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Day Nine – Culture Shock

August 17, 2009

The city strike has been resolved and the ferries have resumed. The Tourist Monster has been unleashed upon the island and our private little hideaway profoundly changed. I know, I know, it’s selfish and greedy to want to keep the whole place to myself…

But…it has been incredible to step out barefoot, no smashed glass underfoot; no careening four-person bicycles clogging the road; no litter on the beach; no drunk dudes in swim trunks shouting “whooooooo!” across the park; no trucks chugging along, bins of garbage in tow; no whining families hating every minute of their day together; no bored girlfriends in ill-suited footwear for the boardwalk, clutching their boyfriends’ arms and text-messaging about where to go dancing that night.

Jo from Bristol had never been the island before, and listened to lodge residents swap stories about how busy the island is most summers, when the strike isn’t curbing visitors and the weather is hot and sunny. She charges into the kitchen this first post-strike afternoon, confessing, “I thought you were all just nostalgic or great exaggeraters, going on and on about the island, like you meant it once was busy, way back in the day! I didn’t know you meant as soon as the ferries started running, it would be THIS way always!”

She arrived at the lodge one day later than I did, and we joke about our daily routine of “checking in”…catching up with each other for a reality check, a pat on the shoulder and affirmation that yes indeed, whatever we’ve been up to is perfectly normal:

“You were out climbing trees in leggings and a hat, and a shirt you suspect might be the top half to a set of underpants, with a bag of tools at your waist? Then, you walked around wearing a ventilator and boiling sap in your room till the turpentine gassed off? Yep, sounds totally ok to me!”

“You spent the day drawing a map of an amusement park, wearing no shoes and half a swimsuit beneath your clothes and for lunch you had some carrots, a bit of cheese and part of that biscuit over there, then napped for two hours and now you’re writing about a rooster getting blasted by lightning for forgetting his rightful place? Right on.”

“See you later, man.”

“Yep, later.”

After a week of going a bit feral, all this suddenly feels conspicuous, amidst picnicking families and newly minted couples on summer dates.

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