Mr. Omar is not a romantic person. In fact, if I hadn’t observed some real “gems” of the masculine persuasion since meeting him, a younger me might have considered him the least romantic person on the planet. I’m happy to say he’s not that bad.
When it comes to surprises, though, he’s usually pretty memorable. Stuffing a full-size Christmas tree into my tiny closet bathroom, for example, was a good surprise. I screamed like a banshee when it fell through the door, burying me in a mountain of pine needles. It was epic.
Hiding an old, browning jackfruit under the pillows on the couch was less welcome. There were tears and curses, possibly a thrown ring and an exasperated threat that I would leave him forever. It was the full run of both the fight & flight response, which in retrospect is rather hilarious in a “don’t you ever do that again” sort of way. I had never seen the fruit before and thought it was a massive rodent.
Then there are the subtle surprises, ones you’re not quite sure if they were planned or if he just got lucky. As usual, I was wandering by myself with my camera during a walk on the beach, photographing clumps of seaweed that, to me, looked like bodies washed ashore in the aftermath of a battle. It was cold and misty that day, and the beach was looking especially ominous.
We were walking much farther than usual, but by the time I noticed, it was already rising out of the haze in the distance, the tattered remains of a ship half buried in the sand. It was the wreck of the S.S. Kakapo, a ship left stranded on the beach since 1900 when the captain, thinking he was nearing the edge of the peninsula, made “a wrong turn.”
Happily, everyone survived, but the 100-year-old ship was still as dramatic as ever, and I was super excited about seemingly stumbling upon it in the middle of the sand. It’s common knowledge that Kakapo rests at the end of the beach, though I hadn’t known so, and Mr. Omar, though I’m fairly certain was talking nonsense, claimed not to have known either. Normally I would have pressed the issue to try and discern if he really was or wasn’t talking nonsense, but the ship was far too exciting for that. In the end she gave up enough great photographs to inspire, in part, the shipwreck-prison in Rebel Fires.
In the same week, we walked through the mountain and (randomly?) stumbled upon a garrison from the Dutch East India Company. A big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and films in high school, I joked on social media that after the garrison and the shipwreck, if ever I happened to run across Calypso or some Aztec gold, I was probably being called to be a pirate.
Exactly a week later, an acquaintance of his phoned for us to meet them at Mykanos. Within a few hours I found myself, quite by accident (?), on Calypso Beach.
Whether it was a true call to swashbuckling adventure remains mostly ambiguous, though I can say with a fair amount of certainty it was, at the very least, an excellent surprise.