Thursday, December 11, 2008

It began to get uncomfortable

We all have different comfort levels, but I think I have found an outlying

First, let me say that there is an outbreak of Dengue fever in the tropics,
and St Martin, while not affected the most, is not the least affected
either. It has been interesting to see how people react, both those visiting
me and those who live here. Those who live here are barely aware of it, and
if you bring it up, they are dismissive. I don't know if that is under the
direct orders of the Tourism Cabinet, but I think it is just a higher level
of comfort with uncertainty. Plus, you must remember that these are French
people with their Joi de vive and fatalism. They all smoke, what is the
threat of a fever to them?

My American friends are much more concerned, perhaps because it is
unfamiliar. No one has chosen to cancel or postpone their visit, but they
are concerned.

But I think the highest threshold for discomfort came when talking to
Michael, Ursula and Bernard about their cruising history.

Michael is near the very hard core of the cruising world. Michael moved to
Thailand in the early 80s and returned to Germany only to visit family and
to attempt to convince Ursula to join him in his bamboo hut. He was only
able convince her to come when he was able to offer the relative comfort of
the open boat that he bought there. He described it as the kind of boat
"Like on the James Bond movie"; not the mega yacht, but the open boat with
the engine high on the transom and a propeller way back at the end of a long
shaft. It had 10 cm of freeboard (distance from water to gunnel)in the back,
and yet they lived on it and traveled from island to island. Michael did
admit that it had some drawbacks, like the open sores that you would develop
after a long passage exposed to the elements, lack of a galley, head, etc.

But it took more that that to drive him from his boat and his chosen
lifestyle. When the Heroin trade really invaded the area, it became a feudal
society with very rude boys wandering around terrorizing folks with
automatic weapons.

"When they confront you, loose your pride. You just look down at the ground,
give them whatever they ask, and very, very slowly pull up you anchor and
slip away. There is usually one or two really aggressive in their number,
and one or two more moderate. When the moderate one speaks up you can start
to crawl away. After the third time I woke up with a gun to my head, it
began to get uncomfortable".

I don't think he was trying to be funny.