God is in the details. Dion Boothby taught me this when I was curating exhibitions in London. My natural tendency is to adopt a ‘she’ll be right attitude’ but when you live on a boat, or hang exhibitions, that just doesn’t cut it. As Ross is constantly telling me, “You must think very carefully, about everything, Angela”.
There is a big difference between she’ll be right and and a detailed God.
In our case it is a 6mm devil. Our new fuel tank, all 1,000,000 peso’s of it, was due to be fitted last week. We had prepared ourselves for Big Wednesday (as we affectionately named it). We had formulated a plan; as soon as we saw the tank arriving, Dash and I would head out, enabling the three gents to manhandle the tank into position under the starboard bunk.
Wednesday arrived and we were up early, I had the bags packed and the pushchair poised. We waited, and we waited and finally at 5pm, we saw Elvis walking down the jetty.
“Hola Elvis” I called to him in a somewhat confused manner.
Well you can’t argue with that. “Okay, no problem” I lied through my smile, “See you on Friday.”
Five days earlier Eric had come on board in his stocking feet and taken measurements for our “in-a-very-tricky-position- no-room-for error-tank” in centimeters. Ross, the ex- picture framer who works in millimeters, was less than impressed. “I don’t trust those measurements, I would have thought you would use millimeters, this tank must fit into this space.” said Ross.
“I sure, no problem, Eric has much experience, he is professional” soothed Elvis.
We dutifully pealed off the 500 mil peso down payment and hoped for the best. Two days later Elvis, not Eric, arrived back to take some more measurements, Ross couldn’t hold himself back; he got out the ruler and measured the space himself- every last millimeter of it!
Friday came and went and there was no sign of the tank. Just Elvis -who was as frustrated as we were. ‘Tomorrow, I sure, at 9am” he said.
On Saturday we woke up to torrential rain. Leaks were appearing all over the boat, the hatches were battened down turning the cabins into mini saunas. In weather like this, we figured that it would be unlikely to expect a tank to arrive.
Then out of nowhere…. “Arhhh” Ross cried out. He had tweaked his back while checking the bilge. I had never seen him suck his teeth like that and realized that this was no ordinary pain. This was full- strength- voltaran- keep- the- small- child- away- from- me- pain. Dash and I made ourselves scarce and spent the next hour splashing in puddles on the foreshore.
‘Mama, agua, agua, jump” exclaimed my newly bilingual child.
“Ci, Ci agua” I confirmed in my equally bilingual fashion.
Hours of fun to be had- if you pick your way through the rubbish.
On our way back we met Elvis on the jetty, “Today we do the tank, in 20 minutes okay?”
“Right, okay, great” I replied and then thought ‘ Rats …it’s raining’….. I swung into action, the pushchair was sodden and so in desperation we bundled ourselves into a taxi and went to the CaribePlaza megamall.
As any mother knows going into one of these temples of temptation without a pushchair is insane. I followed the flashing neon signs to a promisingly named Playspace. Dash was tired, he took one look at the musical rides, smiling attendants and the big noisy kids and howled. It was all too much; he flopped down on the floor and wept. Scooping up my tired darling, I thought quickly, “Movies! He can snuggling into me and go to sleep”.
“No pero, blah blah esta, no, no, no prohibito” spat the extremely beautiful total bitch at the movie theatre. It was 2.10 pm, the children’s movie started at 2.05pm (what is that about, 5 minutes past the hour?) and apparently there is ABSOLUTLY no admission after the advertised time.
“ Shit.” I thought. No pushchair, one very tired, cranky little boy, it is pouring outside, we can’t go to the boat, Playspace is a no go….
But then I looked to my left and there flashing before my eyes was a giant neon soft cone. I did what any mother would do in this situation, I coughed up the 2 mill peso at Mimo’s and got the boy an ice cream. Crisis averted.
We found some steps, (one of Dashkin’s favorite things) and walked up and down them for 40 minutes. Finally, after about 2 hours of wandering around I was totally out of things to do and we taxied back home.
We came through the gate and Elvis was sitting watching Barcelona vs Man United on the giant plastic covered TV. As I walked past he made some strange hand gesture that I couldn’t really understand, but it didn’t look positive.
