March 22nd 1984

posted in: The way back | 0

A different enterprise today: a walk to town.  That’s what it turned out as anyway – I had thought we were just heading around the beach to eat breakfast at a different restaurant, but once we’d done that (and a particularly unsatisfactory breakfast it was too) Val proposed carrying on to town, + I agreed.  It wasn’t at all a bad walk, even tho’ we headed around the beach, + so didn’t take the most direct route, it really wasn’t very far.  It had seemed much further the other day on the motor-bike.  For the final stretch, we had to share the beach with rack after rack after rack of drying squid.  It’s the big catch here – every night one sees the lights from the squid boats ranged around the black horizon.

Our first glimpse of town – we’d been whisked onto the bike before we realised we were on dry land when we had arrived.  A remarkably clean town – the fishy smell can’t be avoided.  Like the other places we’ve seen here, it reminds us most of a cowboy town – narrow streets, wooden buildings.  The shops too are closer to what one has seen in the films about provision stores in the wild west – bags of grain, a few tins, a bit of this, bit of that.  We didn’t do much there – there isn’t much to do – except have a coke.

We headed back to OK via the inland trails – they can be a bit confusing, but we reckoned we could manage.  In this we were sorely mistaken, forgetting or ignoring the rule we had been told, which was to stick to the coast.  We asked people along the way – there are a surprising number of houses in the jungle, but the language barrier was a problem.  Eventually, we found ourselves on a road.  It was a bit of a rude one, just dirt, but good enough to carry cars – one zoomed past us… several times.  This, we remembered, was the way the bike had come – no wonder it had seemed so far, it was one hell of a long way round, + under a burning sun at that.  Worse, it deepened my already foul mood, + soon enough I infected Val too, who had previously been enjoying it.  But after what seemed a very long time, we arrived back, having paused to buy a cold lemon + a packet of grass from the restaurant next door – B10 buys a healthy amount, rolled up in a page from a school exercise book.

With our return came that of our good humour, fortunately, but we did nothing for what was left of the day.  Val lay in the hammock, hung across the doorway to our hut, her favourite spot.  It’s a pity the hammocks here are so uncomfortable, compared with the Central American ones.  They have too big a weave, meaning not so much stretch.  We went up to the restaurant early, first of all to write, before moving on to more sensual delights.  It was quite an evening.  We had a plate of fried peanuts, washed down with Mekong whiskey + coke.  Alan joined us + rolled a joint, after which I fetched our newly acquired goods with which to reciprocate.  Not so fast.  Before the stuff could be smoked, it had to be de-stemmed, de-seeded, + cut up small.  In my condition this quickly acquitted the dimensions of a nightmare task, bent over this little pile in front of me, weeding + sorting, my mind converting it into a military manoeuvre.  Eventually, however, it was done, + could be enjoyed.  Very nice, which wasn’t surprising, since it came from the identical stock as Alan’s.  You won’t be surprised to discover we both found our meals wonderful.  I had chicken + chips, Val fried squid – you can tell the adventurous one, can’t you.  There was talk of a football match between locals + travellers, which sounds good, but would mean us stopping an extra night.  Have to think about it.

Another attempt to find some activity to fill the day; there really isn’t all that much to do here, but we needed to get away from the bungalow, and a walk did seem to do the trick, even if it did lead to one of our all-too-frequent arguments, the only plus being that we always seem to patch them up pretty quickly.

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