It is our third night – the evening of our second full day here.
Last night we shared one starter (pork and shrimp Asian dumplings – four of them, really good), one main (chicken stir fry – average) and one dessert (a coconut cheesecake confection with coconut ice cream and basil leaves and little pearls of sweet cream, which was an odd but perfect combo). I had a local bottled beer, he had a cocktail. We ate by the pool, under what would have been a starry night if it wasn’t so overcast. Nevertheless, the tall poolside palms rustled, the other guests murmuring discussion and the lapping water, and the flicker of the candle – it was a relaxing evening.
We went to our room and I continued to read “The Secret Chord” by Geraldine Brooks, a wonderful and difficult and brutal and lovely novel all about King David (of Biblical fame, though this is not a book you would buy at a Christian bookstore – it is historical fiction). I fell asleep, book in hand, at about 9:00, and didn’t wake til 6 the next morning – though I’m told by the spouse that I coughed through the night. My sore throat was worst this morning, but it has definitely abated through the day and is largely recovered this evening, for which I’m thankful.
I laced up my shoes and was out the door, jogging down the banana plantation path, by 6:30 a.m. I wound my way along the white gravel paths, none of which were marked, until I came to a clearing. The low palms cleared, and small mangroves stretched as far as the eye could see. I was stopped short by a gurgling, knee deep stream, wide and moving with purpose. I could have waded across if I’d wanted, but instead I took several pictures and then turned back – we were going to a yoga sun salutation class together at 7:30, and I didn’t have time to go wading.
A few happy miles later, I glanced at my phone and it was 7:16 – I was going to be late for class. I dashed back as quickly as I could, and met the Prof at the class (we went to the wrong location but eventually found it, a couple of minutes late). We did our chatarangas and downward dogs facing the west, sun rising behind us, looking out over the pool and beyond, over a short hump of scrub brush, the blue green clear ocean. As I lay in child’s pose, the instructor came and pressed on my back and shoulders. I felt tension melt away.
One hot shower later, we were once more at the buffet breakfast. Granola with berries, sliced bananas, and soy milk; an almond croissant; tapioca with diced mango; smoked salmon and ham and smoked cheddar. I drink gallons of coffee and iced water, and read the NY Times on paper instead of my phone. The Prof orders eggs benedict but I am happy with my buffet offerings. We are stuffed full of good things and slathered in sunscreen by 9:30 am, lounging at the beach.
Unfortunately these first two days have been almost fully occupied by scattered storms and, more annoyingly, a fierce and irritating wind. This morning at the beach I am constantly spitting sand out of my mouth, wiping it out of my eyes, and though I close my beach bag tight, the wind forces it into the cracks and soon our bag is full to the brim with sand. The wind draws lines on my sunscreen sticky legs with sand, tracing the less rubbed in spots, and I am sure I will be shaking it out of my hair for days. I get up to take a long walk down the limestone littered beachline to my right, opposite of where I walked yesterday, and reach the very edge of the cay, walking around it. It is just short swim to the cay next door, though I don’t attempt it, but walk back. There is a distant sandbar and most of the sea from shore to sandbar is so shallow it barely covers your ankles, so I walk out far and never get any deeper than my knees.
But the wind blows fierce, sea spray in my face and lungs, water splashing roughly around my legs, and I feel buffeted. I head back to sit and be buffeted by sand instead of water for a bit, and watch some adventurous folks get out the water equipment – kitesurfing, paddleboarding, some snorkel. I had wanted to wait until the wind died down, but decide that it may never happen, so I go and ask for a kayak. It’s a bit of a battle getting the thing out past the waves, and I have to paddle hard just to keep it in place – any time spent resting and the wind blew me swiftly back toward shore. I paddle around for a while nonetheless, in water choppy and unforgiving, and eventually give up and head back. We decide to decamp for the slightly less abusive poolside lounging.
I read and rest at the pool. It rains a bit, but not for long, and soon a pool attendant brings a pina colada and a local lager. After we linger over drinks a while, we grab a late lunch at the poolside restaurant – a burger and a jerk chicken sandwich. They seat us on a long low bench along the back wall, so we are facing the pool and ocean, behind us vented plantation shutters open to the green tropical foliage.
It is about 3:30 pm when we finish lunch and grab some bikes for a jaunt around the island. There are numerous private properties around the island, as well as much more expansive (and expensive) properties for rent, for the truly outrageously rich. We pedal around them, and through the banana plantation, eventually finding our way to the other end of the cay entirely. Our way out is along gravel roads, a bit rough on the saddle, but we come back along a neat, narrow paved road, designed for golf carts (not cars – no cars allowed on the island).
We park the bikes back in the bike shed and then head over to the spa to rest weary muscles in the Jacuzzi – after running several miles, morning yoga, kayaking, and bicycling, plus yesterday’s workout at the gym, I’m sore. I position each joint in turn over the jets, pummeling poor joints and muscles with hot jets of water, which is just absolutely fantastic. After this, we return to the room – and here we are, dressed in warm clothes, bathing suits draped and drying. The sun is going down before me, everything honeyed and warmly lit as twilight sets in. We won’t have dinner tonight, given our late lunch – but perhaps a drink at the poolside bar . . .
Aside from a brief check-in today, I’ve largely stayed away from social media, and aside from the printed paper at breakfast, I’ve also avoided the news. I have had the discipline not to even look at work email, and while I check personal email once or twice a day, that’s not at all stressful. I don’t count typing these memories out as “screen time” – it’s just much easier to keep a journal this way, than by hand. This has been a lovely and needed timeout from information overload, as much as anything, and also a chance to reconnect with my body, to live in it a bit more than usual. The wind appears to have died down today and I think it will be less windy tomorrow, so we hope to go snorkeling (without being battered and abused by wind-tossed seas). Here’s hoping to a perfect last full day on the island . . .