The sigh was followed by a creaking floorboard as she shifted her weight from straddling him to being perched on the edge of the bed. What was once a single room now divided into two by a thin backlit partition through which a galaxy of holes came and went with the sex-worker’s shadow, her rhythm more stuttangred teenage fumbling than slucial professional. On the other side of the wall a stilted transactional conversation, on this a continious dizzy, motion-sickness induced insomnia.
It had been half a day and I’d not yet found my land legs.
The captain had promised the trip from Tasbapauni to Puerto Cabezas would take 4 hours, in the end it took 24. His stubby, leaking sail boat was piled high with coconuts and one mightily pissed off soon-to-be-soup upturned turtle. Bound to the mast, her lashing sharp claws restricting any landlubbing movements beyond the tight galley in which the captain, myself and the ship’s boy sheltered from the elements. A taught rope around each wheel held my bike steady between the mast and the bow, with all this saltwater spray it would need oil.
Within an hour of casting off my stomach was retched empty.
Within two the ship’s boy was methodologically scooping out water, with a pace that, over the course of the journey would range from leisurely to frenetic.
Within eight hours we lost sight of the coast drifting out into Caribbean currents as a storm rolled in.
The mind plays tricks when your focal cone is dominated by nausea and puke and no-end in sight: the distance to shore; the direction of the shore; the direction of currents; the next landfall in the Caribbean; shark versus drowning; the merits or otherwise of dying in the company of strangers; and the buoyancy of coconuts.
His was the first boat heading north in a week. I had willingly hitched a ride having exhausted my welcome as a drop-in guest in the home of a local Tasbapauni trader whose husband spent most of the time down in Bluefields and whose return one night yielded a conversation around the futility of being caught in the he middle of the Sandinista-contrarrevolucionarios war, and the very, very occasional bales of cocaine that would wash up on the shore.
Sometimes it takes years to reveal the questions you’d wish you’d asked.
Thoughts for today, on this jet lagged 4am Monday with only decaf beans and nary a slither of coke in the house:
As the strands that connect people with places become more persistent how our conversations in the here and now will change?
If you could revisit any conversation what would you say? When?
And knowing this what wouldn’t you have said?
How our use of silence like the cues we use for the recognition of others is changing.
How we annotate the present, and how we will increasingly annotate the past?
And what this means for our future, perfect.
Photo: The bike that would eventually see a lot of riding in Nicaragua at a time when memories of this was still fresh.
A follow-on, of sorts to this.