Day Nineteen of Writing 101: Don’t Stop the Rockin’

Just write–at 400 words, no stopping, no self-editing, no going back and making changes. Just write.

It has been a rough week. Not that any recent weeks have been good, but this one seems especially rough, and I think it’s because my husband has a lot of time on his hands during this between-term period.

We live in Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin (the other side being French).  The island is part of the few tiny islands that literally have one edge on the Atlantic Ocean while the rest of the island luxuriates in the Caribbean Sea.  That makes for interesting seasons, and a turn-around in vacation “high season” from what one would expect back home in the States.  High Season lasts from about mid-November, just before American Thanksgiving, and lasts until the very beginning of May, when it begins to get unbearably hot and humid.  Soon the hurricane warnings will start, everyone will be storing bottled water and cans of food that can be eaten cold or heated on a propane/charcoal grill.  Freezers get cleaned out of anything left over from last year, tinned and bottled goods get donated to food drives (as long as the expiry date hasn’t been reached), items outside that can be blown away in high winds are secured or placed in such a way that they can easily be carried away.  Big bowls, plastic wash basins, any other containers that can catch drips from water finding its way through the roofing tiles are set up within easy reach.  Fresh or bigger cold chests are purchased, in the event of days-long power outages, etc.

I have a four-wheel drive ancient SUV that we purchased two years ago when we moved here, and that tank can get me through a lot of water, sand, and mud–but only if I have my back passenger door fixed and the door handle replaced.  Tourists drive these dinky little Hundais (the cheap Korean version of a Honda) that get excellent mileage but drown in the flooding waters of the storms and hurricanes we get.  My island car, although beat up and rather scraggly looking, has a high motor and battery, so I’m good unless the car gets blown away.  Since you can’t get an older vehicle insured for damages to your own vehicle, I’m glad my old X-Trail is heavy enough to stay put.

This is the only island I’ve ever lived on, and it took some getting used to.  I had to learn that many stores are closed on Sundays, that gas stations are open only until about six in the evening, that grocery stores shut down at 7:00 PM Monday through Saturday, but are only open until 2:00 PM on Sundays.  The little bodegas are usually open until about 9:00, but have been known to shut down earlier if there have been no customers for more than an hour.  But that’s on the Dutch side.  On the French side, grocery stores are open on Sunday until at least 7:00, but the bodegas close at six or so. And when all stores are closed on the Dutch side because of a legal holiday, everyone who can runs over to the French side where, right now, most places are taking an even exchange on Euro versus US Dollar.  Funny how most of the Dutch economy here prefers American dollars to their local currency, called Gilders, and is based on the pre-European Common Market exchange of Euros.  It’s different here, and I have yet to find a place similar to a K-mart or Walmart that carries everything.  Shops here specialize; and I had to learn the hard way that you can’t buy certain health-related items in the grocery store–they’re limited to pharmacies or beauty supply shops, depending on what they are.

Sint Maarten is pretty much the last island in the Caribbean to hold its Carnival.  Ours started a little more than a week ago, and will continue until early next week.  Tomorrow, on the celebration of the (Dutch) Queen’s birthday, there is a parade that begins at 7:00 AM, and continues to about 4:30 PM.  According to today’s newspaper, major roads into and out of Philipsburg–the seat of government and home of all major businesses–will be shut down at various times.  The streets were all named, but some of the street names are not the same as those found on the latest island maps.  To me, that means that Philipsburg is literally under Carnival siege until sometime around sunset.  People who grew up here light up when they talk about Carnival, despite the lack of safety in recent years–gangs, robberies at gun-point, fights with opportunistic weapons such as your standard switchblade and make-shift weapons made by breaking a bottle’s bottom off so that it becomes a weapon much more frightening than any knife.  So, as older folk, we have chosen not to participate much in Carnival activities because our “safety senses” are not what they used to be, and our reaction time has slowed.

Now here is my problem.  I think I’ve shared that I am starting a new home-based business, basically a watered down and maybe  better organized version of Amway.  The company is Ardyss International, and it is based on direct to consumer sales and on establishing a community of sellers beneath you.  So when is my kick-off?  You guessed it.  Tomorrow(Thursday) late afternoon, at the precise time that access out of Philipsburg, which sits in the center of the southern part of the island, is shut down.  And I am on the western-most coast of the island, just a kilometer or two from the French border.  (sigh)  But my sponsor thinks it will be fine, and there will be lots of opportunities to host more fun and business events to introduce products that slim, nurture the body, and ease the effects of the equatorial sun on skin.  So in the morning, I will run out to purchase some more frozen heat-em-up appetizers (mostly vegetarian, as I am expecting several Indian guests who do not eat meat–except chicken and fish) and some wine and soft beverages.  And ice.  I’m going to need lots of ice, even if it ends up melting in the cooler.  At least the lure of a pool-side evening (bring your own towel and wear your bathing suit) may help get people here.  We’ll see.

I’m sorry that a major “free pro membership” will unlikely be sold, but the interest in the products that reduce your body by 2 to 3 dress sizes is of interest ot a few people, while others are interested in the support features of several garments.  The fact that these latter can serve us aging Boomers without the bulk of some of the medical store garments , and that there are styles for men as well as women, is a major reason why I took my sponsor’s challenge.  And worst case scenario, I’ll finally learn something about the business side of things, especially the leadership aspects.  But I’m still nervous about a kick-off on a day that is both a major holiday (remember? Queen’s birthday?) and the Grand Carnival close-all-the-roads Parade.

Since I’ve already reached more than 1180 words, not counting the title, I’ll leave this post as it stands–with me experiencing a major sleepless night as I type at 3:30 AM, and will probably do something dumb like try drawing one of the figures my drawing teacher sent me home with, just to become a bit more comfortable and (hopefully) sleepy.  I mean, all my pain relief and muscle-relaxing meds are taken at night.  The pain reliever is a mix of some form of narcotic and over-the-counter pain reliever that I can’t take during the day because I would get nothing done, but that obviously also doesn’t put me to sleep. Maybe a few more cups of Sleepy Time tea will help…

If you got this far, please post a comment to let me know you read all the way through.  This is the most boring post I’ve written to date, and if you are still either reading or awake at this juncture, just say something like “reached the end.”

And thanks for your patience with this somewhat stream of consciousness assignment.  Remember, “reached the end.”

About DrEMiller

Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Home: Sint Maarten. K-12 teacher for 13 years (Special Education for 10 years); Post-secondary educator since 2002; Education consulting since 1995. When teaching, held teaching certificates in K-12 special education, reading specialist; and secondary social studies. Doctorate: Educational Psychology Programmer/analyst for 10 years, including project management and training of corporate execs.
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1 Response to Day Nineteen of Writing 101: Don’t Stop the Rockin’

  1. Actually, I found this very interesting. I’ve never lived on an island. I lived in the NYC part that is connected to Long Island, but it’s always been a dream to be able to live in a tropical environment. A friend lived on one of the Islands out there in the Caribbean for a couple of years back in the ’70s so I was able to get a sense of what it would be like.

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