The first 3 days are the hardest

The first 3 days are the hardest

My wife always says the first 3 days of anything new are always the hardest.  Whether it’s a new job or moving, you just need to get through the first 3 days.  Now, living abroad is great, but that said, there are some challenges.  Our first indication of this was day 1 when I dropped my wife off at the airport to fly down for her job. She was flying a US based airline and had only booked a one-way ticket.  We knew she’d be there for at least 6 months, why book a return ticket?  The ticket agent at check-in was having none of it.  When my wife explained she wasn’t going as a tourist, but to live, you could see the ticket agents head twitch and “Does Not Compute” scrolling across her forehead.  She asked for proof but the work permit was electronic, my wife didn’t have a copy, immigration on the other side did, but not my wife.  We spent 45 minutes arguing that she didn’t need a return ticket, she was moving to this country legally.  Finally, with only minutes left before the flight was scheduled to board the ticket agent let my wife through, but only after we bought a return ticket home.

Once here, there were also the challenges of finding a place to live.   At first my wife stayed at a sort of hotel/B&B/long-term living residence.  It was walking distance to her job, reasonably priced, and safe.  Her employer suggested it and it worked.  But, given what we were paying per week, we quickly discovered we should find a more permanent solution.  So my wife found a real estate agent and started looking at places (remember, I’m still in Connecticut).  She calls me telling me she found this great place, but it’s a little more expensive then we budgeted for, or there’s this other place that isn’t as nice but more affordable.  Not knowing when I would move there permanently, I figured she should get the safer place she likes more, even if it stretches us a bit financially.  She agreed and bam! We had a home on a Caribbean Island.  We got really lucky.  Our landlord is great and the place is beautiful.  There are these cute chickens clucking all over the yard with their baby chicks and roosters crowing, like straight out of Robinson Crusoe…at least they’re cute during the day, but around midnight…  By the third night of this rooster crowing from midnight until morning, we were Googling “humane ways to kill a rooster.”  We tried everything that was legal, and one that was quasi-legal, until our neighbor told us he bought a large fan and the white noise drowns the roosters crowing right out.  Worked like a charm.  Our car on the other hand…

We started looking for a car during my first visit.  The market for cars here is very strange.  It’s not like there’s a Kelley Blue Book anyone follows.  First, every car on the island is imported, makes sense.  If you’re importing a car, you obviously have to purchase the car.  Someone could purchase a car from literally anywhere, the United States, France, UK, China, Japan, who knows.  In any case, you purchase the car.  Then you pay to ship it here.  Then you pay an import tax, and then you pay a disposal fee.  So a new $20,000 car in the States could easily be $35,000 after you import it.  And if you resell it here, you want to make your money back…

Anyway, we wanted a SUV.  Given we live on a flat island, when it rains here it floods, quickly.  A car could easily flood during a hurricane or sustained rains, an SUV is less likely.  We also wanted space for dive gear and for family/friends and their luggage when they visited.  Honda’s and Toyota’s are good bets since they tend to run well and if they do need maintenance, finding parts is easier.  So we settled on finding either a RAV-4 or CRV.

Side note:  My wife’s nieces call her Aunt Iguana.  It sort of rhymes with her name, maybe they couldn’t pronounce her name growing up and iguana came out instead, who knows.  In any case, her nickname is Aunt Iguana.

So my wife finds an iguana green Honda CRV for sale, cheap (this should’ve been our first warning).  Trust me, there’s no other color car like this on the island.  So we arrange a meeting with the seller.  He’s this Eastern European who constantly tells us how great the car is, “It’s a very good car, I drive my child in it,” he says in an Eastern European accent.  My wife loves it.  “The iguana mobile we’ll call it!” she says.  “It’s perfect!”  Okay, do I care what color it is? Not really.  Does it seem to run okay? Yes.  Does it do what we want it to do? Yes.  But, I’m no mechanic.  Somehow I missed that part of manhood when I grew up.  I can change the oil and a flat tire, but you start talking to me about “rear bushings” and I’m beginning to think you’re into kinky sex or something.  Anyway, given my lack of car mechanic knowledge, we do our due diligence and take it to a “reputable” service center for a pre-purchase inspection.  This Eastern European fellow comes with us.  While the mechanic is doing the inspection, we all wait in the lobby.  The Eastern European leaves, ostensibly to make a phone call.  He comes back a short while later.  The mechanic follows soon after.  Clean bill of health.  The car is in perfect working order.  So we buy the car…

We sign over the title, do all the paperwork, trade cash, it’s a deal.  Not 5 minutes later, “what’s that sound?”  The engine doesn’t sound right, there’s a knocking sound I hadn’t heard before.  We take it to the nearest mechanic, not the guy who performed the inspection.  Guy spends about 3 minutes under the hood. “I figured out the knocking sound,” he says. “The engine isn’t bolted to the frame of the car.” Again, I’m no mechanic, I didn’t go to mechanic school, but I would assume if you inspect a car, you make sure the engine is actually attached to said car. I was dumbfounded.  I ask if there’s anything else wrong. He gives me about $1,000 worth of things wrong with the car.  Unbelievable.  I ask him how much he would pay for this car, exact words, “I wouldn’t.”  Remember the scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Cameron realizes how many miles have been put on his dads car and he absolutely losses it?  That was me.

The car has been a disaster ever since.  At this point we’ve replaced or repaired every piece on this thing, sometimes more than once.  Given the amount we’ve spent, we’ve probably paid twice for the car but hey, there’s no other color like it on the island.


1 Comment

  • Erin

    September 4, 2015 at 7:17 am Reply

    Omg that sucks

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