Life on the Island

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Flag of Saint Martin  ,
Saturday, January 26, 2013

For everyone in England with a car, you will know the stress of having to have it MOT'd once
every year. For our friends in far flung places, MOT’d means having to have a government approved testing centre go over your car with a fine tooth comb to see if there are any faults. This law was probably brought in on a Wednesday when our illustrious Members of Parliament had nothing to do and were trying to justify their exorbitant salaries. The testing stations check everything from the exhaust emissions to..... tyre pressures... and well; I can’t really remember everything, but the list runs into at least fifty or sixty’s things, of which quite a few will be totally superfluous. And each single one can fail your car. In fact, I’ve just checked up on the internet apparently, at least a third of the thirty million cars tested each year fail on their first attempt. And the 'officers’ who do the checking can be right sticklers.......

So on our island, we have the same (well not exactly the same) sort of thing. So every two years, the car has to be checked over by a similar sort of test. Although, this is in name only! Well, towards the end of November I took the little car to the recommended garage for a service. And despite the garage looking like a junk yard, they did quite a fantastic job. They even polished it up to within an inch if its life. She simply sparkled and gleamed when I went to pick her up.

So thinking this would be a good time, went to book a test for the car. Thinking I was in London when you can wait nearly a week sometimes to get your car booked in. Silly me.  We drove in, and I asked to book a test... (The woman behind the counter looked quizzically at me), "give us the money.... (I handed over $20)..... Now drive round the back.... nobody's here now....," and
twenty seconds later Dyana & I were in the highly scientific tunnel wide enough for a small lorry, and about twenty five metres long.  It was painted all white; and that’s literally as far as the scientific bit went. A guy in dirty blue overalls sauntered up with a clip board. Very important to have one of these: makes you look more official and important.

Glancing at us sitting in the car he pulled a solid black gate in front of the car... "OK!..... lights on... (they shone on the black gate)...... make them bright now.... left flickers (indicators to us) right flickers.... stand on the brakes......" then he walked  round the car, "open the hood; (bonnet to us in England).... A quick glance inside... I watched him earnestly. Yep, it had an engine... and it was in the right place...., I fully expected him to walk round the car and kick each individual tyre, “all good," he said (Oh those magic words) and then signed the piece of paper
attached to the clip board. So the entire test; including the drive round the back into the ‘scientific tunnel took exactly two minutes. Now isn’t that something! Yes, it took longer standing in the queue to get the paperwork done than to actually have the car tested. So all is good for another 2 years. Oh happy days and I'll keep my eyes open now because we also have to have new number plates. But I’m sure that will be another story!

And now as Monty Python used to say, “For something Completely Different.” We know someone who knows someone who decided to have what they called, ‘Chanting with Chocolate’ and while I’m not necessarily into chanting, the chocolate bit really interested me. See how... now what’s the word......  yes... chocoholics’R’us. So where else in the world can you be with the obvious exception of San Francisco in the 60’s; and flower power; and all that stuff; where you get invited to someone’s house.... asked to take you shoes off on arrival.... sit in a circle..... watch as they prepare the musical instruments.... in this case an African Djemba drum...... then an African type of xylophone, ( that’s the one all made completely out of wood)..... And Oh yes! The accompaniment of the ethereal music which was recorded on a phone of all things......  then played through a small set of loud speakers. To cap it all, the language it was going to be done in was Hebrew! Now isn’t that strange. The gathered throng of about  thirty people waited anxiously for the start of the.... now what shall I call it??..... The Happening.  Yes... There, that’s quite a good word for it I suppose. Now let me try and set the scene. It was truly international. First the lighting; a few candles and two naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. This really didn’t give enough light for what was going to go on. A few chairs and a sofa big enough for four people to squash together. The rest sat on what used to be white mats on the hard concrete floor. Joss sticks were smouldering giving that intense Indian aroma. And finally the people.... seeming to be from all walks of life. Rasta’s with their long hair..... Alternative lifestyle people..... and of course the Yoga clan all sitting cross legged on the floor, eyes closed with their open hands upturned on their knees. The ‘leader’ began by explaining that Hebrew is one of the ancient texts and we were all to follow him in this. No please don’t worry. Definitely not like normal">Jones Town in Guyana, (for those of us who can remember it!). So like sheep, the assembled throng began bleating out the few Hebrew words over and over. And at a given time, he started playing this African drum only to be accompanied by another man on the xylophone. Perhaps a nice idea; but this person had obviously NEVER EVER seen one of these, was tone deaf, and to cap it all played in time to what was probably going on inside his head! And we the assembled throng, or to him the multitude had to keep up and in time to either the drum... or the xylophone. I really never knew which one to keep up with so decided to focus in on the drumming which was definitely more in time and in tune with the chanting. So after each chant which lasted between five and ten minutes there was a period of silence in which we could, “get into contact with our inner beings and reflect on the words.” His words not mine. In fact my
mantra... instead of being what is should have been was, ‘chocolate cake, chocolate cake, chocolate cake,’ over and over again. I suppose I should have shown more reverence to what was going on, but........  Well, that’s me. Some two hours later it was over, and so many felt, now what’s the correct word, reinvigorated perhaps? In touch with their inner being? I’m not really sure, but then the food came out. Dyana leaned over to me asking if I thought there was going to be pot in the brownies; because that’s what happened in the 60’s. You were never sure what you might be having if you ate one of those back then. “Not sure,” I said, but in for a penny... in for a pound and guess what.... they were fine. Nothing in them at all. Absolutely normal. A good experience, and one I’ve not had since my teens, (even the singing of Hari Krishna), but I’m not sure I want to go back there! To that time again.

took some pictures of sunset over the Caribbean and hope you like them.

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Arnie & Lill on

Nothing like Jones Town...enjoyed the blog.

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