I am working today.
I had planned to come to this town for five nights, leaving the weekend to escape to the country and mountain air, but those plans were cancelled in a mess of paperwork, and in a fluster I had not shortened my trip.
The sun is out, the sky is blue, and the temperature rests at a breezy 32 degrees, something my hometown did not experience all summer last year. In two days when I fly home, there will be so much snow my flight will be cancelled.
I am glad to be here, but I have done my work and I am ready to go home. My feet are blistered and sore from twelve-hour days of cracked pavement pounding, and sit swollen and plump crossed underneath my chair. When I place the balls of me feet on the cool concrete floor, it’s soothing.
The desk has been cleared of fussy hotel ornaments and my own bottled water, purchased for a fraction of the hotel price, are chilling in the fridge below it. Piles of papers and dog-eared books lay half crumpled on the desk, catching their breath after being freed from the stuffy pockets of my carry bags and pockets.
I’ve switched the air conditioning off, and instead have let the warm Caribbean air in through the large double doors you normally find in this sort of quasi-posh hotel room, the newest and most lovely hotel in town. I know how special it is that I stay here in this new, slightly empty hotel. But staying in the newest most expensive hotel had long ago ceased to impress me. The room was comfortable, the staff were polite, the hotel was central, and that was enough.
The balcony with its grimy dirty floor looks out over a grimy dirty street buzzing and pulsing with large chunks of pedestrian traffic. I am on the third floor, allowing some privacy, and the primary function of this balcony for me is to slip out to check the time on the clock tower on the important building lining the square.
Sometime after lunchtime, the band walk through, as they do every day, alongside the stilt walkers in brightly coloured stilts; a slow spectacle that fills the room with pomp and drama before drifting slowly away into the abyss.
I love the noise, but do not enjoy looking down on the people below- the tourists with their big cameras, the locals off to work, the spruikers and tour groups and beggars and thieves. I prefer to be down amongst them than looking down at them, despite the weary fatigue of being hissed at by men on every solo walk alone every day this week.
Instead, I look across to the tin roof where thin ragged moggies slumber peacefully amongst the din. Across is a shady garden restaurant filled with trees, and happy conservation travels up through the leaves tickled by the wind.
I have no plans today; no last minute places to go or see or inspect, no appointments or need but the occasional plate of food, and even then I am too full and fed to care to disturb this tranquillity.
The cool sea breeze occasionally wonders through the door to say hello. My notes and scribble and tapping and transcribing occupy my time. Finally it feels like my time.