Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to basics

I am having what could be construed as a minor crisis. But I am not letting it become one. It is only a computer after all, stacked full of photos and the writing I have been doing since I moved out to the Caribbean. It has died, kaput, just when I had found a wireless connection from my house.

Technically speaking it is not actually dead. A light flickers when I turn it on, it even makes that celebratory de dah! niose of welcome as the hard drive starts whirring and I wait for the apple to appear on the screen. But it doesn't. Nothing does, the screen remains blank. Until yesterday when there was a moment of hope, the screen glowed, an apple appeared but was sliced from all sides by horizontal bands of colours and greys shooting across the screen, building up on top of each other until they swallowed the apple and just left a screen of flickering pixels which hurt my eyes so I turned it off.

So now I am back in the internet place. My lovely office with a harbour view lies abandoned. I have no tv at home, so internet and laptopless I am really back to basics. I have books, but they are running low. Having read every book with a gold embossed cover on the island, I was overjoyed to discover that Amazon deliver here. I have a consignment of literature to last me a year arriving ( I hope) in a couple of weeks.

It is a basic existance on this island of ours. I have bought nothing but food (and mostly local food at that) since I arrived 6 months ago. This is a girl who shopped for England. Nothing to do on a Saturday, well let's go shopping! I have a wardrobe large enough to clothe a (tall female) army back home. Yet in 6 months here I have bought nothing. And do you know what? I like it. Unecessary shopping is an unimaginable extravegance out here. But what you do have becomes emminantly valuable. You lose or break a watch, or a laptop, or a bikini at home; someone will fix it or you treat yourself to a new one. 'I was fed up of that old thing anyway' you convince yourself and lo and behold another days shopping is legitimately on the cards! If it breaks or disappears on an island like this, that is it, no more and no replacement either until you can get yourself on a plane and back to the world where retail rules.

My laptop will have to lay dormant, until I go to Florida next month to deliver a boat. It is good timing in that respect. I am planning to be doing a fair amount of travelling over these next few months. The Caribbean is hot in the summer, and although I love the heat even I feel disabled sometimes when I emerge from under the shade of a tree and feel my scalded skin sapping the energy from my legs. Yesterday was spent in the sea and the sea alone. The sand on the beach was too hot to walk on so I had to wait until sunset until the soles of my feet could bear to bring my body out of the water. Everything is hot and everyone is hot too. The place is emptying out like an upturned skip, fewer and fewer people grace the streets and the bars. People are leaving, to escape the heat and the poverty of summer. No tourists equals no money for most people here. So they follow the crowds and make money elsewhere until the trickle of sparkling skinned whities begins again in November.

For those that do remain times are tough and tempers run high. Everyone is living off each other. Deals are struck from person to person as there is no one else left to do business with. I swear the same money is just passing around the island, each person taking his cut as it goes. I just hope that it lasts until the season, lasts until the trade winds and the tourists come back to freshen the air and the wallets.

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