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Part III: Now what? page 8

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

January 8, 2008

I suppose every once in a while we need to get a bit serious about what goes on in the construction business on St John. We try to be light hearted about the insanity of building here, but the truth is, as bad as we have had it, we are way, way luckier than some folks. We started off with an architect/builder whom we knew did quality work. Of course things went down hill from there as this builder sold the business to another builder whom we knew nothing about. Our new builder had a degree in architecture and plenty of experience in building solid houses. Of course what appeared to be lacking was a background in running a business, specifically a construction business on St John. But even for all that, we were somewhat lucky.  We were fortunate that both of us earn a good living, had a sizable savings account (had being the operative word here), we owned the land free and clear and our Maryland home was free and clear as well. Yes, we then had to re-mortgage our home up to our eyebrows and take advantage of every credit card offer that came in the mail, but we are basically done. The house is beautiful. The villa rental calendar is running pretty close to full into July. All great news. We still do not know what our ongoing costs will be, but I am confident that we are through the worst of it. But some people have had it much worse than we have. We see many partly constructed homes up for sale in the St John real estate listings. I can only assume that either there are a lot of changes of heart on the island, or, more realistically, a lot of people who just plain ran out of money and had no other options but to try and recoup their losses the best they could. Why did they run out of money?  Because like our project, theirs took some unexpected turns – turns that none of us could anticipate.  We have heard of good people throwing in the towel very close to home. Linda and Bob who bought land on Seagrape Hill, just a donkey’s trot down the hill from Reef Madness, went about building their dream home as well as opening a business in Coral Bay. They started their project shortly after we did and I cannot find the words to describe the nightmare they have found themselves in. We ache for them.  The building of their dream home,Bo Atabey has turned their love of St John into a surreal nightmare. Their situation reminds me of the old Phil Ochs song: “There but for fortune, may go you or go I …”

Go to Bo Atabey Page one

January 9, 2008

One of the many things that fell through the cracks at Reef Madness (it wasn’t a big deal to Sunnyrock but it was a huge deal to us) was the installation of a fountain at the end of the pool. Sunnyrock was supposed to find us a huge, somewhat flat boulder during the construction phase of the project and with the heavy equipment already on site, move said boulder to the location of the aforementioned fountain. Water was to flow off smaller upper rocks down to the huge rock and into the pool. We brought this topic up over and over again to remind Sunnyrock of the boulder/fountain as they tended to forget conversations and lose (or forget to look at) their notes. They did put in the electrical and water pipes for the fountain. When the RM project got to the point where the tile for the pool area was being laid, we finally (trusting souls that we are…ah, were) figured it out; our boulder was not going to happen. They gave us some alternate options, sculpted fountains, tiled fountains, small stones stuck together to make a big stone, etc. but this was not really what we envisioned. I suppose we could put a fountain with a naked nymphet pouring water into the pool from a large ewer, or some little kid peeing into the pool, or even some exotic animal spewing water from its mouth (a distasteful, imbibing too much rum kind of an image to my way of thinking), but somehow it does not seem in keeping with the RM image (unless the exotic animal is a Rasta donkey of course!). So here is what we are going to try and this could turn out great, or, this could be a total disaster. There is a concrete guy on the island (Jim Hall) who specializes in custom concrete jobs, you know stamped, etched, so forth. What about a concrete boulder? Can he do it? Can he build us a boulder? Hell, there are fake boulders all over Disneyland!  He says he is willing to give it a shot. It is a gamble but then all of Reef Madness has been one big gamble, so what’s one more?

