Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

Ch ch ch ch changes

The other day someone asked me if I thought living in the islands had changed me. As a result, I have pondered the philosophical answer to that question. But that’s hard. I’m a scientist at heart so without a control group (i.e. some part of me that hasn’t been living in the islands), how can I possibly know how I might have naturally changed under any other environmental circumstances. Surely, everyone must experience a normal metamorphosis over time or at least I hope that I would. Maybe not. In my case, however, I do believe that I am changed in many intangible ways that I will try to touch on in future posts. Today, however, I have been prompted to focus on a very tangible difference in my life/lifestyle. (And as a nod to a friend who keeps asking me to include more photos, I will.)

What brought me back to this topic this morning was the fact that I had to register one of our two cars. First, we have never been drawn to buying new cars. In fact we’ve only done so twice. We’ve also never been the types to sell our cars every few years. But the cars I own here have long outlived the 9  year old Chevy Monza we drove cross-country when I moved from Pennsylvania to California back in 1985 and the 10 year old Mitsubishi Eclipse we sold when me moved to Anguilla.  Today, our good car is a 13 year old Subaru Outback, but it was our backup ‘beater’ car that I had to register today. That car is a two-door Suzuki Vitara jeep that we bought used when we first arrived on island. We chose the model because at that time those cars were the workhorse rental cars on island. We figured that due to their popularity they would be reliable and repairable.

And while I have no doubt that we overpaid for the car at the time, it has been exactly that even if we haven’t always repaired everything. The air-conditioner died years ago. The radio died as well. In spite of replacing one of the electrical mechanisms, the windows barely go up and down and even then only with assistance. The driver’s side door slowly came completely unhinged, held for a while with welding, but ultimately gave up the ghost so we had to find a replacement door at a scrap yard in SXM. The new door is still a little wobbly but is holding. We just don’t have a key for the lock.

In the meantime, water got into the car even when we bothered to force the windows up so the seats have rotted away in places with a pillow filling in the biggest hole. I jerry rigged the rusted and broken seat adjustment under the driver’s seat so we can still both drive the car. But I ‘m just not motivated enough to get the back of the passenger’s seat to hold a position at all. So it’s permanently flexed, if you will. Meanwhile, the floor boards are rusting through so that soon we will be able to assist momentum by dropping our feet through to the pavement ala Fred Flintstone.

It still runs, though. It pretty much always has. And amazingly enough it still has value. People often ask us if they can buy it – the last inquiry coming just a few weeks ago from a guy who apparently wants the engine. The problem is that our good car does occasionally have trouble. And keeping the jeep as a backup is cheaper than renting a car when needed. So we keep it. And it passed its inspection this morning with flying colors. Of course the inspection amounts to honking the horn, flashing the lights and proving the brakes work. Luckily it’s not a beauty pageant though the inspector guessed that the jeep was 14 years old when it fact it is 19. Yes, 19 years old and 210,000km in a brutal environment where it lives a sadly neglected life.

Has living in the islands changed me? For now, I’ll say that it certainly has changed my cars. As evidence of that I offer the following photos: of the last car I purchased in the States (my lifelong dream car) and of my little jeep (that was coincidentally born at about the same time the first photo was taken).

car then car now

Yes, that’s me. Many, many years ago.

I did NOT include a photo of me next to the jeep today….in my raggedy old sundress with my hair in a ponytail and wearing nearly no makeup. I’ll only go so far to make a point.

Let’s just say that while the dashboard of that jeep has somehow managed to survive all these years here without a single crack, I haven’t been quite that lucky.



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