I guessed the rain would come in many flavours here. Actually it’s the air. Today it is slightly heavy and moist, like wearing a thick damp fleece jumpsuit. Yesterday the whole atmosphere was a perfect, smooth blancmange, and walking involved pressing yourself forward step by step through a giant milk-based dessert: laboursome, with a sticky residue (so THIS is what it feels like to be a raspberry in a pannacotta!). On a cloudy morning when it’s below 25, the air waits, motionless, humming just below the level of hearing. On changeable days it is like swimming near the shoreline: you enter cool pockets with a shock, and then without warning it’s warm again. You can feel the currents following their own mysterious trails of logic. But best of all are the precious minutes before the rain. The wind jaguars come leaping, roaring, playing havoc with the shutters. You can stand in the cool blast and feel your eyelids blowing back, or use the moment to hurtle around grabbing in your laundry before the rain variously hurls down, chucks itself at you or suffocatingly embraces the world.
Short hair is definitely the ideal choice when it’s hot, AND when it’s rainy. It dries quicker in both cases (sweat or rainfall). But haircuts are gold dust. I had a thousand dollar (£3) haircut in Georgetown, but I don’t get to Georgetown much. And frankly, ‘£3’ suits it better than ‘thousand dollar’- that one certainly gained in translation! So Alison, a good friend and mother of the lovely Ashley, has agreed nervously to cut my hair. I sit on the adjustable salon chair (a bench laid on its side). We sit outside my back door, to the amusement of all the market day bystanders. My gown (binbag with hole in the top) is lowered over my head. B empties the last poisonous remnants from a spray bottle of ‘Shoo!’ insect repellent and fills it with water. Alison has brought her paper scissors. I explain the rough outlines of modern female hairdressing (an area in which I have vast expertise of course), with some demonstrative chopping gestures, and then we’re off. The ‘Shoo!’, it transpires, is still rather potent and needs another rinse. The scissors are a tad blunt. Our neighbour, whose body consists of 30% solids, 10% water and 60% parakari (the local firewater) comes over to lurch, belch and touch my white skin. My demonstration needs some clarification halfway through. But the outcome is definitely less Georgetown and more Toni and Guy. I’m VERY impressed. Alison is a woman of many talents. She is fully qualified as a cook and food handler, and is called out sometimes to local villages when they need caterers for a special event. She cuts both her boys’ hair. She recently completed the sewing training provided by the Basic Skills Trust in Aishalton, and has made some impressive-looking clothes, including Ashley’s Nursery School Graduation dress.
Ashley (in the graduation dress) and Alison
She is hoping to open her own snackette this Autumn. Having tasted her chicken and roti and her cake, we are ardent supporters of this enterprise! Motivated purely by women’s empowerment, of course, not greed.
Alison and Ashley leave after sharing some market day cake and drinks with us (‘Market Day’ is the concept- ‘Cake and Dodgy Home-brew Day’ is the reality) and trying on B's flipflops.
B is heading out the door to search diligently for the photo of the day, just as a snake is heading in. Our first large snake in Aishalton, and it is coming confidently in the back door of my house. ‘Alarming’ is rather politer than the word that popped out of my mouth (let’s just say the bats, birds and lizards do it liberally from my roof). Alison says it was a Whiptail. “You want to careful, it’ll wrap itself round your ankle, that one”. “Is it poisonous?” I ask. She looks slightly baffled. “I mean, does it bite?” Alison and Ashley smile. “A snake is a snake”. Enigmatic smiles, an open little phrase. Compact, clear and yet potent with so much interpretative, storytelling potential.