January 11, 2008

So what kind of work has been done at Reef Madness since we were last there? Rumor has it, other than landscaping, not much. Our punch list is as long as ever. I suppose in this, there is impetus for us to take many, many trips to St John as it appears to be the only way that we can get people to accomplish anything. I imagine we are such a fascinating couple that people just go out of their way to be in our presence. “No I mustn’t install that graywater system now, because Randy and Marcia won’t be there and I really want to see those wonderful, charming people” Yeah, right. Back in the real world, we just found out from Sunnyrock (who actually visited RM today to see what needs to be done once we get back on island) that even though our last guests have been gone for a week, our air conditioner was still running and our outdoor lights a-blazing. We furiously called up VIVA to ask if this was normal and they told us that our housekeeper was supposed to check out the villa the same day the guests leave. We know when the last guests left, so… did our housekeeper? Did the Jumbies sneak in just after she left? What?   I can just see that temporary power meter smoking as the dial spins around at warp speed. Darn this would have been a good time for a fuse to blow! I wonder how many other villa owners suffer through this. We aren’t there so none of us will know…well…what we don’t know! I suppose from an island point of view that makes it OK. I imagine from an island point of view most everything is OK. “Hey mon, just relax. Every little ting gonna’ be alright”.

January 14, 2008

So today is Monday. Tomorrow is Friday. How can that be you ask? Well tomorrow is our last day at work before we head off to St John. Now when we planned this trip last summer it was intended to be pure pleasure in nature. It is our custom to go to St John for our wedding anniversary as we got married on St John, January 22, 2000. In truth, we never actually intended to get married. I mean we had been together for eight years; why screw with something that works just fine? But we decided that it was too difficult to relay our relationship to new acquaintances; “girlfriend/boyfriend” seemed a bit high schoolish, “roommates” seemed not quite right, “significant-other” seemed …oh I don’t know, impersonal. Besides, we both had parents that were cut from traditional cloth and as they aged, their good opinion, once again in this life, became very important to us. Marriage seemed to offer a single solution to the above concerns. January 2000 was a great time to do the marriage deed because, being of an age, ahem, we are both susceptible to forgetfulness. Any day now, I will forget every proper noun I’ve ever known (you remember what’s his face; you know that guy that starred with that girl, what’s her name, in the movie about the middle earth war, what was it called…?) So by getting married in January of 2000, all we have to do now is ask what year we are in and we can remember how long we have been married. It’s 2008. We have been married eight years (wow, how did that happen; eight years?) So, where was I? Oh yes, a purely for pleasure trip to St John. Well, that’s not going to happen. As I have said before, nothing seems to get done unless we are on island, so I am sure we will have workmen teeming around Reef Madness from dawn to dusk swarming like so many mosquitoes. We have also given ourselves some projects to accomplish while we are there. Gone are the days when we could fly down with only carry-on luggage. Sorry to say, gone are the days when our time is totally our own. With the dream comes the reality. Is it worth it? Ask me this time next year.

January 15, 2008

Here we go again. Off to St John to see all the stuff that hasn’t been done (can you see stuff that isn’t?). The one thing that we feel will define this project as being done (well not done actually as I doubt we will ever be truly “done”) will be the installation of Reef Madness’s permanent power. Once we have that, we feel that we are invincible.  OK, not exactly invincible. The Caribe gods have a way of humbling the magnificent and mundane alike. One hurricane or earthquake is all it takes to remind us of our lowly stature in the cosmos. But I have to say, permanent power would go a long way to instill confidence in our ability to survive all things done in “island time”. I have yet to hear of any guest who has had problems dealing with our persnickety power issues. I suppose that might have something to do with the reason people come to St John in the first place - hang loose, unwind, be one with the donkey. We are looking forward to seeing what changes our guests have made to RM, a piece of furniture moved here, a dust-collector moved there, and unexpected surprises in the kitchen cabinets and fridge (oh joy, oh rapture). Mostly, I want to take a gander at the guest book…at least I think I do. I only want to look if we have rave reviews. If we get rave reviews we shall celebrate with a mango daiquiri, rum drink! If we get panned, well…than we will have 10 mango daiquiris…

