The Tradition of The Bell
By Susan Clark McBride
Come to Pine Cay – but leave your driver’s license, shoes, and gadgets at home. Including your watch. After all, a true respite on a remote island means sinking into a place where time is irrelevant.
As a guest at the Meridian Club or in one of the private homes, you’re likely savoring a romantic beach getaway. You can choose to rise with the sun or sleep in. Let your body clock be your guide. Breakfast will likely still be available. And, not to worry, even without knowing precisely what time it is, you won’t miss the morning snorkel excursion or evening movie at Sand Dollar Cinema because you’ll sense guests gathering by the front desk. And of course, you’ll certainly be aware of another blissful day ending as the sun dips below the horizon and a spectacular sunset paints the sky. So relish the fact that for a few precious days or weeks, time is not in control – you are.
Don’t even fret about being late for any of the Meridian Club’s gourmet meals, as a charming tradition of Pine Cay is the timely ringing of “The Bell.”
A substantial metal rendition, the Bell at the Meridian Club stands firmly and proudly on a step leading from the sand path to the front entrance of the main building. The Bell is a fixture of the island, a reflection of the low-tech culture and beloved part of Pine Cay history. In one sense, an interesting artifact. In another, a practical tool.
At approximately 1 PM and 7:30 PM, headwaiter Wesley Handfield heads purposely down the walkway to call guests to lunch and dinner – “approximate” because the chef, kitchen crew and dining room staff must deem all is ready and up to Pine Cay standards before he can perform this important twice-daily ritual. When the time is right, Wesley firmly rings the Bell with a metal spike, setting off a series of 20 or so sharp pings that resonate throughout the Club grounds and beyond. This soon-to-be-familiar signal means it’s time for you to toss on a cover-up or t-shirt and meander to lunch or finish your cocktail and stroll to dinner. But don’t rush. You’re on Pine Cay.
Those of us who’ve been coming to the island since the beginning of its “civilization” can’t remember where the Bell came from or exactly when the tradition of ringing the Bell began. The Bell has simply “always been,” serving a practical, thoughtful purpose. As original homeowners explored and settled, communal meals at the Club created an important connection point. The unique and lovely island resort was taking shape and its important culture being discussed and established. Lunch and dinner were not to be missed. The Bell brought us together to compare notes, make decisions, and regale over the latest adventures in paradise.
We love the fact that the Bell’s been gathering everyone since the early ’70s. It’s more than just a pretty face and so much nicer than checking your watch.
Don’t just take our word for it; the bell makes an impression on everyone who visits the island. Read the article which appeared in Uncommon Caribbean.