|Spending two weeks in Canada in February made me appreciate our winter paradise that much more.
"How can you stand to go to Canada in the winter?" many of my friends from Roatan ask. I am always happy to see my family and two weeks of ice, cold and snow is good medicine.
I am very thankful to have escaped the Great White North for the past 8 winters. March is THE perfect time of year here on the island. The rainy season is over. The hot weather hasn't quite arrived - well except for the odd day here and there. Mostly, it's absolutely perfect, sunny and warm with refreshing trade winds blowing from the east.
Our boating pals from Lake Simcoe, Deb and John, are coming to visit from March 10th-20th. We are thrilled. My John introduced me to the boating life and his group of boating pals back in 2001, the summer before we were married. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, as we rafted up with all these fun people. We had our very own Redneck Yacht Club - sharing dinners, breakfasts, fishing, music and a few libations out there on our old home lake.
John and Deb visited us for ten days on Diamond Lil in 2005. They flew to Ft. Myers and joined us aboard Diamond Lil at the Burnt Store Marina. From there, we traveled to Little Marco Island, where we anchored for the night. The next day we cruised to Marathon. We spent the rest of their holiday in the keys, including New Year's Eve in Key West - what a great night we had!
A few of us dreamed the dream - of leaving the winters behind and travelling south on our boats. Our dream came true. So did John and Deb's. They too sold their home in Keswick, Ontario. They searched for the perfect boat and found Sweet Surrender.
We are very excited to have Deb and John come to visit. They are considering investing in property on the island, so we will enjoy showing them around. It's the social season here and so far we have two boat trips and one amazing party booked.
A week ago Saturday, after shopping down island, we drove up to Las Sirenas, a restaurant/bar in Camp Bay, for the afternoon. We ran into our friend, Martina, who invited us to a dinner party at her east island resort, Lost Moose Lodge. We had a wonderful night and arrived home late. When I opened the fridge to put away our groceries, I knew trouble had come knocking. A sense of deja vu overcame me, as I walked down to my office to put the groceries in the fridge down there. The next day, Captain Fix-It went to work, but alas, the fridge was no more. It was a Norcold fridge - which we had shipped to Bimini from Miami back in 2006. Boaters refer to them as Nevercold and it never was.
Rather than pay $1400.00 plus several hundred dollars to ship another Nevercold fridge to the island, we decided to shop for a regular house fridge. However, it had to fit into the opening above our diesel tank and below the electronics for the lower helm station. John went off down island, with his measurements and tape measure.
He returned with the verdict - there was only one non-white fridge on the island that would fit in the opening and three different stores carried it, all at different prices.
Not than we're prejudiced but our stove and microwave are black and stainless, so white was out of the question. The fridge available was pewter - or grey. I went along on the next trip, and haggled with the sales clerk, who gave me another 1,000 lempiras ($50.00) off the price.
Shopping on the island is sort of like swimming upstream. We asked the sales clerk if she had another fridge, in a box. We didn't want the floor model, since we had to transport it along bumpy roads in the back of our pickup truck, and then put it into our skiff from a dock, take it back out and get it from our dock into Diamond Lil.
"We have no system," the clerk whined. Why would they? The store has only been open a couple of months.
"Come here," she yelled, from behind a computer desk. I thought she was calling the male clerk to go get the fridge.
"I think she means you," said John. Yes, sure enough, she had called to me - the customer - in that irritated fashion. At this point, I felt like walking out, but I knew that the other stores will be just as bad.
I sat down across from her while she fumbled around on the computer, huffing and puffing.
"Wait here," she barked, as she went off in search of help.
Like Hell, I thought, and I got up and browsed around the store for a while. Finally, she returned, and managed to input the information into her computer. She printed me an invoice and said, "Go over there." No please, no ma'am - wow.
It's not like Canada or the US, where you just pay cash at the check out. Oh no. After she makes the invoice, you take it to a caja, or cashier. Apparently, they don't trust the staff with cash.
The girl at the caja fumbled around for a while, and finally printed another invoice. She removed it and stared at it for the longest time, as if it was her graduation certificate or something. Perhaps it's the first invoice she ever printed. After she stared at it for a while, she found something she didn't like and proceeded to print another. Finally, I paid her the cash - in US dollars. That totally confused her and it took a while longer to get our change.
You'd think during all this, they would have sent for the fridge to be brought from inventory. OH no. Not here. At this point they called for someone to get the fridge. John sensed my annoyance and said he'd wait for the fridge while I walked up the street to buy a big pot for my newest plant. Good call. By the time I returned, the fridge was in the back of the truck, ready to go.
After a stop for lunch at Cal's, one of our favorite eateries on the island, we drove to Oak Ridge. John backed the truck up next to the dock at the lot where we keep our truck. Immediately we heard a call from BJ's next door "Do you need help?" It was our friend, Martina. "I'll send Ren over to help you."
"It's not heavy. We can do it," said John.
"No way," I said. Ren is another friend of ours and he is BIG. Him vs me - to haul it out of the pickup truck, onto the dock, into the skiff, out of the skiff - ah easy choice.
He also offered to help us pull the old fridge out of DL and put the new one in. I was relieved and invited him and Shannon over for some cold beer.
While John chatted with them outside, I quickly emptied the old fridge of the foul, rotting mess of old food that I still hadn't taken out. YES, I know I should have done it before this point. I piled the muckiest garbage in one sink, choking and gagging as I worked. John popped his head in to see how I was doing and I begged him to keep everyone away while I finished. I felt Cal's delicious Dorado lunch creep up my throat and before I knew it I was throwing up on top of the pile of rotten food in the sink.
After cleaning the sink, a quick shower and change of clothes, I joined our company outside, wearing a smiling face and carrying more cold beer.
John had already removed the hardware from the back door to make the opening wider. I remembered having to do that for the last fridge and this one was exactly the same width. I didn't dare watch while John and Ren wrestled the old fridge out and the new fridge in. I was so thankful that he had helped us with the job.
This fridge is a MABE model, so I nicknamed it MAYBE. Maybe it will keep food cold. Maybe I can keep my beer in there, instead of a cooler full of ice. Maybe I can even make ice!
So far, we are thrilled with the MABE fridge. It has a super vacuum seal - after you close it once, don't dare try to open it again. We could travel the roughest seas and this fridge is guaranteed not to fall open. John had to secure it to the back wall, so I didn't pull it right out trying to open it. MABE you can open it, MABE not.