I think if I wasn’t writing this I’d lose track completely of what day it was. Without the regular pulse of the working day time takes on a different dimension.
This day we woke merely to the muted crash of waves through the balcony doors, the roar of the aircon, and various other unidentified mechanical and electrical sounds that contribute to the working of the hotel. It was mp3 research day.
I had sent a question out over Twitter and Facebook as to whether anyone knew where I could get a waterproof mp3 player in Jamaica. This had resulted in an offer from an enterprising Australian vendor to post me one and, rather more practically, a suggestion from a colleague that there used to be a half decent electronics shop in Ocho Rios. I reckoned that was my best chance within a feasible taxi ride, and so, after a leisurely breakfast I went back to the room to consult the local yellow pages and websites. The ‘electronics’ section of the directory was distressingly short. A little previous research had suggested that Watts New was the main consumer electronics chain, and indeed there was one in Ocho Rios. Even better, it had a web address. Unfortunately, it was just at this moment that the wifi charging mechanism kicked in, and I was kicked offline.
I called the front desk to request the 7 day plan for 50 dollars US. She’d have to set it up, and call me back. While I waited I scrutinised the paper listings for any other likely opportunities. There was a computer shop as a last resort, although it too advertised a web site where I could check.
Some time later the desk clerk called back with the code. I took the opportunity to ask about electronics shops, for which she needed to put me through to the tour desk.
Ring ring click.
“I’d like to find out if Ocho Rios is the closest place l can buy an mp3 player” l didn’t want to complicate the question unnecessarily by getting into the waterproof thing. Even so…
“When do you want to go?”
“Oh it’s just a general enquiry if there are any closer electronics shop than Ocho Rios”
“I will have to ask my driver,” and I was put on hold. Some minutes later she was back (how far away was the driver?). “Yes there is an electronics shop in Ocho Rios.” I decided not to push it any further. I found out that the hotel taxi would be sixty dollars US for the return journey, but l reckoned if I was going, I’d be able to find a cheaper ride in the book.
So it was back to the research. Slightly to my surprise, the web access code worked. I was back in business. Unfortunately, neither of the websites whose owners had presumably paid to list them in the Yellow Pages had any content other than a holding front page. I was reminded of the early days of the web when so many sites had ‘under construction’ along with ‘don’t mind our dust’, a metaphor that I felt never really held up. So I would have to phone.
On checking the hotel directory, it seemed that I couldn’t dial directly, but had to call the hotel operator. This actually turned out to be the front desk again, and on requesting a local call, I was put on hold again. I spent a few minutes then browsing the yellow pages to see if there were any other Jamaican categories similar to ‘electronics’, but I didn’t find any.
The desk clerk came back eventually, apologising for the delay as she’d had to check in a surprise group of guests. A very short call elicited the information that Watts New did not sell waterproof mp3 players. I made yet another call to the front desk to call the computer shop, and they didn’t sell one either. It was a dead end. Time for some improvisation.
Whilst I hadn’t brought the waterproof mp3 player, I had brought the earphones, and also one of those little waterproof bags for putting money in when you go swimming, although I’ve never figured out why anyone would want to do that. With a little cutting via fingernail, I reckoned I could probably seal it well enough around the earphone cord so that it wouldn’t create a big hole that would let the water in, and connect it my normal mp3 player in the bag. It was risky, and a bit awkward, but I found I could balance it on the back of my neck as I swam, and listen to a tech podcast. God knows what anybody thought I was doing, but this holiday was just getting better and better.
There’s little of significance to report for the rest of the day – not that any of the above is of particular significance in the first place. There were some lengthy breaks in bar service when the bartender firstly went for for her lunch break, and then in the afternoon to get more beer after they ran out. Presumably stand-in bartenders are in short supply. In the evening the internet connection showed worrying signs of flakiness, but eventually we fell asleep to the roar of the aircon drowning out all other sounds, with the exception of the vigorous American couple in the next room.