Dash and I picked our way gingerly along the 100 meters of slippery broken wharf to the yacht. Ross was sitting in the dripping cockpit.
“All done?” I asked expectantly.
“They haven’t turned up yet. I think a certain game of soccer might have slowed things down a little.” He replied.
WTF!! I just spent the last 2 hours in a shopping mall with a cranky toddler walking up and down stairs, and then my thoughts turned dark, Oh lord we have been totally ripped off. There is NO tank, it was all a scam. We are been the victims of a very complicated scam!!!
And then th comedy began. First up, the tank had to get on to the boat. This was no small task, it had to get through the cockpit, down the companionway and then fit into the space.
Sweat started dipping off Elvis the minute he lifted the tank, lots of rapid Spanish was exchanged and after some fancy footwork across the gangplank, the tank was on the stern deck. It still had a long way to go.
Getting it through the cockpit proved a tad more difficult than Elvis or Eric expected. Ross, smiled wryly. “I told them it had to be able to fit through there” he said to me. His back was still smarting and, as his ever loving wife, I was determined that he was not going to be doing any lifting.
“Please, friend, I need some rope.” Elvis requested.
“ Here,” said Ross handing him the rope from Dashkin’s harness.
So far so good. Ross looked a little dubious.
By this stage everyone was dripping in sweat. The humidity was at 100%, it was 34 degrees outside and the mercury was climbing.
“ Friend, I think you come here and look this, the tank it is too big” said Elvis “ We need to cut here.”
I had stayed silent and tried to keep out of the way but the thought of someone cutting into the bulkhead was too much.
“ Ah hang on, I don’t think we should be cutting into the bulkhead” I announced through the hatch.
“We cut this bit and then we can lower the tank in here.” Said Elvis.
Out came the measuring tape. If Eric had managed to make the tank too long, who said he hadn’t made it too wide.
On deck, I was trying to keep myself from going into worst case scenario mode. Dash decided that something exciting was going on and the familiar wail of ‘ Mama, Mama’ began.
Only, I couldn’t get to him, the tank had blocked the entrance to his cabin. Thinking like MacGyver, I wrenched open his cabin hatch and lowered myself onto his bed. It was like the way that the Dukes of Hazard would leap thought the open car window as it speed away, but in a vertical way not the horizontal way. Dash was so surprised he stopped crying and stared open mouthed.
“ Hug, mama, hug” he wrapped his sweaty little body around me.
I picked him up and lifted him through the hatch onto the deck, then ,I tried to jump up through the hatch. It was too high to leverage myself up, Dash was beginning to cry ‘God damn it, if the boy wants a juicey in 35 degree heat, the boy will have a juicey!’ I thought, also he said please. So I did this strange crawl, brace myself on anything I can, move and flopped onto the deck.
“ Look Dash flying bugs. Look at their wings,” At first they seemed like a welcome distraction, then suddenly the three or four bugs turned into three or four hundred bugs, then three or four thousand. It was a plague of biblical proportions. The air was thick with them, we were swatting them away but they kept coming, there wings were falling off and littering the deck. They swarmed all over the boat, up the mast, into the cockpit and down into the cabins and saloon. No other boat in the marina was affected, just us. It was no longer fun. I felt like I was going to inhale them, Dash started crying and we fled to the wharf. The tank drama escalated when the jigsaw drill came out and they started hacking into the bulk head.
Then as suddenly as they arrived, the flying bugs left, leaving hundreds of strange earwig type bugs in their place. These suckers were all through our beds and saloon, even Eric and Elvis had no idea what they were.
“Friend, I not sure what these are.”
It was getting dark and tempers were starting to fray. After a quick discussion it was decided the tank would be removed and put back on the deck and Elvis would come back on Monday with a carpenter and attempt to fit the tank then.
Darkness fell just as the light green tank was lowered onto the deck.
Our home was a wreck; bits of wood were everywhere, piles of wings formed in the corners and crawling bugs made me slap wildly into space.
Dash was hungry, dinner was made and we tidied things away as best we could.
Sometimes ya just need to blob in front of the telly.
Escapism is bliss, even if it is into the hell of the Baltimore drug scene!
P.S .Thanks to Mary Parker for her foresight in sending the complete collection of ‘The Wire’ DVD’s. You ace girl.