Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lost in the Bermuda Triangle

the aqua water off the Bermuda coastline

the aqua water off the Bermuda coastline

"The Rock" sits in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 650 miles off the mainland, no other islands near, no other islands far. The sound of waves softly rolling onto the deserted shore amplifies my sense of isolation.

Solace is momentarily broken, a head pokes out of the crystal waters. I wade out to say hello to my only friends here, a pair of sea turtles, who, frankly, make me do most of the talking. 
sea turtles just off the coast

I walk back to our Airbnb in Somerset Village. Few sidewalks exist on the island and I find myself squeezing up against walls and gates to offer vehicles the safest passing lanes. Fortunately there is little pressing to do for most islanders, and they treat their gas pedal accordingly.  
Bermuda vegetation- bright flowers
Bermuda vegetation- bright flowers

Plant life flourishes and vivid colors accent the emerald green base;  it feels like the Garden of Eden.

You'd be hard pressed to find a building painted less brightly than the surrounding vegetation, with pink, orange, green, and blue hues being the most common. Whatever you can critique Bermuda for, drabness is not on the list
a Jamaican restaurant, note the colors 
$18 for less than a gallon of water
$18 for less than a gallon of bottled water.
Tap please

At night, the melody of insects and birds helps create a sense of pure tranquility. Walk down to the beach to add the sounds of the ocean for an unparalleled meditative experience.

I meander to the store in the morning and my reflective state gets concussed by sticker shock. At least in part due to the isolation of the island, Bermuda was ranked as the world's most expensive country, handily beating out Switzerland and Norway.
Groceries cost anywhere from double to triple what they do in the US. A small house starts at 800k, and a half hour taxi ride will run you $70-80.
Dining out is almost a non-starter, due to the food being both exceptionally high in cost and terribleness.

The island is tiny- 20 square miles. Even with the windy, hilly roads, driving from tip to tip takes less than an hour; width wise you can walk from one side to the other in half that. 
Fortunately, no matter your location you're surrounded by spectacular aqua water and some gorgeous beaches, which is frankly the best reason, and likely the only reason, for anyone to visit "The Rock." Just make sure your savings account is flush when you land, it won't be upon exit. 

my little crab heads towards the clear water

palm trees swaying on the Bermuda shore

My son enjoying himself down a a tubular slide in Bermuda. 7 seconds of bliss

Bermuda tips- if you do decide to see Bermuda, SKIP Hamilton altogether, sit yourself down on a nice beach around Somerset Village, and only come for a couple days. The beaches are very nice, but that's all there is really. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Taste, Look, and Feel of Toronto, Canada

Lake Ontario- spooky sky
spooky yet gorgeous skies around Lake Ontario at sunset

The beaches of Lake Ontario lap up its ferocious waves on this windy evening as I stand on her shores gazing up at the setting sky. Although the most polluted of the Great Lakes, it still contains a number of water enthusiasts; tonight that number is "one." I strip and dive in, but am quickly ejected by the frigid waters. I dress and retreat back up the hill feeling slightly defeated.

Toronto street car
I hop in a street car, its civic purpose to slow Queen Street traffic to the speed of an octogenarian jogger taking a coffee break.

As we continue west, large green parks start popping into view; people toss frisbees back and forth, as some set picnic baskets atop their large beach towels, while others meditatively practice tai-chi, breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly until they literally start flying through the air, upended by a linebacker of a dog chasing a squirrel through their circle.

Noting the lush landscapes combined with substantial summer humidity my wife declares Toronto, "The ideal place to grow a garden;" ... failing to factor in the snow which blankets the Great White North during its harsh winters.
There's a for sale sign in front of an old, three story red brick house near the downtown, which will undoubtably sell for a pretty penny. Toronto real estate is in bubble territory, bid up by Chinese money anxious to park itself in safer lands. Escalating rents, high grocery prices, and an Ontario sales tax of 13% on top of all other purchases apply substantial pressure to your finances. After 4 months of living here, my wallet is as flat as a penny left on the rail road tracks.
Toronto street scene, late January

Walking between the downtown sky-scrapers, it's notable how the pedestrians seem to represent every country on earth, and during winter months Antarctic penguins round out the continents; no one in this ethnic melting pot gives them so much as a second glance.

downtown Toronto
Presenting our e-tickets, we enter Scotiabank Arena  to watch the "hockey" (whatever that is) game. Molson beer flows in greater and greater volumes through the stands, until finally, during the 2nd period intermission, the generally milquetoast and polite Canucks start flapping their mouths, bragging about:
  • Canada's greatest invention and contribution to the world- the zamboni
  • how they have the worst traffic on the planet. 
Canadians are funny, ey? Toronto moves like the Indy 500 compared to most large cities around the globe. Even on a Friday night, downtown, with several events going on, traffic here still moves faster than a Christmas morning in Los Angeles. (provided you don't find yourself behind the aforementioned Queen Street cable car) 

But through and through Toronto is an eminently livable city, with its friendly people, large green spaces, plethora of restaurants, and the feeling that no matter who you are or where you are from, you're likely to find a little niche for yourself here. 
The only dilemma I have is whether I should inform my newfound Canadian friends that the zamboni was, in fact, invented in Southern California. .... 
Nah, I just don't have the heart. Let them have it. The game just started again and my amigos are decrying a penalty against the Leafs. When I join in and deride the call, one of them offers me a beer. I love these hosers.
So much so I married one.
Do you see one Hoser or two?