Hot Countries: A Travel Book (Bloomsbury Reader) by Alec Waugh

Hot Countries: A Travel Book (Bloomsbury Reader) by Alec Waugh

Author:Alec Waugh [Waugh, Alec]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Literature & Fiction, British & Irish, History & Criticism, Regional & Cultural, European, Reference & Test Preparation, Writing; Research & Publishing Guides, Writing, Travel, Specialty Travel, Adventure, Travel Writing, Criticism & Theory, Essays & Travelogues
ISBN: 1448200091
Amazon: B00606NRPI
Publisher: Bloomsbury Reader
Published: 2011-10-28T00:00:00+00:00

VI

Ceylon

It is as well to leave a place when leaving it can still make you a little sad, and as Eldred Curwen and I rowed away from Martinique at half-past two on a cloudless morning towards the Nova Scotia we sincerely regretted the little bungalow at Case Navire. The moon was full; across the harbour we could hear the barbaric rhythms of the Bal Lou-Lou. Should we, we wondered, find anywhere else anything so lovely and so strange?

Quarter of an hour later we were wondering whether we had ever been to Martinique at all. We were on an English ship. The passages and the decks were clean, the metal of door-handle and porthole shone. Stewards were arranging our luggage with the gruff amiability of sailors. In the saloon copies of Harper’s Bazaar and Nash’s were lying side by side. On the notice board a wireless message stated that at Melbourne the M.C.C. had made three hundred and seven for five wickets. Martinique, for all that its palm trees were outlined against the sky, seemed a century of miles away.

And next morning, after having been presented with a breakfast menu containing three-and-twenty items, we came on deck to see the white houses of Roseau spread along a hill-shadowed bay. It looked French, and, lying as it does midway between Martinique and Guadeloupe, with its background of French history and its natives still speaking Creole, it is, in its sympathies more French than English. But when you stand at the head of the gangway, though the negro boatmen shout at you from the water, there is a smartly dressed policeman at your side. “Which boat, sir, would you like?” he asks. You tell him. He calls out the name of the boat and the other boats stand back. When you reach the landing stage there is a policeman waiting so that there is no haggling about your fare. Though the feeling of the town is French, the streets are clean and the life is orderly. In the botanical gardens there is a cricket field. It was as complete a change of atmosphere as had been for me two years and a halfback the stepping on to the decks of the Kinta at Singapore.

That was the most welcome change of atmosphere I have ever known. It came at the end of the worst month of travel I have ever known.

To begin with there was the Red Sea.

The Red Sea in the middle of August, when in addition to that monstrous heat there was a following breeze to still such poor current of air as the ship’s slow movement brought. For four days the smoke rose perpendicularly to the blue-green sky. For four days I lay in a hammock chair wondering through hour after interminable hour whether the momentary rapture of iced beer compensated for the hour of intolerable discomfort that must ensue; while over-hot and over-tired infants who could not sleep and would not rest squabbled over their toys and fell about and bruised themselves and howled.



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