The elderly gentleman across from me looked like a drowned puppy. Water landed on him time and time again hitting the back of his head, seeping through his thin, greying Italian hair and dribbling down his sunburnt nose. I was on a small boat headed back to the mainland in gale force trade winds from the Bazaruto archipelago in the north of the Inhambane province, Mozambique, Africa.
At the front of the boat stood a bikini-ed Dutch girl with a small scripted tattoo between her shoulder blades and next to me another girl from Holland with a wide smile. We glanced at each other intermittently, giggling as we got annihilated by the water that launched over the front of the boat.
The relationship between the three of us was very unique, you might say.
These two were not friends before we all met in Tofo, a town a few hours south and the place I am repeatedly obsessed with, a couple of weeks before. It was under the unusual circumstances in that I had made the profound mistake of falling for someone I shouldn’t have while lost in paradise. With this profound mistake still profoundly occurring in my head, the bikini-ed girl with the small scripted tattoo between her shoulder blades arrived in town and brought it to an abrupt halt. Unbeknown to her of course. The girl with the wide smile had spent the period negotiating between parties and after it all came to a head we decided that we get along splendidly despite the nuances of previous events and that we should all go on holiday together.
Which at first felt a little strange. But then a little less strange. As of course the topic arose eventually. In fact, it arose so many times that in the end we laughed our heads off at all of it and went to a bar in the back of a ute with a rasta man and his cousin and some girls that couldn’t speak English, yelling our thoughts at the still night air and staying up until morning.
Then we had to leave. The girl with the small tattoo between her shoulders cried into her breakfast and again when we said goodbye. She was heading to the oblivion with a tall South African man addicted to Jagermeister and his elderly mother in a car packed with books and no idea how far they would actually make it. The girl with the wide smile was heading south with me, we thought we would hitchhike but the road was car-less so we took a minibus (chappa) that drove at half speed and we jolted our backs sleeping with our heads dangling over the seats.
The last leg of the journey across an inlet in a tiny boat packed with people was not without turmoil – we crashed into the pier and I screamed like a baby whose mother has just pushed it out.
And then we were back. And the one who’d I’d made the profound mistake of falling for was back too. And I said nothing. Because I was in a tangle. Because I still am.
But it’s a good tangle.
The kind of tangle that reminds you of the beat in your chest.
Now the girl with the wide smile is gone.
But that’s what people do, they leave.
In a good way of course.
In the way that reminds you of the beat in your chest.
And sometimes you need to be by yourself.
At least I think anyway.