The Shower


We arrived in Jamaica in the autumn when the air warm as sunkissed skin and the sea still bath like.

As fall turned to winter, the temperature hovered around 28c - hot enough that we slept with the fan on and only ever wore shorts, though children came to school in jackets and our friends wore wetsuits in the balmy sea.

Now it's high summer, and although the mercury has only risen by a few degrees, far below the apocalyptic summer highs of twenty-first century Europe, it's relentless and sticky in a way I've never experienced elsewhere. Our children wake in sweat-soaked sheets, and their hair stayed damp all day until we shaved their heads. Everywhere, people sleep under trees or canopies, grounded by the heat, while dogs lie motionless in the shadows.

One still and sweltering afternoon, we built an outdoor shower. It's a simple affair - a pipe running from the rainwater tank connected to a showerhead which hangs from the mango tree, while a couple of rusty old sheets of corrugated iron nailed to the trunk shield us from the road.

After short sultry nights, it's heaven to stand in the shade looking out at the vines swinging slowly from the trees, while rivulets of water run down one's spine, melting the sweat away.

After long, hot days, the treat is greater still - candle lit in the velvety darkness, surrounded by the birdsong call of frogs and the gentle rhythm of crickets, I am nightly reborn under that cooling stream.