Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wilder Pictures + Musings: On Untold Stoires, A Beach Shack, And A Rundown Hotel

If I had to live on a beach (you know, if someone really twisted my arm) I would probably want my home to be this shack. At least in my romantic, unrealistic mind I would; in actuality I think I'd like a nice little bungalow with walls, a door, some running water, and a real bed. But I did fall in love with this structure when I saw it on the beach at Half Moon Bay in Antigua. I had brought my camera there to take photos of a deserted, rundown hotel along the shore, but as I walked down the hot, white, velvety sand I came across this shack (more after the jump).

I stood in front of it, amazed at my luck. You see, I have a weakness for dilapidation. Unfinished or decaying objects and buildings interest me more than polished and complete ones. Rough edges and broken pieces tell stories and they let me imagine their pasts, while finished buildings have walls that block out possibilities. A well built, well cared for house doesn't leave much room for interpretation; I see it and assume that it was built by a construction company and that the people who live in it lead predictable lives, lives where they change light bulbs and water the plants.

But take this structure, for example. The thrown together quality of the building, the unfinished-ness of it, made me want to know why it existed there at all. It wouldn't have provided much protection from the elements, especially because the wind blew straight towards the open front. It had pieces of rope hanging down from the palm rafters, a chair with shortened legs, plastic bags hanging from its walls, and a few old shirts tied to it. I saw those things and I started wondering who cut the legs off the chair? What used to be attached to the rope? What was in the plastic bag? And since no one was there to provide me with answers, I imagined.

I imagined that a group of wandering musicians built this to shade them from the sun while they played Calypso songs. I imagined that the chair came from an old resort where someone, in the heat of an argument with their lover, threw it against a wall and the legs snapped off. Or maybe a midget needed somewhere to sit a took a saw to it. Perhaps a sailor's boat sank, he washed up on the shore, and not knowing where else to go, tied together a few fallen palms.

I know that the truth is most likely far less fantastic; local Antiguans probably built the shack to hang out under while they spent time on their favorite beach. But isn't it exciting to guess?

I was also drawn to it because I thought it was just a beautiful structure. The colors of the different ropes that lashed the palms together popped against the dull gray of the dried out leaves, and the similar colors of the sand and grasses melded together so that the building blended into its surroundings. The sun lit the scene with a harsh heat; it gave the shack a creepy edge as it shone down relentlessly.

Ultimately, what I like best about rundown structures and objects is that the truth doesn't really matter at all. I don't want to know what actually happened there in that shack, or why it was there, because the imagining, the mystery of it, that's a gift. Everyone who has seen this has taken away something different, has imagined a separate reason for its existence. It's a blank slate, a canvas for stories. And I think that's truth enough.


And here's the falling apart hotel for which I originally went to Half Moon:


  1. I love the natural elements of the beach shack with the pops of color from the ropes and other adornments. Love these photos!


    1. Thank you so much, Cortnie! It was beautiful there...sigh...

  2. That hut is so awesome! I had a sweedish friend who made the same kind of thing by himself... said he learned it in boy scouts. Crazy, but I WANT ONE TOO.


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