Just before stretching out on the sand myself, I remember what Vince Cann, a well-known Bermudian guide, told me earlier in the day. He said that the sand's color had something to do with, uh, parrot fish waste. But I dismiss that theory and sprawl across the pink blanket, satisfying myself with the more conventional explanation: To make pink sand, take one part crushed seashell, one part ground coral reef. Add white sand. Mix well. Enjoy.
At dusk the watercolors of an impressionist's palette fill the sky's canvas as the single beam of my headlight guides me back to the hotel. Once I park and take off my helmet, the sounds of the night rush in. There is a piercing whistle, the same pitch as the brakes of my scooter, coming from a nearby bush on my right. As I walk toward the bush, the whistling stops, and then I hear the sound to my left. When I shuffle in that direction, the whistling stops and I hear the sound behind me.
The soloist is soon accompanied by an entire choir. I jerk the handlebars of my scooter toward the thick brush, and like a constable who has spotted two honeymooners parked on the side of the road, I shine my bright headlight on the brush...and find nothing.
I later learn that these shy crooners are whistling frogs, nocturnal creatures the size of a thumbnail. In tribute to these lilliputians of the lily pads, I christen my scooter Whistling Dixie.
If I'm going to contract road rash, it will be on a 10-minute trip to Hamilton, the capital of the archipelago. Unfortunately, stone walls line most of Bermuda's roads. They are sometimes camouflaged by morning glory, nasturtium or thistle, but beneath the flora is unforgiving stone. On two blind curves, I come perilously close to being etched in granite, a veritable Mount Rashmore, if you will.
Another threat to my well-being is the "roundabout." The Bermuda Triangle has nothing on the treacherous Bermuda Circle. From afar, these traffic circles seem innocent enough, festooned in the center with beds of yellow and orange perennials—but looks are deceiving.
"Give way to traffic already on the roundabout, coming from your right," my Road Rash brochure instructs. "Ensure that you do not become a road accident statistic." (Five tourists have died in the last four years in moped and scooter accidents, and more than 2,000 visitors have reported injuries during that time. The brochure doesn't tell me this; a call placed to the Bermuda Road Safety Council does.)
To ensure that I do not become a statistic, I look right and give enormous way on the first roundabout. At the second circle I come to, I go around and around as if on a carousel, orbiting the perennials once, then twice. Finally when there are no cars in my general vicinity, I go for the brass ring. I veer to my left and enter downtown Hamilton, unscathed.
Hamilton is a place where businessmen, government leaders, and tourists with ample cash to spend all converge. At lunchtime knobby-kneed men walk briskly along the store-lined streets, wearing sport jackets, ties and Bermuda shorts with socks pulled high, almost to the knee. In most other parts of the world, only the fashion-impaired would wear shorts with black socks, but since temperatures in Bermuda range from 75° to 90° from May to October, fashion takes a backseat to common sense. Bermuda shorts have been part of the national wardrobe for nearly 100 years, ever since members of the British military stationed in Bermuda first snipped their trousers at the knees to beat the heat.
While Bermuda, a self-governing British colony, shares England's system of government and allegiance to the crown and a few of the mother country's penchants (pints and pub food, afternoon tea and cricket, for instance), Bermuda has plenty of its own, unique customs. A traditional Bermudian breakfast consists of codfish, bananas and potatoes. On Good Friday, young and old spend the day flying kites. One peculiar practice entails placing oil from a shark's liver in a bottle outdoors to predict the weather. ("When the shark-liver oil is clear, it will be a clear day," explained Cann, he of the parrot-fish-waste-pink-sand theory. "When it is cloudy, stormy weather is expected.")