You produced gifts, all the more romantic for their simplicity. A fiery sunset, a conch shell, almost intact. A fresh coconut, a mango and a bitter green lemon. I devoured the fruits, an internal embrace, you infused me inside and out. In some ways you were very traditional in your tastes. You offered up flowers: ginger, hibiscus, in all the colours of your Caribbean sunset.
There is an island off the coast of Cartagena de Indias, far from the sounds of horses and carts clattering over cobblestones, from the salsa drum that drifts through shuttered windows. The island is near silent – the Caribbean heat is brutal here, and nothing can bear to move.
In town, across the twinkling waters, the bugs are fewer, replaced by leech-like men: loco locals and pickled expats, attracted to light eyes and freckles and exposed skin like moths round a candle. “Hermosa” they say “Que bella!” They give you a hibiscus, a blessing, a kiss on the back of your hand, and their bloodshot eyes are mournful and lost and lonely.
The landscape was perpetually transforming. I had never seen so many shades of green, such vibrant vegetation, such enormous leaves emerging from the ground, hanging off the trees, sprouting from the cliffs. Storms swirled around. If I wasn´t under a tempest, I was entering one, or driving out of one. The atmosphere was intense, nature was tangible, I was charged with energy.