The transition from city life back to island life would be an easy one. Or, so I thought.
Saying goodbye to my life in Amsterdam was easy, saying goodbye to my friends was emotional but still doable, but it wasn’t until I arrived on my rock that it really hit me. Not that I missed Amsterdam (I missed Europe yes, southern Europe to be exact, but Amsterdam was now officially a thing of the past), but I had more of a What the heck am I doing back here?! kind of feeling.
Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love my island, and I came to appreciate it even more once I started traveling. Abroad, I was proud to tell people that I was from a tiny Caribbean paradise. “Lucky you!” was the response every time. But didn’t I leave this little rock for a reason? I remember how happy I was the day I left for Amsterdam, bored out of my mind with island life, ready to travel the world and telling myself, swearing even, that I would never, ever move back to Curaçao again. Yet here I am, bored again and ready for yet another adventure. Though this time, at home. A place I never expected to move back to.
The first days back were weird, between moving back in with Mom at 24 years old after such a long time on my own and feeling like a zombie thanks to jet lag. I didn’t sleep well, woke up way too early every day, then spent the rest of each day feeling overly tired. The unbearable heat didn’t help one bit. The first night, my mom took me for a drive in the capital of Willemstad, an activity most locals do whenever they feel like they’ve been inside for too long. “Ban dal un rònchi,” they say in the local language of Papiamentu. Literally translated: “Let’s take a round.” I remember thinking how small everything was. No high buildings, no highways, and no wide streets. Where was everything?! I started to doubt if I would ever adjust. Life on an island suddenly seemed impossibly dull.
The turnaround came on a Sunday, a few days after I arrived, when me and my mom went to the beach for the first time. Not the touristic beaches near Willemstad of course, but the beaches on the western part of the island – the part that happens to have the best beaches. When I was growing up, my mom and I would spend every weekend there. And that Sunday, it all came back to me. The cool breeze as we drove around, the sprawling landscape around us, and the cacti everywhere. The closer we got to the beach, the happier I became. And when we arrived, I got in the water as fast as I could (after taking some photos to put on Facebook, of course). The clear blue water greeted me, and I felt like the little child I once was. The warm feeling and salty smell of the sea were familiar. It was the water I grew up in, the water that made me, and the water I had longed for so deeply my last months in Amsterdam. In that moment, I was so happy and grateful to be back on my rock.
I am home.
I don’t know how many times I’ve said that to myself now. This tiny, but incredible rock in the Caribbean is my home and its beautiful beaches could be a daily thing from now on. What a luxury!
Oh, and living with mom? Best thing ever. At least for now.