Tag Archives: tropical beach

On the Beach

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In better books the beach is not a place to take the kids; it’s the setting for dark deeds, unravellings, and disaster. If you have stood on a beach in Northern Europe, that will probably make perfect sense. Tropical beaches have a better PR, but palms, clownfish, and banana boat rides aside, they too inspire dark good reads such as  The Beach by Alex Garland, and Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (fabulous in that we’re all doomed kind of way). The title, On the Beach, is naval slang for washed up, which is what I was thinking about when I started this some hours ago (I stopped to film spider monkeys by the window. . . just as a cartload of tourists arrived, researched the ‘cold snap’ online, rubbed repellent in my eye and spent some time in the bathroom trying to sluice it out, dried off in the sun, Skype-messaged Dave, and checked the hotel’s collection of books-to-swap ever hopeful that someone had taken some of the German ones and replaced them new books by Richard Ford, William Boyd and Joyce Carol Oates).

Anyway, I don’t mean washed up in a personal sense, although I am rather out of the Bob-a-Job freelance loop, but rather the stuff that gets tossed in and rejected by the sea, and washed up on the beach. I was  hard on the sea (The Narky Sea), but I love the beach, a place you can explore from scratch every single morning. And I get great pleasure from tracking the tracks – the fact I’m not alone in enjoying that early morning snuffling.

Two more quotes before moving away from the sea – figuratively, for now. The first is a perfect description of the sounds of the sea from Douglas Adams, So Long, and thanks for All the Fish: “from among it, voices calling, and yet not voices, humming trillings, wordlings, and half-articulated songs of thought . . .Greetings, waves of greetings, sliding back down into the inarticulate, words breaking together.”

 While I was searching for the Adams quote, I came across this, from Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Anna Quindlen, which I like very much indeed. I’m going to appropriate it and use it when I next stand next to a stranger at the Margarita Sunset bar: “I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.” Top stuff – although I can’t work out whether it’s supposed to be hilarious.

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Company on the Beach

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“It happened, one day about noon going towards my boat, I was exceedingly surprised, with the print of a man’s naked foot on the shore, which was very plain to be seen in the sand. I stood like one thunder-struck, or as if I had seen an apparition;” says Robinson Crusoe. Mmm hmm. “I listened, I looked round me, I could hear nothing, nor see any thing . . . I went to it again to see if there were any more, and to observe if it might not be my fancy; but there was no room for that, for there was exactly the very print of a foot, toes, heel, and every part of a foot; how it came thither I knew not, nor could in the least imagine.”

I generally know how they come thither. Footprints at the far end of the beach come from heat-resistant tourists, visiting from the hotel up the hill, but it’s still surprising and interesting when you spot them here, especially if the footprints lead  – splat splat splat – into the undergrowth or the dark bowels of the stinky bat cave, and don’t come out again.  Sometimes, retracing my footsteps along the beach, I find them criss-crossed with fresh animal prints. I like the fact that whatever it is – here that old pizote again – is as interested in me as I am in him, despite the distance he maintains; that we two things have shared the enjoyment of a solitary amble in this lovely place.

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Invasion of the Fruitsnatchers

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Something’s eaten the fruit. Half have large, neat, round holes on them. This is clearly why the potatoes were left in a sealed red tub. Furthermore, there are ants inside the tap of the water bottle. They plummet into the glass alive, clinging to ice cubes, their heads encased in air bubbles like astronauts in their helmets. I know I should find this fascinating and ingenious, but I usually just swear. Talking of which, I have spent ten minutes chasing a Jesus Christ lizard out of the shower. I should have thrown a t-shirt over him and caught him, but I couldn’t decide which one, and then once the chase started,  on it went. Jesus Christ lizards aren’t named for the reaction they typically get when found in a shower, but for their ability to run across the surface of water – another marvel of nature that involves air pockets. They do that very well. What they don’t do so well, is run across polished floors, and there’s much skittering and overshooting of open doors.

Now late afternoon, I have just climbed up the bank (snake alert! snake alert!) behind the house to pick a grapefruit I can eat all myself. The days have now dropped into a bit of a pattern: Fruit, beach, tractor up, busy day in the office, pleasant stroll back down, beer on steps. Occasionally at dusk, like now, there’s also attack of the sand flies, the dreaded purujas. It’s all to do with the moon apparently, although there doesn’t really seem to be a pattern. Seeking refuge inside, I’ve been playing chess on the computer. I can’t play chess, but it’s nice to hear voices. I just let them play against each other:

“I would suggest” says ‘Vicki’, “D1 to D3”.

“Castle to Rookside” says the computer.

And on they go.

Mainly what I hear tonight are frogs. Like me, they really like Oops Oh My by Tweet Ft Fabolous. When I play it, the croak volume goes up. I play the music louder, they croak louder etc. They are finding it arousing. To be fair, there’s stuff  on that track that sounds exactly like bull frogs. Anyway, there’s a lot of them right outside the window now. They’ve come from far and wide, and they are pretty excited.

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