January 28, 2008

Well, we’re back and we are sorry we didn’t post during our trip, but someone (me) forgot to pack the SD card reader and though we had internet access, we could not post any pictures. Without pictures, I have to write more and I am waaaaay too lazy to write more and besides a picture (even a phony made up picture) is worth a thousand words (10 thousand of my words). We began this trip on very shaky ground. Our flight was smooth, transportation – fine, but when we got to Reef Madness, we were less than thrilled. It was dark by the time we finally got to RM ( we stopped off at Compass Rose for a rum drink on our way in and one thing led to another and…well, it got dark) and once at our door, we found half of our outdoor lights were burned out and our ceiling fans were running. It was so dark outside (sans lights) we could not find the keyhole to open the front door. Now these doors are not easily opened at noon with an engineer standing by – try it at night when two totally different keys fit the same hole (once you find the hole) and neither of them seems to work. When we finally got in and found some spare light bulbs, imagine how happy we were to find that a couple of our outdoor sconces had been broken because the storm shutters/doors slammed into them because there was no hardware to hold the storm shutter/doors in place. By brilliant design, several of the ceramic sconces were placed behind hurricane shutters and no one seemed to notice until the shutters/doors went up. Add to all this that our beautiful RM was ever-so-slightly “unkempt”... No one had cleaned from the last guests’ departure. We were really looking forward to seeing the villa the same way a first time guest would see it. I hope a guest never sees it the way we saw it. They would run away and never come back. We would be pummeled with hate mail; we would be besmirched on the travel forums; friends would pass us by on the street not acknowledging our presence. Ohhh, the humiliation.  I mean, no one had even dumped the stinky garbage from under the sink. The last people there had been gone for a week. What kind of exotic critters can find access holes to a stinky paradise in a week’s time? The good news is that those impossible doors seem to be able to stop everything – even exotic critters seeking stinky paradises. The next day as we were about to give VIVA a blistering phone call, who should show up but Caroline, our RM housekeeper, asking, “What are you doing here? You are not supposed to be here until tomorrow.” True, we weren’t, but we changed our minds, came early. We told VIVA. They forgot to tell Caroline, and the pool guy, Jerry, and the maintenance guy, Gary. All of them showed up on Thursday in time for our Friday arrival! Within a few hours Caroline cleaned up the place and staged it as if we were new guests. It looked great. This is the villa we had been looking forward to.  Sorry Caroline for all the horrible things we said and thought about you. You deserved better. Can we relax now?

January 29, 2008

For all my complaining, I do have to say one thing, Sunnyrock is still with us. That is a good thing. We hear all the time about contractors who abandon people when the going gets rough, or when they feel the project is over, or when they have new projects to concentrate on, or when they just don’t want to waste their time with the “small stuff” that anyone can do. Well not anyone can do this stuff (for example, me!) and off island owners sometimes are at a loss to find the “anyone” who can fix the myriad of little things that fall through the cracks and need finishing or fixing. Sunnyrock is in the same position as other contractors, they have moved on. But they also have our punch list and have had Rudette working on some of it and contracted with a very cool, knowledgeable guy, who so far, shows up when he says he will show up, and does what he says he is going to do (how very un-Caribbean of him!).  He is kind of a white Rudette only he speaks with a Massachusetts (?) twang rather than Rudette’s lilting patois inflection. We love Rudette with his smiley, golden grill, mouth bling going on (he has a cool gold framed front tooth with a golden “R” proudly etched on it) Like Rudette, “Maintenance Pete” works hard and does it all. We will keep Pete in our hip pocket as a valuable resource who lives on Carolina – the Coral Bay side of the island! While we were on island, Pete finished the rope light molding in the greatroom and hooked up our gray-water system so that Josephine can now install the watering system for our landscape. Much to the beach bound tourists’ dismay and our good fortune, we have had tons of rain filling our cisterns and watering our newly planted shrubs, but this won’t last for long. It would kill us to find out that all this expensive landscaping had dried up and blown away because there was no water to keep it going. Now, thanks to Pete, there is!


