Sunday, April 18, 2010

Things Change and the Waves Still Keep Coming

This morning we drove out to the East Coast, Cas en Bas, a route slightly different to the one we walked so many scorching blue-sky summer days in our youth. Back then we had to find the half-beaten brush path that led us down the rock-strewn track to our favourite retreat, Donkey Beach; it was a long hot walk, of just a couple miles, and we’d carry anything we felt we needed which once included a coalpot and 5lbs of chicken to barbeque. We forgot anything to light the coals, so we squirted on Piz Buin No2 Suntan Oil…the coals lit and the barbeque smelt good:). We ate it all.
No adults came with us – for what? We were safe. Don’t mind the under toe, the crashing waves that filled every crevice with sand when you inevitably got ‘balled up’ trying to body surf them in. We could swim. No one was going to trouble us. If you came across a spear fisherman or even an unidentifiable wanderer - smuggler, perhaps, they would just nod good morning and keep walking on their way.
If we got tired of conquering the waves and lazing in the sun, we’d climb the prickly ridges covered in something that was neither quite grass nor shrubs…with little sticky legged crickets jumping out at our disturbance. We’d go in search of the barrel cactus ‘forest’ which was never as close as we remembered it to be. Once there we’d be satisfied just for finding it again and turn back to run into another crashing wave bigger than the last one.
The ‘Jacuzzi’ at the northern end of the beach rarely stayed empty as one after another we’d sit and let the waves rush past us in the little smooth channel, unbothered by the tiny ghost crabs or the periwinkles and tucked in black sea urchins that silently waited for us to go. At the southern end, if the sun and waves and cactus hunts had not completely drained us, we’d climb what by then seemed like a mountain, just to curl our toes to the edge of the cliff and watch the waves crash on the strangely flat-cut rocks far below…we never figured out how to get down there.
Today we drove down the paved road, through the golf course extension, past the Villas on the Green, skating on the mud track along the bare concrete wall surrounding the 5-star Cotton Bay Resort. We parked near the police vehicle and greeted the silent policeman ‘Good Morning’ with a smile. He smiled back. The sign at the end of the beach told us if we were interested in working on the archaeological dig, to contact the organizers…it was about a year old and I wondered if they ever found a place, money, a way to preserve that unexpected burial ground and whether I’d collected rocks above the silent bones of Iyanola’s first peoples…
We couldn’t read the sign that stood up above, on top of the hill we would have trekked years ago to get to Donkey Beach on the days we drove to Cas en Bas. I wondered out loud that it probably said “Private Property”. My sister said “I’m sorry, but they have to allow beach access, I don’t care what they think” in that voice I recognize so often as my own.