After all, life on North Caicos isn't always the idyllic, swing in the hammock paradise many imagine.
Groceries, gas, household supplies and alcohol are incredibly expensive, if you can find what you want at all.
Things don't last long in the salt air, especially pricey things like TVs, CD players, phones, cameras and computers.
All sorts of critters want to invade your home, including frogs, mice, rats, mosquitos, sand flies, huge roaches, lizards and spiders the size of Buicks. I am currently sharing the upstairs bathroom with a frog I've named Phineas.
There's always either too little water or too much of it.
But every once in a while, I am reminded of the other side. Our recent book party/birthday party was one such occasion.
Parties here are really special. Even though most of us run into each other all the time, we make an effort for a get-together. We wear clothes that aren't ripped or stained. Put aside "issues" with certain others and talk nicely. Share a special dish of food.
In essence, it wasn't just my book party or Tom's birthday party; it was everyone's party. The gathering included longtime local friends, tourists we'd just met and ex-pats with roots in Canada, England, France, Belgium and New Zealand. It encompassed a preacher and the wife of a guy who calls himself an "evangelical atheist." I was thrilled to be selling books, but more thrilled to see people enjoying themselves and coming together despite all the things that are difficult and frustrating about island life.
I remembered that this is a warm place in more than one sense of the word. In Fish-Eye Lens, I have a lot of fun poking at the faults and foibles found in a place like this one. But the book wouldn't have been written if I didn't also love it all.