No Van Go

I have been away. I came back to Blind Channel some time ago, but I was not able to write.

I foolishly immersed myself in a foreign world for a time and had been much the worse for it. In coming back and trying to recover from this hateful place known as L.A., I was unable to and I left again.

French Ferguson just looked at me and said, “but ye jest got back.”

I went to Belize and learnt to build boats on a beach out of local wood, boats that have sails and are used by free-diving conch and lobster fisherman, who plunge 25 meters under the water whilst holding their breaths.They free dive down, and return with their catch to the surface, over and over again.

Some of them can hold their air for longer than three minutes and you can see them swimming down in the deep water, hunting for their prey, because it is so clear. You can clearly look down and see the bottom in 15 fathoms.

They come up and after several trips, climb on the boat after handing up the final catch and take a break by lighting up cigarettes and drinking Belikin Beer and taking swigs of warm cheap brandy and lolling about and laughing hard at everything said and seen.

The sails are then set and the boat hauls off to a market in places like Stann Creek, also called Dangriga Town, where they sell what they have, collect and go drinking, before going home to their families or their lovers – because they all have wives and lovers, these guys, and lots of cute little kids, it seems.

There are some Christian straight elements about who look down on these fellows as dregs, fornicators and hopeless alcoholics and the men just laugh even harder, tell more jokes, kid each other that much more and live on.  

Out on the boat, one of which I helped build, this wild music called Punta wailing on the boom box, I thought – what a collision of ideas, diving in such a way that it is an impossible feat made routine and then coming to the top and destroying the very machines that make this impossible thing possible – the lungs and the brain.

But who am I to judge?

I am an Irish fool who got shown around glitter town like a watch fob, a mere curiosity, by an actress to her Hollywood friends – until I just left without explanation.

Belize was what I needed. Back at Blind Channel, before Belize and right when the actress attached herself to me while I’d been partying with the beautiful people in Tofino, the fish stopped speaking to me. I did not notice it then, for I was distracted by my new house guest. 

In Belize, they came back to me the day we launched the boat. The wonderful chatter of the fish returned.  My stay there was populated by these wonderous, deep Black, coffin nail-puffing divers who give a shite about nothing at all. It was filled with my fish, who came to me daily and conversed about all manner of things, and by my new friends on the islands in the Range and Tobacco Caye, where we sailed after leaving the north of the country.

From all of this, I began to heal and see mysterious new things. My wonderful fish have accepted me back, I have somehow found my path home and now, back to my writing, accompanied by my beloved dogs. 

I may seem mad to some, if not all, but I did not do a Vincent van Gogh. I have both my ears and I have taken to pondering all the simple things I have not noticed, or about which I have never previously thought much. 

I have seen the Starry Night Vincent painted on glorious display night after night, with the trades booming in over the reef and the heavens so clear, there is no earthly way to describe the sight. For this, I am again joyful.

I now plan to go to Ireland, to Dingle, to ponder those things there.   

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