The only bridge between.
11.16.17 – Dry learning
We were given a guide to teach us the language. She started simply, with phrases we might shout at each other. It sounded like an argument was threatening to tip our canoe but I think we all were learning something. As we hit land we switched off sound and were made to dance as locals and learn the signs spoken by hands and knee. She moved like water while we appeared more like a prodded sack of rocks, clunking over each step and bulging out incorrectly at every joint. We might have been a long form joke, but at least we were in on it.
Again they spoke to the coconuts and asked for water. We shattered them with grey teeth and tore their hard backs apart to feast on the midday calls. They pulled it from their fists and let it drip down like slow rain into an open and awaiting mouth. It was sweet and thick and squeezed from the fresh shavings of a newly split specimen. We drank only enough to tease and even then they still left white streaks to dry in crooked lines across our faces. We were being painted by an old custom and welcomed accordingly.
The great breaks tried to tear apart the earth around us and pull any drifting wishes back into the loving arms of a powerful ocean. We swallowed enough salt to dry our eyes and cover our tongue. I was worried we might be bleached too and turn like all those shells into white husks, splintered on the shores and ever staring out at a world to be discovered.
We had crowns to mark the good occasions but they didn’t make us royal. We still stood beneath the tides and tickled those fish with open toes. They chased for a bite or two but knew we held no crumbs to fill their bellies. I had been made to gasp at the new colors seen, but here I tried to assume a noble course and keep my mouth reserved for smiling and saying well in that other French. We’d been told a legend that smiling makes the sun shine and we were happy to stick to it, true or not. The sun, in kindness, did its part and played at our side the whole day.
We rode the last ferry in and made sure we turned the lights off before we disembarked. It didn’t mean we tidied up, clutter could still be found on those fine sands, but we swept our earth off the foreign soil and kept it as pristine as we had waltzed in on. There was no red carpet, instead a crystal walkway with shell and coral glittering under its surface. We couldn’t keep dry on the entrance, but this was much more fitting anyhow.