I’ve completely joined the sun’s sleeping patterns. Yes – you read that right. Me, Aminda Villamagna syncing up with the sun, bidding farewell to my previously faithful night owl tendencies.
In the mornings, around 4:45 AM, I wake up. I lay there in bed for a few minutes, knowing it’s still early based on the moody glow coming from the little square cut from the bamboo in our room.
I expect to fall back asleep like I do in the states, but… I don’t. I get up and tip-toe to the bathroom. I know I won’t wake Avalon even if I didn’t tip-toe, but it’s kind of fun, and I don’t like being so loud in the morning, anyway.
I brush my teeth and wash my face in the clay sink which has an Ohm symbol engraved in it. The water pours from a bamboo spout and into the sink as if it traveled from somewhere even more sacred than here, as if that’s even possible.
I walk past the bed, eyeing it up one more time, almost feeling guilty that I’ve abandoned my previous sleep (or lack thereof) routine, but I keep walking – now using the heels of my feet as I glide through the stages of waking up.
I grab my stack of things that I’ll need for the morning; my laptop, my pouch of electronics, and the newest book I’m reading called Cuban Heels (it’s the first non-self help book I’ve read in years, by the way). All of those things sit neatly on top of each other, a small, tiny tower which I constructed and placed on the shelf by our bed 8 hours ago. I slowly open the door, and the tiniest sliver of deep, muted light permeates through, and I step out, quietly closing the door behind me.
I don’t know how to make the coffee yet – I’m not sure what coffee tools this treehouse is equipped with. Baba, the bald, scrawny French man in 40s (I’m guessing) who owns this house makes it every morning around 6:30, but I haven’t watched him do it. I sort of let him have his space in the kitchen and I join him when he’s completely done setting up.
But, I’ve learned that there’s usually leftover coffee still waiting in dispenser in the kitchen from the day before. So, every morning pre-Baba, I enjoy a cup of day-old splashed with over-priced, over-sweetened almond milk. Honestly, it still tastes good… the industrial sized dispenser (which looks like it’s previous life was spent in a restaurant or a gas station, perhaps) is air-tight — so it’s protected from the staleness and insects of the outside world.
I light a patchouli incense stick and finagle it to stay upright in the stainless steel sink between the metal mesh stopper and the rim of the drain – I figure if the lit stick accidentally falls, it won’t catch anything on fire, but instead just sizzle out.
I wonder if Baba will tell me “you can’t light incense here, it’s dangerous and not everyone enjoys that smell” but I don’t think Baba would do that. He’s too carefree to say things like that. Plus, we’re the only guests here in this mansion and I’ve already verified that Avalon likes incense too. So I light it, secure it, and watch the smoke start to escape into our 4 level patio-porch, filling all sectors; the kitchen, living room, other living room, and other other living room.
I get cozy in the first of four hammocks – it’s the one that faces the jungle the most. It also so happens to face the ocean the most, but that’s not why I chose it. I chose it because of the view into the abundance of trees, making me feel cozy. There are no holes in the knitted patches of lush greens, besides a few other bungalows nestled up high like ours. But yes, the ocean is there too – and it’s beautiful of course, but for me the pleasure is in the ocean’s sound. The crashing waves check my “ocean box.”
I’ve cracked the code on how high to position my back in the hammock in order to support my back and give me the view I crave while also allowing for easy coffee sipping. My left foot acts as an anchor to keep the hammock slightly opened, and my right knee instinctively bends in towards my body. It’s a tricky recipe you know, for Minnesota girl. Lawn chairs aren’t as customizable.
If I put my left hand behind my head as a pillow, I can perfectly see into the trees. Every time I hear a howler monkey, I shift my eyes in its direction as if I’m actually going to see it, even though I know I can’t.
If I remove my hand and let my head lay bare on the rope, I’m now positioned at an angle to watch the rolling clouds. They’re a wet, dark grey and I wonder if it means rain is coming, but I think it’s just because the sun hasn’t yet ruined them by desaturating all of their color, staining them white.
I lay here and sway, being careful not to give myself too much momentum.. I don’t want a lot of motion – just enough to rock myself awake.
I think of un puñado (which means ‘handful’ in Spanish, or at least a variation of that. I learned that while buying avocados last week in the market with Avalon) of things I’m grateful for, read a chapter or three of “Cuban Heels” and sip my little concoction.
Now Baba is here, and even though I haven’t looked up at him, I know he’s smiling with his entire face, brewing a new day’s worth of coffee.
He’s seems to be highly self-aware. He makes sure to say hello after you’ve looked at him, but he won’t speak if you seem to be in a peaceful trance, deep in a book, or on your laptop. He’ll ask if you need anything, but doesn’t pull you into exhausting small talk.
He puts together an entire prep station to accompany the brew; an entire mug of teaspoons, a shaker of sugar, a box of milk (which I don’t have the heart to tell him we won’t drink) and 4 coffee mugs, even though there’s only two of us here. All of that sits next to the over-sized steel dispenser, bubbling with energy.
I glance up at him from my hammock on the “second floor,” we exchange genuine, cheek-hurting smiles, a quick “good morning” and I continue to sway here for a few more minutes, to let him finish up the display, which I sense he enjoys preparing.
I take a few deep breaths and awkwardly escape my cocoon. My feet fully kiss the ceramic tiles now, strong and purposefully, making a deep noise with each step, like my mom does. I used to hate that sound – feet embracing a bare floor – but now I don’t mind it so much.
I join Baba in the kitchen and asks if I have any plans for the day, I say “no – I think I’ll just work and relax here today.” He giggles and says “okay, well, let me know if you need anything” and he heads downstairs to his own personal tower of this castle.
I’m alone again… Avalon will be asleep until 8:30 or so, thanks to her enjoying the night while I, on the other hand, quickly retreat into bed shortly after the sun goes down.
Finally, I refill my mug with fresh hot coffee and sit down at the table to begin work. Oddly enough though, I feel as if I’ve already accomplished so much this morning – and I haven’t even opened my laptop yet.