It’s all too familiar with another night at the excellent Choo’s with dinner at about 10 USD per head. Mrs Choo gave us a bag of sour oranges from the tree in her back garden. They taste like grapefruit and if you don’t enjoy that can be used for washing up dishes.
Choo’s is great and Mrs Choo is the best host around. But occasionally she takes a night off….so a local girl was on duty and we tried to order soft drinks for four people. This went back and forth so many times. Then don’t mention the food order which although simple was nigh on impossible to agree and finalise. Matters were so confused that the food combinations read back to us were new inventions of Chinese fusion…….but in came a Dutch party of eight. We knew there was no chance and as they ordered Bacardi and Coke and a couple of other drinks we waited. Sure enough the whole thing was repeated endlessly. About 30 minutes later they were called into the bar to point at the relevant drinks. Still nothing so they went back again. Nothing happened. After an hour they had to settle for a much more manageable Carib beer each!
Customer service on these islands is absolutely appalling. By that we mean worse than anything you are likely to experience back home and that would be the norm here. We are open in our approach, always start with a friendly introduction as is supposedly custom in these parts. But the result? Smile? You’re joking…Speak to you? Not on your life….a miserable mumble of some kind we now consider a fairly positive response. You may not hear what was said but hey, you got an acknowledgement so don’t worry, be happy. There are a few, a very few, exceptions where you can deal on a human level:
Choo’s – excellent, always tells an engaging family story, very cheerful and helpful
Budget Marine (Spice Island) – relatively good once you get going
De Big Fish – sort of getting there reluctantly
Prickly Bay – after three weeks here a couple of staff members now acknowledge us which is progress
Back to Prickly Bay for the weekly quiz and much to our amazement the three of us managed to guess enough of the answers to come 2nd and win free entry to tonight’s Bingo plus an Apple Pie and Ice Cream, the latter delivered immediately after the quiz and scoffed.
Will we play Bingo? The top prize is several thousand dollars but there are also pigs and goats (yes the real live ones) to be won. We have never played Bingo before so it would be a first. Come to that never owned a goat or a pig before! What if we win both; do they get on? How does a goat travel in a tender? Does a pig eat running rigging?
We returned to the boat to a view of the Amsterdam Stad floodlit at anchor next door.