|Alan gets back on the main path and heads to Biloxi...|
"So I gather that NetMate is your social network here?"
"Yes, and I love it! I don't have to travel nearly as much now to gather the goods! It's quite a new thing, since not many of us have computers, and those smartphones that everyone else in the world have are only a dream here."
And when he inquired about the surfboards outside, she lit up. "Oh, surfing is my passion! I live for that ocean energy, that power under me when I ride a wave. We have a surf club called The Westend Surfing Assn., named after this point called Westend on Vanessa Island. We sail out of Paddy and around the Hook on an old gaff-rigged boat and put in on Vanessa's lee side. then we hike over the island and set up camp on the ocean side. There is usually a beautiful mile-long left there." And then Amelia's eyes really lit up when she added, "And sometimes it gets BIG! I can't wait until we go on another trip."
And they talked about many other things into the night, as the rain stopped and some stars came out...
The sun was shining the next morning. She made him coffee and a hearty breakfast, and by mid-morning he was finally on his way to The Hook. As he walked, he felt all warm inside - happy that he could make a friend and be a friend as easily as he has done here. First Carla on the boat, then Adrian, now Amelia, and yes, even Jeremy. Are the people different here, is it just him, or a little of both?
By evening he reached Biloxi, and found a place to stay called The Sand Dune Inn and Spa. Biloxi was a settlement of perhaps 50 small stucco-coated houses huddled among some grass-covered dunes. Bushy wind-blown trees and patches of flowering groundcovers added color among the houses. There were no stores, but the Inn boasted a "deli" that offered groceries and basic necessities, including the services of a tiny post office.
At the check-in desk, an elderly woman, dark and sun-wrinkled, took Alan's money (cost: one roger) and without saying a word, showed him to a tiny room with a narrow bed, then the toilets, and then the "spa", a large, steaming, beautifully-tiled communal pool set in the ground. A roof covered half of it, the rest was under the open sky. The bath was unoccupied, so he tested the water and realized he could use a good soak.
He returned after dark with his towel and found another fellow in the pool, who said, "Welcome, welcome, plenty of room." In the dim light of the single oil lantern, Alan noticed the guy was naked. Hm, shall I keep my swimsuit on or not? He decided to leave it on and settled into the water. His fellow bather said nothing at all, and that was just fine.
And then two girls, teenagers likely, walked in, wrapped in large bath towels. They removed the towels, which were their entire wardrobes, and without a word stepped into the steaming pool. Alan tried very hard not to look, especially since they both offered their names and asked his. (The other guy seemed to be meditating...) Alan nodded to them, muttered his name and a glad-to-meet-you, and then then also pretended to meditate, realizing he'll probably have to get used to this sky clad thing that Adrian mentioned!
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