The rainy season has officially commenced. So far, the storms have presided in the mornings – one can hear the sound of lightning before dawn and on entering the outside world for my daily trip to the gym, I have been met with a washed-down car park, and meander my way around the giant puddles which have formed over the tennis courts. So far, only one day has the rain continued throughout the day, resulting in a wet backside when riding in my soggy golf cart from the bus drop-off to our apartment in the late afternoon.
For me, the rain is welcome. I enjoy the overcast skies and the feeling of the earth and air being rinsed. I am told that the rain will now continue for some months, and will at some point impede my enjoyment of the island. However for now, I will embrace the wet.
I find myself alone this Sunday evening as the husband has just left to start his first night shift. The plant “turnaround” or “slowdown” is now upon us, resulting in the postponement of the husband’s usual project and he will instead be assisting the turnaround process throughout the night. My understanding of the “turnaround” is limited – I believe it is a routine cleaning process of sorts – gas plant cleaning process that is – that occurs regularly every year or so – in between more major cleans which tend to occur every couple of years. That is a non-engineer’s basic summary anyway! I think the husband is secretly excited to be working nights – when we worked in the fancy bar in the UK some 10 years ago – it was only I that struggled with the 3 and 4 am finishes and lamented being forced to sleep with the sunlight streaming into the bedroom. The husband adapted quickly and grew accustomed to eating “dinner” at 4pm before our shifts would start. This time however, although it may only be routine for a couple of weeks, I will still be working during the day, but sleeping alone at night. The latter is something I do not particularly enjoy when I am used to having my own personal heater to shield me from the Air-Con’s arctic blow!
It is a strange concept to be alone here. This place is truly one of extremes – one can wander around the compound in the middle of the day – as I did when I first arrived – and see no one, not a soul or evidence of human life anywhere. It can be so, so quiet. It is relatively easy for one to confine oneself to one’s apartment, make like a hermit and not interact with anyone save for those hours in which work is required. Conversely, the social activities and pressures can easily engulf one and become out of control – the times in the late afternoons, and early, late and later evenings, where the invitations to share a beer and talk shit for hours can be difficult to refuse. It is no wonder we crave the hermit lifestyle from time to time – even if only for an evening or day.
This Sunday has included our first trip into town, just the husband and I, to trawl for additional groceries. After a few false starts over the past few weeks, we have had success – no police road blocks to check our paper work, and no issues with the vehicle. The lack of police checks certainly made for a more relaxing drive – particularly after our first attempt where we were stopped for a time after the officer was not content with the state of my paperwork. Given the likelihood of being checked once again, that time we made the decision to turn around and head back to compound once we were released with our tails between our legs. For a time, the difficulty in leaving the compound has been a source of frustration, but we have been determined to be optimistic and persevere. It seems that the additional security measures, brought in by the government following a perceived threat of Boko Haram, have now been relaxed, which in turn means a much more relaxing drive into town for us.
Although I keep forgetting, it seems Easter week has also arrived, contemporaneously with turaround. Again, it is easy to forget the usual celebrations and holidays when living this reality so dissimilar to that which has come before. I cannot say at this stage what Easter will bring us here in Punta Europa. Whatever comes, happy Easter (Feliz Pasqua) to all!