Reliable transportation can be a challenge when living on a rock. On our island, there’s no public transport and we only have “bush mechanics” to fix our vehicles when something goes wrong. In choosing an island vehicle, a truck is great because you can throw all of your island toys in the back, from bikes to paddle-boards. Our truck is both an essential part of our life here, and the bane of our island existence.

 

Our Island Truck. It looks okay from this angle – just don’t zoom in!

 

My family and I own a Ford F150, and it’s pretty beaten-up. I’m talking island beaten-up, not just regular beaten-up. My daughters HATE being driven in it and long for a regular car that isn’t “embarrassing.” It went past cool rough-and-ready a long time ago. This is to be expected, considering what it’s been through: Hurricane Sandy, potholes, off-road exploring, and carrying building supplies, to name a few. So I guess it’s fair enough. The duty on importing a truck is about 85%, plus shipping, so by the time it arrives on the island, you’re doubling the cost of anything purchased in the US. Therefore, we are making do until it finally conks out!

Here are some of our truck’s current issues:

 

– 1 –

The rear hatch door of the truck bed is long gone. Most people cover the back with wood, but my husband has decided to leave it open so he can fit in dump finds of any size. What this actually means is that anything important (i.e. our luggage and shopping), falls out the back whenever we go up a hill.

 

– 2 –

There’s no A.C.

 

– 3 –

The power steering has gone. My husband says he views it as a free work out. “I can’t turn!” I screamed, the last time I tried to drive it. I slammed on the brakes (to be honest, you have to slam them to stop anyway) and we quickly switched seats. Actually, I must admit… his biceps are looking pretty good considering the amount of exercise he’s doing, so he might be onto something here.

 

– 4 –

It is has so many noises that we’ve given up trying to figure out what each rattle or squeak might mean.

 

– 5 –

It attracts a lot of wildlife. We have a steady flow of ants, no doubt attracted by the endless supply of uneaten snacks. Various wasps and hornets fly in through the open windows, straight into the back where our girls sit, triggering high-pitched screams. If my husband forgets to wind up his window at night (I don’t forget; I know what’s out there), then the cab is filled with mosquitoes and occasionally cat pee (the front seat is a cozy bed for a stray) in the morning.

 

– 6 –

It has a perpetual row of soda cans along the driver’s side dashboard. My husband either has a soda addiction or a problem with throwing things away. I’m never sure which, but I suspect a bit of both.

 

The dashboard: useful extra storage

 

– 7 –

The seats are filthy. My friend foolishly wore white shorts on a trip with us. I notice now that she always opts for black.

 

– 8 –

The floor is covered with coins and sand. We use the truck to go on beach adventures and don’t worry about washing or brushing the sand off. My husband can’t be bothered with change, so it is dumped on the seat beside him and eventually falls onto the floor. We could likely afford a family meal if we could be bothered to collect it all!

 

– 9 –

The headlights don’t work. To get the truck a pass on the last inspection, the mechanic suggested switching on the main beams instead of fixing them. We now can’t drive at night, which is fine as it’s summer, but will be a problem when the clocks go back. If it’s still running then.

 

– 10 –

There’s no way to play music. Ok, fine – there’s a place to play cassettes. Say no more. And there are no radio stations. We might be able to pick up some from Nassau… that is, if the antenna hadn’t snapped off.

 

 

I’d love to say that despite all this, deep down we really love our truck, but I’m always secretly hoping this break down will be the last one. Then we’d be forced to buy something a little more comfortable. Yet it just keeps on gasping back to life. I’m sure when it does make that final trip to the dump, I might feel a little pang for all the memories it holds. However, I’ll also have a wishlist running through my head for the next one: rear cab doors that actually open, power steering so that I can actually drive it, and A.C. (okay, that might be a little too wishful….).

 

 

It’s seen better days, but at least it gets us to places like this, I guess.

 

–   –   –

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your island vehicle too?

Written By:

Cate Armstrong

Current Rock of Residence:

Harbour Island, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

Island Girl Since:

2006

Originally Hails From:

The UK

Cate could barely pronounce Eleuthera when her husband got a teaching job there in 2005. Back then, there was hardly anything about it online, but from looking at a map, they figured that on the long thin island you could always either snorkel, windsurf, or surf. It seemed too good to be true. It wasn’t. And here they are today. Cate runs a small school on Harbour Island, a little rock just off the bigger rock of Eleuthera.

Now that she has two daughters, her priorities are less about her surfing and more about how to get her two daughters surfing… so she can surf more again. She also paints, paddleboards, runs, cycles, and likes to go on family trips in their little Boston Whaler, roasting marshmallows and floating about in various shaped inflatables.

They spend their weekends and vacations in their holiday house on Eleuthera, which her husband built on his year (or three) off from teaching.

Now her husband has accepted another teaching job that is going to take their family to another rock in a few months – Tortola. She’s enjoying the last weeks on the place that has been home for the last few years and is looking forward to new experiences on her new rock.

For more on Cate’s island life, check out her blog, Notes From My Hammock.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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