Land Sliver

We forget about land. It’s true – when we need to exercise, we swim. Our main sounds during days and nights are waves splashing. We don’t get the wafting scent of land much. Flowers even less.

We do get glimpses. At night for example, when we lift Edna on Quest’s bow, you can hear the insect cacophony on shore. It’s always startling. So loud! I stop, lean against the wrapped-up head sail and dream for a moment. Green monkeys. Hummingbirds. Tree frogs.

Over the weeks, the beach sand has been untouched. Shells unpicked. Our beach at Port St Charles is interesting too. There are two parts to it. The area by the posh housing development is equally posh. Sun loungers and umbrellas. But if you walk just a little further down – it becomes quite natural. Unkept. A yellow coast guard station sits empty – even before the outbreak. A large hotel development has long been abandoned. A wire fence separates the hotel from the beach. With its slow crumble, we imagine it could be King Louie’s Jungle Book kingdom. Green monkeys live in its windowless suites. Not fair if they didn’t.

So there’s posh and there’s the wild. And like the good people of Barbados, they are all mixed together. I stood on the beach at 6:05am appreciating this fact.

Beaches have now opened from this morning – but only from 6am to 9am. Over the last days, Barbados decided to lift its 24-hour curfew. Like many places now, it is doing the great Covid-19 experiment. The one where, if we ease lockdown, let’s see how many people start to cough.

I didn’t need reminding. I’d swum from Quest after inhaling coffee. Now had a pair of flippers, surface marker, mask and snorkel in my hand. And a camera. Even though it was only just light, the beach was Sunday afternoon busy. People near me were kicking a football.

Another group were doing the Bajan ‘relaxing in the sea as if it were a jacuzzi’ thing. They were doing it at a distance from each other. Not far enough to miss a chat though. It was clear they were catching up on the news. And when I mean news, I mean island news. Who thought this and which person said that. I sighed. Oh man. This was like a dream.

I remembered the last time we’d been to the beach, we’d raided the tamarind tree. This tree is in the hotel grounds but its branches poke over the fence. We’d managed to grab some pods and open them for their delicious, tangy fruit.

I made a beeline for the same tree – only to find no fruit, and no leaves even. The tree had gone into winter mode. I scratched my head. That happens in the tropics? And it had been so long since we’d last been? A few tamarind pods lay in the ground, dried up. The monkeys had had the rest. Thank goodness.

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