Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thirteen things better than the Tropics

I was sitting here, a blanket wrapped around my shoulders, the curtains drawn, while frozen rain pattered on the windows thinking to myself, 'Why did I ever leave the tropics?'
When I lived in the tropics, I didn't even own a sweater. Even the rainy season was hot. I never had to turn the heat on (we didn't have heat anyway in the house) and once we lived in a house with a fireplace, and we never lit it; it held a huge potted fern.
Now I live in an old house with such drafts in front of the doors and windows that the curtains move as if in a breeze. Sleet is the most common form of precipitation. What can be better about France than the tropics?

1) I don't have to shake my shoes out every morning. It used to be a habit. I don't do it anymore. It was to dislodge the scorpions that liked to take up residence there. I shook my shoes for about ten years after leaving the islands. It's a hard habit to - er, shake.

2) I can open the cereal and pour myself a bowl, then add milk and eat it without first examining it for sugar ants. Sugar ants are tiny, almost invisible ants that get into Everything. To check for sugar ants you:
pour the cereal in a bowl. Hold it very still while peering at it closely. If the cereal starts to move, you toss everything in the garbage.

3) I can go to the bathroom at night without turning the light on.
In St. Thomas, the bathroom was the nighttime gathering place for the tarantula. They would go to the bathroom to drink from the shower, and you did not want to surprise one - they move incredibly fast and in the opposite direction of where you think they're pointing.
Usually they try for high ground when they're terrified. Your legs look like tree trunks to them.
Terror spreads from the spider to you as it sprints up your leg. Some nights, no one gets any sleep.

4) When it rains here, it's a pretty regular rain. In St. Thomas, we got hurricanes. Three times, when I lived there, the island was declared a national disaster area. Our road was washed out, the school was washed out, the house was full of mud, and that's if the house managed to keep its roof.

5) I can get fresh vegetables and fruit. No, there are no fresh veggies on St. Thomas - or very few. Everything is shipped in. There are home-grown mangoes and g'nips, tamarands and some coconuts. Everything else comes from 'the mainland'. Here in France, the market is full of fresh veggies and fruit. I love it.

6) Cuts don't go sceptic in two seconds flat. (that sort of speaks for itself. In the tropics, cuts and scratches got infected. Period.)

7) I can control the ticks and fleas here. In St. Thomas, it's very hard to keep your dogs and cats tick and flea free. I'm allergic to fleas. They give me huge red welts. Guess who had huge red welts all over her legs and arms for the senior prom?

8) You don't feel caged in. I used to look out to sea. Endless ocean on all sides. (We lived on a mountaintop - the view was spectacular) and I'd think...'I'm trapped.' Now I can get in my car and drive. I can take a train. I can walk. I can 'get away from it all'.

9) There are no people who have come here to 'get away from it all'. In St. Thomas, most of the people who arrived to live there wanted to 'get away from it all'. They usually lasted about 6 months. Then they either packed up and left (usually owing 6 months rent) or they landed in the local loony bin and had a nice rest for a while, before leaving for good.

10) There are four seasons here, and I love summer and fall. In the tropics there is hurricane season and the rest of the time.

11) Huge, fifteen inch centipedes. Need I say more?

12) A huge, and I mean huge, difference in class and race - the rich and the poor in the extremes. It's depressing any way you look at it, and from any angle. I rarely saw such poverty as in the tropics.

13) The crime rate is staggeringly high - drugs, murder and mayhem. True, the mafia did move in and clean things up a bit - but overall, the crime there is scary. Here, I don't have dogs for protection.

And next Thursday - what I miss. (you can resume dreaming of clear, turquoise water and warm beaches now...)


Gabriele C. said...

Tarantulas are fine behind glass, but NOT in the shower.

Just well I can't stand hot climate anyway; I've never wanted to go further south the Mediterranean, and that only in winter. :)

Gabriele C. said...

* than the Med..

One of those bugs eats words.

Dev said...

I remember when I was in St. Thomas and I got maybe a block or two off-path of the touristy area. It was complete poverty ~ the houses looked like cardboard boxes. It was devastating to see that when just a few blocks away people were throwing money away like mad.

Rosie said...

GG's idea of bliss is a tropical island. We've yet to vacation on one. Not my thing. Now I have a place to send him for notes from a native when he gets fired up about going. :)

Bernita said...

There goes my suppressed desire to be a beach bum.

Sam said...

Gabriele, they even scare me behind glass! LOL

Dev - That's what I mean. It's devestating. Good word.

Rosie - a tropical paradise is everyone's ideal - but I have yet to actually find one.

Bernita - Sand flies. Forgot to list them. LOL

John Nez said...

Well the choice seems clear...

I'd also think one's mind works better in a chilly clime. I know my brain ceases to function when the temperature is above 85 degrees.

But all those bugs and the poverty and all really does sound like it'd take some getting used to.

I think Tuscany is about as tropical as I'd care to go... but ask me again in 3 months when I haven't seen the sun in 94 days.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the mafia cleaning up the crime...absolutely plotworthy.


Sam said...

Tuscany - that must be a beautiful place - haven't been there, but I'd love to go.

SdB - Where is your Blog???
Been looking for you!
And yes, it would make an interesting story. As it is, they came in when gambling was made legal, and because they needed tourists who felt secure, they cleaned up the small crime. With bullets. Suddenly there were bodies lying around with seven bullet holes in them.

Jill said...

Ok, I wanted to visit both a Tropical country and France!! I guess I'm gonna try to save a couple of hundred of dollars more, and go to France first!!!