last day in paradise

We awaken early on our last day. From our balcony we can see some early risers take advantage of the low tide and the public holiday, walking and running and long the full stretch of Maxwell Beach from the Uhuru apartment block to the Sea Breeze Hotel. A man limbers up under the coconut palm, stretching his hamstrings and circling his arms vigorously before sprinting along the beach with the energy of a man half his age.

Orlando naps on the daybed as I follow the stairs down to the water’s edge. The sun is hot on my skin even though it is not yet seven in the morning. I walk slowly along the white sand to the rocks at the eastern edge of our little cove, then sit and gaze back at the silver surf and the impossibly blue water, wondering how we will ever leave.

The day passes beautifully slowly, reading books in the shade of the balcony, a light lunch, another snooze, another leisurely dip in the water. Mid-afternoon, without warning, grey rainclouds approach from the south. The first raindrops give no clue about the coming onslaught, but the rising wind prompts us to lower and secure the balcony blind.

The nearby town of Oistins disappears from view, the houses and fishing boats and lighthouse obscured by an opaque grey blanket. Families and groups of youngsters dive delightedly into the water, shrieking with delight and huddling together as the full force of the rain hits.

We stand and watch the squall unfurl in fury from the back of the balcony as sheets of rain soak everything around us. The coconut palms in the garden whip angrily from side to side as the sunbathers by the pool run for cover. They are not as relaxed as the locals are about this pre-hurricane season weather.

It is over as quickly as it began. The blue water of Oistins harbour come back into view, the wind drops and the sea changes instantly from grey-blue to turquoise again. The sun comes out from behind the steel wall of cloud and the air feels fresher, more fragrant.

Hours later we are asleep in bed. It is not yet eleven at night but we are exhausted and we have to be at the airport at five in the morning. We are awakened by a hammering on the window shutters and the floor-length curtains fluttering wildly towards the ceiling. Another storm has hit and the rain is thundering down, blowing horizontally right into our bedroom through the balcony doors we left open for the night breeze.

Half-asleep we leap from the bed, rushing to secure the balcony furniture and close the doors against the storm. Locked down again, we lie listening to a howling wind and the rain hammering a tattoo on the aluminium shutters until sleep takes us again. Not even the lightning can keep us awake.

In the morning, all is wiped clean. The puddles by the swimming pool and the raindrops on the balcony railing are all that is left of the storm. The sun rises on another perfect day. Maxwell Beach glistens in the early morning light as we take one last long look from the balcony, then turn away. We lock the door behind us and take our bags to the car. The airport – and Mexico – beckon.

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