Having let his mind be led astray by the somewhat confusing El Presidente, Donald Hiram looked up to see a bright, almost bleached white sign with black letters forming the words “Beach down below…near the water.” He just shrugged and mumbled “Simple enough,” before getting out of the vehicle once Reese turned off the engine.
Below the sign sat an older man, apparently blind and handing out sunglasses to anyone with whom he comes in contact. “Who’s that?” asked Hiram, speaking softly so that only Reese would hear him. “That? Oh, that’s ‘ol Greg. Used to write a mental health blog back in Boston before he learned that the old tale you’re mother tells you about doing certain things to yourself with your hands makes you blind is actually true. He hands out sunglasses now as a government effort to prevent blindness. The sand on Uongo Beach is fantastically bright. It’s the whitest beach you’ve ever seen so it reflects sunlight to the point of doing actual harm to retinas if viewed by naked eyes. Oh…you might want to wipe off the sunglasses…they tend to be a little sticky…don’t ask.”
Hiram looked at the sunglasses and then at ‘ol Greg who was smiling as if he just got away with something. Hiram just mouthed “Ewww” but didn’t actually say anything Greg could hear and accepted the sunglasses from Greg’s proffered hand. For some reason, Hiram couldn’t stop staring at the Sunglass Hander-Outer and it took a gentle nudge from Reese to being him back to the present.
The two men continued down the path and saw small piles of assorted ship parts strewn on either side of the path. When asked what those were, El Presidente just shrugged and said “Ship guts. Come now, we’re almost there.” Marching through the palm tree riddled pathway, they finally approached the beach Reese had been talking so much about.
Immediately, Hiram was put into a state of awe as, even with the sunglasses, he beheld the huge amount light reflecting off the almost perfectly white sand. He had simply not seen anything like it…anywhere. “Wow, you said it was a white beach, but…wow, that is SOO white. What possibly produces sand that white? Is there a geologic formation around here that nature erodes and deposits here?”
El Presidente simply looked confused and shook his head. “No, no, nothing like that. This beach comes from a failed attempt on my part to engage our population in an effort to beautify the environment.” Looking confuse, Hiram just waited for Reese to continue. “Ah, you see, out there…” Reese was motioning out to sea… “…lies Bad JuJu Rocks…you can barely make them out from here, but they are roughly five hundred yards from shore.”
Squinting, Hiram stared out into the sea and shook his head. “I see nothing…nothing but the blue of the horizon. What the devil are you talking about…sir?”
Nodding, El Presidente shook his head and his shoulder’s slumped. “Well, the effort to beautify the island culminated with the painting of the Bad JuJu Rocks the same blue as the surrounding water and sky. Sadly, a container ship, named the Uongo, did not see the rocks, hit the rocks, tore its hull and most of its cargo made its way to the shore…thus the establishment of Uongo Beach.”
Hiram shot Reese a sideways glance. “Pray sir, tell me…what was the cargo the Uongo?”
“The cargo? Sweet ‘N Low packets from Cumberland Packing Corporation. You know…Sweet ‘N Low? The sweetener that comes in the little pink packets?”
“Yes, I know of the stuff. Do you mean to tell me that all the ‘sand’ that is brilliantly white is that sweetener? And what of the packets?” asked Hiram.
“Oh I don’t like to speculate about what sand is sand and what sand is some froo-froo coffee sweetener thingy…it bores me. But I do know that the sand was never whiter than it is now, and in the end isn’t that what’s more important?” explained Reese. “As for the packets, I can tell you that pink is the most produced Drink Umbrella here in the island. Draw your own conclusions. Besides, it’s not all bad. No one was hurt and the vast majority of inhabitants of our fair island are from that very ship, and many of the houses are built using the containers that fell off the ship. Quite a wonderful thing they were heading this way, no?”
Hiram just waved his hand. “Wait, wait…who came up with the idea to paint the rocks to mimic the surrounding area?”
“Why me, of course,” admitted El Presidente.
“And…and I know I’m going to regret this question…why did you decide to do that?” asked Hiram, preparing for one whale of an answer.
“Oh, it’s simple, my dear Hiram…to reduce stress. Studies have shown that when people are in a state of distress, their heart rate goes way up and I know sailors hate the whole crashy crashy into the rocky rocky thingy, so I simply removed the stress to their hearts. You’ll find I’m all about compassion. Anyway, come now…enough questions for now. Let’s turn our sunglasses in to ‘ol Greg and be on our way. Much more to see.”
He gently grabbed Hiram’s elbow before he could say another word. “Next up…the hospital!”
(Continued in Part 5)
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