Planes, boats and people disappear in the Bermuda Triangle, but a Bermuda Toast Triangle vanishing into thin air? I should be so lucky.
Plates and bowls of conch fritters, mussel stew, conch stew, fish chowder—and these are just the appetizers—are brought to me. Dennis and Graham sit at an adjacent table and study my reaction to every dish. Since I do not want to offend my gracious hosts, I do my best to sample all that is put before me, though it is difficult to eat everything that swims in the Atlantic in one sitting.
Throughout dinner—a feast of fried fish, conch steak, shark steak, shrimp and scallops—Dennis Lamb, who is of Mohawk descent, tells stories from his 69 years on St. David's. "This is unlike every other place in Bermuda. Every place else is concrete and filled with cars," he says. Dennis has never driven a car or ridden a moped. When he has to leave St. David's, he takes a bus.
To Dennis's eternal regret, cars and mopeds were first allowed in Bermuda for public use when the Motor Car Act of 1946 was passed. This law restricted the size of cars, set a speed limit of 20 mph and limited each household to one car, which explains why there is no such thing as a two-car garage in Bermuda.
When the Motor Car Act was passed, proponents of the bill claimed there would never be more than 500 cars on the island. By 1960 there were 5,000. At last count there were close to 20,000 cars, and even more scooters and mopeds.
However, the 500,000 tourists who visit Bermuda each year cannot rent cars. If Avis or Hertz were allowed to set up shop, the islands would resemble the Mall of America's parking lot.
The outer reaches of St. David's, where Dennis's is located, is special because its pace has remained virtually unaffected by the arrival of the internal combustion engine. "This is my town," Dennis says proudly. "This is Bermuda."
Cars became necessary when World War II brought U.S. military bases to Bermuda, and when the Bermuda Railway became too expensive to run and fell into disrepair. The route of the Rattle and Shake, as the railroad was known, is now a deserted trail that is perfect for sightseeing. Scooters are permitted on the western end of the trail, which is where Whistling Dixie and I were headed next.
The sweet scent of oleander and the inflections of the open road are lost on anyone exploring the island in a hermetically sealed vehicle. Traveling by car certainly has its advantages—seat belts and air bags, for starters—but if fresh air and a heightened state of consciousness are what you're after, then a scooter is the vehicle for you.
Heading north on the railway trail, I pass a very old man with a very long beard, buzzing along on a red moped in the opposite direction. The bill of his fisherman's cap pokes out from his helmet and a pipe hangs from the corner of his mouth. As I continue down the road, I ride into the lingering aroma of his tobacco.