|1999 GMC Jimmy|
If someone is going to spend a serious amount of time in Saint Thomas, then a car is needed. Not just any car, but one that is able to respond on these curving, hilly, narrow and rough roads, something like a truck, a jeep or a SUV. Jim, since he's been living here during the past 12 winters, has a small SUV.
Sunday morning he got up, late as usual, and cleaned up the car, checked out the oil, the water and the battery. The car has been sitting for 6 months, and it started on the first try. “OK,” he said, “it is ready, lets go for breakfast”. We went down the driveway, bumping, rocking and shaking, on a road over grown with tropical plants. On the main highway to Red Hook; going downhill in a car with right hand drive but staying on the left side of the road, it's like ridding in the front car of a roller coaster: “Ahhhh!”
Our first stop was at the gas station and just then Jim noticed that the battery was losing power. He put gas in the car and drove back to the house as fast as he could. It would be a problem if the battery went dead and the car had to be tow. Well, thanks to the holiday our friends were at home so we borrowed Skip's car to run some errands, including finding an alternator.
So, we went down the hill again , bumping, rocking and shaking, the roller coaster thing again: ahhhh! This time we drove to the community of Tutu, to the island's only big shopping center and went to Advance Auto Part, where anybody from the US would go first to find a car part. I was shocked because stores in the States would have a clerk at the door says hello and ask if you need assistance. In other words, customer service. Here we have what I call “customer non-service.” The store wasn't too busy, the clerks were doing something on the computer, talking on the phone and eventually taking care of a customer. After a 30 minute wait at the desk a woman asked if she could help us find anything. It was a long wait to find out that they didn't have the alternator.
Next morning Jim got on the laptop to find other auto part stores. He called two, Rodriguez and Industrious, that didn't have the alternator in stock. So he phoned a mechanic named Jim, who suggested trying Caravan Auto part in Saint John. He did, and yes they had it!. Saint John is another USVI island 5 miles away. We needed to take the ferry from Red Hook, but how do we get there since our car is broken. The good thing is that Jim has friends everywhere he goes, so this time he called Chuck, who gave us a ride. The next ferry was leaving at one o' clock, and after a 45 minute wait we boarded for a beautiful boat ride to St John, we even had birds gliding alongside the boat. What a gorgeous day for that 15 minutes trip, on the clearest waters I've ever seen.
It will continue...