Sunday, July 19, 2009


Dreaded Island Fever is a malady, which eventually affects all those who travel primarily to the Caribbean and truly let the varied sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings into their bones. Dreaded Island Fever, hereinafter known as DIF, is a real, not imagined, affliction which is contracted by most first time visitors to the Caribbean! People contracting the disease usually start showing symptoms within the first twenty-four hours of being in the Caribbean. It manifests itself in a myriad of different ways, depending on the sufferer. There is no known cure, only treatments, given in bouts of one, two or at the most three weeks, depending on the funds available to the sufferer.

I suffered my first bout of DIF in March, 1992. My family and I spent a week in the British Virgin Islands, 7 days on a sailboat named Island Fever, viewing spectacular sunsets, and enjoying all that the islands had to offer. I felt the first real symptoms of the malady as I gloried in snorkeling in the bath-water-warm waters of the Caribbean. I had never snorkeled in my life and remember (after the fear wore off) being amazed at those beautiful fish. Once contracted, DIF is never cured. The malady did not have a name for me then and in fact remained dormant thereafter–through a combination of divorce, lack of money and time and other factors--until 2001, when I again visited the British Virgin Islands aboard the Windjammer Barefoot Cruises Flying Cloud.

Over the years, we have taken many trips to the Caribbean, on land and sea, trying to visit all the islands in the Kokomo song. On land and sea, we’ve visited Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, St. Thomas, Grenada, Bequia, St. Lucia, Mustique, Mayreau, Canouan, Carriacou, Puerto Rico, Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent, Barbados, and many other islands, shopped for dark chocolate bars from the Grenada Chocolate Factory, fed bananas and petted a monkey who lives in the Grand Etang rainforest, spent hours hunting for enough little nutmeg graters to give as a gift to each of the teachers I work with, making numerous scrapbooks to keep memories alive just a little bit longer, ALL symptoms of one variant or another of DIF.

In between those trips to the Caribbean, the deadly disease continues to affect us, as it does other victims. Victims have been reported posting pictures and even posters of a tranquil island scene on office walls and near their desks and purchasing a $1,000 Nikon D70 digital camera so that they can take digital pictures for the computer. Many folks’ computers reflect computer wallpapers and screen savers of Caribbean scenes, keeping the malady more alive in the sufferer’s mind, but not necessarily helping folks to recover. Reporters have observed folks checking in on travel forums 6 times or more a day, many of them while they are SUPPOSED to be working, and hurriedly shrinking their browser as the boss walks past. Very severe DIF sufferers have been observed pounding their computer keyboard in frustration, as they are unable to get any Caribbean Beach Bar web cam to come up. People with DIF have reported that they often daydream about that special island in the sun, while at work. Others have reported seeing people in serious business meetings with a silly grin on their face and a far away look in their eyes.

At home it doesn't get any better! The poor sufferer forgets about the lawn, housework, kids, little league, friends, neighbors, family and even their job! In an extreme case, one forgets about house payments, car payments and social responsibilities. All they can think of is, "If I don’t eat lunch at all this month, can I afford another trip to the islands this year?" Many are observed listening to Jimmy Buffett or the Beach Boys or a tape or CD from some no-name band they listened to in the Caribbean (that sounded a WHOLE lot better down in the Caribbean!!) blasting out of the player, bugging the neighbors and the dog.

Most lately the symptoms for us have settled in to, more often than not, one particular Island in the Sun, as they do for many folks here. If a person is lucky, they find their own particular island in the sun, that one place on earth that makes their soul sing. That place is different for many folks and could be an otherwise deserted island, on a sailboat, a villa overlooking a fabulous sunset, or a cruise ship. That one particular “Island in the Sun”! For us, it means a sailboat sailing to small islands with the friendliest people you have ever met. It is there that we experience the highest, purest form of DIF. The initial symptom is an uncontrollable urge to lie on a beach and do absolutely nothing. All those "must do" plans seem to melt away in the Caribbean sunshine. When the afflicted are asked about going somewhere or doing something, the reply is usually, "What's the DIFference? It can wait until tomorrow!" The effects of a strange force found only in the Caribbean further compound DIF. It is called "Sand Gravity!" When the disease meets up with this force, the poor afflicted soul finds it hard to even get up to retrieve another cold beverage! That's why some resorts employ beach waiters and waitresses. The far-gone sufferer has taken to bringing along a portable collapsible cooler so that liquid libations will never be more than an arm’s length away. The disease gets progressively worse as time goes on. Even couch potatoes are more active than DIF sufferers! Flight attendants, who say that spouses have been observed dragging their mates aboard aircraft leaving for home, have reported another symptom of the disease. The afflicted have been heard to scream, "One more day -- just one more day!!!"

There is no known cure for DIF! All of the people, who tried to find a cure, were themselves afflicted and ran off to some Caribbean location! There are only "treatments" for this dreaded affliction. The treatment consists of a large "dose" of warm Caribbean sunshine, soft sandy beaches, warm Caribbean sea water and many cold drinks served at a beach bar. There is a downside to this however. The afflicted build up a resistance to the treatments and have to return more and more frequently and for longer periods to relieve the symptoms! Most of the regular travel internet forum goers are hopelessly and helplessly afflicted and will never recover! The CDC and your government don't even acknowledge that this disease exists because they don't want to have mass panic and have all of the citizens rush to the Caribbean. The main problem is, DIF is something that you either already have -- or something you WILL get!

So, how ‘bout it? When did YOU first realize that you were suffering the effects of DIF???

And DIF is just not the Caribbean alone, but includes all destinations in the world. The type of place where you say going in -- this is a ONCE IN A LIFETIME shot and it will never happen again -- but.......will it or not -- who knows -- but DIF is................ and there will never be a cure and we are glad for that!

(The above is rather cheerfully plagiarized from a similar piece written some ten years ago by one Ray Ousley. Ray hung out “sometimes in the Caribbean” and sometimes on the Prodigy BB service. Ray was somewhat of a philosopher, sanguine and cantankerous all at once. Apologies also go to Jamaica Jim Jordan, and Carol & Eric (TTOL), from whose websites we recently stole a version of Ray’s original piece. JJ hangs out mostly in Easley, South Carolina and sometimes in the Caribbean.)

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