Entries in Caye Caulker (1)



Up early for sunrise off the end of the dock.  Then cycling back along a new path and finding the most incredible graveyard suddenly opening out in front of me, overseen by an osprey nesting on a telegraph pole. 

Walking between sand-covered graves, the words ‘let the dead bury their dead’ come into my head.  Not that that’s what’s happened here. The sand may have blown over these graves, but they're strangely all about life.  I walk all the way round a huge, concrete-slabbed tomb covered in a mural of sky and sea, stars and humming-birds. The colours couldn't be more dynamic if they tried. On one side I find the tomb decorated with hibiscuses, on another white ibixes and, on a a third, a big black bird with a single staring eye. 

Later Luciana tells me the black bird is a hawk,  and that the grave - which is surrounded by bone-white conch shells - is a Rasta one. The next grave along couldn't be more different, but it's equally memorable. I stare at a simple wooden cross bearing dates against the words ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset’.  Birth and death recorded in a single passing of the sun.  An old man, full of years is the epitaph.  There’s a profound sense of dignity about this grave. 

I look around and notice some graves with messages in Spanish.  One includes a painting of a brightly coloured Jesus comforting a dead girl called Isabella.  Beyond the two of them are what at first I take to be a row of compost piles, dead wreaths heaped up on them. But these are graves too. It's just that they don't have any stones.  New graves, I guess.  Here in the heat it doesn't take long for wreaths to die.  

My bike has a puncture, so I have to push it home.  It's good to slow down, to see things at a more leisurely pace.  There's so much here that I mightn't otherwise notice.  My first iguana for example – an enormous creature lumbering down sombody’s beach-hut steps.  

My day's spent mostly out and about, and Idris's is mostly spent indoors.  We meet for supper though in a little restaurant next to Caye Caulker's other cemetery.  It's been a day of death in so many ways.  I can see white crosses between the palms and a worn path leading through the sand.  A young man came along it, shuffling slowly, head down.  He's bare-chested, with deep brown skin and little flecks of sand stuck on his back.  He sits at the table next to us.  His hair is bleached-blond, curly and knotted.  When he orders a drink his posh English accent comes as a surprise.  At one point he turns and stares through us as if he doesn’t even know anyone but him is here.  He finally gets up to go, his body moving like a wind-up toy finally winding down.  Slowly he disappears between the white crosses.  It's dark now.  I can hardly see them or him. How far will he get before he collapses? Crack cocaine.  Like I said, it’s been a day for death.