By mid-afternoon, we had unanimously agreed (well, the 8 of us at least) that it would be better to wait until the following day to make the move to the ‘pool-camp’. It had been named by GG, and who were we to argue? It took less than an hour to make sure that everything I had was organised, and ready to move. The heat of the day had slackened, so I wandered off to the edge of the bay. Back home, I had always said that I was the sort of person that could never be bored, that I could always find something to occupy my ‘Homer Simpson-like’ brain. And I did. Around the base of a palm tree I found coconuts. It took me a few seconds to realise what they were at first. A coconut in the wild is not like one in the fair. I sat down on the sand, and decided to see if I actually could open a coconut without making a mess of things. It took a couple of goes. Getting through to what I recognised as the actual coconut ‘nut’ was a feat in itself. Then I had to try and find a way of getting to the liquid inside without chopping my fingers off… the serrated edge of my knife made short work of the first attempt, but, learning from mistakes is how we grow. Sawing my way into the coconut only made me have shavings in the liquid, so onto attempt number 4...This one worked perfectly, but the amount of ‘water’ I managed to get from it, after managing to split it, hardly made the effort worthwhile. Still, I had learnt how to open a coconut properly.
“Can I have some if you don’t want them?”
Again, she had caught me completely off guard. And again, she took my breath away. I held up a fresh coconut for her, and was amazed when she used her machete to deftly slice into the top of it, cutting just enough away to allow her to have opened it ready to drink from. I realised that my attempts from earlier seemed amateurish in comparison.
“Ok, how the hell did you do that? I've made a complete hash of trying to do that for the last 20 minutes..”
“Its easy when you know how. I went on holiday a few years ago to Barbados, and they served fresh coconuts in the bar filled with rum. We learnt how to do this from the barman. Here, I’ll show you..”
She sat opposite me, and within 5 minutes I was lopping the tops off coconuts with expertise. Pretty soon, we’d had enough of coconut juice. As I sat there, I remembered that trick I had seen my mum do years before, banging two halves together to make the sound of hoof beats. Soon I had hollowed out a nut and was pretending to be a horse. Maturity was never a strong point of mine…
“You know And’, these would make great bowls and cups, wouldn’t they.”
“Uhhh, yes Kate, that was why I did this, to make cups, and bowls…I’m not fooling you for a second am I?…”
“No babe, you aint, but its nice that you tried though”
“Kate…what are you doing?..”
I had looked up to see Kate suddenly taking her t-shirt off. I tried to act nonchalant as she sat there in what were effectively hot pants and a bikini bra top. Either she had gotten tanned immediately, or she had hit the sun-beds at some point, as her tan was perfect already. I had to physically force my mouth shut, and to look away from her to stop myself staring at her. Hell, was she doing this for my benefit? Or was she just being herself?
“It would be a waste to empty out these nuts and to chuck the flesh away, so anything we scrape out, we can put in my t-shirt.”
Again, the Zen-like attention to detail. The internal mantra of ‘don’t look up, and don’t stare, scrape the coconut out, don’t cut yourself…don’t look up, and don’t stare, scrape the coconut out, don’t cut yourself..’
“…would you like me to rub it on for you?”
The coconut flew out of my hand, and smacked me in the face. It was purely by luck I hadn’t taken a finger off.
“Wha’, what did you say?!”
“I said ‘your arms and neck look burnt , do you want me to put some of Cammie’s sun-cream on you?'…”
“Uhhh, no, its ok, I can manage thanks…”
As she had been talking and trying not to laugh at my coconut head butting routine, Kate had pulled out a bottle of milky liquid. Cammie had spent some of her day making up batches of her sun-lotion, from the aloe plants and sap she had collected. She had used some of the empty water bottles to make up enough for everyone. Now Kate was offering to rub it on me. Oh hell. I took the bottle from her, and poured a little liquid into the palm of my hand. It had a slightly oily texture, and when I rubbed it along my arm, it felt great. Soon, it was applied to my other arm, neck and face.
“….seeing as you have it all on your hands, you can put them on me now…”
“I said that seeing as you have got that oil all over you, will you put some on me too?”
For the briefest of brief seconds, I could’ve sworn that there was a mischievous look in Kate’s eyes. She knew exactly what effect her words had had on me, I was sure. I didn’t have a choice in saying no to putting oil on her, as she had already moved and sat in front of me. I took a deep breath, and started to rub the lotion into her back and shoulders. I once read about a university lecturer, who was trying to explain the bizarre intricacies of time to his students. He was trying to explain how time itself can appear to be fluid, and not a ‘set constant’, that a second can sometimes not ‘last a second’. One of the students objected, stating that a second is a set thing, and cannot be changed. The professor countered that it’s the perception that changes, and this was how he got them to grasp his meaning. ‘..if you put your hand on a red hot surface for a second, it will seem to last an hour. However, if you put your hand on a red hot woman for an hour, it will seem to last only a second…’. Until that instant on the beach, I had never fully understood what he meant.
I sat on the beach, with Kate sat between my legs. As I rubbed the oil into her shoulders, time started to do very weird things, or so it seemed. I was aware of the sounds of the jungle behind us, the surf in front. Bird song came from the jungle, mixed with the calls of monkies. I could feel Kate breathing through my finger tips, and see the pulse in her neck. Across her shoulders, freckles seemed to come alive as I rubbed the oil over them. Her hair wasn’t brown when you got close to it, but a deep dark chestnut red, and she had dyed it. I became aware that she was gripping onto my ankles, and that she had pulled her knees to her chest, and that she was resting her face on her knees. Suddenly, she reached around, and undid the clasp of the bra, telling me to not miss a spot….again, the internal voice began, only this time he was singing, anything to keep this situation as distant as possible…’standing at the bus-stop with my shopping in my hand, overhearing elder ladies, as the rumours start to fly….’
