By Vita Forest
On Wadi-Wadi land, where Charmian swam, we walk out to Bombo. We fill up our water bottles from the last tap, pull our hats down low and sling our thumbs through the loops of our backpacks. The sun grinds down, shadows crouch and hide from its glare, pulling their knees up to their ears. It’s nearly noon.
We crouch on the cliff and watch the surfers below as they bob lazily, straddling surfboards and squinting out at the horizon. Watch as one paddles, then stands and streaks along just in front of the curl of a wave. An admirer claps and a friendly dog rubs her snout into our open palms. Watch as another surfer scuttles down a goat track beside us, board beneath his arm, runs, runs down the spit of rock, runs at a retreating wave, then hurls himself onto the fizzing foam. The sea is wild today.
“I can do this,” he explains, “coz now I’m six.”
The water boils and roars and surges high through the red columns.
And high above on the rocky hill, built with boulder and facing the sea, a shriek, a whoop as the sea slaps down those reckless climbers who sauntered past us moments before. We make sure they emerge again. No need to call for help. Just yet.
We follow the path deeper, between the tossing grass and humming insects which scatter yellow as we approach. Into the bowl of the headland, into the hollow, the hole, the crater between the land and the sea. See how the water rises? Angry, foaming at the bit. Seething. We dare not climb the columns as I’ve done before on another calmer day. We stand back and feel the spray as the sea finds a crack, smashes hard on solid rock. It will hold, I imagine, I trust, I hope. Fishermen peer out to sea behind the barricade of boulders, slinging a line out to sea like a grenade. The water exploding with a Boom! against the cliffs.
We pick our way across a desert of red rocks. Sun scorching down, burning the backs of our necks. Lizards scurry at our shadows and I stamp hard, warning off the serpents. I had seen one at this very spot. Not rainbow but a killer, red and black. Red for danger! It lay on the path, soaking up the sun before sinking back into the waving grasses off the track. Sinking back like the sighing sea as we tiptoed past as far away as we could manage. We pick our way across the desert of red rocks, calves flex as we balance on those boulders. Like those surfers on the sea.