Removing the Rose Colored Glasses: Photographer/freelance journalist encourages travelers to find culture beyond Front Street.
Olivia Rose is no stranger to Bermuda: like many locals, she learned to swim by being tossed off a dock. She “can identify the whale by its tail at the aquarium in Flatt’s” and stays with family when she visits.
But, like many tourists, she’d never been past Front Street. Front Street is Bermuda’s veil: a port for cruise ships and a vestige of our heyday, it is a brightly colored partition dividing our image and our reality. Just beyond? “Bakatown” -Tourism’s seedy stepchild, where it’s not uncommon to see black faces pressed against buildings while cops search for weapons or drugs or question suspects about a murder.
So to travel into the outskirts is to forgo a carefully crafted facade for the less-than-idyllic realities of violent crime, recession, racial profiling and prostitution. Now in her 20s, Olivia traveled to Bermuda as an artist in search of “bad boys” for a photographic project that will take her to Jamaica and back to London. In search of bad boys she found bakatown – forever altering her understanding of island life. Her HuffPost blog can be found here. An excerpt below:
When there are less than 1000 people in each age category, things can get a little claustrophobic. People know your business. You’ve probably slept with your best friends ex or cousin or brother. The police officer drinks with you until he’s sick on Saturday and is back on patrol Monday. It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have one of the most blended cultures in the world – no one blinks an eye at an interracial couple, you only have to walk in to Docksiders (one of Bermuda’s most famous pub/restaurants) to see that rich ex-pats children drink alongside the kids from the bakatown in some strange symbiotic disharmony and take a drive with a local and you’ll realize that the car horn’s sole purpose is to beep the people you know hello along your way. On the other hand, you have a nation that’s living on top of itself, caught in a bubble that was cast when it was at it’s most affluent several years ago and struggling to keep up now the super rich have moved out.
Since the mass migration of ex-patriat businesses, guest-houses, hotels, restaurants and bars lie dormant all over the island. There’s hardly anyone left that can afford to fill them. Many young people are unemployed, with little to do but drink, smoke ganja (which comes at an extortionate price) and stick their middle finger up to the world. Gangs have formed, guns have replaced machetes, respect has been lost and as far as I can see, little is being done to help. Everyone here is talking about it, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, yet few seem bold enough to speak up in a place where everybody seems to know your name. Yet things are changing. – Olivia Rose.