Arrival in Paradise

First Draft Sneak Peek No. 3

The staff accommodation set up was very amusing. I was reminded of Alcatraz as Judith showed me A-Block, B-Block, and C-Block as each small accumulation of staff rooms was called. My solitary confinement dwelling was located in C-Block, a long L-shaped building with many small doors, leading to very small rooms. Judith and her partner Rowan had secured an air conditioning unit for my little sanctuary. Some other people were bound to leave soon. I hoped to scrounge a few pieces of furniture and decorations from them. As I stood in the doorway of C-7 I realized that there wasn’t much need for decorations since there was hardly any space for them. Each of our rooms was about six square meters, with barely enough room to squeeze between the queen-sized bed, night table and wardrobe to reach the bathroom door.

The bathroom was a tiny but cozy space, about three square meters, with a simple shower head sticking out of the wall like a periscope, an old toilet bowl, a small sink, rough crumbling walls, and a corrugated iron roof covering only half of the space. The uncovered half of the bathroom was open to the equatorial sky, the ground left in its original sandy state. A tropical tree grew inside the bathroom, opposite my narrow shower area, the branches reaching far above the C-Block roof. I was enchanted and felt instantly at home.

Over the months I realized that as idyllic as it may be to have a tree growing out of your bathroom, it was essentially a convenient natural ladder for assorted island wildlife. Surprise visits from lizards, snakes, rats, gigantic cockroaches, and birds became a regular part of my life. I learned to open my bathroom door cautiously at night, ready to jump backward depending on what critters would be illuminated as soon as I switched on the bathroom light. I also learned to pee and poo in record time since you never knew what would crawl over your feet or fly into your face as you sat contemplating the stars, going about your private business.

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