Me, My Radiator, and My Day Off

Me, My Radiator, and My Day Off

I was talking to someone recently about how frustrating it is that everything over here is constantly breaking. But then I began to wonder whether things actually did disproportionately break on this rock or whether the truth was that it simply took a disproportionately long time to repair anything, hence giving the impression that everything is constantly breaking.

It’s a double edged sword of gloom and doom.  When something breaks, your first hurdle is that everyone moves in slow motion and tradesmen tend to address most issues “in about a year”. The second hurdle is that “you need a part”.

My car has needed a new radiator for quite some time but I quite simply couldn’t be arsed to deal with it.  So I diligently drove around with a gallon jug of water in the car at all times for topping up.  Sadly, I eventually reached the point that I couldn’t actually complete my 5 minute slide down the hill to work without the radiator completely emptying. I was still in denial until the boys at the dock in the morning starting talking about gaskets blowing and $$$$$$ being spent.  They drove the point home – I had to buy a freaking radiator.

With car repairs here you have three options: they have it in BVI; they have it in the USVI (and will put it on the ferry – a truly exhausting experience); or you have to ship the part in from Miami (which takes so long you have lost the receipt by the time the shipping agent needs it).  Fortunately for me, I drive the car of the islands – a Suzuki – so parts can normally be found over here.  The Rastaman drives a Dodge, which might as well be a spaceship for the teeth sucking and head shaking that goes on when that thing needs a part.

So I got lucky. Not only did they have a radiator over on Tortola, but one of my boys volunteered to pick it up for me.  I felt like a princess.  Add to this the fact that my next-door neighbour is one of the best mechanics on the island and he volunteered to fit the bloody thing. For the first time in many months, I felt like a winner.

The radiator was duly delivered to my house by my boy.  The Rastaman duly opened it.  So near, yet so far…..  a beautiful radiator without a radiator cap – ergo, totally freaking useless.

How long could it possibly take to buy a radiator cap on a Saturday, you ask?  Nine hours, my friend. NINE HOURS for a $13 cap.

From previous experience, I decided that the safest thing to do was to take the radiator with me to ensure that by the end of the day I had the right cap.  So the radiator and I left home at about 9 am and spent about an hour on the corner trying to hitch a ride.  We made it to the car parts shop at the other end of the island, only to discover that it is closed on Saturdays. The helpful man that I hitched a ride with told me that he assumed I knew that the shop was closed on Saturdays and that I had other reasons for carrying a car radiator to this destination.  Arsehole!  This detour meant that I missed the ferry to Tortola.  So, at 10:15 am, I cracked my first Heineken.  Bring it on.  If this is the way this day is going, I’m going through it half-cut.

By 12:15 pm (only three and a quarter hours since I left home), I arrived at the car shop on the next island that had sold my boy the radiator.

Me: “My boy bought this radiator yesterday but it doesn’t have a cap.”

Salesman: “Of course it doesn’t have a cap. New radiators never come with caps.”

Sweet baby Jesus.  I am not sure if I was more annoyed with radiator maunfacturers for selling their products without the only vital part or with this charming assistant who had failed to share his in-house knowledge when we bought the radiator in the first place. Would it not be helpful to have a large sign on the box like “batteries not included”, as they do for kids toys? Men/Kids, Cars/Toys, you get me?!

Approximately one minute later, I am the proud owner of a natty cap for my radiator.

Now, because I am a self-confessed idiot, I thought I should try to make this pointless morning more worthwhile by squeezing in a much needed haircut.  I figured the next ferry was at 2:30 pm, so I had enough time. Sadly, the hairdresser was fully booked – it was Saturday afterall.  So I mooched off to the nearest bar and hit the liquor to drown the sorrows of my pointless day off.  I drank another Heineken, a couple glasses of wine, a piña colada, and a shot of cinnamon whiskey. I felt a bit ill.

Suddenly alarmed by the time, I staggered/ran to the ferry dock, clutching my now very cumbersome radiator and was delighted to find that I had arrived ahead of time. Yet 2:30 pm came and went with no ferry in sight. I had an overwhelming desire to sleep now or simply lie down and possibly pass out.  I mustered the energy to enquire as to the whereabouts of the 2:30 pm ferry.  It transpires that the 2:30 pm ferry is a figment of my imagination. I was now looking down the barrel of a two hour wait for the 4:30 pm boat.

I sat under the pathetic shade of a dying tree and felt the sun burning my pasty white skin with the knowledge that my lunchtime hangover was in the post, guaranteed delivery before nightfall.

When I finally made it back to my island, some poor blind man who couldn’t swim managed to step off the ferry into the gap between the ferry and dock.  The ferry workers reacted as if someone had dropped a piece a paper. The next man to disembark reacted like a normal human and dove into the water after him.  I, on the other hand, could only focus on one thing – HOME. I was half-cut, sweaty, dirty, sunburnt, and clutching an uncomfortably large box.

I hiked up the road and waited at the prime hitch-hiking corner. The wind blew my radiator into the road.  I left it there.  I figured I would pick it up when I got a ride.  I finally arrived at home after 6:00 pm.

The Rastaman was sinking a cold one on the porch.

“Hello, Princess.  Have you had a nice day off?”

