Wednesday, March 8, 2017

An introvert abroad - day 5

Day 5.

Today was a day of scents.

The damp earth after all-night rain.
Stale cigarette smoke wafting out of the car upholstery.
The after-scent on my clothes after sitting in a restaurant with an open kitchen.
The peculiar, distinctive dry-damp odour of caves.
The changing quality of the air from green inland valleys to wooded mountains to salty coast.
Passing livestock trucks.
The homely smell of frying onions.
Fresh nail polish.

Inside an inky black cave, galaxies of glowworms. They are actually considered maggots when they are in the phase of development where they glow. But, as our guide eloquently summarised: "we didn't think anyone would pay to see glow-maggots". I tried to not breathe the unwashed odour of the backpackers shoulder-to-shoulder with me in the boat, and wished I could stay under that miniature night sky much longer.

In half an hour on this beach, so many sensory delights that I can hardly catch them all. Black sand, sprinkled with spectacular driftwood of all sizes. The shading of the clouds and the water beneath them, from storm-backed grey horizon to hidden golden sunset. Drying seaweed wafting its sticky stench over the beach.

The sound of rounded stones clattering over each other in the waves takes my mind into the past. Last year I briefly dated a man who was blind. Deprived of the option of sharing images of the quirky things I notice in daily life and the beautiful places I experienced, I started recording sound bites to share instead. I found myself listening to the world differently, finding unusual landmarks in the constant landscape of noise. It was almost 6 months ago, and I still haven't lost the habit, or a lingering kernel of sadness at how it ended.

Then, as I'm sitting on a rock overlooking the waves, two bull mastiff pups run to me. Ignoring the urging of their gap-toothed owner, and my nudges, they sit their warm flanks down against my thigh and lower back, and push their heads under my hand and elbow. The next person to walk past comments that I have "the best seat in the world". I agree. On the walk back, two young black cats with white bibs scamper under the boardwalk. A cluster of surfers whoop and holler further out from the beach. And I walk back to the house smiling.

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