The caramel curve glistens in the sunlight; a lazy arc contorting slightly before slumping into relaxation as she playfully kicks her legs at the end of the lounger. I watch a stray water drop, the sole survivor of the swimming pool, defiantly resist the baking sun. It slides down her posterior, gaining speed as if excited by this slender plane. The journey is stopped suddenly by the slap of a hand and the water disperses in one swift, violent motion. I am far away but even from this height, I can hear the snaffled yelp of the woman as she rolls over to address her attacker.
A man, round and squat, leans over the lounger. His hair burns a brighter orange than the evening sky but his skin remains ghostly pale, a faded china doll white with all the gloss rubbed off. It does not blister, it does not tan. They engage in a conversation, the words of which I cannot hear, so I focus on the man’s stumpy mannerisms. He does not seem angry but his gestures are violent, each motion an exercise in fervent efficiency. There are sharp swipes, quick jabs, and small flicks. Everything he does is shortened and rapid. The ruby red Hawaiian shirt he wears is at least two sizes too big and the fabric pineapples dance along the cloth as it hangs off his constantly moving shoulders.
The palm trees of the Aloha are distinctly cartoonish in comparison to the lush towers which surround the villa. I nestle in between two of these knobbly statues. It has only been a few hours and yet I am already thankful for the shade they provide. The heat is oppressive. It reminds me of home. But here the barren dunes are replaced with wild colours and alien scents. My nose recoils at the overwhelming sweetness of the flowery perfumes and my eyes are dazzled by gleaming palettes I never knew existed. The area is infused with a woody green that comes naturally from the shrubbery but between the thickets are small gems of pink, red, and yellow which decorate the view with a florid necklace. Somehow it makes it all the more humid. The trees and grasses, in their efforts to build this bountiful paradise, perspire and release a stifling cloak of moisture into the air. I find myself sympathising with those in the terracotta bowl below. We are inhabiting an oven but up here, I find comfort in the shadows as I overlook those baking in the very centre of the furnace.
This job, the climate – it has all made me irritable. An incessant shower of sweat slopes down my forehead and with each bead that tickles my nose, I become more and more tempted to abandon my post. I resist the salty caress of the storm and counter its seduction by boring my eyes even deeper into the hot scopes of my binoculars. The coming days will be easier: less a test of my will, more of a challenge of my ability. The arrangements have been made and I am almost prepared.
I stay here until the sun has slunk behind the trees and the clammy sweats turn into cold shivers. Only when night is truly dark do I leave.