Once upon a time, we moved to an island and into an apartment, sight unseen. Our employer had secured it for us through a realtor so that we didn’t have to spend the money on an exploratory apartment-securing trip. It was very nice of him. The apartment was nice and recently renovated. Although it’s important to note, the recent renovations disturbed a giant roach metropolis, who then claimed our kitchen and bathtub as their own. But that’s another story for another time. The apartment also came furnished, which is very common to the Caribbean. A lot of people don’t want to deal with the hassle of shipping furniture or the expense of buying it all at once. That was us six years ago, moving from one furnished apartment to another in yet another island nation.

Unfortunately, most of the furniture was not recently renovated. The back of the couch was stained and mildewed. The refrigerator was rusty on all sides. An enormous entertainment center in the living room (Elephant sized. I’m not lying.) looked like someone had brought it in a few decades previously and then left it there to die. Because who has the energy to move an elephant twice? Fortunately for us, at least the dining table and chairs were brand new. The chairs still had the plastic on the seats. In fact, our landlord told us to leave it there to keep them nice. Have you ever tried to sit on saran-wrapped chairs without splitting open the saran wrap for a year. It takes skillz. With a z.

Our porch was amazing. Except when it was covered in noisy sheep. Again, another story, another time. It was huge and shaded and had sparkly turquoise ocean views dappled with distant emerald islands. We even had a tiny, grassy yard off of the porch. Yards are a little unheard of on this island. Hard to find. Impossible to catch. And if you have one, you hang on to it. Much like unicorns. But a little flat green yard we had, right off of the porch.

porch pic_WWLOR

Do you know what else the porch had? A huge broken china cabinet. Massive. I think it had at one point been amputated off of the elephant-sized entertainment center, carried about five feet out the front door, and then the carriers realized it was too heavy to ever move again. When we moved in, our landlord promised to move it. He said he was giving it to his cousin. He promised to move it a couple of months later. And then again, a month after that. My husband said he’d get a friend and move it, but our landlord said no. It was going to a cousin. Please leave it and he’d get around to it. Then the roaches moved in.

We had finally won the battle of the bathtub and claimed it as our own (which we couldn’t actually use because once we were finally able to draw a bath in it, we discovered there was only enough hot water to fill the first five inches). So the angry roaches moved into the abandoned china cabinet on the porch. A snake moved in once too, but the roaches would have none of that. Then a rat from a neighbor’s garbage pile down the mountain told the roaches to shove off and they listened. Then super giant-sized roaches came to show the rat bully who was boss and took it back.

Four to five months after we had moved in, Seth told our landlord that if his cousin didn’t come and pick it up in two weeks, he would dispose of it himself (well, him and eight friends because that was how many manly hands it would likely take to transport this behemoth). Our landlord promised to move it that weekend. We were actually headed to a nearby island for the weekend to house-sit for some friends. They lived in a million dollar home with a million dollar view and had a posh rugged SUV that could get you anywhere on the island. House-sitting for them was like a free vacation with the bonus of a car and a dog and we couldn’t wait for a weekend of relaxation away from our island. Our landlord said he’d definitely move it Saturday but we needed to call him and remind him. Say around, ummm, 6am? So at 6am Saturday morning, on our mini vacation, Seth set an alarm, woke-up, headed out the porch to find cell phone service, climbed over the third story porch railing, and leaned out to get a few bars to call our landlord, who promised to move it that very minute. Fantastic.

A couple days later, we arrived back at our apartment. The offending piece of furniture was gone, leaving many month’s worth of roach, rat, snake, and lizard droppings in its place. About five feet away, in our little green yard, was a huge circle of charred wood, ash, broken glass, and screws. The pile was still smoking and smoldering. Seth didn’t say a word. He walked in the front door and came back out with our two-weeks-past-Christmas dried out tree, threw it on top, picked up our bags, and walked back inside. The end.

Written By:

Melissa Rogati

Current Rock of Residence:

St. Thomas, USVI

Island Girl Since:

2003

Originally Hails From:

Georgia

Melissa is a St. Thomas, USVI-based 30-something and a 10 year island veteran who can’t endure even the smell of shrimp. It all stems from a childhood experience where a beloved grandfather told the once shrimp-loving four year old that shrimp was “yucky”. Her husband has requested multiple times that she undergo exposure therapy on the issue, but she refuses out of tribute to her grandfather. Melissa started her island adventures on a sparsely populated outer island in the Bahamas before moving further South to the “big city” of St. Thomas a few years later. The early island experience of dependence on a weekly mail boat to bring supplies (and the lack of Target) cultivated a realization that you can make almost anything you need. That means you can regularly find her feasting on fresh baked bread and homemade peanut butter and jam.

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