Recently my partner Frank had to attend a 5-day Red Cross training class over on Sint Maarten. Rather than stay over each night, he opted to commute daily on the short ferry ride from Anguilla. I “carried” him to and from the ferry port each day, enjoying the early morning start, and awaiting his return to regale me with the events of the day on the busy rock “next door”.

As we drove to the ferry port on the first morning, turning from Main Road onto Blowing Point Road, we heard the sweet percussion of steel pan music loudly playing from the house on the corner. The silvery, soul-stirring music drifted with us for a short while as we proceeded slowly down the road.

The sun was fully up by 7am in a cloudless blue sky. The air was still morning-cool with a promise of sunny warmth after so many days of damp, heavy clouds filled with much needed rain.

There were school children standing in front of a building, waiting for their school bus.  They were dressed in their school-specific uniforms: maroon, green, navy, beige, and blue plaid. They were all neatly tucked in, groomed, and ready for their school day to begin with colorful backpacks slung casually over their shoulders.

After successfully negotiating a few bends in the road, I noticed an elderly gentlemen sitting on a metal folding chair in front of his house. He was looking up and I wondered what he was thinking. Was he admiring the beautiful morning, or simply giving thanks for another day in the sun?

There were people walking in the road, cars stopping to chat up passersby, dogs wandering and scrounging for scraps of leftovers. There was a mama goat nursing her two babies while standing underneath an SUV. The day had begun across the island.

A small contingent of goats that occupy a porch and sidewalk in front of a convenience store were stirring, warmed by the early morning sun. They were just rising and slowly moving across the road as we drove past, easing into their day.

The water was sparkling in the sunshine like turquoise blue gems as we approached the port, boats bobbing in the gentle rhythm of the waves. It was going to be a gorgeous day!

On my way back to Main Road, there were two cows with their attendant egrets, lazily ambling across the road. The school bus was in front of me now, having picked up all of its charges.

I turned back onto Main Road with the feeling that the island had opened up its secrets to me this day and shown me island life in the most beautifully moving way. It was one of those simple moments where I felt deeply grateful to be here, grateful for the opportunity to be out and about so early, grateful to witness my island waking up.

Written By:

Susan Valentine

Current Rock of Residence:

Anguilla

Island Girl Since:

2014

Originally Hails From:

California and Michigan

Susan retired to Anguilla on July 1, 2014 with her other half, Frank, and their 11 year old Whippet, Izzy, arriving with five suitcases, a carry-on bag, a guitar case (with guitar), a printer, a huge dog crate, and of course, the dog. She gave away every single thing that she owned except what could fit into those bags. Who does that?

Susan determined that having long been a vagabond at heart, she had to wait for the right person to travel this journey with, the right time to do it, and the heart for the challenge of starting over in her 60s. She has no regrets, no sorrows over “things” given away, and no sense of loss.

Having vacationed in the Caribbean for many years, Susan thought she had an idea of what life would be like in retirement on an island. Everything was so charming for those two weeks in paradise every year. There were no tropical storms, no hurricanes, no power outages, and there was always an abundance of food on the grocery store shelves. She has learned many, many things since moving to her rock.

Every day still brings indescribable beauty and new experiences, while the mysteries and humor of island life continue to be revealed.

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