We are in the dusty, dirty, hot and stinky marina in St. Lucia awaiting the installation of a critical boat part. We have been in different marinas for 15 days now and to say we are ready to get out of here would be a huge understatement. But, things are not all that bad. We have an unending supply of rum, a reliable cable connection which will allow us to watch the Superbowl, and lots of great people watching right off of our back deck each and every day. Plus, we are in paradise, so we have that going for us which is nice.
The key part we are waiting for is a new charger/inverter for our electrical. After 9 years, our current one decided to stop working (which is a good track record for a boat part). This part is important because a working inverter is necessary to operate the blender while at sea. You cannot function on a boat in the islands without a blender. No daiquiris, no mudslides, no frozen margaritas. Without a blender, you might as well pack it up and go home.
Getting a new inverter/charger was not an easy feat though. We had to order it from the states and have it express shipped to St. Lucia via UPS. Boy did we have sticker shock on the shipping fees. We could have had a five year supply of rum with what the shipping cost us. But, as UPS promised, the part made it from California to St. Lucia in two days. That is when the “fun” started- when the island bureaucracy and mentality took over. Goodbye efficiency and promptness. Goodbye friendliness and customer-service. Hello head scratching, frustration and double shots of rum…
The first hurdle was getting the part from customs. We had been warned to stay on top of the local courier service and call them multiple times each day to find out if the package has arrived, less they leave it sitting in some back office and forget about it. We did that and were notified that they had the package and we could come to Castries and pick it up. Great! We hired a taxi for the day to take us to Castries (since the package weighs 100 pounds we couldn’t take the bus). After waiting in the courier’s office for a couple of hours and seeing our package sitting right there on the floor, we were told that we would have to pay the “customs fee” and an agent would be assigned to us to clear the package and release it to us. The agent was there but decided that he would rather sign the paperwork the next day. So, we were told we could not have our part that day and instead it would be delivered to us tomorrow. The conversation at that point went something like this:
Us: “I am not sure I understand, you told us to come and get the package and that the agent would process the paperwork and release it to us today once we paid the fee.”
Them: “umm yes dat’s right.”
Us: “So, we did just that. Can we please have our package?”
Them: “No. It don’t be working like dat no more”
Us: “Why not?”
Them: “It just be how it be. You get it tomorrow”
Us: “That is not acceptable. We hired a car. You told us to come. The custom’s guy is here and all he has to do is sign. Please, Please, Please. We will even pay extra to get it”
Them: “Nah. Tomorrow.”
As you can imagine, cocktail hour arrived early that day.
The second hurdle, one we have yet to cross, has been finding someone to install the thing. We had one guy lined up, but it seems he has gone out of his way to avoid us since we got the part. Over one week period, we have left countless messages for him, and he has not returned our calls once. We then had to go back to square one and do research to find another person qualified to mess with our electrical system. After locating electrician #2 and calling and calling to get him to come and see us, he finally visited the boat, said “no problem mon, I will do it tomorrow.” That was three days ago.
In the meantime, our package has become a nice coffee table on which to rest our drinks and gadgets. Each morning we wake-up and say “Today is going to be the day!” then we look at each other and roll our eyes and laugh. But, really it is “no Problem mon” because we are in paradise, the beach is only a short walk away and each day we watch all the winter storms on tv and say thank god that isn’t us. The part will eventually get installed. If you try to rush things in the islands all you will get is headaches and frustrations. You just have to sit back and roll with the punches. No problem mon!