I’m almost about to hit my one year mark since moving to an island. Although I am still newer to island living, I’ve already acquired quite a few new skills and lessons. It is inevitable that while living on your rock you will obtain abilities you once would have balked at. While I used to worry about keeping hair fly-aways at bay, what new high end lipstick I would be buying, and having perfect manicured nails, living in the Caribbean, things have changed a bit. Ok, ok I still worry about my hair and makeup, but the skills I have gained living on my island far outweigh the skills I learned living in the states.
So here are some of the valuable lessons I have gained so far.
Killing Bugs. You will kill bugs like never before. Forget panicking every time a large unidentifiable insect is near you. You will pick up whatever is closest and can be used as your weapon, and you will kill that bug. You will smash it in all it’s glory and not look back. Along with learning to kill bugs, you will learn to keep fly zappers on hand, have lots of Tupperware, and know how to ant proof your kitchen. At one time I would squirm at the thought of a bug, such as a spider or a cockroach, being within a few feet of me. I mean, who doesn’t ? To be honest I hadn’t even been in the same room as a cockroach until living on an island. But now, I take it like nothing. Killing mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, beetles, you name it, it will be second nature to you. And on that note, let me say the issue of bugs has probably been one of my hardest adjustments to island living. As soon as you get rid of one bug family, a new one will surely appear.
Island Time. You will learn to take life a lot more slowly. This is what we call island time. Island time is a real thing. This can include the staff in restaurants taking their sweet time to waiting days for maintenance on your apartment. On an island, Monday means Wednesday or Thursday. No, Monday means Thursday. I came from the east coast, which is extremely fast paced, as in darting from one place to another like your life is dependent on an hourglass running out. So for me, learning to deal with island time has been a struggle. But if you’re lucky enough to take life more slowly like we do on the islands, you may just be lucky enough to stop and enjoy the little things in life and all the beauty around us. Your appreciation for everything around you grows when you accept island time. Maybe this is why island time became a thing ?
Electricity is Overrated. Electricity is overrated right? On islands, unless you have a generator, hell even with a generator, you will experience power outages on a regular basis. There’s nothing like being in the middle of curling your hair or that really suspenseful part of your favorite tv show and boom! Power’s out. And why is it, that your power will inevitably go out at the most in opportune of times. My best friend and sister recently visited and on my friend’s last day here, the power went out for 8 hours. I wish it would have been a surprise but it really wasn’t. Need I remind you with that, your wifi goes out too. At one time, I would have huffed and puffed at just the thought of this. But with power outages on a regular basis, you learn to just relax and unplug from the world.
Driving. So of course I knew how to drive before moving to my island. I learned to drive in New Jersey, where everyone is in a rush to get somewhere. In case you hadn’t heard, New Jersey boasts some of the more aggressive drivers in the states. Naturally, I thought I was a great driver, but move to the Dominican Republic and you will be given a crash course in defensive driving. I thought driving into New York City during rush hour was bad, well Santo Domingo has nothing on NYC traffic. You will be given a crash course in serious, anxiety ridden driving. Driving on an island can be a bit daunting. Drivers don’t use directionals, or lanes for that matter. Not only are you trying to maneuver around other drivers, but also cowboys, throw in potholes, unpaved areas, and the occasional cow. You will learn that your horn is your best friend while driving on this island.
Showering with a bucket. So this is definitely one of the less glamorous lessons I’ve learned on an island. Unfortunately some islands don’t have the best water supply and at times you will run out of water or maybe your water pump won’t be pumping. If you run out of water in the middle of a shower, you will learn not to be alarmed and instead you will fill a bucket and use that. Hey, you do what you have to do while living on an island at times. You will also learn to troubleshoot your water pump and sometimes even watch your fiancé climb to your roof to check your water tank. Along with this lesson you will learn to shower with less than warm water at times. I remember for the first few weeks on my island, our water heater wasn’t working. Waking up early; turning on the water; to be hit in the face with fairly ice cold water, now dripping down you. Talk about a culture shock quite literally. But you will learn that it’s not that bad when you live in summer weather all year long. By the way, you can forget about that superb water pressure your shower once boasted in the states. When my sister was here, she turned on the sink and her exact words were “thats it?” with a look of pure bewilderment. “Yup thats it”, I said. And they thought I was kidding about the water..
Needs become just wants. On an island, you can walk into your grocery store looking for all the ingredients you need for that special recipe, to walk out with a new idea for dinner. You can walk into your local hardware store needing a specific piece to walking out empty handed. Sometimes you won’t find what you “needed” on an island. But in turn, you will learn those needs aren’t needs. They are wants. You learn to improvise with what you have and what you can find. We can all use a little MacGyver-esque in us though right.
Appreciation. This may be one of the most important lessons learned on an island. Living on a rock, you learn to appreciate the simple things in life. You learn to appreciate everything you have in your life. These are many things we often take for granted before we come to an island. It may be a cliche but you literally learn to stop and smell the roses. You learn to appreciate life and all the beauty around you. You learn to appreciate sunrises and sunsets. The islands and her lessons make us stronger, and we can thank them for creating some of the most kick-ass women and men around. And last but not least you learn to appreciate how fortunate you are that you’re able to call paradise your home.