Dreaded Island Fever
Dreaded Island Fever is a malady which eventually effects all those who travel to the Caribbean and truly let her varied sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings into their bones. Dreaded Island Fever, hereinafter known as DIF, is a real, not imagined, affliction which is contracted by most first time visitors to the Caribbean! People contracting the disease usually start showing symptoms within the first twenty-four hours of being in the Caribbean. It manifests itself in a myriad of different ways, depending on the sufferer. There is no known cure, only treatments, given in bouts of one, two or at the most three weeks, depending on the funds available to the sufferer.
I suffered my first bout of DIF in June, 1979. Eric and I spent our honeymoon on Aruba, 10 days at Manchebo Beach Resort, viewing spectacular sunsets, enjoying dinner at the French Steakhouse, and exploring the wild western side of the island in a VW beetle. I felt the first real symptoms of the malady as I, a very uptight Midwestern gal, gloried in skinnydipping in the bath-water-warm waters of the Caribbean at midnight. Once contracted, DIF is never cured. The malady did not have a name for me then and in fact remained dormant thereafter–through a combination of lack of money and time and other factors--until early 1988, when I walked into a cruise travel agent and booked a cruise on NCL’s Seaward. The ship left Miami on a Sunday in August at 5 P.M. and by 9 A.M. the following morning, when we had not yet set foot on any of the islands we were due to visit, we knew we were once again afflicted with the fever that one Ray Ousley would later call DIF. We climbed Dunn’s River Falls, and the pyramid at Chichen Itza and went to Hell (Grand Cayman) and back and immersed ourselves in the brilliant sun and the Caribbean sea.
Over the years, we have taken many trips to the Caribbean, on land and sea, trying to visit all the islands in the Kokomo song, making it to most of them except Bermuda, which seems too uptight to us to be part of the Caribbean (and indeed, isn’t). On land and sea, we’ve visited Aruba, Jamaica, St. Martin, St. Thomas, Mexico, Guadalupe, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, St. John, and many other islands, shopped for larimar and amber in the DR, seen the new home of the President of Roatan while it was being built and helping the taxi driver make a 3 point turn at the top of the mountain, so the taxi wouldn’t go over the side of the mountain, got ourselves left behind by a cruise ship tender on Isla Mujeres, on purpose, had my brand new briefcase sniffed by the drug sniffing dogs in Cartagena before we could bring it back onboard the ship, risked our lives and limbs taking a wild cab ride over an unpaved road on the side of a mountain in a rain storm in St. Lucia, all symptoms of one variant or another of DIF.
In between those trips to the Caribbean, the deadly disease continues to affect us, as it does other victims. Victims have been reported posting pictures and even posters of a tranquil island scene on office walls and near their desks and purchasing a $700 Olympus C3000 digital camera so that they can take digital pictures for the computer. Many folks’ computers reflect computer wallpapers and screen savers of Caribbean scenes, keeping the malady more alive in the sufferer’s mind, but not necessarily helping folks to recover. Reporters have observed folks checking in on Traveltalkonline 6 times or more a day, many of them while they are SUPPOSED to be working, and hurriedly shrinking their browser as the boss walks past. Very severe DIF sufferers have been observed pounding their computer keyboard in frustration as they are unable to get LASER 101 radio or the Sunset Beach Bar web cam to come up. People with DIF have reported that they often day dream about that special island in the sun, while at work. Others have reported seeing people in serious business meetings with a silly grin on their face and a far away look in their eyes.
At home it doesn't get any better! The poor sufferer forgets about the lawn, house work, kids, little league, friends, neighbors, family and even their job! In an extreme case, one forgets about house payments, car payments and social responsibilities. All they can think of is, "If I don’t eat lunch at all this month, can I afford another trip to the islands this year?" Many are observed listening to Jimmy Buffett or the Beach Boys or a tape or CD from some no-name band they listened to in the Caribbean (that sounded a WHOLE lot better down in the Caribbean–must have been all those Heinekens!!) blasting out of the player, bugging the neighbors and the dog. Folks try to hurry along their next trip to paradise by ordering all kinds of TTOL merchandise, hats, flags, shirts, and tatoos, so they can think about the islands 24 hours a day. They hope the appearance of the merchandise will cause their neighbors and friends to ask questions about the islands, and that their tales will cause them to suffer bouts of DIF also, even if they haven’t ever been to the Caribbean!!
Mostly lately the symptoms for us have settled in to, more often than not, one particular Island in the Sun, as they do for many folks here. In one of my trip reports, I wrote that, if a person is lucky, they find their own particular island in the sun, that one place on earth that makes their soul sing. That place is different for many folks and could be an otherwise deserted island on a sailboat, a villa overlooking a fabulous sunset, or a cruise ship. That one particular “Island in the Sun”, is signified by the TTOL logo. For us, it means Orient Beach on St. Martin. It is there that we experience the highest, purest form of DIF. The initial symptom is an uncontrollable urge to lay on a beach and do absolutely nothing. All those "must do" plans seem to melt away in the Caribbean sunshine. When the afflicted are asked about going somewhere or doing something, the reply is usually, "What's the DIFference? It can wait until tomorrow!" DIF is further compounded by the effects of a strange force found only in the Caribbean. It is called "Sand Gravity!" When the disease meets up with this force, the poor afflicted soul finds it hard to even get up to retrieve another cold beverage! That's why some resorts employ beach waiters and waitresses. The far-gone sufferer has taken to bringing along a portable collapsible cooler so that liquid libations will never be more than an arm’s length away. The disease gets progressively worse as time goes on. Even couch potatoes are more active than DIF sufferers! Another symptom of the disease has been reported by flight attendants, who say that spouses have been observed dragging their mates aboard aircraft leaving for home. The afflicted have been heard to scream, "One more day -- just one more day!!!"
There is no known cure for DIF! All of the people who tried to find a cure, were themselves afflicted and ran off to some Caribbean location! There are only "treatments" for this dreaded affliction. The treatment consists of a large "dose" of warm Caribbean sunshine, soft sandy beaches, warm Caribbean sea water and many cold drinks served at a beach bar. There is a downside to this however. The afflicted build up a resistance to the treatments and have to return more and more frequently and for longer periods to relieve the symptoms! Most of the regulars round Traveltalkonline are hopelessly and helplessly afflicted and will never recover! The CDC and your government don't even acknowledge that this disease exists because they don't want to have a mass panic and have all of the citizens rush to the Caribbean. The main problem is, DIF is something that you either already have -- or something you will get!
So, how ‘bout it folks? When did YOU first realize that you were suffering the effects of DIF???
Carol & Eric
(The above is rather cheerfully plagiarized from a similar piece written some ten years ago by one Ray Ousley. Ray hung out “sometimes in the Caribbean” and sometimes on the Prodigy BB service. Ray was somewhat of a philosopher, sanguine and cantankerous all at once. Apologies also go to our friend Jamaica Jim Jordan, from whose website we recently stole his version of Ray’s original piece. JJ hangs out mostly in Easley, South Carolina and sometimes in the Caribbean, and always in our hearts with much love and maximum respect.)
Edited by Administrator on 4/13/01 04:35 PM.