Saturday 18th October 2003
It’s been five weeks since I left my island, so this weekend I decided to visit the mainland. I went with two other English teachers – Gina and Anna – to a very excellent aquarium. The highlight was an enormous tank, which must have been about fifteen or twenty metres to a side, in which huge mantas, silver tuna, and three massive whale sharks drifted about. On the lowest level of the aquarium was a dimly lit cafe where we sat and had coffee and watched huge animals glide about on the other side of the thick perspex windows.
The other thing I did this weekend was buy a new bike. It’s a very small folding bike with gears and suspension and everything. So I’ve finally given Mrs. Y back the bike that I borrowed from her a couple of months ago. Now I’ve got some gears, exploring the island won’t be such an epic task – and there are still a few places I haven’t been yet…
Thursday 30th October 2003
Something almost unimaginably horrible almost happened.
Last Saturday afternoon I decided to try to find my way to the top of one of the hills on the island. I’ve tried a couple of times before, but never been able to find a way up (they’re mostly pretty thickly-covered in small trees and scrubby bushes), but this time I was luckier. One of the hills seems to be a sort of park – it has a number of little paths winding up it, and it’s dotted with picnic benches and little roofed viewing areas. It’s a really pretty place, but – like a lot of other places on this island – it has the feeling of having seen better times (a few decades ago the population was more than twice what it is now). The picnic areas still seem to be maintained, but a lot of the paths are becoming overgrown, and here and there you can see rusting noticeboards with no notices on them.
Anyway, by the time I had got anywhere near the top, and finished taking photos of the sunset (again), it was, obviously, beginning to get dark. I didn’t want to have to find my way down in darkness, so I decided I needed to get a move on, and I started jogging. Because the path was overgrown, and, being on a hill, had lots of steps, I was looking down at my feet as I ran along. I suddenly remembered the big spiders and thought maybe it would be an idea to look up from time to time, and so I did. And about a foot in front of my face was exactly the sort of fat, shiny black and yellow spider that I’d just been thinking it would be really unpleasant to run into. I had to throw myself backwards to stop in time. If I’d looked up a quarter of a second later, I would have crashed through the web and had an angry spider about the size of my face hanging onto my forehead.
I managed to take a photo of it, but the light levels were pretty bad, and my hands were shaking, so it’s a bit blurred, and I didn’t feel like hanging around long enough to get it right. Anyway, here is the actual spider. Doesn’t it look just like the thing that attaches itself to John Hurt’s face in Alien? Next time I will get a decent photo…