I’ve been back for almost two weeks now. I get closer to putting this house on the market. I also have been doing a lot of sitting and thinking. I often joke I wished this job was all about GIS. It’s not – taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, and coordination seem to rule the day. Then there are the times I’m glad it’s not.
It became quite the running joke to me. I had people calling me going “Man – if I was in the Caribbean I’d be drinking rum and chasing everything in a skirt”. The phone would ring and that line would get repeated as Pit Bulls tried to leap the fence, a resident would start having a melt down at getting a new address, or all communication would just end with some random electron failure. I would fill my Nalgene bottle for the 50th time and head back out with a backpack full of door hangers. Yeah – drinking rum and chasing women. In the middle of the what can only be described as the worst experience ever in the islands I got the following:
“You are blessed Randy”
I would turn to Charles and say “no – not blessed – just working”
This whole story started at St Ursula’s Community Center with a hot $2.00 meal prepared for whoever couldn’t pay. I’m fascinated by that one point in time where life takes a bit of a detour.
Charles was one of the myriad number of people I had the chance to meet while working down in the USVI. He came from the University to work with us. St John was a five day tour that turned into a two week slog. Charles was from Dominica (way south of where we were located) – he had made stops in Jamaica, St Thomas, New York, and then back to St Thomas. He works at Kmart and for the University. He has a new wife and a small baby named Abigail. I struck up some crazy conversations with Charles. Conversations turned into friendship. There’s only so much you can say about GIS and addresses – but Life on the other hand…..
“Randy you are living like a cowboy – clothes are piled in the floor and computers are everywhere”
“Charles….this is how I normally live”.
“Randy – you need a wife!”
“No – no I don’t. Had one. I traded her for a cat.”
“You need to move down here – we need mapping people here in the islands. You come down here and buy a boat and we will go to Tortola”
“I’ve got a canoe – I don’t think I can handle anything bigger than that”.
Conversations ranged from his life to my life back to his new baby back to my lack of kids back to his multitude of jobs then back to NRGS.
“Addresses are going to revolutionize the islands Randy – do you understand what you are doing?”
“Oh I understand. Saying you are at 42 Contante Point Road and have someone show up at that spot is quite the revolution”
Charles became the ambassador – someone would get upset Charles started the conversation with them. A Rastafarian has a melt down – Charles calms him. A lady we talk to sings in a band – he has her belting out a song in two minutes. He would leave them with a handshake and say “Stay blessed”.
“Randy – look – it’s nopal – we can eat this”
“Randy – have you ever eaten a goat – there are no bad parts on a goat”
“Randy – if you stew the iguana it is easier to eat”.
“Randy – never leave the house without a machete”.
By the end of day I was looking forward to seeing Charles more than I was anything else. Conversations ran the circuit of women, religion, addresses, work, and food.
Almost the last night on the island had a cookout. Bread Fruit, Roots, Nopal juice, and Plantains provided by Charles.
“Randy – both of you need to come back – you and Carol – come live in the islands”.
Of course I’ll be back – I’ve got to buy a boat and me and you sail to Tortola and work.