January 30, 2008

All in all, this was a great trip to St John. We were not trying to finish anything. We were not trying to carry boxes, tote crates, or balance books on our heads. We had modest goals and no expectations (except for a clean villa with no stinky garbage). When you keep your ambitions small and aspire to nothing more than a modest poolside rum drink, it is easy to surpass your objectives. We did bring down a few things to hang on the walls. One was an impressionistic painting of a zebra to hang in the half bath above the privy.  It looks fine except there is a disconcerting feeling of being closely monitored while standing at the bowl. This very large zebra eye keeps gazing…judging… We tend to forget that hanging stuff at Reef Madness is not like hanging stuff on walls here in Maryland (or most anywhere else in the upper 48). Every wall is concrete or stone at RM (termites love the paper that surrounds sheetrock, and wood is their bread and butter… did I mention the termite nest on our Mampoo tree?), Hanging pictures is not just a matter of hammer and nails, oh no. You must get out your concrete hammer-drill, concrete anchors, levels, socket set, Humvee, and flame thrower to hang anything up on a wall at RM. One can never, no matter how careful one is, hang anything absolutely straight. A do-over is not an option. Also, if there is any iron rebar in those concrete walls (there is – lots), I will find it. The drill bit goes in half an inch then stops – won’t budge, not a millimeter further. Smoke, fumes, achy arms, twitching muscles, curse words – no difference – no change - sucks. Past efforts hanging stuff was fraught with all the above.  Maybe I am getting better with practice, but this time things went well. Go figure. Perhaps the gods were napping.

January 31, 2008

Did I mention that things are finally coming together at Reef Madness? For the first time, the punch list is getting shorter rather than longer. We have railings to safely lead us up (or down) our steep, curving stair-tower; we have successfully hidden the rope lighting in the Great Room; we have a graywater system, we know where the pool connections are leaking, we have vent covers for our AC (that only took a slow moving ice age to accomplish) and we have a CO (Certificate of Occupancy) so, all in all, things are racing along at a lightning, island like speed.  True, nothing is connected to the graywater system, the pool is leaking like a sieve, the AC covers are a bit crooked, and even with the CO, we still have no permanent power (time to send the nice ladies at WAPA some cookies or flowers or our first born or something), but we are closer than ever to being at an end to the construction phase of Reef Madness. There is a tremendous feeling of relief that comes from being at this point in the project. RM is renting well, the bills that come in are not sucking the air out of our lungs nor the money from our bank account (wait, we have no money in our bank account). We are getting more comfortable with our management company and I can only assume, they with us. Perhaps this wasn’t madness at all. Perhaps this was the smartest thing we have ever done. Perhaps…  Naaaaaah…

February 1, 2008

One thing missing at Reef Madness is birds. Well, they aren’t actually missing; they are everywhere, especially since Josephine put in so many colorful, fragrant flowering plants. Josephine did guarantee us a large increase in our local bird population once she had worked her magic on our landscape. We could hear them all around us and occasionally one would flit by on its way elsewhere, but the landscape is not yet tall enough for the gathering of the feathered set near our deck (did I mention we live on the side of a cliff?). What we needed was a Bananaquit feeder! We could hear those little sugar junkies out there. We just needed to give them some incentive to venture a wee bit closer. It became our mission to seek out and purchase the perfect Bananaquit feeder. Now let me tell you, these little guys aren’t fussy. They will march right up, invade your solitude and morning cuppa java demanding their fair share of that insidious white powder. I have even seen pictures where they appear to be snorting the stuff! No, timid these guys aren’t, but here at RM all our guests deserve only the best and a mere bowl of sugar or sugar water would not do! So off we went to scope out the bird feeder situation. It seemed simple – at first (why it is that nothing here is ever simple?). We found hummingbird feeders, feeders that looked like pirates heads, feeders that looked like hollowed out watermelons, glass feeders, concrete feeders, ceramic feeders, feeders of every size, color and shape imaginable. But these would not do. We had seen some feeders that were locally made awhile back. They were simple, cut coconut shells and that was what we were looking for. Every place that sold bird feeders told us, “I think there is a local guy who makes these”.  On further investigation we learned the guy’s name is Anthony and he sells them at a roadside stand near Salt Pond. So, off we go to Salt Pond. I suppose that because of a tiny bit of rain (OK it was pouring down rain) and thus few tourists out and about at Salt Pond, Anthony decided this would be a good time to stay indoors and read “War and Peace” for there was no one, anywhere, selling anything, within miles of Salt Pond. Poop! At yet another shop where I bought a tee-shirt, because one can never have too many tee-shirts, we asked for the umpteenth time where a Bananaquit feeder could be purchased and the nice lady told us, “Anthony up by Salt Pond makes those. Go see Anthony”. When we told her we had just come from Salt Pond and Anthony was not to be found, she told us, “Come back tomorrow just before 5PM. Anthony’s daughter works here. She’ll get you one!” You gotta love this island!

