The ongoing saga of “Here in the Rainforest”continues.  Looks like 2006 was kind of a funky year. . .

April 2, 2006

Despite world-wide concern about drought and global warming, the first quarter of the year here in the rainforest has been extraordinarily cold and wet. I have been waiting since January for a sunny day to repaint the big gates on the driveway and the guest house, but it’s as if were living in a permanent dome of mist and gloom.

Forget about tropical style and fashion. In the last three months, I have unearthed articles of clothing that I never thought I would wear in the Caribbean– turtlenecks, sweatpants, and athletic socks are layered under my hooded Gore-Tex raincoat and tall rubber boots. The mud gets deeper every day, and neither the house nor my body is a shining example of cleanliness. Facing a cold shower in this kind of weather is no picnic, and taking a dip in the pool is out of the question. Yesterday morning, as I headed down the mountain with a wet head, the air blowing inside the open windows of the transport was so cold that I actually got an earache before I reached town.

The house dogs have shunned sleeping on the veranda to pile on top of one another close to my bed on the mounds of extra blankets that might have slipped onto the floor. The dogs in the kennel howl all night long and the chickens in the coop sleep with their backs to the wind. Carrots are rotting in the ground, cabbages are slimy, peppers and green beans are dropping their leaves, and okras are moldy. 

Maybe this is the year to consider growing mushrooms!

June 14, 2006

The guesthouse has been completed. The guest has come, gone, and not come back again.  I shouldn’t worry as I was paid a year in advance, but I hope it isn’t because of something I did or said? Maybe it’s the lousy weather. In an event, I don’t think I’ll take it personally.

More worrisome is the fact that my friendly bats have deserted me. No more fluttering velvety wings above the head of the bed just before dawn, no more bat babies squeaking during the early evening, no more “Walters” as I affectionately call them. It’s true that I have been busy giving the house a general cleanup after all the wet weather. As I carefully dusted and scrubbed and painted around their main indoor habitats during the day (behind a big guided mirror, a watercolor painting under glass, and an expensive stretched canvas), I discretely monitored my little friends. Each time I looked there seemed to be fewer bats and more and more mosquitoes.

One night, when I found their habitats empty, I took down the mirror and the artwork and cleaned their rather stinky domain. After sweeping up two dustbins full of bat poop, and carefully spreading it in the pots of  my favorite houseplants, I washed the walls down with diluted Clorox, and applied a light coat of paint hoping it would dry before  morning.  I set the alarm and  leaped from my bed right before dawn to hang back the pictures so the bats would have a place to stay. I was relieved when one or two of the tiny creatures settled back in like nothing had happened.

But now they’ve vanished—upstairs, downstairs, and behind the outside shutters. The entire valley, which is usually teeming with bats of all descriptions (Dominica has 12 species) in the early evening, is deserted. Surely a bit of house cleaning on my part couldn’t have disturbed the entire population of bats at River Ridge? Where have my friends gone? Do they know something I don’t? Perhaps there’s a hurricane on the way.  Maybe I’m batty, but this one I do take personally.

December 31, 2006

Another year in the rainforest has come to a close. There was never anything like a hurricane, but I can’t say it has been the best of years. For example: While struggling to complete the guest house early in the year, I took a couple of nasty falls, and was forced to spend a good deal of time recuperating.  I also got involved breaking up several dogfights during the spring. Then my eighteen year old transport gave up in June, and I begged for a ride for months before I was able to purchase a used pick-up truck. In the meantime, my computer broke down, putting a serious damper on my aspiring writing career.  Lucky, my foundation Rottweiler, died of Leptospirosis in October.  I had to have Wanda, my darling castaway pit bull, put to sleep, and Hillary, another foundling, got hit by a car.

On the bright side, my oldest son paid me a long overdue visit in November. It was great to see him and receive the gifts that he bore, but the new computer he brought down has already developed a glitch. Likewise, the boom box refuses to play CD’s, and the solar spotlight, which was exorbitantly expensive, doesn’t work. One of the best gifts was the emergency radio which is cranked by hand. I was able to enjoy AM, FM, and shortwave without investing in expensive batteries right up until the crank broke off. My new hiking boots are taking me where I want to go, so  as long as I can keep them away from the dogs’ teeth. 

I bought two stands of Christmas lights in December, but when I plugged them in, the generator blew up! Jeesh! I sure hope the New Year of 2007 is a bit brighter!