Every day more and more I am getting messages about people wanting to move here or people who are moving here. I wanted to write to you guys, because there are so many things to say about island life, things that were complete SHOCKS to me when I got here.
After over two years of being here, I no longer ask as many “stupid questions” and no longer get the “you have no idea what you are talking about” looks from the long timers.
First, I want to tell you, for the right person there is not a better life, you will find a community like no other, people here are just connected, they know that we are all in this together. People rarely argue about bullshit politics, and don’t give a damn what religion you are. People don’t care how much money you have or what kind of car you drive, and no one gives a fuck what neighborhood you live in. If you have a nice car when you get here, don’t get used to it, it will eventually look like everyone else’s, mirrors ripped off, scrapes, bumps, and sun bleached.
They do give a fuck about how your day is going, and if you need help with something, a ride, a job, a meal if you are having trouble keeping your head above water. They care about how your family is, and when your momma is coming to visit. They care that you don’t miss an event because you don’t know about it, and they invite you to the beach because they know you don’t have anyone here. They look at your face and see that you’re having a hard day, and they are the first to lend you advice and a funny story about the time they made the same mistakes. It takes balls to move into the middle of the ocean, and I suppose that is enough to have in common.
That being said, you are on an island, and I don’t care how bad your hangover is, you cannot just put your big bitch sunglasses on and run to the grocery store for bloody mary mix without running into at least 5 people you know, you will always see someone you know. So, if you don’t mind seeing and being seen and often, you will love it here.
Second, let’s talk about water. How many times did I think about water a day before I moved here? Never more than zero. How many times a day do I think about water a day now? Oh, probably an average of 329. I think everyone in the 1st world should have to live somewhere that water is not just pumped to you and the only time you ever think about it is when you get the bill, and even then you really don’t give a damn about it because it is less than last night’s bar bill. Living here you become borderline obsessed with water. Our main source of water is what comes out of the sky, pours onto the roof, into the gutters, and goes into the cistern. I didn’t really even know what a cistern was when I got here, but I do now.
My introduction was pretty good, half way through my good ol American style shower, you know, the one where you ponder everything, wash everything, shave systematically, sing Aretha, the water stopped. Hello? Neptune? Where are you? We were out of water. Apparently a toilet was leaking all night and that was the end of the water. A simple toilet leak? I remember when we lived in the states one of our toilets leaked for 5 years, it was still leaking when we sold the house.
We also can’t drink this cistern water because it isn’t safe, anything can get in your cistern and die, not drinkable, unless you want to get even more daring than drinking the worm at the bottom of the tequila bottle, then godspeed.
I think that this has really made me think about water, how important it is, how much we really need it. Now when I go back to the states and I’m at someone’s house I’m the annoying guest that comes behind you at your own kitchen sink and turns your water off. I fix your leaking toilet, because I cannot sleep with the sound of wasted water, and I overall am completely appalled by how much water goes down the drain. I’m not gonna lie though, if I am at a hotel, I take a 45 minute shower whether I need one or not. I sing, I dance, I shave everything, and the rest you probably don’t need to know about.
Third, Driving. It’s hard to know where to start on this one, but I’ll start here, we drive on the left side of the road, which a lot of places do, but mostly when they do the driver seat is on the right, not here. So it kinda leaves a big blind spot exactly where you don’t want one. I’ve only lost two side mirrors in two years, so obviously, it is not really a problem.
There is also a tire situation. I’ve had three flat tires in two months. It’s a combination between potholes, that are borderline sinkholes, or if it rains, swim holes, and a nail issue, I’m not sure where these nails come from, but there is someone out there that sucks at managing hardware. The good news is I have “a guy” that fixes them for whatever I want to pay him that day, and I have settled on $40 bucks.
Honking around here is a language. I had no idea, so for the first few weeks, I thought I was pissing a lot of people off, which was not foreign to me in Chicago, so I was really impressed that I had not received one bird from one person. I later found out that people were simply telling me to “Go ahead”, “Thank you”, and I quickly fell in line. Don’t worry too much about your style of honking, it will quickly improve.
There are no sidewalks, so not killing the occasional suicidal jogger becomes a real priority. There are chickens, mules, cows, iguanas, cats, dogs, and even a deer every once and awhile to avoid. But the ones that are scariest are the tourists, they don’t seem to think that they can die from being run over on vacation and will step into your vehicle’s path at any given moment, be on high alert if you see a bunch of sunburnt people with visors and oversized cameras. Who wants to take home a cast as a souvenir?
The best part about driving here is that it is completely normal to drive home with a cold beer in your cup holder. It is standard to ask “Do you want one for the road?”. This is driving under the influence on the side of a mountain, I guess they figure it is Darwin’s theory working in full swing, and really, you’re never going over 35 mph anyway.
I could write a book on the beauties of this island, the obvious magic, but for me, I see all of it as magic, the beautiful imperfections became some of my favorite parts since I have gotten to know my island, and to those who can see magic in all forms, I believe this is home.
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