Moving to an island and adapting to island life can take a while. It may take months or years, but with every island girl there is the moment of self-realisation that you are now an island girl and nothing fazes you anymore. You have adapted to your new home and show a few signs of island living.
Here are my 10 signs you have finally stepped over to the “island side”.
When you consider travelling to another part of the island as being too far.
The island you now live in is probably a tenth of the size of the city or town where you used to live. When you first arrived on the island, locals and other expats will talk of not travelling to the other side of the island as ‘it’s too far”. It is probably about a 20 minute drive and you laughed to yourself. Your daily commute use to be an hour and you would think nothing of travelling miles for a night out. After a while of island living, you have a call about an event on another part of your island. You groan and say that it’s too far to travel and will take too long. You need to remember the daily commute you used to endure and how you wished for at least a 30 minute journey.
You are proficient in more than one currency.
A lot of the islands run two currencies side by side. Their own currency is often linked to the US dollar and because of tourism the dollar is available in most shops and restaurants. You can pay with either local currency or US dollar. This US dollar exchange rate is now as natural to you as your birth date. For those of you outside the USA, you can also convert both currencies to your home currency without using your fingers. Your mathematics teacher would be proud of you now.
The phone numbers in your speed dial are unique to the island.
As you start to embrace island living you will find that a few essential numbers are on your phone that you would not have outside the island. The local turtle rescue organisation, pest control, the animal welfare shelter and an emergency handy man or electrician. The phone number of the man who will come and trap your snakes will vary from island locations (not all islands have snakes). I fondly remember the days in Dubai when my phone speed dial was Wagamama delivery, hotel bars and restaurants and a maid service. Now it’s turtles, snakes and the vet.
You have “people” for your food and coconut water.
You will learn that shopping at the supermarkets is often not the best option for the freshest produce or at a reasonable price. Eventually you will start to cultivate a group of “people” from whom you will purchase specific goods. Everyone will have an “egg lady” who sells trays of fresh eggs at a reasonable price. I’ve had a “pumpkin” and a “mango” man for the best vegetables and fruit on the island. These people are shopping gold and it takes a while to find them or be introduced to them.
Most of your make up is now kept in the fridge.
You arrive on your island with a large arsenal of makeup that you would wear most days before you moved here, either for work or a night out with your friends. As the heat and humidity kicks in you will open your mascara brushes with horror as they have now become dry and sticky. Your lipsticks are so soft that any impact upon your lips will cause the stick to implode and you are suddenly auditioning as a clown for children’s parties. Even nail varnish can become thick and sticky with the heat and humidity. You learn to throw out most of your make up and now keep the key items in a fridge with their own shelf.
The smell of sun tan lotion is no longer associated with holidays.
It goes without saying that the daily application of sun tan lotion is a necessity. Even if you are just shopping, the sun bearing down on you as you are in and out of your car is still fierce enough to burn. Sun tan lotion is now part of your daily skin care routine. I used to love the smell of sun tan lotion and its association with holidays, sun kissed skin, beaches and cocktails. Now it’s a daily smell that I rarely notice as I am sweating moisturiser.
Your rum drinking habits change.
Back in your pre-island life you would drink large glasses of rum and coke with the glass mostly full of cola. Now, the drink proportions are the other way around and a small bottle of cola is served as a mixer to last over at least four drinks of rum. You no longer drown the rum in cola but merely enhance it with a dash of mixer. The large 1.75 litre bottles of rum which astounded you when you first saw them in the supermarket are now part of your weekly shop.
Shorts and t-shirts are a daily wardrobe staple
Those pretty summer holiday dresses you shipped over to the island when you moved will spend a lot of their life hanging up in the wardrobe. Impractical for beach days, boat trips or a breezy day to the market, you will turn to your trusty shorts and t-shirt most days. Whatever number of shorts and t-shirts that you bring with you, it won’t be enough. Double the number you are packing with you. When you leave the island for mainland shopping, after drooling over the pretty fashions that you never wear, you rummage through the clothing racks for more shorts and t-shirts.
You are more familiar with supermarket deliveries than their staff.
As most products on the island are imported you will start to become familiar with the days that your local stores receive a new shipment or container of goods. Your weekly shop will now be based around what days different stores receive their imported goods. News of a new container in will have you sleeping in your car in the supermarket car park so you don’t miss out.
Your hair is always tied up.
Those photos you post on social media with your hair blowing on the beach or the boat are a temporary illusion. The heat and humidity means that you will eventually succumb to pinning your hair up every day. It’s easier, practical and cooler. After washing and drying your hair, you admire your dry tresses and convince yourself that you will wear it down for a change. You meet up with friends for a social chat and small glass of wine. Before the ice has melted in your water, you are rummaging around in your handbag for a clip, pin or hair tie as the heat starts to caress your neck. If you have long enough hair, the art of tucking up your hair in a curl is something you quickly learn.
These are not the only signs of becoming an island girl but a few of my favourites. Let me know your signs too!