We ran around like crazy people our last day on the island. Jeremy and Carol were arriving the following week and we wanted to make everything as perfect as possible for our very first guests.
Lydia, our new cleaning lady, was scheduled to come by two days later to give the place a final once-over, but we couldn’t help doing most of the work ourselves. (I suspect some of this harks back to my childhood, when my mother would scrub our house from top to bottom before our extremely meticulous cleaning lady was due to arrive, muttering, “I can’t have her see how messy we really are. She talks, you know.”)
In five hours of non-stop activity Michael and I touched up paint…
and generally made the house look as much like a spread from Elle Décor as we possibly could.
On the more practical side, we put a sewing kit in the kitchen drawer, flashlights in every room, and a first aid kit in the bathroom. We placed a bright pink notebook on the coffee table for guest comments.
(My three short seasons in the hotel industry had taught me that feedback from guests, however painful, can make a huge difference.)
One of my projects that fall had been creating a modest library of DVDs and books for our guests. Bearing in mind that the second house we’d rented in Vieques had offered nothing but horror films—there’s nothing like an idyllic day at the beach followed by a relaxing chainsaw massacre—
we tried to go in the opposite direction with our selection, which consisted mostly of light, frothy comedies and nature-focused documentaries. In other words, the type of movies that would perpetuate the feel-good glow of island life rather than dismember it limb by limb.
By December we had managed to pull together about 30 DVDs, and although we wondered if they might “walk off” with our guests, I can report five years later that only a handful of DVDs has ever disappeared, among them a “Best of Seinfeld” collection that I was glad to be rid of (Michael, a die-hard Seinfeld fan, was less thrilled but he got over it).
Books were easier. First I took a long, hard look at my bookshelves in D.C. and sent down everything I felt I could live without (now that I have a Kindle I’ll be sending down lots more). Even better, I found that used books were readily available on island. Several businesses, including Jack’s Coffee House and Bar, had bookshelves full of dog-eared books for sale, mostly benefiting the local humane society.
By picking up three or four books each time we went in for a coffee or sandwich I quickly built up our library…
which soon consisted of almost a hundred books ranging from classics to mysteries and a smattering of chick-lit.
We were ready!