Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rain on Christmas Eve

At breakfast this morning the skies were blue, but as we sat idly drinking coffee and playing cards, the sky began to darken. At around 12 the rain came in, pretty much horizontally, and we fled back to our chalet.

The rain came in through the window frame, while geckos ran across the floor and vanished into holes in the skirting board. We rushed around putting down towels to soak up the water, while outside the door the water rose and rose. Then within half an hour the downpour ceased, and the water began to drain away. The geckos didn't reemerge though.

We had a very uneventful day today. I read Paul Torday's latest book, The Legacy Of Hartlepool Hall, which was great: a sort of Dickensian coming-of-age story amongst the landed gentry, combined with a story of almost Gothic horror and madness. Although I've been an avid reader of his since The Irresistable Inheritance Of Wilberforce, I'd never thought he'd quite returned to that book's standard before this one. However, with this read I'm fast depleting the stock of books we brought; Jamrach's Menagerie (not the most enjoyable account of a shipwreck I've ever read) was yesterday's treat, which now makes me scared of our Christmas Day boating trip. I don't know if I have any more unsuitable readin material...

Our friends arrived around two, exhausted from travel and partying all night, so they napped all afternoon while I drank beer and read The Restraint Of Beasts to my wife. Not, perhaps, the most festive of stories.

In the evening, with everyone awake, we drove down to a beach to eat dinner: vegetables and rice for me, enormous crustaceans for the others. Huge things, like the bastard children of lobsters and cockroaches, which they cracked open and gorged on while I ate rice and a cat rubbed against my leg. Then back to the hotel for Christmas Eve hot chocolate and Canadian peppermint candy canes. It feels very odd to have a Christmas on a warm beach; this is the first warm Christmas I think I've ever had: London in 2008, Taiwan in 2009 and Nova Scotia in 2010 were all chilly at best, buried under snow at worst, and unless there's a drastic change in the weather by morning, I don't expect snow in Belitung.

The geckos have grown braver though. This evening, as I lay down to sleep, one ran over the bedsheets and perched on my forearm for a moment, before scampering away, running like some strange clockwork toy. I suppose we're making new friends.


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