Blown Away – A novel garage

One car was too valuable to be left to chance.  I never found out who the owner one and why it was connected to the hotel, but it was a huge Rolls Royce in pristine condition, every piece of paintwork and chrome gleaming in the sunlight.  At present it was parked under the coconut trees outside in the car park.  A team of twenty people were standing in the lobby and were working out two things.  First how to prepare the lobby to have the Rolls Royce inside, second how to negotiate this huge car through the double doors to take up its exclusive garage location.

The lobby was certainly a big enough space, but in the centre was a large round table.  It happened to be made of solid marble, but fortunately could be split into the base and the top.  It took seven men to lift the base and turn it onto its side and roll it gently till it rested against a wall.  They were so ginger with it; I think both the table and the wall paint were seen as very valuable too.  Then the base which was even more problematic ; being smaller but just as heavy, it took a lot of shuffling for these guys to get it across the floor – and now the duty manager was worried about what damage could be done to the floor.  Once in the corner, they had to gently lever the table top back into the horizontal position and place (not slide) it back onto the base.  There was a lot of relief when stage one of the operation was complete.

 

Now for the even more tricky part – the room could take the vehicle, but could they get it through the doors.  I do not remember seeing anyone measuring the vehicle or the doors; but I had arrived some way into the whole process.

I know this it is not a regular operation to drive a Rolls Royce into a hotel lobby, but I think the driver chosen was either not very skilled, or the sheer responsibility of not putting a mark on the car made her a nervous driver.  I think part of the problem was that she had obviously been given this responsibility to get the car under cover, and no way would she contemplate passing it on to other people around given the chance that it could seriously screw up.

 

As ever in such a situation there were about 20 backseat drivers who caused her even more angst.  She wound down the windows and could hear about ten people shouting advice about how to line up.  She took about three attempts in the open air to get the car aligned perpendicular with the door and could stand a decent chance of getting through the gap without either jamming or scraping a panel.  Even now she was tempted to turn the steering wheel which took her off line again , and she had to reverse and start again.  At one point someone pointed out to her that it would be a good idea if she brought the wing mirrors in to give herself a few more centimetres’ grace.

Eventually it took a central guide standing like ground staff at an airport, and two other guys either side monitoring the potential conflict of Rolls and hotel.  Inch by inch this vast beautiful beast, headlights full on; eased into the lobby.  Even with the wing mirrors in there was barely light between car and door.

There was a lot of congratulations, and the paparazzi, including myself, got their shots of this one off occasion.

I often wonder how easy the reverse operation was after the storm.

Crazy Town, Crazy Island – The First Disruption

Three events occurred at the Kinam that disrupted the routine.  I’d escaped Hurricane Isaac’s clutches in Guadeloupe, but the storm steadily progress westwards into the Caribbean Sea and then gradually twisted north west to head directly to Hispaniola.  It made landfall at Jacmel, about 35km south west of my hotel.  The rain pelt down on the tin and wooden roofs of the hotel and the wind whistled around the corridors, but the staff had carefully tied everything down or carried loose items indoors so apart from a slightly flooded courtyard, the hotel escaped any damage.  But as I listened to the wind that night, I could not help to think about the thousands of people already exposed to the open air from the quake, now trying to keep hold of everything they had left, keeping the rain out from any gaps in their canvas, hoping the flood water and the associated mud coming down the steep slopes would not inundate them and ruin those precious belongings.  And worst, hoping that no flying debris or mudslides would harm their loved ones.

Alas, twenty four people died that night in Haiti because of the storms.  Maybe not the thousands that had been killed in the earthquake, but still more trauma, heartache, and sheer wretchedness for so many in this already beleaguered country.