Island Notes 72
Part One of the Anguillan Trilogy
I rise early with the Anguillan sun. I feel like walking to see a bit more of the island on my short stay. I could rent a car, but this island is cursed with the nasty British habit of driving on the wrong side of the road. I have terrorized people on several continents and a couple of islands when put into that misguided habit of motoring. It is not only that the roads are backwards. The cars and their instruments are too. So when you flip the turn signal, the windshield gets sprayed. Take a right turn and you must cross over a lane of on-coming traffic. Go to grab the stick shift and your hand smacks into the side panel of the door. Needless to say, I had no compulsion to terrorize the friendly populous of Anguilla on this fine, sunny morning.
Rather, I laced up the hiking shoes, grabbed a tourist map. No, I wouldn’t be heading to The Valley or Sandy Ground today. They were a bit too distant. Instead, I chose South Hill as my destination where Geraud’s Restaurant promised walnut pancakes with raspberry sauce. Time to walk for the carbs. I stopped to talk to two guys in downtown Blowing Point to get some roadside landmark clues for critical turns that I would need to make. My tourist map was sketchy at best. I told them my destination.
“You walkin’? To South Hill? Oh no. That is much to far, sir. It is at least 4-5 miles.”
I assured them that not only I had the time, but also I was fit enough for the trek, despite the appearance of my white mustache.
“Well, if you do go up the Blowing Point Road, you need to take a left at the partially constructed house,” instructed the first man. “That will get you on to Spring Path Road. My dad is building that house.”
“That’s wrong!” countered the second man. “You have to turn left at the broken tree. It is just pass Miss Lizzy’s house.”
While the controversy raged on over where I needed to turn, I said thanks and slipped away. Fifty yards down the road, I looked back. The discussion was only getting more heated.
Soon, I saw an elderly woman approaching on the other opposite side of the road. She wore a purple bandana around her head and moved her long arms and legs with the grace of a slow-motion gazelle. She looked at me and said, “You got no walk.” A moment passed. I was unsure what to say. She just shook her head and repeated again, “You got no walk.” And moved on.
Was this a social commentary? Was there some kind of obscure cultural message in this four-word proclamation? I was confused. Perhaps I was not walking with the necessary rhythm to get me down the road. Maybe I needed more spring in my step, more motion in the locomotion, more sizzle on the steak, more noodle in my strudel. There I go. Much better now. I am doin’ the walk.
I soon pass a house where the second floor is open to the elements, half completed construction. A nearly naked man is laying in a decrepit plastic beach lounge chair that has seen better days. He is staring at the sky, listening to a radio that is set at full blast. The deep, staccato voice speaks in evangelical rhythm, but I am unsure if it comes from a man of the cloth. Perhaps he is the aspiring politician I see plastered on the nearby telephone poll. The voice sounds more like a local radio personality with a cult-like presence. Certainly, nearly naked man is absorbed. He doesn’t even notice me walking by. I finally can make out the broadcaster’s words, Beware of the social decay we are now witnessing, brought on by the compu-tah. People, you need to listen to the child that exists in all of us. That is still inside you!
This guy is preaching to the choir. Perhaps nearly naked man needs to hear this, but I sure don’t. I have been practicing growing older but not up for decades. If anything, I need to pay more attention to my adult ying rather than my childlike yang. Or is it the other way around? Ying, yang. Yang, ying. This mental debate gives me a rhythm to the walk.
Another person is approaching down the road. At least this man is fully clothed. He takes one look at me and yells smiling, “You be on de go! Good Mornin’!”
Whew! My newly revised walking strut has passed the Anguillan test. I now be steppin’ out.
The Spring Path Road takes a sudden bend and I begin my ascent of South Hill. Both ‘ascent’ and ‘Hill” are a real stretch of Webster’s meanings. Anguilla is a very flat island and the road ahead is a slight grade at best. But time is passing and Geraud’s pancakes are calling. As Buddha or one of his cronies once said, “It is the journey, not the destination.” I am good with that this fine morning. I be on de go.