Adventures in The Bush

Long time readers will know of my well-earned reputation as a woman who loves being horizontal. Dawn comes and goes before I willingly leave the warmth and comfort of my bed. I am not an early riser.

Yesterday, I went on an Adventure with my brother to look at a teak field. Very exciting in more ways than one; except I had to be up at 3.55. That's AM, as in the morning. As in it's fucking dark outside. As I stood by the gate, waiting for my brother to reverse out his gold landrover I thought to myself: at that time of the morning, the virtuous and villans are safely tucked up in bed. I was wrong.

Firstly, let me introduce you to the trusty steed: the gold Landrover. My brother has 3 and this is the star of his fleet. It is the youngest, a sprightly 23 years old and has been modified so that the back will tip up and dump it's load at your feet. It has all modcons - a cranky airconditioning and an old car radio. It is very comfortable and as proved yesterday morning as we hurtled towards San Fernando, will do 110 km/ph.

Secondly, this island paradise I grew up in, has one major problem: the crime. Violent crime is trully apalling. Life here is incredibly cheap. There have been over 356 murders and the year isn't done yet. Unfortunately, the police have a success rate of less than 10%. The legal system is tied up in knots and it's not unknown for the accused to be in remand without trial for over 7 years. The virtuous live behind bars, high walls in gated communities when they can. They sleep uneasily and drive everywhere, not only because of the heat.

Driving around the Queen's Park Savannah, I realised I was indeed mistaken. The virtuous were walking and jogging round in the dark. Do bear in mind that it was 4.40 (am). There they were in their athletic gear, sweating their committment to fitness and good health. I found that almost as traumatic as being up that early in the morning.

At that time of the morning, everything is dark. The night chorus of frogs haven't given way to the roosters and birds. The waning moon looked over her sleeping subjects, secure that she still had at least another hour and a half before she gave way to the sun.

My brother was to meet a friend and some government workers to look at a field of teak, that he would harvest. The friend travelled separately with his right-hand man in a HiLux. Shockingly, he only managed to catch us up at the San Fernando junction. Given that Landrovers are not known for their speed, this is not surprising. But at that time of the morning, the roads were clear and it was safe for my brother to put his foot down.

We stopped and waited for the Government Man. I smoked and drank the coffee as Dawn chased the moon from the sky. Everything in nature in the tropics seems to be extreme. The sky as we approached the San Fernando junction was dark, with a bright ribbon of light. Twenty minutes later, everything is bathed in sunshine. The birds are up, as are the dogs and day begins.

The Government Man was on time. And off we went. We drove for another hour to meet the two field workers. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the jungle.

There were a group of workers milling around our turnoff. One of them flagged us down. There was a body. The police had been called. They were waiting. Did we want to see?

The poor man had been bound hand and foot, and a bullet forever silenced his thoughts. There was blood on the ground where he had been dragged and dumped. No, I didn't see and neither did any of us. I have seen the dead: my mother and stepfather, I had nothing to gain by rubbernecking. We went on.

It would be an exaggeration to call what we travelled on, a track. This is where having a Landrover comes into it's own. There's such a satisfying thunk as the diff-lock is engaged and it becomes a four-wheel drive, rover of land. And yes, we roved. The rainy season had turned parts of the track into a mud hole, a hippo would have longed to wallow in. My brother, with years of skill and trust in his vehicle, negotiated his way through the mire without incident. Though, there was always the winch to pull us out if we got really stuck. Eventually, we got to the field of teak.

Teak is a beautiful tree. It's leaves are the classic 'leaf shape' but bigger, much bigger. They are about two feet long and around eighteen inches across. Huge. And lots of them. The trunks are ramrod straight, grey and brown speckled bark. At the moment, they've just finished flowering and look like they've got frondy hats. Come the dry season, the fronds will fall and deposit the seeds around. Into the bush we went. A very hot walk. I was in jeans and my trainers, my brother's floppy hat on my head. I'd dosed up on the mosquito lotion before I'd got out of the Landrover and boy am I glad I did. The little bastards were zooming around looking for lunch.

Of course I ended up on my arse. I stepped on a tree root and gracelessly slid down a muddy bank. Ouch. Nothing but my pride hurt. My brother helped me up and we walked on. I still can't believe how many species of moth and butterfly I saw yesterday. It makes me realised how impoverished our selection has become in the UK. Moths that pretended to be fallen leaves, black butterflies that looked like they'd been dipped in mint choc-chip icecream. Butterflies with wings larger than my hands, dark on the outside, flashing royal blue as they zig-zagged through the trees. I want to learn more.

Consider this the first installment. I need to have a break and attend to my dad and yes, I need more Eine.


  1. Blimey that IS an adventure!

  2. rog ~ it certainly was. One of those days when I wished I could have everyone with me to share it.

  3. "well-earned reputation as a woman who loves being horizontal"

    [runs away laughing uncontrollably]

  4. xl ~ glad to have given you a good laugh.

  5. Please be careful of the crime stuff out there!

  6. xl ~ it certainly is scary. Makes a person think about every move they make. I'd have difficulty living with this level of paranoia every day on a regular basis.

  7. 63mago (not allowed in, sorry)11:40 pm

    A paradies of life, and life is cheap ...


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