A low hum was resonating from the huddle in the sand although its effect was almost vibrato as the breeze blew the sound around the bay and out to sea in rhythmic waves. I could stay there to find out what they were leading up to or I slip away whilst they weren’t looking. I chose the latter and hoped that they didn’t view my departure as a mark of irreverence for their friend. But I needed the toilet.
This wasn’t an island that had been either developed or cultivated but as I ventured into the bank of greenness fronted by the coconut trees, I could see a well-trodden route through the undergrowth. I could hear an intermittent hiss from some reptile or other and I saw some tiny lizards scurrying up some tree trunks but it didn’t seem as if there was any human company. Unwilling to alert any more potentially hostile inhabitants to my presence, I crept down the centre of the path to avoid cracking any branches underfoot.
I walked for maybe fifteen minutes. As my journey lengthened, so did the height of the trees and an almost solid canopy cut out most of the light. All around, I was surrounded by dense jungle but despite this, the path continued and I wondered what or who I may find at its end. I began to notice more mosquitoes darting and droning in front of my brow as I walked and it was hard to tell whether it was them or drips of sweat tickling me. Either way, I knew I was going to have to stop and take a rest. I was hardly dressed for trekking through the jungle but at least I had a bottle of lemonade in my rucksack. I sat down on a stone to the side of the path. Next to me was another stone. Suddenly, I noticed movement to my left and jumped up. It was an iguana, well camouflaged and startled by my arrival. I relaxed a little, took a sip of my lemonade, deciding to ration myself in case I needed it later.
I rested for a few more minutes and the dampness of my t-shirt began to cool me down. My watch had stopped – it probably wasn’t designed for watersports – and having done what I had left the beach to do, I decided it would be wisest to retrace my steps before I got completely lost. I stood up, hauled my rucksack over my shoulder and from the thud on the ground, thought that I must have dropped my lemonade. But my bag was zipped up. I had left the coconut trees far behind on the fringes of the shore and I’d seen how silently the iguanas could move around so what was it?
I heard a giggle; not too far away, maybe twenty feet or so. Never one to shy away from the opportunity when a woman comes calling I felt drawn towards the merry sound coming through the bushes.
‘Hello! I’m from England! Lost, actually! Hello?’
A muffled sound came over the humid airwaves but it was just as far away as before. Someone was playing games with me. Wary of becoming disorientated, I ventured forwards again. I hesitated and even considered that the sensible course would be to turn back there and then but I caught a glimpse of something whitish ahead. There must be some sort of clearing because light was streaming through the canopy in thin strands like hot icicles in a cave. My pace must have quickened because it seemed no time at all until I had arrived at the object of my gaze. It was an unmade single bed.