A Monkey Needs Love and Other Caribbean Adventures
By Leslie Huggans, author of Seven Days and Six Worst-Case Scenarios
Thank you to T for inviting me to provide a short, but riveting post –if I do say so myself – for her outstanding blog. Clearly, she is a sophisticated woman with discerning taste so I have no idea why she is letting me post; possibly, because so many of the events in my book actually happened to me. Unfortunately, it was none of the good ones, but one must live in hope.
Similar to the book, it all started like this.
The order for this Caribbean vacation crap-sandwich was placed when a travel magazine addressed to me, Miss Victoria Douglas, landed on my desk during a particularly bad day. I looked at the cover and called the only person I knew I could count on. Julie Tran had been a loyal friend since middle school. One feature story about St. Kitts and Nevis, a short conversation with Julie, and a few Internet clicks had me vomiting in the toilet at work. I’d just spent my mortgage payment on a plane ticket. That ticket transported me from our nation’s capital to a magical kingdom of smiling people, cool ocean breezes, and sand between my toes.
The adventure truly began when my friend and I checked into our hotel and were informed that the water was out on our side of the island. We did not foresee this as a multi-day problem due to our assumption that supplying half an island with water would be a priority. Live and learn my friends, live and learn.
The guidebook (utter rubbish) and the hotel staff recommended a shack-like restaurant on the beach. Kicking off our shoes, we headed in the general direction. I proclaimed that I was hungry enough to eat just about anything, which was fortuitous. As we approached the restaurant, an unidentifiable, but none the less, villainous creature roughly the size of a squirrel shot past us and lunged through a well-worn opening into the restaurant’s kitchen. Sadly, we ate there anyway due to lack of options and the aforementioned hunger. This bit from the book sums up what happened next.
At lunch, we managed to find our way to the beachside grill for ice cream sundaes and French fries. We talked seriously about going on diets to attain better beach bodies. The enthusiasm we brought to the diet discussion was no match for our lack of interest in the implementation of said diets.
We soon realized that country music legend Kenny Rogers would be a constant companion during our stay. We’d heard his sweet jams at the airport, in the taxi, and at the restaurant. This island nation was a fool for Kenny. And, who could blame them?
Our next task was to obtaine a rental car to explore St. Kitts and Nevis by getting off the beaten path. The following excerpt is a memoir rather than a work of fiction.
Sadly, the monkey stampede in the resort’s parking lot was the best thing that happened to us that day.
“The monkeys do that. There are more monkeys than people on St. Kitts. Don’t be afraid,” cried the friendly voice of the representative from the rental car company.
I love animals, but this was safety information that should have been communicated in various tourist publications, signs, and the short video about the island’s monkey population on the internet that I had watched. At the very least, it should have been included in the guidebook.
“Only worry if they show you their teeth,” he yelled as encouragement.
Not seeing any monkey dentals, we ventured toward the sea-green Toyota Yaris. When you rent a vehicle, the company’s representative has to review all the damage on the car before you take possession. It usually takes thirty seconds. This took ten minutes. The intrepid Yaris had been to hell and back. The front bumper had been repaired using fishing line and duct tape. The trunk was held shut with a complex system of Velcro and bungee cords. A normal person would have requested a new car, but I liked that there was very little I could do to this car that the company would be able to charge me for upon its return.
I was wrong. I could do more damage. Among other things, I managed to liberate the huge piece of plastic that was affixed to the car’s front half. By liberate I mean that for days the plastic scraped along the road as I drove making sounds only less horrific than the death of a unicorn. This next bit accurately describes how we obtained the damage while trying to find some old plantation ruins that my friend felt it was important to see.
“It should be right here. I don’t understand. The guidebook said it was two miles from the main road,” Julie complained as she examined the map.
