1. It will take longer than you think. The person you need won’t be there, or you have to wait until you get the right part, or the office is closed despite the posted hours, or something else breaks along the way. Try tomorrow.
2. It will cost more than you think. I recall that when we brought our used truck into the country, we looked up the Blue Book value to be prepared for how much duty we’d pay. “Oh, no,” they said. “We have our own book.” Uh-huh. Open the wallet.
3. Don’t leave a message; no one will call you back. Ever. I see TC Islanders on their phones all the time, talking, talking. But they’re never talking to the person who needs to hear from them.
4. Appointments? Hah. Very, very rare. It’s best to take your chances, just show up, and remember Axiom One.
5. Someone will need a letter. This government is quite fond of the formal letter making a request, the letter of recommendation and the letter telling the person in front of you exactly what you are saying. It may seem a silly requirement, but write it.
6. Don’t depend. On what? It depends. Sometimes it’s the Internet; sometimes it’s the phone system; often it’s the ATM. Or your printer, or your car, or the pump … the list is endless.
7. A corollary to Axiom Six is that backups are essential. Get two of anything, so that when the first breaks, dies, disappears or disappoints, there’s another. And always, always have a Plan B.
8. Don’t expect that knowing all this will make it any easier. It won’t. One man who sold his house here and moved to Florida told me he was happier in the States: “It’s still warm, but without the Third World BS,” he said. True. But when you are in love with a place, you just sigh, shrug and open another beer. Takin’ care of biz’ness.