I feel nourished by the food here. This morning I have granola and soy milk, with fresh berries on top. A berry smoothie, in a small glass bottle with a rubber stopper, lined up next to others that have been plunged in an ice bath at the bottom of a silver tub. Slices of cold ham and thick square slabs of cheddar, creamy lemon pastry, coffee, toast with butter and honey. The butter is piled in circlets on a plate, the honey in a jar with a large dipper fastened on the lid. They melt and mingle on the toasted whole grain bread. Just looking at this food makes me happy.
We won’t eat again until 7:30 pm, except for the fruit piled in bowls everywhere you go, so I overfill myself. The Prof orders banana stuffed French toast. The bananas are grown on a plantation on site, as are the coconuts for the coconut tart I pop in my mouth, bite-size and zesty. We order coffee and she brings a ceramic coffee pot, a small white jug of cream. They supply photocopies of the NY Times and a British paper full of news about British tv and sports, none of which interests me but I read it anyway. I have not picked up my phone since we got here.
After a breakfast that leaves me waddling, we head down to the beach, just a short walk down a stone path from the terraced dining area. The beach attendants supply us with a fitted towel to go over our lounge chair, as well as loose towels for drying off. No umbrella today, as the wind is fierce – we’d surely lose it to a gust. Small puffs of black cloud dance around the sky, occasionally blocking the sun and once in a while pelting us with rain, for just a minute or two. The sun does come out frequently, however, and I don’t mind the weather, though many guests are grumbling. It’s been hot and sunny in New Orleans for a while now, so we are ok with mild temps and overcast skies, so long as it is warm enough to sit on the beach. We do feel a bit . . . sandblasted, I guess, and my beach bag quickly fills with sand. But no matter.
We get sorted and then I face the water, turn to my left, and walk until I can’t walk anymore. The sand is light colored, not white but very light – the water is turquoise, taffy-colored, the water is clear and fairly cold. To my left is a short hump of dune, behind which grows foliage. Every hundred feet or so is a pathway into a private villa – we don’t have one of those, at thousands per night, but they look lovely. Up ahead is a rocky outcropping that guards a small bay, and I make my way to it, walking about forty minutes there and then forty minutes back. It feels good to walk. The rough sand on my feet, the sun peeking in and out of the clouds, the taffy-colored waves, my thoughts. No phone, no law partners, no kids, no interruptions.
Upon my return, the Prof hops up and walks the other way, a rockier and probably more interesting trek – I’ll do it tomorrow perhaps. While he is gone, a Coast Guard helicopter flies overhead, someone comes running and hops into a small boat with an outboard motor, then takes off in the same direction. I wonder, but never learn, what that was about.
We lounge, we read, I do splash in up to my knees but it’s quite windy and choppy, and not really a good day for swimming or kayaking or any other sea activity. After several hours and several applications of sunscreen, we gather our things and move to the pool.
The pool is infinity style, with a beach-style entrance – in other words, a gentle slope from 0 depth to about 4.5 feet. It is elevated above the ocean, with several yards of riparian scrub between beachside and ocean, but from a standing position at the edge of the pool there is no clear delineation between pool’s edge and ocean, a soothing effect. We swim a few laps, and the pool is heated – tepid, but not freezing, which helps in this wind. We have been similarly set up with fitted-towels on our chairs by the pool attendant, who eventually brings us fruity beach drinks that cost an arm and a leg, and we are sipping them and reading lazily when the rain comes pouring. We make a quick dash to the nearby poolside bar, chat with the friendly bartender, who is from near Como in Italy. A Swiss couple are perched on stools near us, and they converse with the bartender in what appears to be at least three languages. They eat bananas and wrap up in the large towels, and we finish our drinks and don’t order any more. The rain eventually stops, and we take the opportunity to move along. I go to the gym for a bit, and the Prof sits by the pool and reads a tremendously boring book about multinational corporations, which I tease him about.
We have afternoon tea and coconut cookies at the hotel’s library, stocked with books in many languages and including a large muted tv playing some sort of soccer/football quarter final. After tea, we head to the on-site spa to check out the facilities. While I am tempted by a massage or facial, the price tag makes my eyes goggle and we settle for the complimentary co-ed outdoor Jacuzzi and free Evian. I use the water jets to batter my sore muscles, joints still tender from my 5.5 mile run at my parents’ place a few days ago, muscles starting to knot after a gym session. It feels good, almost like a massage.
It is raining steadily when we head back to the room, but not too chilly. The rain clears while I am inside taking a shower – taking the time to wash my hair before dinner. Now I am on the porch. Pandora plays Indian flute music and some sort of bird makes a call that sounds like a cassette tape being played backwards. (I will later learn, through tortured attempts at translation with another visitor, that this is some kind of crow. “They say ‘caw’ in America” he helpfully tells me.) The sun is peeking out behind a small knot of gray clouds, a spectacular sunset just at the roofline of the neighboring hotel building. We have 7:30 dinner reservations, and I will wear the one sweater that I brought (so glad I brought it). The restaurant serves vaguely Asian food – I think I will have pork dumplings, perhaps a lager. My throat hurts a bit, it’s hurt all trip, but it’s not getting any worse so for now we’re crossing our fingers and praying for cold/allergies and not strep, or something that requires antibiotics.
The clouds are scudding – I almost typed drifting that there is a definite scud to their movement, drifting but with purpose. There are about seven different layers of clouds, moving at all different speeds, and it is fairly spectacular to see. I’ll take a picture but it won’t do it justice, just as the picture I have taken of the red tile roof isn’t quite getting the red color right. Living in the moment, preserving the moment . . . always that tension. Off to dinner now.