“You like the Stereophonics too then And’? I had all their albums back home. We should organise a talent night, and we could duet together. I thought it was just the Red Hot Chili Peppers you liked, judging from your tattoo.”
I hadn’t realised I was singing out loud. What the hell was I doing? To be more exact, what the hell was KATE doing? She couldn’t be so naïve as to know what she was doing to me at this moment in time. Oh dear God!. She had started to trace her fingers along the sides of my calves, inside the leg of the trousers….
“Hey you two, Mary wants us back at the camp, she's had an idea. Bloody hell Andy, are you ok?”
When GG had shouted out to us, I had literally jumped like a scalded cat. The look I gave him was one of relief. Snatching a look at the watch, I could see that I had been putting oil onto Kate’s back for probably quarter of an hour, but if I had been asked, I would’ve sworn we were only sat there a couple of minutes. That lecturer knew damn well what he was talking about…
“Yeah mate, I’m fine, just fine….”
Back at the camp, food was cooking over the fire, the rabbit things that had been caught earlier, and my snake too. The smell wafted down the beach to where the 3 of us walked in silence. I was silent, trying to figure out if Kate was flirting with me or just being herself. I could tell that GG was being silent because he thought he had interrupted a ‘moment’. And as for Kate? I couldn’t begin to tell why she was quiet, and I suppose that was the problem…
“I propose that tomorrow, when we get to the place that Giles and Andrew found today, then we utilise the space by sharing. Two people share a hut or shelter or along those lines. Myself and Ash are happy to share, and I know that Patrick and Casper will have no objections. Darren and Lilly I imagine will choose to share with each other…which leaves you three and Cammie. I think its only right that Cammie shares with Kate, so that leaves you two with each other. When we get to the camp in the morning, I think it is fair that seeing as they found the site, that Andrew and Giles will have the first pick of where to set up their shelter. Are we all agreed? Good…….”
I couldn’t help but feel like I had just been spoken to by my boss, after Mary had finished speaking. I looked at GG, and could tell he was thinking the same thing.
That evening, I made my excuses and stayed in my hammock, wanting to keep away from Kate. When we had been sat around the fire, I could tell that every now and then, she would be looking at me, but if I looked up, she would look away. Before I fell asleep, the only thing I could think about was how she had felt and smelt when I was putting the lotion on her. The end of day 2 on the island, and I was already building a crush on someone…
It took 2 journeys to get everything to the new camp. It was a case of divide and conquer. The ever present camera crews kept themselves to themselves, and recorded everything for posterity. When the boat had landed the balance of our stuff the day before, they had doubled our personal gear by leaving us all the clothing we had requested. We would get new issued gear in a few months, but for now, this was all we had. A duffle bag of clothes and a rucksack of survival gear. By mid morning everything was moved, and we had all had a chance to rest. Me and GG had a bit of a 'discussion' over the best place to build a shelter. He wanted to have the view of the small waterfall, I wanted the place where there were ample trees that would allow us to build something that wouldn’t fall over. When I offered to do the majority of the building, he finally caved in, but not without sulking first. After he saw what I had in mind though, he soon cheered up.
Yes, it may have been ambitious, but like I pointed out to the others, we were going to be here for a year. We may as well be comfortable from the start. I had picked out a small copse of trees, that with some selective felling of one or two, would offer me and my new roomie a living space that was roughly rectangular, maybe measuring 7metres long by 6 wide. The little sketch I drew for GG had been basic in the extreme, but it was enough to get him to buy into the idea. There would be 2 separate ‘bedrooms’ and one communal ‘living’ room. A sloping roof, using the water proof sheets from both our kits to provide protection.
I started on getting the area ready, chopping down the trees that needed to go. So that nothing went to waste, including saving the stuff that we had brought, GG had the brain wave of stripping the bark from the trees to weave into cord-rope. Ours was most definitely the most elaborate shelter, and I guesstimated that it would take maybe a couple of days to get it completed. By the end of the day, everyone else had finished their shelters and started to clear the grass and dried leaves and rocks from what would become our communal front yard. But, as for ’Casa Del Andy ’n’ GG’…it was just a frame of what would soon be a palace. At least, that is what I told anyone who asked. The only thing missing was the sheeting to be used as protection from the rain that would most certainly fall at some point. It was with immense gratitude that I sat down to eat that evening. Father Flynn was proving to be an expert fisherman, and Casper had again caught the rabbit things. Tonight though, we all ate from the coconut bowls that Kate had made. By about 6pm, it had started to get dark, our new camp being in the trees made the evening appear to come on even quicker. Thankfully though, due to my logging endeavours there was plenty of small branches that could be turned into torches laying around. We soon found that the resin/sap from some of the trees allowed the torches to burn long and bright, and also gave off a delicious smell that scented candles could never duplicate.
By the time it was completely dark and the stars were out, we had all eaten, and the glow from the torches that were spread around us made us feel like this was our ‘home’ now. After the days exertions, I was covered in sweat, and muscles that I didn’t even know I had, hurt. Taking a few of the torches, I found a shallow part of the pool that we would soon all use as a place to relax and hide from the heat of the midday. For now, it served as a cross between my bath and a place to soothe my aching limbs.
GG walked over and sat in the water opposite me. I could tell he was trying to find the words to say something, despite the shadows across his face.
“I got to ask mate, I didn’t disturb anything yesterday back at the beach, did I?”
“No, to be honest, I was glad you showed up when you did.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you didn’t like her, I thought that you did.”
“GG my friend, you couldn’t be further from the truth. My problem is, I do like her, but I don’t know if its me being ‘me’ or if its just the situation we are in. I don’t plan on making a fool of myself immediately on the island, you know?”
“Oh right, you going to wait a few weeks then?………”