Cats of the World: St. George’s, Bermuda

Hi guys! I really enjoyed writing about the cats I photographed on my trip to Turks and Caicos, so I figured, why not make a “thing” out of this? Cats tend to help me tell the story of a place in their always-masterful inhabitance of it. Plus, I just like snapping cat pics.

And so, I give you, the cats of Bermuda — the rascally little nuggets who roam the cobblestone roads as if they own them, boldly mewling for attention from tourists or skirting into bushes at the faintest sound.

The cats of St. George’s live in what is possibly the prettiest little town I’ve ever seen, but before I get into that, let me just say, the traffic laws on the whole island of Bermuda are nuckin’ futs. I don’t know how the cats don’t poop themselves in fear every time they cross the street, because I’m pretty sure I did.

Legally, the Bermudian speed limit is 20 mph (35 km/h). This is, of course, absurdly slow. So NO ONE — and I mean no one — follows the speed limit. Cars and buses rip down the streets at any speed they please while the motorbike population weaves around the larger vehicles on both sides. The roads are winding. And to make matters better, there are no sidewalks, so pedestrians walk in the narrow roads with the cars. Having a cat’s agility would help here.

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Here’s my favorite hilltop view of the town of St. George’s, which is actually much more peaceful than the island traffic, especially if you walk away from the main drag.

St. George’s was the first English settlement in Bermuda. As such, the town is an exciting hodgepodge of 17th- and 18th-century architecture mixed with vibrant island colors. But all of the roofs are white.

Our first Bermudian taxi driver informed us that all the buildings had limestone roofs because they’re particularly hurricane-resistant. This turns out to only be half the story, though.

Because Bermuda doesn’t have a reliable source of fresh water, the roofing system is actually designed so that homes can harvest rainwater for personal use. Every home is self-sufficient.

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The steplike pattern of the roofs slows down heavy rainfall so it can be collected in tanks, stored below ground. The roofs are painted white to reflect sunlight, which reflects sunlight and naturally purifies the water. Overall, it’s a startlingly low-tech solution to the potentially life-threatening problem of dehydration, which is pretty dang cool.

Plus it makes the buildings look super cute.

And speaking of super cute, check out this little doofus. ↓

I found this guy snoozing under a tent outside the Crystal Caves. I assume he just lounges there all day, soaking up the shade and confiscating all the cuddles. I got really excited about him because all the other cats I had seen on the island up to that point had been too skittish to come say hello, and I was really missing my cat back home.

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This black cat is another beauty who knows she’s better than you. (Just look at those eyes.)

When I went on a walking tour of St. George’s, the guide stopped us outside of a plain little home called Hermit Cottage. As she began explaining its historical significance to the island, she was forced to stop. This cat was wrapping itself around her legs, purring. She laughed.

“This neighbor cat comes out to greet every single tour group I bring down here. She can’t get enough attention!”

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This attention hog, next-door neighbor to the inhabitants of Hermit Cottage, actually enjoys trespassing onto a pretty significant historical piece of property to be pet by tourists.

Although the island of Bermuda was originally uninhabited, the English empire still took its prisoners, mainly in the form of African slaves.

Hermit Cottage, though, was among the first homes on the island to be owned by a black Bermudian. The house belonged to Pilot Jemmy Darrell, a slave who was freed for his stellar navigational skills at sea. In addition to owning the home, Darrell had to overcome a legal system that refused to allow its black citizens to pass on their property to their descendants.

Happy ending: the law was changed and Darrell’s family was able to inherit the home! What’s more, his descendants still reside there today, which I think is both a heartwarming remembrance of ancestral history and a rad F-U to a racist legal system.

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Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today. I pet some cats and I learned some things about St. George’s. (The cats learned nothing.)

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