Prisoner in Paradise

My new home is perfect. Light floods through the shutters. The fresh sea breeze licks the white paint and concrete floor. I can read in the hammock in my yard or write from my outdoor kitchen terrace overlooking the sea.

I unpack my things, shower, and change. Simao has invited me for dinner. I pour a drink and sit on the terrace. My muscles relax, my respiration rate slows and deepens. My eyelids begin to close and I feel completely at ease.

For about a minute.

My stomach tenses. My muscles stiffen. My respirations become more shallow and frequent.

I have not seen my passport for twenty-four hours.

I turn the apartment upside-down: Once. Twice. Thrice. I find everything except my passport.

I retrace my steps and make contact in person or by telephone. Nothing. The German proprietor of a restaurant I had visited says simply ‘have another beer’.

I go to Simao’s for dinner as planned because I do not know what else to do. He offers me some local punch. It sweetens my palette and soothes my brain. Simao plays the guitar (he can do this with both hands). His wife provides a wonderful meal of fresh fish prepared in a special local sauce. Simao calls the police on my behalf.

There is very little I can do about the situation. So I begin once more to relax and joke about things.

‘Simao, is the beach safe and warm enough to sleep on?’

’Simao, now I have no passport and visa, I am an illegal immigrant. Is the prison comfortable and how is the food there?’

I walk back to my Kasa. I climb into bed. I sleep through. I wake wet and shivering. Consciously, I accept my situation. Subconsciously, I panic.

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