st-georges-bermudaWe walked into the bar just off Kings Square around 8 pm, all fifteen of us. Someone had the bright idea of getting us all t-shirts, copycats dressed in purple knights. And then it began.

It had been a day to remember. Our swarm of budding marine biologists had boarded the airplane at New York’s Kennedy airport late that morning. After a short delay our two plus hour flight landed on a runway that barely squeezed itself onto St. David’s Island in Bermuda. Fascinated by the coral reefs out our window, we almost didn’t notice how close to the water our plane’s nose reached before making the turn to taxi into our home for the next two months.

After settling into our rooms and getting a welcoming orientation and light dinner at the biological station, our group decided to orient ourselves to the surrounding environs, by which we meant bars. A brisk half mile walk along Ferry Road brought us exactly a half mile in the wrong direction. Getting our bearings (and retracing the lost half mile) got us started on another mile-plus walk down into the quaint downtown of St. George’s. Just off the square was a pub, which by the end of the evening had come to be known as “the pub is a pub is a pub.” Admittedly, that was after several steins of Worthington E.

Commandeering most of the tables lining the wall in the narrow bar, our purple wave was hard not to notice. Our voice level rose with each round of beers as we got to know each other and the local community. At one point I returned to the table after getting another beer at the bar, along with a proposition from a lonely sailor. The telling of the story to our group was interrupted a minute later by a fellow purple knighter, this one female, who breathlessly told of being propositioned herself, as it turns out, by the same sailor. Apparently it had been a long sail.

Our interactions with the locals continued. One of us returned from a restroom visit, during which a gentleman had interrupted his activities to query “Are you all some kind of group?” I suppose the 15 identical purple t-shirts was the tip off.

A long night was followed by an even longer walk, though somehow we managed to find the driveway to the station in the pitch blackness. Crawling into our sweaty beds we woke up to the realization that our first class at 8 A.M. was  way too early, though the anole lizards that inevitably rested on the warmth of our pillow cases by the time we got out of the very cold shower never stopped bringing a smile to our lips.

David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

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