I get up early on my day off and jump in the shower. My air conditioner was broken and I’ve sweated all night under the miserable whisper of a ceiling fan. But the shower faucet coughs, spits out a few droplets, burps some air and then goes dead. The water has run out. Again.
Yes, we technically have a reverse osmosis unit to turn seawater into very good quality fresh water. But it’s been broken for months. We also have six cisterns collecting rainwater. But the gutters are… yes, broken. And the cistern walls have been cracked by the fury of relentless hurricane waves crushing against the house, so they wouldn’t hold the water very long any way. And in any case, it hasn’t rained seriously in months.
So I swear silently in French, skip the shower and get dressed to go to the bank. Today is Thursday. The bank opens for five long hours. If I miss it today, it’ll go to next Monday. Twice a week is all we get, and that’s if the weather is good enough for Island Air to fly the two clerks in from the Brac…
I pour a dose in the coffee maker, fill it with bottled water (I would never dare drink cistern water even if there was some) and notice that the house has suddenly gone strangely quiet. There’s a certain menace around me and the air feels thick and hot. Of course. No ceiling fans. The power has gone out. Again. Well, up at the diesel-powered plant, they are quite good at restoring it, I have hopes of not loosing the whole content of my fridge.
And I leave the house on my scooter, deprived of morning caffeine and soap. My helmet is sitting on top of my head unbuckled, completely useless but looking legal. I absent-mindedly wonder if there is a law that makes securing a helmet on one’s head mandatory on an island that is eleven miles long, has no traffic lights, three stop signs and where the overall speed limit is twenty-five miles per hour.
Stopping along the way at our only commercial hub juggling the title of “gas station – hardware – electronics – grocery – video rental – store”, I grab the key to the pump’s padlock and put two dollars of gas in my small tank. Then I go back inside, report the amount of my purchase (since the pump isn’t linked to the cash register) and go to aisle four (of four) to scout for bread.
It must be my lucky day. Four loafs of bread are sitting on the six shelves, probably brought over by plane because the barge hasn’t shown up in a week and a half. After hesitating and probing each one carefully, I finally decide for the smallest one, a bag of eight hot-dog buns, because my finger actually creates a small dent when pushing hard into it, and because it only costs five dollars.
When I get to the bank next door, seven people are waiting in line. On an island like Little Cayman, that’s an overwhelming crowd. I give up. I’ll come back Monday.