Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dreams and an Island...

It's been almost two months now and I am slowly beginning to realize that I actually did this, I said I was going to move to an island and I did it! Many people have this dream for a long time but I didn't even like visiting islands until I was in my 30s. I thought beaches were boring and had very few activities that I could do. Back in Chicago, I spent most of my time inside, mostly because of the weather but also because I wasn't really an outdoorsy kind of girl. Here, I spend most of my time outside doing all kinds of things from swimming and climbing and lots of stopping to take pictures of random sites that scream tourist when people pass me by.

I do wake up in the morning sometimes as I hear the birds having random fights with each other and contemplate cutting down their tree (no, it doesn't really sound like a lovely bird song), and I have to remind myself that this isn't a vacation, I legitimately live here.  It doesn't take long to forget how things used to be as my lawyer days don't seems like yesterday, they seem like a lifetime ago. My body has forgotten the taste of fast food because here it seems very unappealing to go get greasy food when you breathe fresh air all day long and your windows are always open. We have most fast food chains (except Dunkin Donuts for some reason) and most of them are a walk away from my apartment, but I never need a cheeseburger anymore when I'm hungry like I did back home. I do sometimes need to walk in salt water and I do need a Tamarind ball most days, but I do not need greasy fried chicken (sorry KFC).

Time also passes slower here. The weather is always the same here: beautiful. With the consistency of the weather and the people who are always happy to say hello and have a chat, there is a lot to explore and find. My weekends are so long, I forget what happened on Friday, which sometimes is a good thing. Even after two months, I still find ruins I have never seen and beaches that are waiting for their picture moment.

Even with all the beauty, just like anywhere in the world, there are good days and bad days (like the day a gigantic cockroach appeared in my bathtub for a free swim after a hard rain). Not everything is perfect on this island. However, the way people look at hardship and challenges is different here. Most people choose to live here and they also choose to stay here so when a challenge does come up, the prospect of leaving and move stateside presents many more challenges and people choose to stay. I always look out onto the waves of the Sea

and realize that with each problem that the waves may bring, there are also problems that they take away as they come and go.

Over the last two weeks, I saw baby turtles being born, rum being made and people who just met me welcoming me into their community as if they had known me forever. I even saw my first questionable looking frog sitting on a stairway last night. So while moving to an island may not have been my dream, it seems like there is nowhere else that I would rather be right now.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Fourth of July and Sahara Dust

It's been a month now since I arrived on St. Croix and I think I've been really lucky thus far. I have met some really nice people who have been extremely friendly and welcoming. I did end up getting an office job that I think may turn out to be a good place for me. I am still waiting to hear back from the non-profit organization and I think I can do both jobs and maybe even have an opportunity to travel among the islands. And yesterday, I celebrated my first Fourth of July here and it was really fun. The festivities on St. Croix take place in Fredriksted which is on the other side of the island. Usually, Fredriksted is somewhat quiet without a lot going on but when there is a cruise ship or a celebration, it lights up, literally. The people, food vendors and fire works reminded me of most suburban Independence day celebrations but ironically, the food was cheaper than it usually costs around here and it tasted really good.

I think one of the biggest challenges about moving anywhere as an adult is finding people to interact with and become friends with. When you're young, you're forced into situations that give you a chance to see who fits better with your personality but as an adult, you come together based on location and that is the biggest commonality. I am lucky to have found a lot of people here who have been so friendly and have showed me around and invited me into their circles. But at the same time, I really miss my family and friends. The Fourth of July is such a family holiday that when I saw people with their parents and kids, I did miss my family back and that is a challenge when you live here because you can't just get into your car and drive to see people.

Another challenge on this island is the Sahara dust that seems to be really prevalent here. Apparently, the dust from the Sahara Desert actually reaches all the way here and even with screens on the windows, there is a constant thin film of dust no matter how much you dust and clean. But these are little things along with the loss of electricity and water at certain times. I did wash my hands and brush my teeth with bottled water the other day and while in the states, this would probably be a day ruiner, here it was just another day and the view of the sea made it all worth while. I have found that after a while here, I start to get sea withdrawal when I haven't been in the ocean for more than a week and I need to find some salt water to walk through stat.

Overall, so far so good and I can't wait to see what adventure the next week will bring.