An empty Absolut Vodka bottle dances with the waves. Glass shimmers in the dusk sunlight as the bottle wades in the water and back out to the dry sand.
I’m sitting here, miles away from the town where I work, facing the beach and the events of the last few days.
The day before yesterday, someone from El Nance died. A young man, father of a two month old girl, was murdered in a remote town closer to the coast. Someone found him in an African oil palm plantation. He was brought back home yesterday, for an all-night vigil, which concluded in a 4 am burial. An hour before dawn. The townspeople had a generator and shovels ready in the trunks of their cars, and were waiting for the family to decide how long the body could stay in this heat before nature took its toll.
When there is a death in town, there can be no music for nine days. Our youth group had a party planned for that same night. We ordered 10 cases of beer, and had advertised the party on posters and the local tv channel. The kids were really excited. Then I got a couple of calls in the morning, all within the same 20 minutes, delivering grim news, and implying the cancellation of all events.
Last night I witnessed a beautiful solidarity with the afflicted family. All of the people in town, save very few, and many families from neighboring towns were present showing their respects. The mood was oddly cheerful. When three dogs exploded in a fight, the women laughed heartily as they moved their chairs away. Many of the teenagers use the opportunity to socialize, and the adults sat in tight circles anywhere there was a surface to sit, talked loudly and asked when they would be offered some pop. People who couldn’t find a sitting spot sat on their cars and witnessed the vigil from the street. When death takes a victim, life buzzes stubbornly around the house of the departed.
Dad and I went to the vigil. He came to visit for a week, and left again, serving as a reminder of who I am, where I come from, but also how quickly and easily the people we love weave in and out of our lives.
Further up the beach a girl wrote “never forget me” on the sand with a stick. As she walked away starved waves ate her letters and left only bone fragments.