Aaaaahhhh, island life. Nothing compares, take it from me.
Shortly after arriving at the Princess Juliana International airport 15 years ago with two very large suitcases in hand, my first reaction was that of freedom. It was the first time I had followed my heart and followed through on something I said I would do. I felt exhilarated every time I would see an Air France or KLM take off without me on it. It meant that I was here to stay, at least for a little while. I left behind my stressful life in a cold country with gray skies and grayer people and was happy to start a new life full of sunshine and sunny people. Bright days were definitely ahead and I was excited to live them to the fullest.
Now having survived more than a decade on this particular island I can safely say that I completely understand why island life is not for everyone. Only the toughest survive and the weak run safely back to a life of convenience and back to “civilization”. A life with Walmarts and CVS stores on every corner.
After 15 years I have learned that there is a good, a bad and definitely an annoying side to island life.
Life’s a Beach
The Good: Do I really need to spell out the positives of living close to the beach or having unlimited access to any of the 37 beaches here? No, I didn’t think so.
The Bad: Fact is you rarely do get to go to the beach. Between work and other responsibilities, you just don’t have the time or rather don’t make the time for a good swim or just vegging out on one of the many sandy beaches. It is one of those local things that once you’ve been here for a while, the beach kind of takes the backseat and stops being a priority. It is on those odd days that you do get to go to the beach that you realize what an important part of your decision to live on an island the beach really makes.
The Annoying: Sand flies and overcrowded beaches but that is just because I can’t, for the life of me come up with anything else to bitch about when it comes to beach life. It’s pretty awesome.
The Good: There has never been a better, jollier, always-in-for-a-party kind of people than islanders. A small community where everyone knows everyone and everyone looks out for one another. Let’s not forget the fact that here you are someone, you have a name, while in a bigger country you are just a number.
The Bad: Small minded people meddling in your business and living your life.
The Annoying: When you are confronted with such island behavior it is easy to get mad at the person but especially as a business owner I try not to have problems with anyone. This island is way too small to have enemies. The person you curse off in traffic today might be tomorrow’s census office clerk that has to sign some important documents for you . You must be nice at all times and avoid burning any kind of bridges, no matter how annoying the person.
The Good: Oh it’s so charming, and the streets are so cute and you can get to any beach in under 5 minutes and you’re never too far from anything and I can continue on and on naming all the great things of living on a 37 square mile rock.
The Bad: It’s small, which means that Rock Fever can creep up at any time. As a travel blogger I have one main disadvantage compared to my mainland counterparts. I can’t go anywhere by bus or train for a weekend getaway. The only way is a flight off island or a boat ride to another island, which can all be rather expensive.
The Annoying: Try having itchy feet while being stuck on a 37 square mile rock and looking at the Instagram accounts of other travelers in whatever current exotic destination they might be. The level of SUCK is very high.
The Good: Uhm, this is tricky. Wait, I think I got it! island drivers can be very friendly at times. Especially towards female drivers and pedestrians. It’s normal for drivers to stop and give you a chance to come out of a side street or to give you a chance to cross the road.
The Bad: As a kid we used to eat this snack pack called Cracker Jack. I’m not sure f it still exists. It was cool because it came with a toy or a fake tattoo. I swear it’s where most people got their drivers license and before you all island people decide to lynch me, think about it. I’m an islander just like you. Am I talking smack here? No, I didn’t think so. Islanders are the most anti social drivers out there. We stop in the middle of the road to have long conversations with persons in cars driving on the other side, not caring who all gets held up because if it. We park wherever we feel the car fits, doesn’t matter if the whole rear takes up part of the road and other drivers have to make a big loop just to avoid hitting your car. All in all we do some real crazy shit on the road. Case in point:
The Annoying: Island Road Rage. not to be confused with regular road rage, island road rage is a serious problem. And it’s easy to understand why it’s a real occurring phenomenon. Just read the above. My stress level has never been as high as when I’m trying to get home in after-work traffic with people cutting me off, blocking the road because they need to make an illegal turn or driving too fast on small streets.
The Good: Fresh fish on weekends, delicious coconut water sold on the side of the street. It’s quite convenient to get all of these products here, not to mention imported products such as Gouda and French cheeses, kosher beef, even some “as-seen-on-tv” products.
The Bad: Long lines at the bank and longer lines at the tax office, census office, telephone provider, the water and electricity company and so on, so on.
The Annoying: The all too frequent power outages, slow phone data and even slower internet are all a real hassle but nothing is more annoying than finally getting to order some of those must-have products we see on TV and social media and getting messages like “Sorry but your card is not accepted”, or “This item is not available in your country” and my all time favorite “Pay Pal is not yet supported in your country”. Curses *^&^%%$@.
All in all I love my Island Life and I would not trade it for anything in the world. Life is still much simpler here and although I sometimes wish I was back living in a big city, a simple beach day with friends makes me realize that I am a true island gyal through and through. So for all of you feeling you might be stuck here, read the above from bottom to top. Sometimes when you feel life is not quite what it’s supposed to be you just need to adjust the way you look at things. Change your perspective.
What annoys you of island life and what makes up for that? I am curious to know. Leave your comment below.
Don’t forget to live, laugh and travel.