Invasion of the Boat People

A couple times a week the beach is inundated with tourists when a luxury cruise ship pulls into Nawiliwili Harbor and docks for a short period of time. Hoards of beach lovers pour down the gang plank to enjoy the pebbly soft beach of Kalapaki Bay. With colorful towels, bamboo mats, swim fins, and boogie boards in tow, families stake a claim along the shoreline to gather and sunbathe. Within minutes children squeal with laughter, splashing each other and running away. A slender middle-aged European man stands with feet firmly planted squinting out to sea. As if deep in thought, he raises a cigarette to his lips and takes a long drag before flicking the ash into the wind. Loose strands of black hair fall across his wrinkled brow causing him to pivot a half turn and then back again. Over his shoulder, an energetic group of millennials mark off the sand and choose sides for a pickup game of soccer. Shouting in an unfamiliar language, they slap each other on the back before aggressively kicking, chasing, and passing the ball back and forth toward the goal. So much activity. So much joy. This is how to spend a day in paradise. After awhile, short toots from the bridge of the huge vessel signal it’s time to head back. Beach towels are rolled up, soccer games disperse, umbrellas are left vacant, and the sand is brushed away as flip flops are slid into place. The boarding process begins for passengers to depart “Fantasy Island” and return to sea until we meet again. 

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