|Alan's route will take him south, around Sandy Bay, to Capetown|
Towards evening, the air had cooled off and everyone was back in their clothes.
Alan wanted to meet these young islanders, so he worked up enough courage to walk over to where most of the crowd was camping. This kind of thing has never been easy for him, though he believes that his "social coach" back in Indiana has been helpful. Plus, he thinks he sticks out like a foreigner. At least he speaks their language!
Okay, deep breath, off we go...
He also brought along his package of McVitie and Price's Digestives (imported from England). When he showed up at their campfire, he held out the package and they laughed, and a girl said "Ace!" They in turn invited him to supper, and he was grateful!
All of these campers (the oldest might have been twenty) were on their Long Walk. Most were paired up but a few were walking solo, and they all had stories to share. They feverishly chatted about places all over the island that Alan had no clue about, and when he brought his map over, they showed him the location of the Berea Cliffs, Samantha's Wild North, the Beatty Ruins, Gay's Asylum, and that strange place none of them had yet ventured to: Roger's Dreamland.
He enjoyed chatting with them as they sat eating a kind of communal fish gumbo. They mostly talked about where they'd been and where they were heading, and Alan listened in, enchanted by their energy. His head was swimming with all his new information as he finally bid them good night and went to his tent. He slept surprisingly well.
The next morning, his muscles were quite stiff, probably from all the running and chasing yesterday. He manged to get dressed, make some breakfast, and then get a fairly early start on to his next picture assignment, in Capetown. On the way, he noticed he'll pass through several small settlements, including the Shores tribe that those girls mentioned.
His route to Capetown went right by the Hooksands Light, a noble, red-painted stone tower, whose light slowly revolved. He noticed that it must be laundry day at the adjoining cottage, since there were sheets billowing on the clothesline as a woman (with two small kids running about under her feet) put up some towels. She waved and he waved back. This was like out of a picture book, he thought: the keeper's wife (or the keeper herself!) living out at the lighthouse. No automation here yet!
He figured it would be a three-day walk all the way to Capetown, and he was glad he didn't have to rush. He liked the relatively glacial pace here; he didn't feel he had to be anywhere, and, surprisingly, he didn't miss his phone or Facebook or e-mail! He'd like to hear from his friends, perhaps Michelle, but for now he felt okay just seeing what will come next!
Passing through these tribe settlements, Alan felt he was on another planet. The settlements were tiny, with narrow walkways among the houses and the few shops, or the one main building where supplies and groceries could be acquired (bought or bartered for). The buildings were small, but solidly-built, often of sand-bricks. These, he learned, were made of local sand mixed with a bit of cement, dampened, and then pressed into bricks. Ingenious, he thought.
While passing through Fernley, he watched two women making the bricks - one constantly mixing the batch, and shoveling the mix into a device they call a brick-press; the other cranking on the long handle to make one brick at a time. One of them paused and told him that, after a few hours they would have a few hundred bricks, using no electricity, and for only the cost of the cement!
Alan noticed that some of these tribes were subsistence tribes - they only produced enough to support themselves, and made a little extra income by offering lodging, hot baths, supplies and massages (especially footrubs) to passing walkers. Others, such as the Shores, Solon and Samas tribes, harvested oysters, bay clams or tiny shrimp from Sandy Bay, and then smoked and canned them for sale in the markets. These had to be carried out on foot or behind a horse in a small wagon...part of the charm (and the high prices) of these delicacies.
As the afternoon turned to dusk, Alan stopped to camp on a grassy dune just west of Bender, facing miles of marshlands and the winding salt channels of Sandy Bay. There were settlements nearby, but he was up for a campout. He had enough food but would have to re-stock the next day.
The sunset over the bay and the ocean was gorgeous!