What choice did I have? Although trusting a stranger who I couldn't even communicate with scared me, staying alone on the barren beach scared me even more. I swallowed the lump in my throat, took my sibling's hands in each of my own, and followed the woman's beckoning.
She led us up to a firmly beaten path through the low scrub that fringed the beach. Past the initial mangroves and coconut trees, a little village sat protected. The huts were a haphazard mix with timber frames, coconut mat walls, and some corrugated aluminum roofs shone industrially against the tropical lushness. Here and there, a coconut broom, just a bundle of stripped coconut leaves tied tightly at one end, leaned beside a doorway. Clotheslines were strung among the huts and trees, the clothes dripping and grey now from the recent storm. Tendrils of smoke eased themselves out through the leaf roofs or up from under the eaves of the aluminum ones. Everything was dripping with heavy, overpowering tropical life.
Our guide came to a stop outside a house that was slightly larger than the rest, and unique in that it stood about three feet off the ground on round, thick stilts. I caught a glimpse of some chickens huddled underneath. Another woman was standing in the doorway. Her eyes, which I noticed first, were a warm, kind brown, slanted slightly and almond in shape. Her gently curling hair framed her face softly, and seemed to blur into the dimness behind her. "Hello," she said, smiling, in thickly accented English. "Come."