Last week we were on Long Island, although not the first one that may have come to mind—Long Island, Bahamas. It’s about 80 miles long, and we drove from the northern end through the Tropic of Cancer to Dean’s Blue Hole on the southern end. I wanted to swim across Dean’s Blue Hole and feel how deep the ocean was below me, but a commercial for something called Cool Water was being filmed, and they wouldn’t let us get near the hole itself.
We also took a boat trip to Sandy Cay to see the resident iguanas and behold the site of some of the filming for the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. Have you ever noticed the way Captain Jack Sparrow walks kind of duck-footed on the sand? I thought it was just a comic effect, but now I realize that it’s an effort to walk on the kind of sand that is so fine your foot sinks in up to the ankle.
After watching us throw pieces of bread to the iguanas, our Bahamian tour guides left us to muck about as we pleased on the Cay, as the tide was going out. They did point out an enormous hawk’s nest in a tree and “a little lemon shark” swimming by in a foot of water. We laboriously stepped our way across the Caribbean sand bars and across a drier stretch to the Atlantic side, where picture-perfect blue-green waves were gently rolling in. Later, the guides stuck some umbrellas on part of the sand bar and we got some relief from the genuine feeling of being stuck on a desert island.
Walker and I took out a double sea-kayak and paddled it merrily across the bay and through an inlet to an ocean-fed lagoon, where the wind and waves toppled us and we couldn’t get both of us back in, but had to pull it up on shore, whereupon it was discovered that there was a little hole and the kayak was half-full of water. Later in the week, Walker took out a single kayak and had a better time.
Most of the week was spent floating around in the shallow, clear, blue-green water or reading in the shade. We each took five books and some of us finished our own and then proceeded to trade for books the others had brought.
The book I was reading on the three planes it took us to get from Columbus to Long Island was The Passage, by Justin Cronin, and it was the kind of book I like for traveling—a small paperback, but long enough to last through a long day. An interesting plot (this one post-apocalyptic), but nothing that required too much thought.
The way parts of the story are told by different generations of survivors of the apocalypse is well-done, and the descriptive details are well-chosen:
“We had two Watchers in the car with us, a man and a woman. Folks think the Watchers were Army but they weren’t, they were from the FEMA. I remember that because it was written in big yellow letters on the backs of their jackets. My daddy had people down in New Orleans, he’d grown up there before the service, and he always said that FEMA stood for ‘Fix Everything My Ass.’ I don’t remember what became of the woman but that man was First Family…”
The survivors of the fourth generation since the escape of the “virals”–formerly-human predators with superhuman speed who resemble vampires–occasionally find boxes of books from the time before, and their reactions are revealing. I especially like it when Alicia and Peter, teen warriors from an armed camp, come upon Where the Wild Things Are and she says “that whole business about the boy looking them in the eyes and telling them to be still,” Alicia said. She yawned into her hand. “I don’t see how that would do any good at all.”
After 879 pages there is an ending, although there is also a sequel, one I don’t think I’ll pick up. There’s only so much I care to read about running around and fighting off the results of an experiment gone wrong which is wreathed in mystical details and sketchy science. It was fun while I was in passage, though.
Are there certain kinds of books you like to read on airplanes? Since we usually have several connecting flights, I want a small paperback to tuck in my purse; I don’t find an e-reader desirable because its use is forbidden on much of the flight. In fact, I put my kindle in my checked luggage for this trip and found that it was missing when we reached our destination. Now I imagine someone reading The Gone-Away World during breaks from baggage handling or some such, someone who has never gotten to fly off to the Bahamas and lie around on the beach reading books.