Privacy Please

Privacy Please

For the last 5 years, I’ve been living in a hotel. My boyfriend, David, manages the resort, which is why we’ve lived on-property in one of the rooms all these years. It’s a very small island resort with only 8 guest rooms, a restaurant/bar, and a marina downstairs. And while it’s a lovely spot and the two-bedroom villa we reside in is quite cozy, it’s not as flashy as it sounds.

SR rooms pic_WWLOR

Most people become visibly envious when they hear I live at a resort. I can see in their widening eyes exactly what they’re picturing – a never-ending, luxurious tropical vacation which is somehow fortuitously my everyday life. This assumption is not entirely untrue (I can get room service whenever I don’t want to cook, which is often), but there are plenty of undesirable quirks to deal with as well that people don’t really realize when they’ve never called a hotel “home”.

My main grievance is the lack of privacy. When we step outside our door, we are in a public space (even worse for David – he is at his work). I’m not a very social person, so this has been particularly challenging for me. Sometimes I just really need some peace and quiet, but when you’re surrounded by drunken vacationers and unsupervised, shrieking children, peace is rare to come by. We try to regard our villa as our small patch of privacy, but the tourists have other ideas.

Much like their stubborn, water-rejecting equine counterparts, you can post a sign for a tourist but you can’t make them obey it. The “Hotel Guests Only” plaques in front of our rooms seem to be interpreted as more of a suggestion rather than a rule. Tourists visiting our restaurant/bar frequently wander into our hotel rooms, usually whenever a door is open while the housekeeper is cleaning. I used to enjoy having my own door open to allow in some breeze while I worked, but after too many instances of intruding tourists on their own self-led tour, I’ve had to forgo the breeze.

This seems to be just another case of the Paradise Induced Mental Relapse I have referenced in earlier posts. Nowhere else in the world have I experienced random people strolling into my hotel room. But here, I’ll be sitting at my desk and in come three couples, cocktails in-hand, flinging open my door and marching into my living room, saying all sing-songy, “Don’t mind us, we just want to see what the rooms look like.” Actually you fools, I DO mind. Even if this was just my hotel room and not my private residence, I still don’t give a shit if you want to see what the rooms look like. Ask to see a VACANT room. This one is occupied.

After the most recent obnoxious invasion of my privacy just yesterday, I figured I’d share a couple of examples of the less-than-charming side of island hotel room living:

EXHIBIT A

I am working on the computer when I hear loud Spanish chattering and the banging of keys trying to be forced into my door’s keyhole. I get up to open the door and am faced with two 30-something Puerto Rican women who do not say, “Oops, excuse us” but rather, immediately become red with anger and shout, “What are you doing in OUR room?!”

I swallow my own rising aggravation and inform them as politely as I can muster that it is 100% impossible that this is their room. I ask which room they were assigned at Registration but instead of replying, the larger of the two ladies attempts to move past me, body-checking me with her over-sized bedazzled beach bag. Now they are storming into my home, telling me it is, in fact, their room (how could I be so stupid?). I have now officially moved past asking and demand to see their room key. Sure enough (I’m not that stupid!), it is for the room named “Bequia” and not my room, which is named “St. Barths”. I coerce them back out the door, point out the name discrepancy between the room placard and their engraved room key, speculate that perhaps this was why their key wasn’t fitting into my door’s lock, and point them in the direction of their (yes, THEIR) guest room. They mutter something in Spanish I am certain is not an apology.

EXHIBIT B

Our bedroom wall is shared with the guest room beside us. There is a group of 6 adults who have weaseled their way into sharing a room whose max occupancy is 4. It is 2 am and they have returned from the bar, sloppy drunk, and are playing loud country music and arguing with each other in slurred Southern drawls. While I am typically a deep sleeper, I am unable to ignore the ruckus and lay fuming in bed, making futile attempts to calm myself with breathing exercises.

Suddenly, the screaming and crying is on our patio and the sliding glass door to our bedroom is flung open. A naked woman is now entering our room, apparently thinking it is her room. This is where I lose it.

I am yelling (because it is the only way to reason with drunk people and it is 2 am), “This is not your room, GET OUT!” The buck-naked woman and her half-naked friend remain on our patio arguing. While this drunk ass woman somehow managed to crawl across the roof from her patio to ours, like a cat up a tree, she cannot get herself back where she belongs. We are forced to walk the nude women through our bedroom, across our living room and kitchen, out our front door, and lead them back to their room.

For some reason, David is not as upset about this as I am.

EXHIBIT C

Just yesterday, I am taking a midday nap on the couch and am awakened by crinkling sounds. I look up to find a woman in my room, rifling through my purse on the kitchen table. Still foggy from sleep, all I can muster is a stunned, “What the HELL are you doing?!”

She is old, leathery, and British. She looks at me, continues to fumble through my belongings, and says, “I’m just looking at the rooms.” I am forced to get up, physically remove her hands from my bag, and lead her out of my home. This bat-shit crazy woman had not only opened my closed door to enter my room, but had closed it behind her, presumably, for privacy. I explain to her that: a) my purse is not a part of “the room”; b) she better not have stolen anything and I’m calling the manager now; and c) if she ever wants to tour the rooms at ANY hotel in the future, she needs to do so with a hotel employee.

~

I have got to start locking my door. Or, you know, move.

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