Feet up on the balcony railing. Laptop in my lap. A glass of water on the table next to me. I watch mesmerized as the drops slide down gently to the bottom of the glass, leaving a small pool of water at the base. In the near distance is the ocean. It’s a hot day but fortunately there is a breeze, however gentle. It keeps me from sweating too much this early in the day.
It’s Sunday and I’m in Anguilla again. Having felt the need to get away. I am fortunate to have friends that can accommodate me here. And accommodate they did. With a beautiful room not too far from the beach and a swimming pool a few steps away. This is what a lot of visitors pay top dollars for. I might not have a swimming pool in my backyard but my island life is not far from this.
I start reflecting on all the good that island life has to offer. Sure there’s much to complain about. The traffic, especially on St. Maarten is horrendous, the internet slow, the government a shame and a water and electricity company that belongs in the stone ages. People mind my business constantly, everyone knowns each other and like so typical in small communities everywhere, rumors are everyone’s favorite pastime.
Maybe it’s because I’m in a different environment with a sense of vacation. Maybe it’s because it’s an especially beautiful day. Hell, maybe it’s the fact that I am sitting here in a bikini but I start to wonder what if we all change our perception and start enjoying the things so many people pay to experience? Stop seeing the restrictions that island life can sometimes represent and start seeing the advantages.
We islanders are spoiled. Really, we are.
I can speak for a few Caribbean islands but our cuisine for instance is out of this world. There is nothing like a piece of fish and some polenta and friend plantain on a Sunday. Or coconut curry chicken with rice and peas and who can turn down a johnny cake with scrambled eggs and cheese with a hot cup of bush tea in the mornings?We might be small and in some cases a bit isolated but damn, we can cook.
I don’t need to mention our beaches. Sandy or rocky we all have one thing in common: the water is always crystal clear. I remember my mom waking us up around 4 in the morning on holidays or the occasional Sunday. She would pile up the car with beach towels and a tent. Big bowls of chicken salad that she made the night before while we slept, and marinated chicken drumsticks in a plastic container, ready to go on the grill. We would start the drive at 5am and be the first ones on the beach and spend the entire day there and be the last to leave. There is nothing like it. Somehow we forgot to enjoy the beach as much as we enjoyed it back when we were kids. It’s time to change that.
We often complain that people live our lives. Always meddling, always having some rumor to spread. But let’s be honest here for a minute. There is definitely some advantage in everyone knowing everyone. When you need a job for instance you can call up your friend whose uncle lives next door to the gardener of the bank manager or that bartender that mentioned that her mother’s new boyfriend is looking for a new social media specialist. Resumes are not necessarily required. “She’s good people. I’ll give her the job.”
Nobody looks at you funny when you visit a bar more than three times in a week. It’s where important negotiations are made, broken hearts are healed, the last island news can be heard and new romance is found.
So you see, island life is not bad at all. It is just sad that it takes us leaving it for a day or longer to realize that. So next time when you’re stuck in traffic because an idiot decided to stop in the middle of the road to have a conversation, put your car in park, turn up the music and enjoy the moment, be happy for this minute to yourself. When the internet slows down turn off your computer and grab a book. Next time the electricity company screws up, slowly make your way outside and look up. When was the last time the sky was dark enough so you could see so many stars?
Be grateful for what you have. The grass will always seem more lush and greener off island. That’s cause there’s no salt in the air and constant sunny weather in those big cities we often dream of. By all means, travel. Travel as far as you can go. See, explore, experience as much as you can. These are the things that matter, not that expensive sports car. You must be mad. Have you seen most island roads lately?
But take it from someone who has lived abroad, once you’ve lived on an island you have been spoiled for life and life in other places might be great for a while but it will never ever compare to the island ways.
Remember to live, love and always travel.