20 February 2011

Catch the Moment: A Slice of Paradise

Today's Blog is a technotest.  For years I have been struggling to find a way to include a picture in these blogs.  I think I may have accomplished that feat once some years back, but have never been able to reproduce the experiment-- the technology has always escaped me.  Inserting photographs into a blog is "simple", says Google.  But I have consistently found that modifier to be an adjective, not an adverb, i.e, it described me, not the employment of the software.

Nevertheless, seeing how it is a rainy day, I am willing to devote some hours to the project.  Here is the product.

What you see below is a photo I took from my deck yesterday.  It was just after one of those every-hour-on-the-hour rain squalls that drives full-timers like me off the beach. (The tourists here for but a week or so tough it out, unwilling to give an inch.  So they wait until they are soaked through, the wind makes the sand stick to their wet bodies, they begin to snap at each other about whose idea this was, and THEN they give up.  Of course the sun shines brilliantly at some point during their ride back to the villa. (Part of the island charm.)

The accident in the following picture was a major event here. Fifty year old worn-smooth concrete roads are as slick as ice when wet. A car not seen here came skating down the steep hill on the left and drove that other guy onto the porch.  I cannot conjure the angles, but the event  brought out the Gendarmes, the Fire Department sand crew, and the Fire Department Ambulance.  No, nobody was injured, but the Fire Department guys are always looking for something to do, so it doesn't take much to persuade em to roll.

For me, the best part of the picture is the people to the right of the automobile with which they share the porch.  Those bakery customers reveal what this island is all about:   They are relaxing over their espressos as if the car that came up through the railing to join them was an unexpected floor show, and they are enjoying every moment.

Actually, so was I, until I realized that the insect bite that made me swat my forearm came from a tiny ant, and he was but one of the column marching up and down the palm tree against which I was leaning.  Moreover it quickly became apparent that the deceased was not a lone scout, but a member of a squad, perhaps a company, (clearly not a regiment, I deplore exaggeration) that mistook me for a branch of the tree trunk--or not.  In any event, I had become part of a deviation in the line of march.

   Easy cure. Do ants swim?  I dunno, but I made it their problem not mine:  I was in the pool in a flash.  (Hey, this is Paradise. I am always in my bathing suit, except when I am not.)

All of the above, I suggest, captures the essence of this place.  Almost exactly like New York City, y'think?

A bientot!

06 February 2011

Things You Will Never Experience in New York City

So our season in Paradise begins,--a little late for us this year because real life continues to send us reminders of real life, but St. Barths, of course, has no connection to real life. The island has its own unique form of reality. It is encapsulated in a bubble in which some force field keeps the palms green, the sea inviting, and the air we breathe to contain some benevolent ingredient. (I have little doubt that if that ingredient were ever identified, Chuck Schumer and Sarah Palin would join in a campaign to make it illegal.)

We have only been here five days or so, but I gotta pass on two anecdotes that make the point:(For those few readers who may have already heard one of the these stories, you can apply for a discount on your subscription rate. Watch this space for a coupon.)

Real life first intruded on day three down here: A tooth (an implant for which I had paid my NYC dentist, Dr. Croesus Payne, by mortgaging a grandchild) started to bother me and by day four was keeping me up at night. So I put in a call to Croesus (we are on first name basis by now) and was able to reach him in the Greek Isles via satellite phone. He and his party were aboard his yacht, the S.S. Dentadollar. He made some technical comments and offered to speak to my local dentist here on the island.

But “implantology” as it is referred to here, is not practiced on this island. One local dentist I called, on hearing my tale, said, ”Oh, an implant? Very bad. If it is bothering you, it must come out.” Nice. So I elected to visit dentist number two, who told me he did not do implants, but he did not think they were all that complicated and was willing to sharpen his tools, dive right in, and give it a try. I demurred, and while still in the chair, started making flight plans.

Then he said, “Martin, you are the luckiest guy in the world. It just so happens that a leading implantologist from Paris is arriving on the island this weekend, and I can arrange an appointment for you on Monday.” I departed the office feeling better already.

On the appointed day, I was in Dr. Chlous's waiting room 20 minutes early. (His reception area contains an unused reception desk and an adjacent sitting room.) A half-hour later I was getting antsy. I could envision Chlous and the guy from Paris up to their elbows in the blood of the poor islander in the chair on the other side of the door. (The dentist has a double door, like a shrink, so nobody can hear the screaming, I guess.)

Five minutes later the doorbell rings and in walks a 30 something woman who has a startling resemblance to scaled down version of Angelina Jolie. She is wearing a bright red bikini under one of those sheer white beach cover-ups favored by French women precisely because they cover nothing up. She goes right over the reception desk and I think “Ah, business must be good, and my dentist has hired a receptionist. And he has done well, indeed.” The receptionist goes behind her desk, removes a small red cloth and pair of white slippers from the bottom drawer, and disappears into a door that I assume is a bathroom. I expect to see her emerge and take her place at the reception desk, dressed appropriately.

Hah. Two minutes later, Dr. Chlous emerges from the double door, invites me in, and introduces me to Dr. Anne Benhamou from Paris. That small red cloth has been transformed into a small, but very well fitting flowered red dress made of the world’s thinnest microfabric. Her smile is dazzling, her handshake firm, and I have forgotten the purpose of my visit.

But she has not. She consults my x-ray and says “I see the problem. The implant is too far away from its neighbor. My students make that mistake all the time,” whereupon she proceeds to prescribe the necessary structural modifications, the details of which I shall keep from you because I don’t want you to delete my blog address. After she explains it all and draws me a picture, I ask her to call Dr. Payne in the Med. She does, explains it all to him in excellent English, but with enough of a French accent to make dental implant surgery sound charming. I then take the phone. Payne is already smitten and actually says “Marty, she is absolutely correct. No problem, we will fix it all in May. Gotta run, we are having hors d'oeurves on the back deck.”

I will spare you the sequillae.

The second story is related to current events in Egypt. It involves plague. Well, actually a particular plague. This happened yesterday:

We were sitting on the deck and Pinks got up to use the small bathroom off the pool. Ten seconds later I hear a blood-curdling scream. I turn and see Pinks struggling out of the bathroom, bathing suit bottom around her ankles. She points to the toilet bowl and shouts,"Look!, Look!" I approach cautiously and see two brown frogs, each about two inches long. One is sitting on the toilet lid and the other clinging to the tile wall. Apparently they were both in the bowl and were disturbed by My Reason For Living when she invaded their territory. Ha, Ha, ha. Very funny.

This morning, as I approached the same toilet bowl, I lifted the seat and apparently startled a frog who was taking an afternoon nap on the rim of the bowl, under the seat. He jumped,--I would say a good 3-4 feet--onto my leg! I think they heard my scream on the ships in Corossol Harbor.

Twice now in the last two days frogs have been in our shower upstairs. So far I am coping but I told Pinks that the first frog who jumps into my bed when I am in it gets the deed to the villa.

A bientot.