Sunday, 26 August 2007

A different birthday

Waking up on my 36th birthday, there were good news and bad news: my suitcase had been on the last flight the day before, so we were happily re-united and Saba was on the outskirts of a tropical storm, come hurricane (those were the bad news).

This was the view from my balcony on my first morning here:

And this was the same view today:

Looking a bit further to the right, this is what I see:

Making my Viking ancestors proud, Denise (colleague and neighbour) and I braved the storm and went to The Bottom. For those of you unfamiliar with Saba, The Bottom is the capital. Yes, I kid you not. I needed to get a cell phone card and since nobody could go diving anyway, it seemed like a good idea - for a while anyway…

As a poor person, who does not have a car, there are two means of transportation on this island: walking or hitch-hiking. On a tropical storm day it's narrowed down to the second option. There is not much road traffic here, but everyone is obliged to give you a lift. So after waiting at the roadside for about 15-20 seconds, we got a ride. And what a ride:

Picture this: big pick-up / small lorry from the good old flower-power days, the driver a construction worker, who seems to have smoked something you cannot buy in any old supermarket. On the very bad stereo, Bob Marley gives all he has - what the stereo and loudspeakers lack in quality they most certainly make up for in volume (not necessarily an advantage though). We drive along the road that could not be built (fascinating piece of Saba history), which is quite a bumpy ride on a road as narrow as a good English country road and more sharp curves and turns than a rally track in Southern France. Our driver seems to think, he might defeat gravity and by driving very fast avoiding the holes and bumps. It doesn't work that way. All I can do is hang on to whatever I can grab and enjoy the spectacular scenery - trying not to think of the 300+ meter drops we are literally centimetres away from. Ppppfffffuuuuiiiii.

We made it to The Bottom against all odds and I got my phone card literally the minute before all power on the island was switched off as a security measure - the power station is at the harbour, which was a dangerous place to be thanks to some very powerful waves. We are, after all, in the middle of the Atlantic here.

To make things slightly more challenging, it started raining. Now, when I say raining, I do mean torrential rain! The road was turned into a river within 10 minutes - and there we were: stuck in The Bottom (of all places) 2-3 very long kilometres away from home (Windwardside). Thankfully, Denise knows someone with a car, who actually came to take us home. We stopped at the hospital, the inside looks of which make for very good motivation to stay healthy!

Anyway, back in Windwardside, Debbie, Denise and I didn't have much choice: no power (also means no water), so we had to go to a place with a generator. Unfortunately, one of the only open places was Scout's, one of our competitors. That's not the bad part. The food was ok, but not great. That's not really an issue either. No, the bad part is: Friday night is karaoke night and I hate karaoke. Never mind, hey… The German couple, who owns the place, alternate singing about 80% of the time. They are about as un-talented as they are enthusiastic ;) I discovered that an evening there can actually be quite entertaining as long as you are in good company (which I was, also met some really nice people) and you make sure that the alcohol level stays quite high at all times. It probably won't be the last time I go there either - simply because it's the nightlife highlight of the week here.

Today (Sunday) was supposed to be my first working day, but it's still not safe to go out in small boats, so we're going out tomorrow. My first day is a guest day: I'll be treated like any other guest and just have to go fun diving. What a way to earn money, hey? Work hours are really civilized here: 7:30 - 16:30, any overtime is paid.

Obviously, I cannot say anything about the diving yet, but it's definitely a very interesting place…

Lotsa xxx

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