Meanwhile, I was pretending to be on a Dukes of Hazard style driving tour crashing through a tunnel of vegetation, picking up speed, and saying things like “hell yeah” and “screw you, Boss Hog.” The loud cracking and snapping of limbs filled the muggy air and rocks grated the floorboard. Just when I was feeling the full potential of my untapped awesomeness, the car came to a jarring stop. Despite the seat belt, my chest slammed against the steering wheel. The driver’s side tipped down at a disturbing angle.
“Holy crap, if you blew out a tire, I’m going to kick your ass! Do you know how to change a tire? I don’t. And, I’ve got on my good flip flops,” Julie issued in a mild state of panic.
My view from the driver’s side window revealed that the front tire was not flat, but stuck in a deep rut. I revved the engine as if the force of my will could propel the car forward. No luck. We both stared out the windshield while trying to figure out our next move. A small herd of goats was eating and pooping its way through the brush ahead of us.
“OMG, is this freaking Animal Planet?” Julie continued in her panicked tone. “They’ve got lunatic monkeys running roughshod over the place and now there is a herd of feral goats.”
“According to the guidebook, they aren’t feral,” I offered factually. “They are free range.”
Julie angled her head to look at me and yelled. “I don’t give a crap sandwich what they are, their poo smells horrible in this heat.”
It was a poor choice of words, but it was a horrible smell. As the current owner of an eighteen-pound cat, I considered myself an expert on the subject of smelly poo. This stuff was like nothing I’d smelled before.
Julie whipped out her cell and dialed the number to the rental car company with the hope they could tow us out. No answer. Fifteen minutes later there was still no answer and no option to leave a message. It was getting hotter and the humidity was ratcheting up. The smell had us both gagging.
“I think the best bet is to fill the hole up with rocks so that we can drive out of it at an incline,” I offered with more confidence than I felt.
Julie looked dubious. “You think?” she responded in a tone that implied I’d lost my mind.
“Look, we’re in flip flops and the car company isn’t answering. The guidebook says there is a main road that we should be able to hook into at some point. The other option is calling the police.”
When put that way, Julie agreed to my rock plan.
Shocking to all, the rock plan worked. The brush was too thick to turn the car around so I had to back down the mountain only to get lost on the only highway that circles the island of Nevis. Sadly, it took us about twenty minutes to realize that we were lost.
Finally, we made it to the beach. It had been a stressful day. We just wanted to sit quietly with our books and possibly drool on ourselves during a good nap. But, fate had other plans in the form of friendly local who was oblivious to our verbal and non-verbal cues that we wanted to be left alone. Instead, he deposited himself between our beach chairs. He regaled us with the serious problems of a prostitution ring on a nearby island, his plan to organize the island’s monkeys and form a political party, and disturbing tales of his own pet monkey. His monkey had ravaged the neighborhood, incited a violent human feud, and then left him for a primate seductress. Even through his tears, he provided us with sage words. “I can’t blame him. A monkey needs love you know.”
And now my friends, the excerpt from the book that we all wish were true.
I did put down my book and I choked on the liquid I’d just slurped from my cocktail. I recognized the broad shoulders, thick tousled honey hair that curled ever-so-slightly at the ends, and confident smile. The thought of that slow sexy smile always made my stomach flutter, even when I hated its owner’s guts. Muscular legs in khaki shorts easily crouched between our lounge chairs.
“Ladies, can I offer you some libations?” he said in a way that only a man from Texas can manage.
Being very mature, I panicked and decided to pretend as if I didn’t remember him, even though, there was no way he would believe me. Besides, everyone remembered Alex Marshall. He was old money – at least by Texas standards – the life of any party, and an unabashed poon hound. He was also the boy who broke my 21-year-old heart. Enjoying the element of surprise and hoping I could conjure up some sex appeal, I slowly lowered my glasses and turned to face him.
“Holy crap! Victoria.”
He fell backward and spilled one of the drinks. Most men might have shown some embarrassment, but not him. He even looked good doing it. Righting himself on one knee, our heads were level and I was gazing into his big green eyes that were framed by lashes Maybelline would market as ‘illegal length.’
