Ah, great! I finally managed to get hold of some fresh batteries for my camera, which had been sitting inside a drawer, gathering dust for the best part of a year. Or at least that’s what the expiration day of the pack says, which I hope is true (things like these are never a certainty in my home country, you know!)
So I decided to test my new camera, taking some pictures around… just in case. (It would be silly to drag the little gadget to Curacao just to discover it doesn’t work anymore, wouldn’t it?) And I think that a small photographic tour is in order. Fear not, it won’t be one of those endless slideshow session that your boring Uncle Frank seeems so fond of.
Of course, a little preparation comes first, so fewer explanations will be required later. I made a small map of the street where I live (portrayed here on the right) which shows the spots from which each of the snapshots was taken. Regrettably, I failed at showing the rainforest in each of the shots I tried to make, mainly for two reasons: A) It’s a bad case of can’t see the rainforest for the palm trees and B) Every picture I took didn’t really convey the feeling of big that your first impression of walking through the tropical jungle makes on you. Believe me, it’s one of those things you have to experience first hand.
Originally, I intended to make this just one blog post, but after making the initial layout, I realized it’d just become a big, unwieldly mess, so I decided to split it into two halves, and publish each one independently. So, here’s the first part of this blog post…
Now on with my first picture… The one on the left looks down on the street I live; it would be a great spot to practice some radical skateboarding moves… if it wasn’t for the awful pavement conditions that would break your neck after just a few yards rolling on the highly irregular surface.
Does the sun glare bother you? Got a surprise for you; that’s glare reflecting into the camera… that’s the general humidity of being so near the jungle. hanging on the air 24/7. It shows heavily in this picture because it’s early November and the air is cold enough for the humidity to form a constant light mist until it’s 9 or 10 AM. It’s not normally noticeable during the rest of the year but, believe me, you’d feel it on your skin the minute you walk in.
The street ends in a knot landing (which has frequently trapped unwary idiots in a mudhole for hours; people whought they could use the knot with impunity without realizing it was in reality a cul-de-sac.
Looks like a nice place to live in? Well, you’d like it… if you’re into being surrounded by another 12 empty houses, giving you the cringe-worthy feeling that you live in a ghost town.
Particularly recommended if you’re a hermit.
The next picture is of my own house. It’s humid, the walls are cracking, the roof is leaking and the paint is peeling. The two trees planted in front are its natural air conditioning system, as they keep the place under a shade all a year long. I live in a comfortable 70-80°F temperature range… while outside this natural parasol the sun blazes away at 110°F on every surface it shines on. While it’s shady, you can still feel the excessive moisture on your skin all 24 hours of any given day. Even at this nice temperature you’ll perspire and your sweat will have no where to go with all this water saturating the air.
Ah, and when the day is particularly hot, you won’t avoid the discomfort of experiencing the occasional hot air breezes casually drafting through the house, blasting away all the cool air out from the insides of the structure.
Also, electric power goes out six to seven times a day, the toilets don’t work and it’s infested with all jungle bug that’s conceivable.
Now, this plot belongs to one of my “neighbors“. This is one of the few measly sources of income that I still have left since my business manufacturing school gymnastic mattresses folded for causes beyond any human control (that, and since no one ever buys my books, that’s about it).
Before I took care of the place, it was an impenetrable field of camelote, our local version of elephant grass. You could barely place a foot into the area without hitting an African bee nest or stumbling upon a snake.
Took me six months of grueling hard work with a machete just to put it in the condition that the place now is in. Notice the haze? The photo was taken near 10 AM and you can still see it. Also, notice this yard now requires a trimming as the grass begins to show 5-inch long blades just a couple of days after it has been cut.
Now, I’m not particularly fond of selfies, for I’m not a very fotogenic guy (one of the reasons I look like as if I had just bit into a lemon in this snapshot). Like my new look? I call it the shave-my-head-to-prevent-you-from-noticing-my-hair-is-thinning-on-top look.
You may wonder where’s the rainforest in this picture… well, this area used to be a thick jungle a few years back, until a raging fire killed all the trees in existence over that place. Now only elephant grass, brambles and underbrush grows there, turning it into a very impassable location… except maybe for the prowlers and opportunistic thieves that like to roam the place during the night.
There’s a lot of petty pilfering happening in this place, as a dozen abandoned houses are too much of a temptation for the burglars. Most of the structures present in the area are missing windows, light switches, toilet bowls and electrical wiring; you name it, it must have been stolen already. In other words, anything that isn’t nailed down is a target for these petty thieves. These criminals have created faint trochas (trails) through all that mess, so they basically have the run of the place and move unhindered from this spot to their stinking hideouts.
Nothing can be done about it, except keeping your eyes peeled for their illegal activities.
Well, I guess today’s post sort of covers the first half of my little photographic tour of my personal hellhole.
Stay tuned for the second part one of these days…