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3 20 Castillo de San Felipe
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Image by Kalense Kid
Early light wells into the room. The fan stirs cool air. The ceiling is dark palm-frond grey. The sky is light grey. It turns slowly rosy. It is 5:50.

I feel unwell. My stomach houses hot iron. I creep open the deadbolt. The door swings. I catch it. I creak Sioux-footed to the stairs. I do not want to use the toilet on my floor. I do not want to wake anyone. I visit the downstairs toilet. I wooze back upstairs.

The Mennonites creep downstairs. They breakfast. They leave at 8:30. They go with Gary and Ken. They take Ken’s fast launch. Two 200 horsepower engines growl into soundless down the creek. The Mennonites will go to Livingston and back.

Ken is Gary’s friend. He lives on a yacht. The yacht is umbilicalled to the Kangaroo bar. It will never move again. Ken breakfasts on beer.

Alice and Ollie leave too. They travel via Rio Dulce. They will not come back.

We breakfast on lake-front tables. I eat fat US-style pancakes with maple syrup. I am not hungry. My hot iron discombobulates.

There is no paper in the toilets. I bring my own stash. I eat a yeast pill to battle biodiversity.

We take the hotel launch to Castillo de San Felipe. The fort guards the point across the river. Searing light dazzles off sky and water. We disembark into a pizza oven.

The fort is small and stone. Passages are narrow. Ceilings are low. Inside, heat is breathless. Outside the hammer of Thor beats on stone.

Rusty cannon peer age-pitted over ageless water. We imagine soldiers waiting for privateers and pirates.

We imagine hot men breathing airless air. We people confined volumes with daily cruelty and sadistic routine. We imagine soldiers with no hope of home. We give them wives and children in a vanished village. We wonder about water.

My head spins. My legs jelly. I feeble up and down narrow steep stairways. I want Coke.

We leave the fort. We go to the bar in the park. There is no Coke. I buy yellow gator-aid.

I want to sit. I want to sit in the shade. The bar plays radio music. It is too loud. The announcer shouts excitedly. I take my bottle into the sun. I go to the shelter for launch passengers. I lie on the concrete bench. It is hard. It is in the shade. My muscles and bones hurt. It hurts to sit up again.

Alison and Jason walk around the park. We call the launch. We go back to the hotel. The toilets have paper again.

Heat enervates. I drink Coke in the shade on the waterfront. I write up notes.

Andy arrives. He dinghies us to his boat. She is Orion. The constellation is painted in green on the bow. She is a steel-made ocean-going ketch. She is equipped. Sleeping accommodation is tight. The bow is storage. Just aft of the storage bulkhead the port bench doubles as a single bunk. The starboard bench can be made into a bed for two people. They must be friendly.

We discuss a possible plan. We discuss shopping and costs. Alison gets seasick below deck and goes up. We follow. The marina is flat calm. Orion’s mastheads barely stir. Alison is apprehensive.

We agree to meet in the Rio Dulce supermarket at 08:30 tomorrow. We will buy food and rum and beer.

Andy takes us back to hotel Kangaroo. I drink Coke. I do not like Coke. I have faith it poisons bacteria.

I finish my Andy McNab book. I give it to Jason. He can use it for book exchange.

Biting flies assault me. I am tasty. They are small colourful bloodsuckers. They replicate horseflies. I retaliate. Many fill bellies undetected and escape. I hope my blood woozes them. I flick squashed bodies in the river. Tiny fish dart. They flip gold-red chitin out of existence. My calcite legs weal and itch. I detest biodiversity.

The river air thrums. Ken steers his fastboat into dock. The air stills. Mennonites unload. Livingston is not much to see. The ride is good though.

Alison and Jason sandwich in the afternoon. I sip warm flat Coke.

Alison and Jason take a kayak into the river system. They laugh together. They paddle up and down.

I schedule the launch to Rio Dulce for 7:45.

I sit and read a new book. It is serial killer claptrap. It is the only book I have. There is a book exchange in the hotel. I don’t make necessary connections. Bad book in hand is worth exchanging. I ease into a cold jacuzzi. My wooze and my iron bar both cool down. I leave the bubbles off. I read serial killer claptrap.

Alison and Jason return. Jason turns on jacuzzi bubbles. They join me in cool water.

They go for a shower. The launch driver shows me an iguana. It is grey in a palm tree. It is not a big one. Its ancestors have greyed in palm trees for a long time.

We drink rum and orange juice on the waterfront. Jason has an Aussiburger. I eat a yeast pill to battle biodiversity.

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Ardèche – France
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