As the wind whipped around me through the taxi window, I realized something I never would have considered: that Bermuda is beautiful even at night because of how it smells.
Various flowering shrubs line the narrow streets, so whipping around them awoke my sense of smell. The taxi driver pointed out various things, like how some thin poles are colored blue and pink to distinguish whether the bus stopping there is headed toward or away from Hamilton (otherwise known as the city by some).
When the conversation during the half hour trek waned, I pointed out that my mother was born there. He asked her last name and said there were a small number of Moreiras still on the island. I said we would meet our cousins, and they were named Pacheco. He said there were also a small number of them on the island. I said they were farmers, and he immediately exclaimed that Pacheco Farms grew the best vegetables. The best sweet corn he's ever had.
This was not the first interaction we had with random people. They were all impressed with the work they did. Needless to say I was more anxious than before to meet Roger, the youngest of my Aunt Sally's four kids. I had met Kathy when she visited the states with my aunt.
We agreed to have dinner together at a restaurant in the Dockyard area, where cruise ships dock. We were knocking around the area, checking out the sights, when it started raining, so we headed to the restaurant. We waited inside, wondering if we'd be able to recognize whoever arrived first.
As Kathy hurried up the sidewalk, we all knew her in a nanosecond. She hasn't changed a bit. When Roger and his wife Sandra popped in a moment later I knew him right off. His resemblance to pictures of our Uncle Joe when he was younger is uncanny. His big smile, which he seemed to wear all night, was followed by a big hug. And we Americans weren't the only ones earning warm welcomes. All of the restaurant's staff, from bus boys to the chef, came over to greet him with a hug and laugh. Turns out this is one of his favorite places, and he sells them vegetables.
We managed to catch up on what we've all been doing, laughed at some funny stories, and sadly thought of those relatives we've lost over the years. I learned more about my uncle and grandfather who I never met; my other cousin Joey who like the one in Springfield passed away too soon; and my cousin Linda, who I didn't get a chance to meet because of unfortunate circumstances.
I told them about the Joey who lived in Springfield, and we decided the two Joeys were a lot alike. Both had a way of making you laugh and enjoying life. Two weeks before the Bermuda Joey died in a farming accident (Roger said they had plowed near that ditch a million times) he said that if either one of them died the other would take care of the others family. I knew from the look he gave me that Joey's family is lovingly taken care of.
I was so happy to have spent a night with them, then we got to spend another night later in the week, and it was another joyful experience. Roger is like the brother I never had. Tabitha noticed Kathy has the same mannerisms as my sister Nan, just with that unusual mixed accent of British and Portuguese.
On Friday, we were waiting to head to the city to celebrate my daughter's 19th birthday, Kathy called to see if we wanted to see where my mom grew up. Of course we jumped at the chance, and my sisters and I were soon headed to Smith's Parish. Growing up we heard our mom would go swimming every chance she got and would swim out to a rock to sit. We're not sure which one it was, but we figured out where she got in the water, which is good enough for me.
We also saw the house she grew up in along with the road she walked to catch the train. While the train no longer exists (although a light rail would be nice for the island), they converted the track beds into a nice walking trails around the city.
On the way back to where my sisters were staying, Kathy talked about how Roger works hard, but also has a giving heart. When a hurricane heads Bermuda's way, not only does he prepare his farm for the worst, he nails plywood over Kathy's patio doors. He gives vegetables to the unfortunate, including 500 pounds during the big Christmas giveaway, even if he had to buy some from other farmers the year a hurricane took a major toll on his crop output.
When I said my goodbye to Roger the night before, he told me how proud he was to have me as a cousin for the work I am doing. Turns out I'm pretty proud to be his cousin, too.