Despite my desire to remain in the cool of winter, summer is most definitely here and with it comes oppressive heat and incessant sweating. It saddens me to remove and launder the blanket knowing that I will have no use for anything but an occasional sheet for the next few months. Over the last few years, I have begun to dread the summer months and instead look forward to the breezy and relatively cool winter season. At times I long for the kind of weather that requires woolen jumpers and thick socks and to snuggle up under a big blanket (preferably beside a wood burning fire) and watch movies for the entire day. But alas, the sun keeps shining and my desire for a movie day remains, for one cannot be had in glorious sunshine.
The good news: there is a tropical storm brewing so my ultimate day, or at least part of it, may be possible Wednesday. The bad news: there is a tropical storm brewing. Summer for most is a happy, fun time of the year but here in the Caribbean it can be peppered with the most unpleasant things, of which I shall describe to you in my top five summer grievances.
I have again become an avid storm watcher; this phase begins in July and ends in November (hurricane season) and is largely followed through the masterful words of Dr Jeff Masters from the weather site, Weather Underground. An active year for hurricanes is forecast so naturally, we are all a little concerned and in preparation have had our yearly hurricane meeting, stocked up on bottled water and tins of food, and trimmed the very life out of the coconut trees. Then we patiently wait for one to be named whereby we all scramble around the island, tying things up, lashing things down, and trying to remember (for the second year running) how exactly our clever numbering system worked for installing the hurricane fabric. Once everything is securely in place we retreat to our rooms to wait out the storm and deal with the flooding. I have a fantastic house with stunning views, but my walls do not meet my roof so when it rains heavily outside, it rains heavily inside too. A tarpaulin is often useful, as are a never-ending supply of towels.
It’s probably the risk of hurricanes that drives everyone away, as by the end of July the people leave in masses. The resorts, restaurants, and shops begin to close, the charter boats leave, ferries cease to run, and everything becomes eerily quiet. I know for some this is a slice of heaven, but for others (including myself), it feels like we’ve been abandoned by society. For the ease of business I’ve made numerous calls and have compiled a spreadsheet depicting everyone’s closing and reopening dates; from the end of this month the summer looks decidedly bleak.
There are a few months of the year when I personally find it a little too fresh to be swimming in the sea. Right now the temperature is perfect as it still has enough of a nip to make your dip refreshing but has not warmed to the point that you feel as though you’ve stepped into someone else’s tepid bath water. This tends to last for a couple of months and then the waves disappear, the blues and greens of the water become more vibrant, and then the jelly fish arrive – oodles and oodles of them. You wait all year for the wind to cease and leave you with that picture perfect Caribbean water only to find it thick, like won ton soup, with jellies. Of course they are are mostly harmless but with the risk of finding that lone box jelly, the water is positively uninviting.
During my first summer here I began to notice some white spots appearing on my legs and back. Initially I thought this was a somewhat unfair case of early skin damage but in talking to some other expats, I discovered it was a fungus. I went in search of information and a cure and after my trek to town, returned with a special bar of soap, a cream, and a tablet. I had been told that it was sweat related so unfortunately I could do little about the cause. None of the remedies worked and although I have since heard that washing your entire body in head and shoulders helps greatly, I’ve begun to accept that for part of the year I will look like a leopard.
Even Less Fresh Produce
For about the last three months I have scoured all of the supermarkets for brownie mix but to no avail. It would appear that we are in the midst of a brownie drought. With this in mind, you can imagine how dire it will become in the summer when the population decreases to the point where it seems almost pointless to open the grocery store. What then will disappear? Fresh milk, probably bananas, eggs, and anything green and leafy; in fact, it’s probably unwise to get your hopes up about anything that isn’t in a can.
Sigh. At least it’s another beautiful, sunny day in paradise.