. George?" "what hotel" "where in st. george do you want to go?" "are you going to st. george's club?"
"uh... sure" said stewart, not sure what he was saying sure to. so the taxi drive took us away from the airport, across a bridge, to a little hotel / cottages in the town of st. george, called st. george's club. max went inside and got maps. it just hit me now, that i never entered the hotel the taxi took us to. i just waited outside each and every time we found ourselves there.
every time we passed a cluster of loitering happy locals, i kept thinking of the lines in the jack johnson song, holes to heaven, the part when they sweet talked local officials and bribed them with cigarettes and booze. and after a trip to one of the many many liqueur shops within the second day, during stewart and max bought aged bacardi rum, the words were quite fitting, as we found havens from the weather around the island, in trails and on the beaches, with obvious markings of local hangouts- many butts and bottles, and cartons for seats. tim carries tobbaco, paper, pipes, and pipe tobacco, max a variety of cigarettes, and every time we sat for a bit we brought out the rum and the tobacco. we didn't carry food, just the essentials, as you can see.