February 4 2008

Perhaps LMG on the Virgin-Islands-On-Line Forum said it best: “Honestly, I don't know how I got so lucky to know such wonderful people over the past several months.”  Well, for us it’s been a couple of years now, and over that time we’ve met and made so many friends on St. John that we have far more of a social life there than we do at our home in Maryland.  A visit to St. John started to feel like a visit “home” after about our 3rd trip.  That’s when “Keep Left” started to feel quite natural.  And throughout the two year building process we gained more than a beautiful home.  We gained a great group of friends that we look forward to seeing as soon as we step or drive off the ferry.  Wally is always the first.  Wally – the man behind Compass Rose, and a man starved for a good newspaper gets the Washington Post delivered to him upon our arrival.  We get big hugs, and if we have time, a cold beer and a Painkiller at the bar.  Sometimes we see Stephen and Lewis of Sunnyrock there.  Once in Coral Bay we tend to bump into Steve and Vicki at the Donkey Diner or Aqua Bistro.  Vicki used to work for Sunnyrock.  Now she works at St. John Spice which is where we go to see Ruth and Ron.  They are always working you know, and one of these days we’ll get them out to Coral Bay("out in the country" as they refer to it) and up to the house.  The list goes on and on… Arleen (who watched over our niece while she stayed on island, sans aunt and uncle) hanging out at Island Blues, Anna Banana at Skinnys, our new friends at VIVA and our neighbors (like Charlie and Bob and Linda) on Seagrape Hill.  And then there are “those forum people”.  And the good folks that write us about something we said on our blog.  We keep bumping into them too.  This time it was Lesley, Jessica, Dara, Andy, Eileen and Fred.  And somehow we always end up sharing a drink (or two…or three…or…) and quite a few laughs.  There’s always been a great debate about what makes a house a home.  With Reef Madness we think we know the answer to that already – it’s the good friends that we see when we’re there and remind us of what we are missing when we aren’t. 

February 5 2008

Speaking of new friends, we also have had visits from other neighbors who make their home on Seagrape Hill. These locals are somewhat loud, stubborn, and definitely feisty. When they argue, we can hear them all over the hillside and they do a lot of sniping at one another. These are the three island donkeys that hang together on Seagrape Hill.   We have seen them regularly now for about a year and though there are friendlier donkeys on St John, we believe there are none quite as handsome. We aren’t sure if they are boy donkeys or girl donkeys or some of each, but we affectionately refer to these guys as Larry, Curly and Moe.  When they make it all the way up to our aerie (sadly, not often enough for us), their potent aromatic poo fragrance fills the air until the rain washes it away. However, it’s a good wholesome barnyard smell. Some of the island goats/sheep (I have been told it is specifically the boys of the species) have a very strong odor, phew! When we were newbies to the island, we referred to all the goat-like critters as, well, as goats.  I mean, they look like goats, you know like the ones I have seen on TV (I’m from the city donchano).  We were sternly corrected, “They’re not goats; they’re sheep”. “Huh, they look like goats.”  For all you ignoramuses out there (unlike me – now), tails up - they are goats; tails down - they are sheep (short coated sheep)! Who knew!

