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Paradise ... and yet

For years I've had a sort of fantasy ideal about living on a tropical island, in a simple hut set amongst palm trees, adjacent to the the white sands of a coral beach. I guess it's a common dream that nearly all of us have had at one time or another.

This year, I did have a taste of what that would be like. The island was Havelock Island in the Andaman Sea. It had it all: turquoise water, reefs, tranquility. I had a mosquito net, even a fan in my hut. A shower too, which I shared with a couple of resident hermit crabs.

But boy, was it hot. 43 degrees and 67% humidity. Even the locals were complaining that is was too hot. Too hot to walk barefoot on the scorching sand. I hid in the shade or lay naked on my bed, spreadeagled under the whirling fan while my whole body glistened with perspiration. When darkness came, I would venture out to one of several bars I had found with air conditioning to sip cocktails in grateful coolness. It was more Graham Greene than Robinson Crusoe. I began to wonder what was the cost of keeping all those fans turning constantly, just to keep my island paradise at a bearable temperature?

Early one morning, in the shade of my hut, I painted a little watercolour of a piece of brain coral I had found on the sea shore. Just to remind myself.

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