The hometown of my mother has a beautiful pier.
It was not there before. They built it from scratch one day and the result is pretty amazing. I was lucky enough to see it slowly rising from the ground every each day that I passed by on my morning jog. That was the year I extended my holiday up to the maximum time allowed which is 9 months due to some best-forgotten circumstances.
After the pier was completed, I made a habit of walking till the end of the long walkway and sit on the edge, my feet dangling over the water watching the sun sinking below the horizon. I felt privileged.
One afternoon while sitting on the breakwater facing the ocean, I caught a glimpse of something white from a very far distance. I ask my companion was it was; he said it is an old lighthouse, abandoned and desolate. Nobody goes there anymore he added. Rumours have it that some people buried their dead there because they don’t have the means to pay for decent burials. They say some kids found a heap of bones there while playing, including horns of dead carabaos. I wonder what water buffalos were doing there? But despite all these talks (or maybe because of it) my brain suddenly said: Wow!
After much cajoling and manipulating, I found someone who was willing to row a boat four hours (give and take) to the lighthouse, and another four hours back. We started our journey at the crack of dawn and reached the place around two o’clock in the afternoon.
I can still remember the exact feeling the moment we approached the lighthouse. I was getting a very strong mix vibes about the place. There was something magical about it, something I cannot explain. My decision to go there was justified I thought.
We jumped off the boat and have fallen asleep immediately on the very steps even before we were properly anchored, our feet dangling in the water. I recall experiencing a feeling of sudden drowsiness the moment we reached the place. As if some peaceful music was lulling me to sleep. It could be also that my companion was dead tired with all that rowing and I simply followed his suit; who knows…
We woke up before dark and found out that our boat somehow drifted away; my companion had to swim for it.
Examining the immediate area surrounding the building, I saw that the lighthouse stood on a small rock island connected to the nearby isle by miles of sand bridge which was only visible during low tide. There were crabs and some fish trapped in shallow pools around the premises, shrimps too. I even noticed several oysters clinging to the rocks. I bet there were clams to be found around the place as well. Travelling back home, an embryo of an excellent idea was forming in my deranged brain. I could hardly wait to be home to further nurture and let it develop into a fully grown plan which I tend to put into action the first opportunity I got.
My idea was to spend a night in the abandoned lighthouse and see what’s going to happen. Put those rumours to the test. Let’s find out if ghosts do really exist.
Armed with lots of drinking water, gas lamps, some food, knives and beach towels; we went back to the place. I found two other people who were willing to embark on an adventure with crazy me; a boy and a girl. I remember conjuring up every possible and impossible excuse to say to the girl’s parents the next day. They didn’t know she’s with us. I was really risking my reputation on the line. But then again, what’s new?
With all my scheming and planning, I never reckon a tropical storm out of the blue; but it came. Hard as we tried, it was impossible to find a safe shelter in the lighthouse; there simply was no place to hide. We had no choice but to row to the nearest island, in the dark!
My companion was a twenty years old prime example of a very tall, quite dark oh so handsome Sinbad, but that time I didn’t notice it. I only realized that he is really that good looking when he was already long gone and somebody rubbed my nose in it while looking at his pictures. Then I thought: Oh, my God stupid me it’s true!
He was also a fantastic navigator (in pitch dark) a great rower, an excellent swimmer and really, really brave. I remember looking at his paddle making mesmerizing luminous tracks in the water. The sea algae (I only know this later, that time I thought it was magic) which naturally glow bright green in the dark transformed the paddle into some sort of lightsaber. It was pure enchantment! I wish it could go on forever.
I remember my bodyguard asking the other guy (shouting through the wind and pouring rain in fact) if he could see the light shining in a very far distance, and if he could, try to navigate towards it no matter what because it was the only thing that can lead us to safety.
We reached the group of houses along the shore safely and been awarded the honour of sitting whole night on the porch of someone who refused to let us in, in the name of safety. I remember almost being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Sinbad had to shoo them away from me whole night; poor guy. He also begged for dry clothes from a nearby fisherman’s cottage. He said it was for his wife. Wasn’t it romantic? We went home the next day. Exhausted hungry and wet but another experience richer.
I don’t know where Sinbad is right now. We parted our ways not so long after that nerve-racking adventure. I guess he didn’t want to have a repeat of something like it in the future so, he disappeared.
Wherever he is, I wish him nothing but the very best in life. Do I long to see him again? I don’t think so. Some things are better to experience just once. To preserve the novelty of something quite special.