A Winnebago In Curacao

Maybe it’s the ocean. Maybe it’s the ocean air. Or maybe it’s the ether worst-writer has found himself in. Indeed, dear worst-reader. There is something about Curacao. I almost feel as though I’m home. Not “home” in the sense that I would want to make this my home. Nor does the thought even cross my mind to move to Curacao. No. That phase of life is over for me. I’ve done all my moving. And. I’m a city-worst-writer thru and thru. In fact, I’m so city-oriented that I’m hoping for the day when NRW, Germany, will simply get rid of all the Düsseldorfs, Bonns, Wuppertals and Essens–all the villages, don’t you know–and just make it all one big Cologne, Germania. Wouldn’t that be cool? Maybe not. §But here’s the thing (in this worst-post): I’ve been dreaming wildly since arriving in this caribbean place. And I suppose that’s a good thing. I usually associate dreaming with things going well in my body and mind. Or at least things aren’t as disturbed as when I don’t dream. But the problem last night is the content of my dream having nothing to do with this vacation. Or does it? For example. Last night’s dream went something like this. §We stopped at a “Su Wung” grocery store in Barber, Curacao. This is a huge, warehouse-like building painted in light green and all windows  have heavy iron bars guarding them. The front entrance also has bars guarding entry but a doorway of the bars is open while a guard checks those coming and going. The place is perfectly clean on the outside, as least as it’s to be seen from the road leading to it, but the parking lot is full of locals partying, texting and teaching children how to read. Needless to say my entrance to the store was a bit of a show. There is certainly no need for a Winnebago on this island. Many of the locals were shaking their heads as I pulled in. I was driving a twenty-foot Winnebago that was painted black with ugly gold trim. The vehicle was loaded with all the coolest travel gadgets one could want. The cockpit had buttons everywhere around the driver so s/he could control it. There was a button for extending the cab. When activated the cab would slide out and turn an already large living/dinning room into a mansion-like facility on wheels. Keep in mind, this cabin couldn’t be extended if the camper was parked next to another car. In fact, there is a warning sign next to the cockpit button that read: if car is parked next to the right side of this vehicle do not extend mansion-like accessory cabin otherwise you will own someone’s vehicle; you have been warned; travel safely. Another button raised flat screen TVs from their hiding places under window panes or above beds. The button I liked the most while driving around Curacao was the one that controlled the sun visor that could be lowered and raised, shielding one from the tremendous glows of paradise sunshine that pierced the huge glass front windshield of the vehicle. Obviously on this day I had used it quite a bit. According to complaints from unknown passengers, we had driven around the island at lest four times. I also recall in the dream, though, as we pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store, it was already dark, which explains my initial disappointment that I couldn’t play with the sun visor anymore. Nomatter. §The Winnebago was full of people that I didn’t know, although some I think I recognized. There were people from work, from consultancy jobs and from a recent seminar where I gave a speech on defusing Interwebnet directed homemade bombs using only dinner cutlery. There were two people at the back of the vehicle though that I recognized as my wife and my son but they never really came forward or interacted in the dream; I think they were playing cards or something. As I pulled into the parking lot of grocery store, flicking a switch in the cockpit of the vehicle that controlled multi-colored ground lights on the camper, I was directed by a old Creole man with a pearl white beard to drive through a large garage door which lead to a parking lot on the other side of the building. I was told by one of my passengers in the Winnebago that the old man was saying something about only local cars could park in the front parking lot. I asked the person translating how he got in my camper and his answer was: I never left. But then I noticed a major problem. The garage door I was being directed to drive through was actually the front door of the grocery store–the one with the jail-like bars guarding the entrance. I kept trying to ask the man directing me if he really wanted me to drive through the store. And I tried as best I could, even stopping the man in my camper from translating, to understand Papiamentu, the official language of Curacao. I understood nothing except that I had to drive through the front door of the store. I pointed to the closed/locked bars where the guard was standing. The guard was checking all the locals coming out at that moment but none of those going in. I didn’t understand