We rode our donkeys from the inn to the beach every morning. Solomon agunday and his little brothers were asleep still. The sun had barely risen. Bobby and I were excited. We were always up with the sun, barefoot on the beach, sneakered for walking on the coral reefs.
Solomon was our guide. With just a line, a hook and a chunk of cochina he taught us to catch the tiny tropical fish from the rickety dock. Every fish we caught was one of a kind: silver with black stripes, purple with yellow dots, purple and orange striped, green blended to blue; fat fish and skinny fishes were abundant in discovery bay, jamaica, b.w.i..
But every day was timeless. We rode the nurse sharks. We rode turtles that dove down deep to make us let go. We would go out into the deep dark blue water on ‘peddalos’, dive in and swim with the porpoises. Sometimes an ominous manta ray glided quietly beneath us. i was a little afraid. but my older brother was seven and i could do anything he could do.
On the reef you couldn’t slip. The coral was razor sharp and would gash you. I learned the hard way. It took weeks for that cut to heal. Another danger was sea urchins with their needle sharp spikes. But you could always see them. You just had to keep your eyes open and walk with care.
Around three o’clock we hurried up to Columbus inn and joined the grown-ups in our little white shorts and short sleeve white shirts with white socks and sandals; all very british. At four o’clock on the dot every day tea was served on the shady veranda. It was the little scones with jam we came for but the tea was good too, with milk and sugar.
Then, off with formalities, we trotted down the seashell path and back to the shore. with our village gang we roasted the catch of the day on an open fire with some corn on the cob. Laughing and playing as the sun set.
During the day we lived on seagrapes, coconuts and mangoes. That was beach life and we became brown as chestnuts. Our friends wore nothing at the beach and we followed suit without hesitation. When we tired of fishing we body surfed when the waves were high.
How many sandcastles we built; cities with towers and moats. we watched in wonder as the tide washed everything away. Once I took about 100 cochinas and arranged them in a spectrum on the flat sand. when the summer ended we were shipped off to an english boarding school, knox college, in the mountains near mandeville.