No, these are donkeys (Larry Curly & Moe)

February 6, 2008

We just received our final bill from Sunnyrock. Now mind you this is not our first final bill, but rather our second final bill. Our second final bill pays them their last construction fee, but hey, the bills go on and on and on… You see the punch list, you know the things that leak, squeak, drip, flip, flop, smoke, got broke, generally don’t work so well, or are altogether missing - that stuff, is not going to come out of the contractor’s  pocket, even if it was their bad. No, time and materials is the name of this island game. However, we were astonished at this newest final bill. “Hello Sunnyrock?  I just got the latest invoice and there’s something terribly wrong!” Well maybe not “wrong”, but something more akin to mental vertigo. It was for the smallest amount we have ever seen from them!  Wahoo! Not that we can afford even this piddling amount (a piddling amount is anything less than or equal to five non-decimal digits!). For awhile there we were seeing amounts that would purchase a luxury automobile more than once a month! We were bleeding money so badly that we were afraid we would become a character out of La Bohème.  I have mentioned all this before, but honestly, until you have stayed awake at night, night after night, worrying, wondering where the money was going to come from, well, not my idea of a good time. Perhaps we should have opened up a restaurant in Santa Fe….

 ... Gonna Pay Next Year's ‘Rent

February 7, 2008

This morning we received a faxed message from Josephine - and an invoice. Sigh….. In her informative little note she relays that we need “more plantings for erosion control” (did I mention Reef Madness regally rests on the side of a cliff?), that she is ready to hook up the irrigation system to the gray water cistern tap, that we need some mulch to protect the waterlines from the sun, and that the landscaping is looking good – except for the mango tree which was eaten by a donkey. WHAT??? Oh no, my beloved mango tree! How could you! OK, fess up. Who did it? Larry? Curly? Moe, was it you? After all the good press we gave you and this is how you guys repay us???

February 12, 2008

We got a nice note from George and Joyce who live on Seagrape Hill. Talk about depressing…”All is well on the hill. A bit blustery, chilly, and cloudy.” Blustery? Chilly?  Sigh… here in Maryland it is blowing like a sonnofabitch. And cold? It hurts to breathe.  A mere two weeks ago we were sitting on the porch at Reef Madness sipping coffee and watching Bananaquits and cavorting evildoer donkeys. A bit chilly? Yes, we donned our long sleeved tees, but only in the AM. We want to go back, but here is the rub. RM is rented. I know, whine, whine, whine… We snivel because we don’t have any money, yet we complain because we can’t escape the cold and snorkel at Waterlemon as the rental is earning its keep.  I will shut up now, but still, those caressing, warm breezes, those fragrant loamy smells, my inner eye torments me…

February 13, 2008

I just love looking at comparison photos.  And I love the science of weather – all kinds of weather.  But the science of weather and the reality of weather are at odds with my analytical mind and my hedonistic body. While weather of an extreme nature is fascinating to observe, the tedium of a constant 85 degrees and partly sunny forecast has its attraction. Take, say, two swimming pools. Here are timely photos related to today’s weather.  Both my analytical mind and my self-indulgent body beg the question “Why are you still in Maryland?”

February 15, 2008

Not much going on. The winter doldrums are in full swing. Maryland is cold. Maryland is dark. Maryland… well, Maryland sucks right now. To cheer myself up, I looked at some old pictures taken of Reef Madness exactly one year ago. Wow, what a difference a year makes. So more comparison photos!

February 25, 2008

So being the altruistic environmentalists that we are and endeavoring to shrink our carbon footprint, we went to Home Depot this weekend and bought dozens of those new compact florescent light bulbs. The idea is to take a suitcase full of them to Reef Madness next month and stick them everywhere.  Those TSA folks will be scratching their heads at us again no doubt.  Of course, this purchase had nothing what-so-ever to do with the receipt of our first WAPA bills!  Oh, no!  Here’s the tab: For 10/16 – 11/15 and the villa was occupied for 15 days, our WAPA bill was $459.  For 11/16 – 12/17 and the villa was occupied for 21 days, our bill was for $742.  As you might recall, Reef Madness is still on construction power (permanent soon come). How high can it go when this power extravaganza is in full swing! OUCH! So like the conscientious tree huggers and concerned citizens we are, we’ll put these energy efficient bulbs everywhere we can find a spot for them and see if they make any difference.  The ones we bought are “guaranteed for 8 years”.  Eight years? I’ll settle for 8 months after seeing our first porch lights burn out after about 8 weeks…  Bob Schlesinger sent us this picture of RM at night a couple of weeks ago.  He said it looked like a Menorah.  All I see are kilowatts and $$$...

