Of Hammocks and Island Breezes (Day 1)

I am balanced precariously on a hammock on my friend’s verandah. It is one of those wrap-around ones and it hugs the three bedroom bungalow on two sides. I have my own room and bathroom and use of the whole house. There is a jacuzzi on the back deck; I spent my first night sipping on Ginger wine (very interesting flavor) and soaking in the bubbles.  This piece of paradise will be my home for the next 7 weeks. Most people made the joke that “life is so hard for you” when I told them where I would be spending my summer. The blessing of such a retreat is not lost on me, trust me. I am extremely grateful for the gift of this my long-time friend and her opening up her home to me.

I arrived in Sint Maarten around noon yesterday, cleared immigration, picked up my bags and headed for a cab. The flights come into the Dutch side of the island and in order to catch the ferry to Anguilla, you must travel to the French side. I had the experience of being driven by my first female cab driver. She was not particularly chatty so I curbed my excitement and settled for seeing the island again after 5 years of being away. This is my third trip here and it’s beginning to feel like home although I still don’t know my way around. The last two trips were much shorter in length and were organized around Carnival and New Year’s so there were specific itineraries. This time, it’s wide open. I’ll be here almost four times as long and there isn’t a whole lot going on. Structured activity, that is. I’ve been informed that there will be spontaneous boat races (there’s one on Sunday) so I am looking forward to those. I’m game for anything water related.

While waiting for the ferry at Marigot, I was told by a few men how beautiful I was. I must say it was a confidence boost. What surprised me was that these men were not whistling at me like is usually the case. They came up to me: “Ai Lord, you pretty. Real pretty now. Gad Bless you!” I was quite taken aback by the blessing but it was a real breath of fresh air for them not to be leering or asking for my number or talking about a body part. I needed to split a twenty to pay the departure tax and three men immediately rushed to my aid. The one who returned with the change first, teased the others. Then he kissed me on my cheek. That was a surprise.

Sometimes when I am immersed in male-centric cultures, I wonder what the world would be like if women were in their position uttering the same words. Or better yet if these women were admiring other women. Sometimes I dream of a fully same-gender-loving integrated society. ah well…

The ferry ride was bumpy and I was very glad I was not prone to seasickness. The natives complained that the sea wasn’t supposed to be that rough in the summer. My ferry captain was a butch-presenting woman with locs. I had to look at her a few times, wondering if she was family and where family could be found on the island. I was chatted up by one of the ferry hands who couldn’t believe that I was making a third trip to the island just to hang out. He was convinced there was a man on the island I was returning to see. When I said no, he proceeded to give me his number for when I “got bored.” I smiled and took the slip of paper from him.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. I arrived at the bungalow around 3, ate, showered and napped until my friend and her husband came home from work. We caught up on news while we watched CNN and fried up some chicken wings. All thoughts to begin eating healthy while here went out the door. They smelled so good!

So it’s Day 1 of my 42-day trip and I am trying not to be my anal self and plan too tightly. Of course, I also have the tendency to just go completely without a plan meaning that I could end up not writing a whole lot. I’ve decided that this time, I will get my license so I will have some flexibility in choosing working locations. I’m getting a map tonight and hopefully, I’ll be on the road tomorrow after breakfast.

I packed my memoir in it’s thesis hard-copy form with lots of Adiele comments. I will open it up tomorrow and make a plan. In the meantime, I’m waiting for my ride to go to the license office. For $20, I can get a vacation license! Here’s to making new road memories. Now all I have to do is remember to drive on the left side! Wish me luck!

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4 comments

  1. I love to think of you soaking in the sun and the sea. 🙂 Raising my eyebrows at the male attention that comes with a blessing — I do not know what to make of that!!

    I got to visit Hedgebrook yesterday for a couple of hours thanks to a Facebook connection. That got me thinking about spaces of women loving and supporting each other. It was damn magical. And Erik was there too, and they extended that radical welcome to him as well. Sigh. Not enough spaces like this in the world.

  2. Lisa,
    Please raise those eyebrows some more. There was an invitation to hang-out on Tuesday that turned into a forced sexual interaction that’s left me disgusted and saddened. Why can’t a woman just hang-out, shoot the breeze, have some intellectual conversation and that be it. Why should any interaction have to be sexualized? Like we can’t interact on any other levels besides the sexual. Ugh!

    Lucky you on Hedgebrook. One of these days I’ll have some material to submit to them. Was it beautiful? I’m glad you two had such a positive experience.

    • Oh yuck. I hope by forced interaction you mean unwanted advances and no more than that (though that’s bad enough). I hate reminders that to many men, women are nothing but possibilities for sex. Can’t we just program this out of society, already?

      Hedgebrook was really beautiful and peaceful. I was listening to some other WWOC talking the other day about how writing retreats are actually not for everyone because some of us need more interaction, and I wonder if that might be true for me; I might be one of the ones who actually wouldn’t get that much done at a place like Hedgebrook. But I wouldn’t mind the chance to find out. 😉

      • I wouldn’t mind the chance to find out either. I think I’d be with you in that boat. That’s why VONA is so good for me. I’m finding it difficult to write now with all this time and no distractions.

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