I had long heard rumors of the destructive nature of idyllic Caribbean islands. I don’t mean the obvious threats like hurricanes. Even the most landlocked mainlander understands that particular concern.
No, I am referring to something far more discreet. Something that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Something so insidious it has reduced even the strongest Island Girl to tears. What is this terrifying thing of which I speak?
The silent, stealthy way the endlessly sunny, humid and hot climate wreaks havoc on your wardrobe.
I have read the tales of woe from my fellow island sisters over the years. Moldy bras, disintegrating leather and other subtle attacks that leave Island Girls weeping as they peer into their closets. But I simply could not understand what vexed my sisters so.
After all, six years on into my own Island Girl status and nary a moldy bra to be found. All my leather handbags still maintained their pre-island appearance. And my shoes were happily taking me to and fro with ease.
As the years passed and the stories flowed, I started to believe I was impervious to such destruction. (Ah, the hubris of an uninitiated Island Girl.) I suspected that my own rock possessed some sort of magical properties that insulated me from such horror. Joyful news! Lucky me!
Until a few nights ago.
Alas, my obliviousness to the harsh reality of island life came crashing down around me in one fell swoop.
At a birthday dinner, one of my rarely-worn-but-totally-cute wedgie sandals came unglued. Not while I was walking, or even putting it under any stress. But while I was simply relaxing in my chair. I shifted my foot and, bam!, the whole side of the shoe gave out. WTF?
When I finally figured out what had happened, my mind raced back to all the tales of woe I had heard before. It was my “a-ha” moment. I paused, took a sip of my wine, and engaged in a few moments of silent reflection. Then I had another, more alarming thought.
How would I carry on with the evening? I pondered this question over dessert. I wondered whether, among my many talents, I possessed the ability to walk in basically a high-heeled flip flop left with only half the flop. I mean, the night was young. We had plans! There would be dancing! I had put make-up on! This was a legit Island Girl dilemma!
I asked myself: Do I call it a night or keep on going in my bare feet?
On the one hand, a real night out is a bit of a rare treat for me. I mean, hello! Make-up was applied!! But on the other hand, while I am the queen of going barefoot at home and at the beach, walking through the streets of the main town without shoes was really a very unappealing proposition (even after a bottle of wine). Besides the obvious threats (glass bits, gum, etc.) there was always the possibility of crossing paths with a cockroach. This is, after all, the Caribbean, and those mofos are just a fact of life here. Ick, ick and more ick!
I finished dinner, hoping in the back of my wine-addled mind that I could most definitely pull this off. After all, how hard could it be to walk in a halfway detached wedgie sandal?
Freaking impossible, that’s how hard.
As soon as we finished dessert and I stood up, it was apparent that it was going to be either barefoot or home. Which is how I ended up standing with naked feet in a public square donating my cute shoes to the Kliko gods. (Possible cockroach encounters be damned!)
Then it was on with the show. After all, a simple wardrobe malfunction can’t stop a hearty Island Girl from a night on the town. Luckily, with enough additional alcohol I sort of forgot that my soles were treading upon God-knows-what on the dance floor or in the club’s bathroom.
And, as far as I can recall, the evening ended without incident. We had fun. We danced. We drank (more). We partied like it was 1999. Great fun. Then I went home, both feet intact. Filthy, but intact.
So what lessons have I learned from this most unfortunate incident? So many, like:
- Listen to your wiser, more experienced Island Sisters, because they know that of which they speak, especially when it comes to the silent hazards of island living.
- Always carry a purse large enough to accommodate an emergency pair of flip flops. (That totally adorable, tiny clutch I had with me? Cute, but utterly useless.)
- Alcohol usually solves minor issues like this. (At least until you wake up the next morning with a raging headache, wondering where your shoes went.)
- One’s salsa dancing skills significantly improve (in one’s mind anyway) when one is (a) barefoot and (b) inebriated.
And, of course, the best one
- Incidents like this are a great excuse to go shopping.
I’m a writer living on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Originally from the U.S., I followed my heart to the tropics in 2011 at the wizened age of 43. Since then, I’ve been blogging to inspire and entertain. I love kitesurfing, a good gin & tonic, and corgis.
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