Be Warned – The Island Wants You Dead

Caribbean islands are beautiful. Inspiring. Breathtaking. But all of that becomes secondary and quickly fades away when you realize one thing: they want to kill you. Yes, you heard me correctly. The islands are out to get you. Hurricanes. Mudslides. Flash floods. Sharks. Tropical diseases. High surf advisories. It’s like looming death wrapped up with a sparkly 82-degree-and-breezy bow. Last summer, our island attacked us with dual force. Here’s how it went down…

After some lovely time spent outdoors enjoying the beauty that is the Caribbean, my husband, Seth, got hit hard with dengue fever. It’s one of those wonderfully fun tropical diseases passed on by mosquitoes that ranges from “Hate-your-Life-and-the-Fact-that-you’re-Alive-for-a-Week” to “Kill You” levels. Fortunately, the strain he caught was in the former category.

Dengue hits you with a whole firestorm of symptoms that you never realized could go together. It’s basically every terrible thing about the full-blown flu, plus,on top of that, everything hurts – your bones, your back, even your eyes. Don’t try to look side to side without turning your head. Trust me. Oh, how your eyes hurt. Oh, yeah – and there’s a rash. A full-body red, itchy rash. Then there’s vomiting, dehydration, and the inability to keep food down. All from a mosquito bite. And if you think you have dengue, whatever you do, do not take ibuprofen no matter how much your cramping and aching muscles call out for relief. There is some bizarre stuff going on inside of you right now and ibuprofen can apparently make your red blood cells explode or something similarly scientific. Take Tylenol. That’s it. Tylenol and sleep until it all goes away.

So here I am, home on a summer day and Seth is fortunately in the middle of a marathon nap back in the bedroom. Falling asleep isn’t easy when you have dengue because you’re in so much pain, so the relief of sleeping and not feeling that pain for a few hours is glorious. And that’s when it happened. My internal monologue went something like this:

What is that? A truck?

That’s a really loud truck.

Why hasn’t it passed by yet?

Wait – is this an earthquake?

Crap, it’s an earthquake.

Wow, it’s still going.

This is a really long one.

Maybe I should go outside.

Yeah, I’m going to go outside now.


– *Stops*  halfway between the living room and front door –


Wait…do I wake Seth up?

Our house could slide down the side of the mountain and he’d die.

But – he’s finally napping and getting some dengue relief.

If he’s still napping through this, then that means he’s really out.

Which is more likely to kill him – the earthquake or the dengue?


And then it stopped.

Yep, that’s me. Emergency responder to the rescue.

In actuality, we get earthquakes here pretty regularly. In fact, there were three in quick succession just this morning. Usually you barely notice them, or don’t even feel them at all. Sometimes they’re bad enough to loosen rocks that fall down the mountain onto the road. The one we got during Seth’s bout with dengue was the longest enduring earthquake that I’ve ever experienced here. Obviously, long enough for me to have an entire conversation in my head. Yet what it all boiled down to for me was – which was going to inflict the most pain and suffering on Seth? I went with the dengue (or “The Dengus” as a friend’s child calls it).

In the earthquake vs. Dengue Fever scenario, I was right. Me – 1, Island – 0. But it’s just a matter of time. This island has it out for us, I’m sure of it. For you. For everyone. Throwing death blows at every turn. I mean, beauty without adventure is pretty boring, don’t you think? Where’s the fun in that?

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7 thoughts on “Be Warned – The Island Wants You Dead

  1. Good writing! Made us laugh and brought back very similar memories of our time on Virgin Gorda. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Yes each day I awake I wonder what new thing life will have in store for me living on an island in a 7th world country tryian earthquake here, although not normal and or frequent to be a 3rd world country. But driving in rush hour traffic back a nd forth to work…is that any safer then island life? My son says this island I live on sucks the life out of you. Yes it does but how one decides to deal with it makes the difference in life. Eat healthy, get 8 hrs of sleep, smile and appreciate the beauty of the island and the people of the island .

  3. What’s fun is Dengue after a hurricane…when you have no electricity, running water…ice (I got it after hurricane Marilyn in 1995). Fortunately, it was a mild case of head exploding behind the eyes, achy joints and high fever. It only lasted 6 days, because I willed it to end before the 10th day when I stepped on the plane back to civilization…I mean electricity, America. LOL

    • But on the big scale of things… Anna, How many times have you been stricken with Dengue, and in your family? And you all were born on St.Thomas… I was a transplant at age 5, and never had it, as i believe that none of my siblings or parents either. My mother was very careful about standing, brackish, and even the covers for the overflow on our cistern.
      Tremblers, as I use to call the mini earthquakes, were seldom felt. But you must remember the history of our rock, and other Caribbean Islands. They were created by volcanos, look down islands to see the ones that rumble louder, and even blow occasionally.
      Yes, you are one of the lucky ones that are able to live in Paradise… some of us that have left, still have the desire to return. But it is not the Island that wants you dead, it’s just circumstances.
      Be proactive, and if you see a tire close by, note that inside it probably has a rim full of stagnent water, dump it out and throw the tire away. Get involved with a ‘Clean Up our Island’ project that will rid the standing water.
      Wish I was there to help!
      Carrie Ann

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