what he was checking, though, because everyone coming out of the store was empty handed, except for their smart phones and a few had empty but colorful pieces of paper in their hands. A large Creole woman in a bright pink dress with a huge dark red heart the size of two fists that hung from a black necklace around her neck was arguing with the Chinese owner of the store at the cash register. In fact, while the Chinese woman was arguing vehemently that the Creole woman leave her store, noting that her tricks were no good here, she stared expectantly at me through the huge front windshield of my Winnebago. With my right hand I waved at the Chinese woman. There was no response, just a flat stare. She continued to argue with the creole woman when the old Creole man, the one with the white beard, slapped the glass of my windshield, telling me, in Papiamentu, to get on with it. I adjusted my seat of the Winnebago and before putting the vehicle in gear I went through a checklist that was standard issue when commencing forward motion. I pointed to the bars of the front entrance of the store but the only thing that moved was the guard. A few locals rushed in through the small doorway of the bars until the size of the Winnebago was up against the entire entrance. I tried to tell someone that the vehicle was too big, it won’t fit. Someone in the crowd that I was driving around Curacao at the back of the Winnebago said: Yeah, sucker, that’s what she said. I inched the vehicle forward, slowly. I could hear the old Creole man yelling in Papiamentu to get on with it. My translator added that he also said there were people waiting to go shopping. Something else was telling me that I had come this far and there was no reason to have any remorse, sentimentality or regret for the things I’ve done. So I hit another button on the cockpit control panel which did something with the acceleration system of the vehicle. I could feel the motor at the back of the vehicle revving up as the front windshield was only centimeters from the bars guarding the entrance of the store. Before touching the bars, within a split second, the Winnebago was inside the store and we were driving down an aisle. I hit the autopilot button and focused on the distance ahead. But my view kept getting interrupted by the variety of shopping available to us if we were to stop. We drove passed the cereal section and I yearned for Trix and Fruitloops. We drove passed the cat food section and I thought of whether or not my sister-in-law was taking care of my pug. We drove passed shelving that went to the top of the warehouse ceiling that was filled with brand new car batteries all of which were made in Tsching Doa, China, and, oddly, were only nine-point-five volts. A woman in the crowd at the back of the Winnebago came toward the cockpit. The onboard computer spoke to her and asked that she return to her seat. She said that she had a request of the driver. The computer let her pass. I told the young woman that I was focused on driving but that she could go ahead and ask her question. Sir, she said. Can I get some frozen yoghurt? Sure, I said, and added
: as soon as we park. I watched her turn around in the rearview mirror and return to her seat. Then I noticed who she was. She was Pauline the dive instructor that I met the day before on our first scuba dive. Pauline was French and she missed the last resort she worked at. She didn’t want to come to Curacao because they didn’t have enough work for her boyfriend to join her. The thing I remember most about Pauline though was that she admitted to liking rapture-of-the-deep and she could find no one that would dive to sixty meters with her. Then we passed a section where live animals were being sold. An ostrich was available as were her eggs. One ostrich egg cost four hundred US dollars, the ostrich only costs two-fifty. If you wanted you could eat the egg right there and the mother ostrich would even crack open for you. Stupid animals, I thought. Then came toothpaste, toothbrushes and WD-40. I tried to stop the Winnebago because you can never have enough WD-40 but the autopilot wouldn’t let me. We were approaching a light at the end of the tunnel. The closer we got, the brighter the light. Great! I thought. I can finally get back to using my favorite button. I knew we were not only getting ready to exit the store but also leave night for day. How long it’s been since I’ve completed such a journey. The end is nigh, dear worst-reader. I flicked the rocket-ship-like button and activated the lowering of the sun visor. It slowly dropped down and while doing so the inside of the vehicle yellowed from its tint. The people in the Winnebago sighed with relief. But then I noticed a problem. I couldn’t see beyond the white light we were approaching. I should at least see the back of the grocery store, the parking lot where we would park. There was only light. §And then I woke to pee and get a drink of water. It was three-thirty in the morning. Rant on. -Tommi