"My goal involves a hammock, a vegetable patch, and a solar-powered house. And I hope to eventually get there."
I agree with Miranda Kerr's quote above wholeheartedly. This particular hammock experiment initially came about for us because of packing requirements. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? With only a backpack apiece, we were a bit tight on space, so we thought we'd find a Royal Vagabond type of solution to the issue, and it was hammocks. We've been big fans of Eagle's Nest Outfitters (ENO) hammocks for almost a decade. We bought our first hammock while we were still dating. If you've never heard of them, check em out, if you have, you know the hammock adoration I speak of. Our oldest hammock is a Doublenest and we used to take it to anyplace with trees and set it up and read side-by-side for hours together. Over the years, we've accumulated a bit more ENO stuff, and for this trip, we bought a rain fly. The old, faithful hammock came with us, but we ripped it setting it up (I stepped on it and fell and pulled on it at the same time, so it'll need to be patched. The tear is only in the side panel, so we'll see.)
On this great Caribbean adventure, we set out with the intention of sharing the hammock, but Jason’s splitting headache dulled his senses and landed him literally on the ground when he tried to get into his side of the hammock. He fell hard on his back on the ground and decided to call "uncle" and re-enact one of the classics to become Jason Feucht and the Tent of Doom. It didn't go well for him.
The Tent of Doom looks really cheery in this picture with the gas light going. It was last night that we figured out how to work this light and it made the evening much better...well, until bedtime anyway.
With memories of the previous night still too fresh in my mind, I was not willing to endure another night sentenced to the Tent of Doom. And while it’s no easy task to get into the hammock with the rain fly, the mosquito net, and the cover of pitch black darkness, I made it successfully into all of the above with my camping pillow and a sarong, then I nestled in for the night. After zipping the bug net, a sense of total victory washed over me. I was safe from the menacing creepy crawlies around me. I felt like yelling I am woman, hear me roar, St. John!" but I thought it might sound a bit weird to the other campers.
My night in the hammock proved what I already firmly believed: ENO does a great job with their products which are based mostly around lightweight hammocks and accessories to go with them. The rain fly performed perfectly in the series of grand deluges that followed throughout the night. I was entirely dry, and I got to be serenaded by the sound of tropical monsoon rain. There were few options for trees strong enough to hang the hammock at our campsite, so we had to hang it over the pathway, which meant some splashing when water dripped off of the rain fly, but that’s really not the fault of ENO. And the splashes only got the bug net dirty.
Below is a picture of both of our ENO Doublenest hammocks fitting easily at the top of my backpack. For the record, both backpacks were smaller than your typical carry-on. They had to be small enough to be personal items (so about the size of a really massive purse each) or we'd have been paying baggage fees.
What I did struggle with in the end was the mostly glorious bug net. I’ll be using it again tonight in lieu of the mosquito-breeding-ground that is the tent Cinnamon Bay Campground provided, but it had one fatal flaw. While the net is perfectly and completely sealed, it fits around the hammock itself like a limp bag. Because I slept in a ball, the skin of my posterior and my left arm were what pushed the hammock out into the bug net, and thus, were the bits of me I used to host a free mosquito banquet in the interest of the relative comfort of the rest of me. It was such a vast improvement over the night before, I welcomed the respite.
The singular flaw of the hammock arrangement was still enough to deter a rather enamored lizard. In case you don’t know, I am actually the Lizard Empress. Lizards literally flock to me to show their undying devotion despite my mix of nonchalance and complete disdain for their ways of sneaking up on me. I always seem to be the only person who has a problem with lizards. And when I say problem, I mean they follow me (which isn't so bad), but they also jump on my face, and find ways to be as close to me as lizardly possible.
So, naturally, I discovered a dismayed lizard last night who could only walk along the top of the bug net, looking down on me adoringly. I smiled when I awoke to his disappointed, beady eyes staring back at me, unable to get any closer. Not today, lizard. I told him smugly in my own mind, fairly certain he could understand my meanining. It was a great accomplishment. (This is not the lizard from my sleep, but he's proof that they watch everything I do. He is kinda cute...
All in all, I've learned a few things.When I get home, I'd like to try to make some alterations to the bug net to make it work perfectly, and tonight, I'll be hanging the rain fly a bit higher to enable some better airflow. My experience of sleeping in a hammock on this Caribbean island was somewhat less idyllic than I imagined, and we still have some kinks to work out, but it was fun nonetheless and a hammock takes up much less space than a tent. I'd do it again, but might try to find a way to wedge a tent in as well.
This is me laughing after the ridiculous exertion to get into the hammock. It has to be hung pretty high to not droop too low once it has all your weight in it. This is no issue for my lanky husband, but as a person who regularly admits to having no legs to speak of, it was a circus act, which we filmed, and shall not be showing you at this time.