I regret to inform you, dear friends, that I will not be able to make it to Boskone this year. After more waffling than I can now comprehend, I chose Option B instead.
We’re in Vieques, Puerto Rico, staying with friends in their house high atop the hill. From the table where we eat breakfast on the patio you can see both the Caribbean and the Atlantic, each of them that stunning shade of blue that you never believe when you see it in photographs. It has been sunny and breezy all week and I have acquired a suntan in February. In February! Word on the street is that there has been some sort of cold-weather event back in the States; I guess we’ll find out upon our return late tomorrow night.
There is a great deal of good food to be eaten in Vieques, from schmancy multicourse meals to here-I-just-pulled-this-little-banana-off-the-tree. I have put a sizable dent in it.
Last night we went to Puerto Mosquito, said to be the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. It was — well, heck. It was a warm, tranquil body of water that glowed when you swam in it. I drifted along, watching my arm hairs twinkle and my feet generating swirling plumes of ghostly blue light, beneath a sky crammed with stars (and Mars, presently in Cancer). When the tour group returned to its kayaks and paddled back into the shallows, we startled a huge school of shrimp, which shot off in all directions through the water like bottle rockets. So it was pretty freaking awesome. Thank you kindly, Pyrodinium bahamense.
The thing I am likely to remember most about Vieques, though, is not the luminous water or the shining stars; it is not the hours spent doing blissful nothing by the pool. It is the damned roosters.
There are a lot of chickens on this little island, particularly among the households that live outside the urban(ish) concentrations. And they make a lot of noise. Suburban boy that I am, I had always thought of roosters as making noise at sunrise. You know, like in the movies: they sleep at night, they get up with the sun, they do their cock-a-doodle-doo sun-salutation thing for a couple minutes, then they go about their business. This turns out to be a lie. Roosters in Vieques, PR produce their roostery chorus twenty-four seven. Sometimes, like now, it’s almost subliminal, rising gently from the countryside in a gentle call and response. Other times, it gets a little more raucous: the first time I heard it, I would have been willing to believe that a bunch of local 9-year-olds were just down the hill somewhere and had decided that you know what would be really fun? To impersonate roosters, really loudly, and to go on and on for a good 20 minutes. Or what the heck, maybe for an hour. And other times they ratchet the racket all the way up to 11. No, to 12. Or maybe 14. Seriously, at about 3 Tuesday morning it was like the Roosterocalypse, like every damn bird on the island was crowing its lungs out within 20 yards of the house. Maybe atmospheric conditions meant that the usual cacophony rose up from the lowlands particularly well; maybe every damn bird on the island was just under the window. I don’t know. But Don and I started to laugh despite that we’d just been awakened by roosters in the middle of the fucking night, because you would not believe how loud it was. And of course, once it gets that loud, the local dogs all start barking as well, and it takes a good while before the dust settles. So, yeah. Roosters. Who knew?
I have finished two cracking good books this week: Iain M. Banks’s Matter and Margaret Ronald’s Wild Hunt. Maggie was a classmate of mine at Viable Paradise and she’s hugely talented and funny besides and everyone should read her stuff. Go throw money at her.
Anyway, I’m headed back out to the pool now. The “big island” is visible again today, after a couple of days where it vanished in the haze — I’m told there was a volcanic eruption in Montserrat that is at least partially to blame — and I’m going to go stare at it for a while. Cheers.