“Damn, I didn’t recognize you with the hat and glasses,” he stammered as those same eyes meandered down my body all the way to my toes.
I found myself reconsidering my anti-spray tan position as my legs actually reflected the sun’s rays. On the bright side, maybe he couldn’t see the fifteen pounds I’d added since college for the glow. I was feeling flushed, but was feigning disinterest.
“Funny, I figured you would have recognized my cleavage considering the amount of time you spent examining it.”
“Why didn’t I ever ask you to play doctor?” he asked regrettably, but with a familiar teasing manner.
“You did. I declined the opportunity,” I said sounding bored, but I was rather annoyed that I had to remind him.
He smirked because with very little effort he’d tricked me into admitting that I’d remembered his antics in college. And, even worse I was paying attention to them now. Damn.
He leaned close and whispered in a conspiratorial, saucy tone, “Remind me to ask you again later.”
He’d added that just to rub it in that he’d gotten the better of me. Double damn. And I had goose bumps where his breath had tickled my cheek. Triple damn. I gave him a look that conveyed the low likelihood of that actually happening. He had the audacity to wink at me. Oh damn to infinity!
“What are you doing at my pool anyway?” I asked to change to a subject of my choosing.
“My grandparents own a house on St. Kitts,” he said, but was distracted by his cell phone ringing. He looked at the screen. “Appears that my fans need me.”
He moved to sit on my chair and pushed my ankle over with the back of his hand. A tingling sensation quickly made its way up the rest of my leg. He leaned forward and pulled the sunglasses from my hand. He slid them on my face and lingered just a bit as he tucked my hair behind my ears. “See you and your pretty blue eyes later, Victoria.”
Then he was gone. I couldn’t formulate a response because my tingling lady bits had sucked all the blood from my brain.
“Ooh la la,” Julie exhaled. “I only watched, but I think I need a cigarette.” I agreed. Neither of us smoked.
In closing, St, Kitts and Nevis are incredibly beautiful with equally delightful people whose main goal is to ensure that you have a great vacation. These islands are packed with unique sites:
- Brimstone Hill Fortress, the “Gibraltar of the West Indies” is a UENSCO World Heritage site;
- Amazing batik clothing production and retail site on an old plantation;
- Boyhood home of American patriot Alexander Hamilton;
- World-class botanical gardens; and
- The St. Kitts Scenic Railway, which provides majestic views and local flavor.
I hope you enjoyed this post and hope you will consider reading my new book Seven Days and Six Worst-Case Scenarios.
Mix dry wit with a juicy corpse and let it simmer over a red hot romance to serve up a wicked comedy. Curious, quirky, crisis consultant Victoria Douglas needs a vacation, and to learn to keep her sassy mouth shut. Instead, she’s gunning a stolen SUV up a mountain with beer cans and bug spray as her only weapons in a fight for survival. She and her investigative reporter friend, Julie Tran, have landed in a Caribbean vacation crap-sandwich bursting with murder, narcotics, and one gorgeous piece of man-flesh. College flame, Alex Marshall, professed his love and disappeared without a trace. Twelve years later he materializes at Victoria’s resort on St. Kitts and he’s got more charm and sex appeal than ever. Tingling lady bits and long-buried feelings aside, Victoria discovers she and Julie are at the center of a criminal conspiracy that stretches across two continents. They’ve got one chance to prove their innocence before competing nefarious factions feed them to the fish…or worse. Victoria has to decide just how far she is willing to go to save her life and mend her heart.
About Leslie Huggans:
Leslie enjoys a dry wit and a juicy crime and she excels at misadventure. While she has never been a murder suspect, many of the events in her books have actually happened to her. She has two jobs. The first is wearing pantyhose every day while toiling for a global corporation. The second is catering to the whims of her feline companions. She lives to travel all over the globe. Leslie visits the Caribbean every winter for a sun holiday, but has yet to encounter a dashing CIA agent. One must live in hope.
Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,
T @ Traveling With T