Last night I lay in bed listening to a sound I've not heard for nearly ten years. A riotous, jungly orchestra was chirping, clacking and scraping away outside the window, invisble to the naked eye but assaulting the ears. One member of this insect cacophony sounded as if he were furiously sanding down a door. Another seemed to be auditioning for a marachi band, waving his maracas frantically. The last time I heard such a noise, produced at such a volume, I was living in the middle of a forest in Madagascar, and my bedroom was a stick and tarpaulin structure, shared with 14 others (including a large dog who would either be trying to squish his hot body against mine, through my mosquito net, in the still warm night, or attacking my feet if some loud shriek from the forest had spooked him).
But I am nowhere near Madagascar here, and certainly nowhere near London. A second business trip in as many weeks has sent me this time to the Caribbean. (I know, I know...as the manager at our hotel in Saint Lucia's capital/sole town, Castries, said, 'It's a dossy job you've got there!) I have spent the last week or so trekking around communities across the island nation of Saint Lucia, asking people to show me their homes and their community facilities, and the mountains and rivers that threaten them. I have spent my evenings in a series of sweltering, oven-like classrooms running workshops with patient Saint Lucians, many of whom I'm sure would rather have been installed in front of their flatscreens at home watching some American TV show. But they have all been far too polite to say so.
Saint Lucia has provided a very beautiful 'office' for me for the past week. (And the island's mosquitoes could not have made me feel more welcome and utterly desirable.) And despite a busy schedule and plenty of work to do, the calm pace of Caribbean life has made the week far less stressful than an equivalent week back in London. Maybe it is the heat. Maybe it is just the laid-back attitude of the Saint Lucian. But here there is a quiet confidence that all that needs to get done will get done. So why rush at it? Life here runs on Lucian time. And so I'm afraid this has made my mind a little lazy, and I have neglected my writing again for a bit. I have been busy with a good book and a beach full of black sand...oh, and a small blonde dog who has taken it upon herself to make sure I don't get lost during my last couple of days on her island.
But I sort of wouldn't mind if I did...