Wednesday, August 10, 2011
My body is cradled in the strong nylon grip of an old hammock. The purple, blue and red material is faded from the incessant heat and mild salty air, the colors remind me of old beach towels left in the far corners of a linen closet, but the lack of rainbow brilliance is compensated in the tight weaving of the thread, an iron grip which for me, on a wooden platform fifteen feet above the sandy beach below, feels as secure as the cradle of a mother’s arms.
The ocean, no more than two hundred feet away, is calm and dark blue. Rhythmic waves less than hips height, roll in on shore, creating a calming, constant roar on an otherwise quiet beach. In the distance, I can see the silhouettes of a couple, a slim woman in a small bikini, a tanned man in long swim shorts. They are too far away to see any of their features or to hear their conversation or laughter. They walk away from me, their shapes mostly darkened as the sun creeps slowly downward in the sky. They are the only people I see, the only moving shapes besides the blue water stretched out like an open, living canvas in front of me.
A gentle warm wind sways the hammock, and my naked body within it from side to side. Above me is a thin roof which blocks out the direct rays of the sun, but does little to stop the incessant heat which rises from the bright white sand fifteen feet below. The hammock is but one in a row of fifteen which hang suspended from the wooden rooftop. Towards my right, I see the long, single row of one-room cabanas, the wooden platform that stretches the entire length, the rooftop above that shades the platform and hammocks. Each cabana is raised fifteen feet from the ground, a handmade wooden ladder extending from just outside each cabana door to the sand below. Swaying in the breeze, I cannot tell if the beach is prone to flooding or it was just built to give a clear view of the entire beach, a long cove etched between a series of two cliffs that are about a mile apart.
The other cabanas and the other worn hammocks hanging from the overhanging roof are empty. The unfilled carcasses of faded nylon sway slightly in the breeze, moving as gently as the one I rest in, a crisscross pattern etching itself into my slightly tanned white flesh.
Resting high above the sand, I can see both ends of the beach lined with old hotels and cabanas, all looking like relics from another era. Almost all of them are vacant now as the rainy season approaches. The waves roll in to shore, their roar is the only sound.