After a few short minutes of bouncing across the water from Darrell’s Wharf, I reach my destination and step out of the boat onto Long Island in Hamilton Harbour.
A little more than a hundred years ago this incredibly beautiful island served as one of Britain’s “island” prisons –to hold some of its Afrikaan prisoners from the Boer War. Unfortunately for most of them, this would also become their final resting place –just a few stones remaining to tell their tale. They may have survived the war and the ocean crossing too, but Yellow Fever would not be so kind.
And so now here they lay – along with many of their warders I might add – the Fever being a host of equal opportunity.
Standing among the stones on this most tranquil hill (the hustle and bustle of “Bermuda Proper” left far behind), it is hard to imagine what their lives must have been like so long ago. Did they ever stop to marvel at the beauty of their surroundings? Smiling, perhaps at such a sweet irony? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I feel tremendously blessed to be here with them now – entrusted with their care – to have the opportunity to read their stories – so many ending with the same poignant observation, “Even in life we are amongst death.”
No shit, Amen.
And then all too soon it is back to the boat for me and back to the other side.