Christmas came early to Charlotteville. Music was pumping outside and cars were driving up-and-down the street. The noise mingled with the crowing of the roosters at ten to three in the morning. I sighed and got up again to fumble for a new pair of earplugs.
I had woken at 01:39. The knock-out effect worked, but only for four or five hours, so I relented and took a second pill about an hour later. It should’ve been kicking in any minute now.
The ventilation was terrible and I reeked of sweat, despite wearing a freshly washed shirt. What a time to find out that the fan didn’t work. I opened a window but it helped little. Scratchy with restlessness, I went outside to take notes at the desk. I practically ran into Jimmy who’d commented at seeing me me read when he went out for his 9 p.m. glass of water. He couldn’t sleep either, but he took it in his usual jovial way.
“Ho, ho, ho! You’re still reading!”
“Fuck off.” But I don’t think he’d heard me.
There is too much run-off here for any coral to grow near to shore. If I had used my brains instead of trusting the guide book, I would have figured that snorkelling in the shallows around here wouldn’t amount to much. The approaches to Pigeon Point, Buccoo Bay and Englishman’s Bay are much more shallow than that to Pirate’s Bay.
A part of me was tempted to go all the way back to Englishman’s Bay, but I would have had to get up a lot earlier, more like when I finally got back to sleep at around four.
It was nine when I peeled myself out of bed and inspected the fan. It really didn’t work, and worse: there was a piece of life wiring that I must have narrowly avoided when groping around last night.
The best plan—seeing how I was feeling—would be to check out the upstairs at Sharon’s & Pheb’s and see whether I could track down a European-style breakfast. The Banana Boat was too far and frequented by drunks, being right on the beach. Jimmy hung out there sometimes and told me about the fishermen sitting there with their bottles of rum lined up in front of them. They were pleasant enough to him. Here the drunks own the beaches, and the men own the women.
Sharon’s & Pheb’s was closed, as I could see in passing. The Banana Boat was closed as well, but I could see people moving around in there—staff, divers, guests, all kept in a cage. At least that meant that the beach in front of it was empty.
This part of the bay was all sand and pebbles. There was nobody in sight, but the log I sat on to take notes would soon be claimed by ganja-smoking, beer-swilling limers, if the evidence scattered around it was anything to go by. Another couple of months here and I’ll turn into a born-again Seventh Day Adventist.
But for now it was quiet, so I settled down for a grapefruit and a smoke. The grapefruit originated here and I’d bought one in the town’s tiny greengrocer’s. The peel was warty and thick but easy to remove and the fluffy pith gave way to succulent, almost seedless flesh with just a hint of bitterness. Like all the citrusfruit I’d seen—with the exception of limes—the grapefruit was green. Limes are yellow.
I walked back to Green Cottage. Patsy was back, exhausted from a two-day shopping marathon in Trinidad and off to her mother’s to do some baking. In the meantime she’d done the washing and cleaning. I mentioned the fan mainly because I didn’t want her to electrecute herself. She sighed and apologised. “I forgot to tell you. I’ve already replaced it twice and now—”
“No worry,” I meant it. Patsy is a nice landlady and the tiny guesthouse only has two rooms. If it wasn’t for the men pests outside, this may have been the nicest place I’ve stayed in.