Channeling My Inner Tourist

I can remember exactly how I felt when I first stepped foot on my rock. It was pure ecstasy – the warm sun kissing my face, a delightful breeze whipping my hair into knots (I was determined to get dreads the “natural” way), the sweet smell of marijuana and nature, the unending colors of deep blue and turquoise that sucked me right into a trance, and the feeling of getting baptized as I dunked my head under the crystal clear water. I reveled in it all for awhile, then life set in. And not some ordinary life of comfortable (dry) sheets, constant air-conditioning, and clean floors. No, not that life. It was the rougher around the edges kind – the life of bugs, sweat, and simplicity all sprinkled with a layer of grime also known as island life. At some point, I took my rose colored glasses off, chucked them onto the floor, stomped on them like a two year old throwing a tantrum, and buried them in the backyard.

Somehow, I managed all that without quite realizing what I was doing. It took me a little bit to realize that my rose colored glasses were missing. But with each tourist and island newbie I’ve been encountering lately, I’ve slowly unearthed the remains and glued my glasses back together again.

Just the other day, I found myself examining a tourist. He was sitting on a rickety, handmade picnic table while sipping a Bud light and chowing down on some Johnny Cakes. As he listened to the Crucian man tapping away at steel pans, he allowed his snow white skin to soak up the sun with a big grin on his face. As he sat there in what appeared to be pure bliss, taking in the beauty that surrounded him, I imagined he was probably thinking, “Wow, how lucky are these people to live in a place that some of us only dream of visiting.” Or something of that nature.

It was in that moment that I dusted off those long forgotten figurative frames and copied this young fella, soaking up the sun, sipping on a lime ‘n coconut while shoulder dancing to the island beats in the background.

We “locals” can be pretty darn proud of (finally) obtaining such an accomplishment as local status that we suddenly feel that we have some entitlement to make fun of you tourists. Bad driver? Must be a tourist. Driving on the right hand side of the road? Has to a be a tourist. Lost on island? Yep, another pack of tourists. Stopping at every little bend in the road to observe the magnificent views? Tourists. Wearing an “I love St. Croix” t-shirt? Tourist all the way! However, as much as we gawk behind your backs (or the rear of your rental car), we are often looking upon you with envy, wishing we were still experiencing our island for the first time, all wide-eyed and bushy-tailed!

So I guess the lesson for me has been to never stop being a tourist, no matter how “local” I become. Go on a vacation in your backyard, welcome the tourists near and far who wander along the Danish brick-embellished streets, and marvel alongside them at the beauty of the Caribbean Sea. It’s my vow to, from here on out, let my inner tourist shine and embrace the beauty we are all so lucky to experience every day. Who’s with me?

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Eliza Stone

About Eliza Stone

When life gives you a plane ticket to a tropical paradise... you don't ask questions, you just pack your bikini, and go! And that is exactly what she did! Eliza enjoys sunrises, starry nights, sandy toes, sun salutations, wind blown hair, gas station sunglasses, and Montes Chardonnay accompanied by ice cubes and her island girlfranz. And no, this is not an e-Harmony ad. This island gal recently tied the knot to her long time sweetheart under a sea grape tree and they have both fallen in love with the quirky island of St. Croix. So much so, that they are planting some roots and purchasing their first island bungalow. They adopted a coconut retriever in the states who joined them on this adventure to the unknown. Their plan... unknown. Tomorrow... unknown. But isn't that the beauty of life? Cheers to the surprises, adventures, and challenges of this crazy beautiful [rock] life!

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7 thoughts on “Channeling My Inner Tourist

  1. TOTALLY true. I started blogging for just that reason…after 5 years in Belize, I wanted to do new things and see the country with new eyes. It worked…almost 🙂

  2. I am fairly new to my rock and I have told myself to make an intentional effort to not take the beauty that surrounds me for granted as time goes on. Good post. Thanks!

  3. I have lived on our rock much of the time since 1998 and visited every year since 1987. Sometimes I take all the beauty for granted and hardly notice but more often I still pinch myself that I am here , love it, and, like the real local that I kind-of am, hardly feel the mosquito bites, don’t notice how falling part and sandy our car is etc. Even right now, I am sitting at my desk, looking at sailboats and the gorgeous sea in front of our house as well as my many palm trees swaying gently and framing this beautiful ,compelling scene right in front of me.every day.

  4. I know exactly what you mean. I have lived part time on my rock St Maarten for nearly 12 yrs. Have been visiting for about 18 years.

    Once I bought on island it seemed like everything changed. I was no longer a tourist but an islander facing everyday island challenges. And it went from paradise to nightmare at times.

    But I decided this past year to make sure I was a tourist on my rock at least part of the time. I have taken tours, sunset cruises, did all types of touristy things each visit. And guess what? I have grown to love and appreciate St Maarten all over again!

    Thanks for your post exactly how I feel.

  5. Thanks for this post! I sometimes have to remind myself to keep thinking like a tourist. We’ve lived here for nine months now and I’m at that point where I start to take things for granted…
    Luckily my sister came to visit in November and my parents are visiting soon. I find that showing people around who have never been here before makes me see things in a new light again.

  6. Great post! My husband and I lived off and on in Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico for 8 years. The last 2 years full time in Tulum in the dream home we built. We moved back to the United States in 2014 but still miss the full time tropical lifestyle. We are visiting St. Croix in April! We can’t wait this is the first visit for both of us. We will be those tourist for sure—- very happily!! We just hope we don’t drive on the wrong side of the road haha. If you see a woman with blonde hair, and as my husband calls me a “professional floater” in the water for long periods of time it will be me! Counting down the days until our new adventure.

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