Matt had procured a fantastic villa for the project. Although not far as the crow flies from Brades, it was round a circuitous road that hugged the contours. Just beyond the sprawling village of St Peter’s you dropped off the main road and round a small estate of widely spaced houses and our compound was right on the waterfront. It was made up of a large house with an enormous open plan living room and kitchen area, and two bedrooms, and a separate smaller house which Matt took. In between them was a huge swimming pool and below all this a large grassy lawn spattered with shrubs and trees leading to a low stone wall. On the far side the land dropped steeply as a huge boulder scree into the gently lapping Caribbean Sea. It was, …yep… idyllic.
We shared the garden with a whole host of iguanas. The green iguana , as in many islands, is a common sight in Montserrat. Here they acted out a veritable soap opera on the lawn. In the early mornings they would start to emerge and find the best basking spots to heat up their blood. Once alert they would look around for food – insects mainly it seemed – but the prime activity for the day would be posturing. They would work on a series of intricate rituals with their cohabitants; standing in a particular position at a particular distance from a rival or potential lover and going through a sequence of stare offs, bobbing movements or tail twitching till one got bored or decided not to chance their arm. I say rival or potential lover – it was impossible for a layman like me to know what the true meaning was, and although I watched mesmerized day after day when I should have been typing up notes of designing databases, it was hard to distinguish between the sexes and even the ages. There were obviously some alpha males around; much larger with craggier head gear and muscular legs and tails, but pursuit of females looked almost the same as fighting off interlopers.
There were battles for high spots in the garden, or just for a scrappy piece of worn out sand on the lawn; there seemed little rhyme nor reason to it. And in fact the actual drama was usually short lived and the rest of the time they just sat on the grass, heads pointing skyward, like tropical garden ornaments. I never knew temperature regulation could be so complicated.