Assorted Notes from the Caribbean

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Here’s an assorted collection of mildly interesting things I’m noticing about the Caribbean.

  1. Honking is friendly, and drivers have many friends. On all the islands we’ve been to, the cabbies we’ve had (as well as other drivers we see) will often casually fire off quick honks and waves to other cab drivers, friends, people crossing the street, etc. They honk aggressively too, if needed, but in that case it’s a much longer honk.
  2. Both hostels we stayed at had no hot water, just cold. The “cold” water was really lukewarm, probably due to it sitting in a cistern outside in 90 degree heat, which explains the lack of need for “hot” water. Funnily, the shower and sink faucet fixtures still had both knobs, but only the cold worked. Cheaper than custom fixtures, I guess.
  3. Although the Caribbean high season is supposed to be December through March, we’re finding astonishingly, creepily, few people here. In St. Martin, we had a pristine, nearly 3km long beach almost to ourselves, Curaçao felt quiet after the cruise ships left, and Aruba is likewise at low-capacity. As Maja wrote, we’re not sure if we’re hitting a weird gap in the time after the end of high season but before spring break, or if Zika really has scared off most travelers, or if it’s something else entirely… but it is sort of nice.
  4. Although you can pay with USD most everywhere, you’ll occasionally get change in part USD and part Florians/Guilders/Euros, which makes the in-your-head conversion impossible. It’s best to carry local currency (cards aren’t accepted widely, unless you’re at big name places) or just be cool with getting back an indecipherable amount of change.
  5. Hotel/Hostel Wi-Fi is still an unsolved problem for small businesses. All of the places we’ve stayed at have been using off-the-shelf routers with no real QoS control and multiple network names for different areas of the property.
  6. Having only one power adaptor is proving challenging. It means we have to choose between charging our phones, the iPad, the laptop, or the extra charger we brought, which has two USB ports and can charge two devices simultaneously but can’t be charged itself while charging other devices. If left alone, the fox WILL eat the chicken.

Although I enjoyed all three islands we visited, I don’t think I’m long for the island lifestyle. It’s too hot, too remote, the hours too undependable. Sand gets everywhere and mosquitoes are a (literal and figurative) pain.

I’m happy and excited to get back to big city life on the continent. Between continents, in fact.


3 thoughts on “Assorted Notes from the Caribbean

  1. Looks like y’all are having a fantastic time!! A small surge protector with USB ports might be a good solution for the power adapter. Here’s one Kelsey got that handles a multiple input voltages: So then you’d only need to carry one plug adapter and plug your USB-chargeable devices (and one North American style plug) into the surge protector. Note that it doesn’t convert voltage, but that should be fine for phones/laptops.

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