Los Varados (4)
On the following afternoon I joined high school crowd to pluck flowers from the jasmine trees in Maldive Garden in a customary effort to help Lady Marissa on the dip event. Picked thousands and delivered to the houses on eastern coast where ladies spin girdles and bouquets. Rest scattered on the beach.
We prepared the beachside for this ceremony to take place next evening after sunset. Set some floodlights to fall into water for safety reasons. Women would dip in the waters bare naked in the Full Moon of a moon often not seen. Both men and women observed this ritual but mostly in the Azul in groups or on their own. As for the girls from Hilly High, it took place at the remote beaches on the eastern shore, helped by few folks. We scraped the beach, set bonfires ready before the ceremony began and virtually disappear from their eyes.
Nightfall, in a cool mildness and thin rain, I set with Juliette by my side behind some bush on the beach to observe the ritual. A thousand sparkles reflected the calm waters in perfect weather for the event.
Girls in their teens and twenties marched out of the narrow pathways fenced on both sides leading to the beach from the houses lined in a row. Each body wrapped in feathery faldas and basically naked, wearing girdles on their hair and leis of white, ornamental flowers.
Drums began and girls unwrapped lined up in rows. Sprays of flowers thrown at them and flying petals took in air in an array. Laughter and shrills of merriment broke the silence. Bonfires helped to keep warm.
All the girls in bare skin entered the waters with only the silver girdle wound in sevenfold around the hips, in groups, of course, to keep dangers of sharks away.
A complete dip meant to fully immerse the body from head to toe three times.
Suddenly, some wild hogs ran out of the narrow paths from some of the houses, rather guesthouses. They were totally a dirty dozen with pendulums swinging who ran to join the bathing girls in water.
We heard shrieks and hundred girls scattered on the beach. Some grabbed wraps of faldas piled in heaps. I saw a tanned brown naked guy run after a nude girl.
Wardens quickly reacted to seize control of an appalling situation and restore order. A ferocious verbal confrontation took place. A crowd of very rude men who belong to some rape culture claimed this beach belonged to everyone.
At that point I came faced with Luna wrapped in falda. She couldn’t utter a word but shuddered her jaw in the cold after a sudden dip…her eyes drawn in black ink. Something stopped me from touching her or to speak to her. Thin rain continued to pour on us. I helped the girls to vacate the beach leading them through those narrow paths fenced on both sides.
Soon the girls retreated and this ceremony of la luna del encanto on the night of bewitchment – noche de hechizo – came to abrupt end.
I picked Juliette and raced to Estrecho Avenue. “Who are those people?” she asked.
“I have no idea!” I replied.
“They are lodged at the guesthouses…”
I dropped her home and returned to Costa Este because I was in the cleaning task. This beach had to be cleaned before dawn.
I failed to obtain much information about these strange people. Folks knew there was disruption and the beach ceremony terminated. Folks told me they were old boys who returned home after unsuccessful careers. First time I heard that. Folks on the island would rather avoid confrontations but I passed those houses several times looking for a hint. I saw no sign of them.
In the afternoon I stepped on main street. Somebody waved at me. He sat on a bicycle leaning against the wall. I pushed close to find one of those strange guys.
“Traves!” he knew me, “How is life?”
“You don’t ask about it in Los Varados…” I told him. I recognised him then, “Ted! Is that you?”
“It’s me,” he replied.
After a correction I could hardly recognise him. He grew up with me at Hilly Side High School but a couple of batches behind. I couldn’t remember his full name. He looked so weird now; long hair on top and shaved sides, tattoos on both arms. He sat shirtless, a chocolate brown skin and a gold chain around his neck.
“Are you with those visitors?” His looks told me to keep away.
“No,” he said, “I came four years ago.”
“Four years but I haven’t seen you around!”
“I see you often taking Luna home…”
“Say!” I cut in, “What’s your purpose here?”
“Looking for a girl.”
“Is it time to get married and settle down?”
“We are all settled,” he delivered.
“Who are we? Who else came?”
“Fuzz and I…”
“I know Fuzz.”
“Fuzz!” he shouted aloud, “Here’s someone you know…”
A bloke popped his head behind a rowing boat lying upside down aground. He didn’t try to step forward. I continued, “What about this gang of tourists? Have you met them?”
He nodded, “They got stranded on the ship…”
“Oh mi falda! The wrecked ship!” I cried, “It’s a nuclear stealth!”
“Hoax!” he snapped, “It’s a superyacht, modern type, a new evolutionary design.”
“I can’t believe it! Do you know any of them?”
“They are refugees waiting for visas.”
“Visas! Who issues them?”
“Mayor Brando,” he said.
“How about you? On what did you bank?”
“Don’t tell me! You’re lying! I thought that flight vanished over South Indian Ocean!”
“Hoax!” he cried, “That’s the cover-up story, fine, but only to conceal a bankruptcy…”
“You know they spent billions trying to find this aircraft and compensation…”
“So what? A broke company pays nothing…”
“I’ve read a dozen theories but none mentioned a cover-up of a bankruptcy.”
“That’s how tricky it is. You look for it. You don’t find it…you come up with theories…”
“Where is the aircraft now?” I asked.
“In operation,” he frowned, “of course, under a different name.”
I could hardly believe this. “A Boeing 777 cannot cross this distance!”
“It did,” he said, “thirteen thousand kilometres.”
“It can’t land on the airstrip!”
“What about the passengers?”
Fuzz came towards us. He was thin and tall with a fake smile and his pants barely hanging on his waist.
Ted pointed, “Traves here, he’s dating Luna.”
Fuzz didn’t mention Luna but he said, “Traves, you must give us a treat.”
“Well…” I began.
“I mean, you know a junk,” he continued, “to buy some dope.”
“You don’t find that around here.”
They sniggered, “He’s full of it.”
I knew they were fooling me. I sighed, “You are stranded! Dopers always tell lies,” dropped my shoulders and turned to go.
I heard Ted say, “You know you smoke…”