Will their 40th trip to Bermuda be the last?
An American couple have made what could be their last farewell to Bermuda after they celebrated their 40th visit to the island.
Brian and Elaine LaFleur, who visited for a week last month, said their advanced years and the expense of trips to the island meant it was likely to be their last holiday in Bermuda, after 38 years of regular holidays.
Mrs LaFleur said: “With our physical limitations and the rent we’re paying, it’s almost like we’re paying for a vacation every month.
“We had to have a big discussion about what we could give up and how fortunate we’ve been.”
Her husband added: “We’ve enjoyed it immensely. If I could get a new body, I’d be glad to start all over again.”
The LaFleurs, from Rhode Island, first came to the island in 1981 on their first tropical vacation, and for a honeymoon, that was ten years overdue.
Mrs LaFleur, 71, explained: “We never had a real honeymoon — we only honeymooned in New Hampshire for three days when we got married, in 1971.”
She added that they had enjoyed the safety, cleanliness and the people enough to visit the island twice more.
Mr LaFleur, 75, said a simple act of kindness on their third visit made him fall in love with the island and make it a regular destination.
He explained: “We were coming back from St George’s around 3.30pm, so at that time all the buses were picking up schoolchildren.
“There wasn’t a seat to be had, but as we were walking up towards the back of the bus, a young man, with his tie half undone and his shirt all untucked, picked his bag up and told his friend ‘let’s go, we’ll go and stand at the back’.”
Mr LaFleur added: “I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe that somebody in this world was teaching their kids to get up and give their seats to an older person.”
The couple stayed at the Hamilton Princess on most of their vacations, because they liked the staff and the hotel’s closeness to the city.
Mrs LaFleur added that they had tried a different activity every year and gone parasailing, jet skiing and diving.
She explained that the couple had slowed down in recent years but still enjoyed Segway tours around St George’s.
Mrs LaFleur said: “The only thing we never did, and never cared to do, was ride a moped.
“We chose not to drive on the other side of the road, especially in the roundabouts — we didn’t want to lose our way like we’ve seen so many tourists do.”
The LaFleurs have also weathered hurricanes during their visits.
Mrs LaFleur said that they once even flew in early to experience their first hurricane, Hurricane Igor, in 2010.
She explained: “We were due to come in on the Sunday that Igor hit, but the airline would not cancel our flights.
“So we said ‘let’s extend our vacation and go down early’.
“We knew the Princess was a massive building, we knew everyone took precautions there and we’d rather be there longer.”
Their intrepid spirit caught the attention of journalists from US news agency the Associated Press who interviewed them after the hurricane strike.
Mrs LaFleur said: “The morning after the hurricane, Brian went out and helped the pool attendant clean the pool so we could get in it faster.”
She said that they would cherish the friends and memories that they made in Bermuda even if they could no longer visit.
She added: “We’ve built friendships, I’ve kept in touch with some of them on Facebook and I’ve watched some of them leave. It’s like going to an old home when we go back.”
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