February 28, 2008

We received an interesting note from Eric, a Seagrape Hill landowner, mentioning that he would be on island for about three weeks doing new construction on a friend’s lot located on St Thomas. He is bringing down with him an Amish crew to work on the project. An Amish crew! Brilliant!!!! I do not believe the Amish know about “island time” The Amish have this idle hands are the devil’s workshop mentality that is pretty much absent in the Caribbean. Now there are many people in the islands that work very hard and diligently as a matter of pride, nature, and ethics, but I don’t believe it is part of any island religious belief to keep busy. Au contraire mon ami, the devil’s work shop (or playground) seems to be a much sought after location in the islands. We rather enjoy it ourselves at times! An Amish construction crew, wow... Maybe we should try this construction thing again using the Amish angle!

March 17, 2008

Hi, remember us? We have a villa on St John called Reef Madness. We have had nothing to write about in the last several weeks so we have kept our months shut. You knew that wouldn’t last, didn’t you. Well, we returned to St John last week and came back again all in five days. We’ve had shorter trips, but this one really was too short. We worked very little, snorkeled a whole lot, drank more than we should have, and had an island good time. The weather was unbelievable, but we could probably use some rain soon (sorry island visitors - our priorities have changed). Our friends Cliff and Ellen made the journey with us and saw RM for the first time. Their reviews were favorable (but then what else could they say and remain friends, right?). Our first order of business was to find out why our pool leaked a tank full of water in 4.5 days. We purchased water for our overflow tank and 4.5 days was how long it took to empty out. Nothing like flushing expensive water down the hillside! At first they thought it was evaporation; I don’t think so. This isn’t the Sahara desert, donchanno! We had a meeting of the minds on Monday (we arrived Sunday night) and it was everyone’s opinion that because of settling, the fittings in the pool jets had come loose and were leaking like crazy. Now Pete, our punch list guy, was a tad bit nervous about drilling into our pool to fix the supposed leaky fitting. Seems the pipe was uncomfortably close to the inside wall of the pool, but hey, what choice did we have? The Caribe gods heard that things were going way too smoothly at Reef Madness, so what the heck, they decided to puncture the side of the pool just to keep us from getting too cocky. OUCH! My beautiful pool! What happened? Not only did the pool suffer a severe knife wound, but we had to drain it in order to fix it. The four of us went pool-less for the entire trip. Oh well, it gave us all the more reason to hang at the beach every day! In the end, Pete did manage to fill the hole, match the pool plaster, and so far, the leaking has stopped. We ended up buying two truck loads of cistern water. The pool was filled shortly after we left for our return home – just in time for our next RM guests to enjoy. I’ll bet that fresh pool water was ccccccold!


Pete's helper drillimg into concrete pool from the outside


Pete thinking bad words....

Leak fixed

March 19, 2008

I did mention, didn’t I, that we bought two truck loads of water? Yes, yes, I’m sure I did. “Why two truck loads?” you might ask. Well even if you didn’t ask, I will tell you. It seems that our hill is too steep for a full sized truck to make it to our house. So instead of getting a great big monster water truck, we had to settle for its baby brother, itty-bitty truck. Now itty-bitty truck is not exactly tiny, in fact even itty-bitty had a teeny-weenie hard time making it up our hill. Did I mention we have a great view? Strangely enough, many of our flatlander family and friends (not to mention one or two water truck drivers) are left as breathless from the driveway ascent as they are by our breathtaking view - the wusses! So what we have here is the fascinating “fillin’ of the cistern” – without Mother Nature’s help. I am sure you will be very impressed.

Backing up the driveway

Now he has to turn around

The truck hookup

The house hookup

What the heck is this????
Water flowing in (not out) of our cistern

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