Jamaica 2013 – Day five

I woke up with a cold face. The aircon is positioned to blow directly onto the bed. This was probably a decision driven by economics, rather than consideration of the customer. As with website design it can often be the little things that aren’t apparent to the builders that can have the greatest impact.

Having been unable to get the iphone to charge the day before using my clever wire, and having failed to borrow a replacement, I’d left the phone plugged in overnight in the faint hope that particles of electro magic would leap the short gap, and charge the phone. It didn’t work. As I unplugged the phone from the wire with three charging heads, I wondered how the electricity actually got to the iphone bit if they were just joined by pieces of plastic. And then I realised my mistake – I had to plug the heads into each other for the electrons to get to the iphone bit. I did this, plugged it back in, the phone went buzz, and settled down to happily suck up its own flavour of Jamaican juice. My brain had been so befuddled the night before I couldn’t think straight. I felt a rush of relief and wanted to give myself a good talking to at the same time.

The wifi still wasn’t working, and I had a message from the hospital that dad was still in A&E, which I knew would drive him (or anyone) crazy, although some have more of a head start in this than others. He wanted to move to a private room, and could I please call Carol to sort it out. I found out later he’d been lying on a stretcher in A&E for 18 hours, and that a doctor had told him that his only chance of getting out of there was to go private.

I tried to get held of Jeremy, and somewhat frustratingly ended up swapping voicemails. So I called dad in case he had his mobile with him, and he did. Unlike many old codgers, he’s not afraid of using technology if it does something useful for him. He has an antiquated Nokia even more retro than Helen’s. He’s never had a smartphone, as it would mean that he would have to change his tariff, which is some amazing deal from the start of mobile time that means he pays sod all a month for more calls than he can eat.

Anyhow, he sounded quite bright and upbeat, but desperate to get out of A&E to somewhere relatively civilised.

My experience of hospitals over the years has led me to the conclusion that – by and large – they look after the physical person, but often do very little for the softer side. They are unlikely to notice if you go mad, and you’d need to ride through the building on a horse claiming to be Napoleon before anything happened, and even then they’d probably just offer you a cup of lukewarm tea rather than a nice hot steaming mug. Whether this is because everyone is over-worked, lack of training or what, I don’t know.

I finally got hold of Jeremy, and we agreed that I would call to make the deposit, which dad would reimburse me for later. Carol wasn’t there, but her replacement handled the transaction quickly after I told her where I was calling from. She said they’d move dad right away, and call Jeremy when they’d done so. They did move him, but they didn’t call Jeremy.

We spent the rest of a fretful wifi-less morning by the pool, wondering how world affairs were progressing without my participation. Upon enquiring at the desk once again about the wifi, I was advised once again to check my settings, and, once again, to check back in the evening.

It rained at lunchtime. Not a tropical downpour, just some ‘liquid sunshine’. Despite this the excellent entertainment staff were giving us a demonstration of Jamaican music and dancing through the ages. This included a genre known colloquially as the ‘one tile  dance’, because a couple would spend the evening standing on a single tile, bumping and grinding to the beat, which, it was said, accounted for some of Jamaica’s overpopulation.

The afternoon was largely uneventful, although punctuated by one of the staff excitedly calling us over to see something in the sea. It was a crab in the shallows, doing whatever crabs do, and generally minding his own business. The lad who had called us over rushed off muttering about ‘eat’, and quickly returned with something resembling a milk crate. Using this, he scooped up the unfortunate crustacean, who was clearly destined for the pot. We went back to our sunbeds feeling rather sorry for the crab.

Early evening we were back in the room to get changed for dinner. That’s when Helen started to feel ill. The room was going round, and she felt sick and hot. I know what you’re thinking, but she hadn’t had a lot to drink. I have no idea what Jamaican hospitals are like, or where the insurance papers are, and really didn’t want to have to find out. Helen’s balance had gone, and she wasn’t going to make it to dinner.

I went for a solo meal. I did, of course, drop by the front desk to ask about the wifi. Apparently, the mythical engineer had failed to turn up. I became a bit irate at this news, and asked to see the manager, who wasn’t there. As I said to the desk clerk, I just needed to know that this was being taken seriously. I asked that a message be left for the manager, and said that I would be round in the morning to speak to him. On being advised once again to check my settings, I demonstrated the lack of connection to the desk clerk, and as I did so, another wifi network popped up, which the Nexus quite happily and spontaneously connected to. I was gobsmacked.

“What’s that?”, I enquired.

“Oh,” said the desk clerk, “that’s another network that comes up when the main one isn’t working.”

Now I was not only gobsmacked, but speechless.

This other network, it transpired, only worked around reception, but nevertheless, had I known of it it would have helped a lot.

Whilst I was in the mood, I also asked for the powdered milk that I had used with the in-room coffee maker to be replenished, and could they please ask housekeeping not to take away the teabags that I had left there. Isn’t this stuff that you’d just expect? Grrrrrr, and bah humbug.

At dinner as the waitress removed the cutlery for the second place, I asked her to leave it, and mentioned that my wife was ill, and I’d be taking some food to her. The waitress wrapped up the cutlery in a napkin for me, and when she saw us the next day, remembered to ask Helen how she was. This really is a place of contradictions.

Having seen Helen eat the dinner I brought her, and then fall back to sleep, I returned to reception to use the secret magic network for some happy catching up. I got my fix.

I fell asleep that night to thoughts of a sick father in hospital, a sick wife who might end up in hospital, and what I was going to say to the manager in the morning.

< Day four                                                                                                                                                                                     Day six >