As you can see from the photo, I was clearly responsible for cooking the meal for everybody. I also used a swimming float as a fan to disperse the smoke from the fire which was imposing on my area of the tent. I had the rice I, ahem, prepared and with a dry bag (rucksack) and fullish stomach, I got adventurous, temporarily shedding my Karl exterior, however my hubris ultimately would come back to bite me (in my back again). I suncreamedup commandeered the pedalo and went around the small island with a couple of the boys. That was fun. Then, as I was about to jump off and read my book in the shade, the offer of fishing was baited to me. I bit. To be fair, I did enjoy it and we, not necessarily I, caught some fish, the Trigger Fish being the most interesting and exotic. However, I thought I would be sensible and avoid sunburn so I alighted the ship and trudged back to camp. My flipflop broke three times on the way.
But for some reason I was extraordinarily tired. I constructed a bed out of swimming floats (they are very useful. Bear Grylls, tip there for you) and an appropriate Dora the Explorer tent. I read some Midnight’s Children to be lulled asleep by Rushdie’s mellifluous sentence structure. I awoke to laughter and some of the women taking photos of me. Although being laughed at isn’t anything new to me here, I knew it wasn’t just because I fell asleep, because I’m pretty sure it’s normal to fall asleep here. It seems
that when I was walking around to build my very effective bed, having discarded my faulty Facebook flipflops, I had forgotten to worry about the Stalin-inspired ash beneath my feet. Result: my feet were caked in ash and tire particles which made them completely black. Apparently they will stay that way for two weeks. Thoughts of quitting rowing and becoming a minstrel for the short-term flashed across my mind, I was becoming slightly delirious.
Haggard and confused I limped up and down the seashore rubbing my feet in the sand and deriding the kids who made fun of my feet and general appearance. One said I was the same colour as my pink swimming shorts. I picked him up and threw him into the sea. But then I reflected on my skin and cursed the Trigger Fish. I was indeed sunburnt again. But I didn’t think it was that bad. I returned to the tent and gathered my belongings as there was only an hour to go before we would leave. Counting down the minutes I tried to enjoy a mug of hot sugar which teabags had been added to for about a second, to give a sorry excuse for tea. I then sat and played with coral that surrounded my feet and I grew grumpy, which all the small kids found, you guessed it, very funny, so I got my own back by making them pose for my photo collection with coral uncomfortably close to their faces.
The boat arrived and I made sure that it was for women, children, and sunburnt white people. I harnessed the burden of having to lift all the supplies out at the jetty, but I had to ensure I could get home after 13 hours of picnic.
When home I inspected my body. I had taken knocks, blackened feet and reddened skin, pretty much everywhere. My beach mat was covered in Stalin dust and my bag was still damp. Again, if this is one of the only places where you need both a raincoat and sun cream on the same day, it has to, has to be the only place where neither of them work in the same day too. But I have discovered the versatility of the swimming float, holler.