Counting Our Island Blessings

We will not lie. At times, life on these rocks can be a bit challenging, causing us to reflect, perhaps wistfully, on the ease with which some things could be accomplished if only we lived elsewhere. We sigh and resign ourselves to the fact that we are on a remote island, this particular challenge is just one of the trade-offs, and no amount of wishing and hoping will remove our struggle. Though in spite of the limitations we face, there are also plenty of moments that outweigh the difficulties and remind us of how fortunate we are to call a rock, any rock, home.

gratitude-beach

During times of island strife, here are my Top Four Island Blessings that I always call to mind to bring forth a sense of gratitude:

1. The Weather

Without a doubt, one of the blessings we can be grateful for is island weather. There are many who have to save and scrimp for years to reward themselves with a few days in this sun we so often take for granted. We see them, chalky white and frostbitten, eyeing our year round tans and naturally dark skin with le le wata (drool) running down their chins. They scurry off the planes into the hotels and guest houses, emerging seconds later stripped down to the bare essentials, slathered in oil, ready to soak up every last drop before they have to head home again to their colder climates. So accustomed are we that we sometimes find ourselves wondering what all the excitement is about. Consistent warmth is a true gift.

2. The Food

When we look at the fauna on our rocks, especially the edible kind, we can’t help but be thankful, as those exotic items that would usually cost an arm and a leg to import can be found literally at our fingertips. Rock dwellers simply cannot starve. There is always something that can be picked and eaten and washed down with crystal punch (water). Mangoes, plantains, bananas, avocados, cherries, apples, and a variety of other fruits and vegetable form a part of the basic landscape for the average property. But even if our yards are not so blessed, our neighbors’ likely will be, which brings me to my next point…

island fruit delivery

3. The People

Hands down, island folk are the friendliest people you will ever find. For some, it may have even been a culture shock at first to not have people look through you, but to instead have someone smile and ask ,”How yuh do?” – and actually wait for a response. Everywhere you go, the greeting is the same. Maybe it’s the warm weather that makes everyone so pleasant. There is nothing that you need that someone is unwilling to provide. As the various fruit seasons come and go, one can rest assured that the fruits which bear in abundance will be shared and exchanged as the case may be. There is always a willingness to be of assistance, especially to those from overseas who may still be finding it a nit sticky to navigate life on the rocks.

4. Island Time

I know this one will be a bit hard to believe but trust me when I say: Island Time is also a blessing. Sometimes we complain bitterly about the slowness with which things are done on the rock. But guess what? I have found a diamond in that frustration. Life tends to be a bit fast-paced. It is so easy to become stressed as we keep going like the Energizer Bunny. But one day, that energy must fizzle out. It is a blessing to find yourself on a rock when that battery gives up the ghost, whether you believe it or not. We need to slow down, and life on a rock helps us to do just that. Initially, when we may have encountered the laid back manner in which natives operate on the rock, our frustration levels probably went through the roof after the first few times. But little by little, the nuances of island time kicked in. Although it sometimes messes things up that just need to get done RIGHT NOW, island time also forces us to slow down when we need it. Slowing down is something that we don’t do enough of. Life on the rock forces us to breathe; it forces us to stop and smell the roses; it forces us to relax because we have no other option while we wait. Island time, I find, can actually be quite therapeutic.

–   –   –

These are just a few of our island blessings which we are likely all guilty of taking for granted at times. The next time you find yourself in your bikini rocking in a hammock or on a boat, or biting into a ripe Julie mango given to you by your neighbor, or relaxing at ten o’clock in the morning because you don’t have to get to the bank before twelve anyway, remember you’re blessed to not only be on this rock but to call this rock – idiosyncrasies and all – HOME.

One love from Jamaica.

What are some of the things you are most grateful for on your rock that you can take for granted at times?

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Beverley Bowen-Evans

About Beverley Bowen-Evans

Beverley has been living on the island of Jamaica all her life, an accomplishment which has many of her friends who have long since abandoned ship in shock. She is the typical “yardie” woman, with her love for animals amounting to 11 feisty mongrel dogs, 2 1/2 spoilt cats (the other 1/2 of one cat has taken up residence in an abandoned house next door and refuses to come home), and 2 budgerigars who entertain the menagerie from time to time. There was a turtle named Arnold in a makeshift pond but at first high tide, he high-tailed it out of there and has not been seen since. She loves the outdoors and goes the extra mile to get her fix whether it be a weekend in a mountain cabin, a day by the river, or a trip to the beach.

Beverley is a trained teacher of the English and Spanish languages at the high school level, a feat which has her shaking her head each day as she has to cross many language barriers to attain the objectives set for any given lesson. Suffice it to say, she is still learning a thing or two herself. She is also a part time writer and has many a tale to tell.

Island living for Beverley is simply a way of life: the on-the-road training of how to drive like a taxi driver, the difference in the time stated for an event and the actual time it begins, the change in accent from Kingston to Montego Bay, the same new shock to see people go to the hairdresser and get their nails done to go to the beach. Jamaica is rife with adventure and Beverley has had more than her fair share of it and suspects there is much more to come. Though the wishful thinking comes at the possibility of what life could be like elsewhere, the ultimate resolve is always, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. Sweet, sweet Jamaica, nah lef’ ya!”

CURRENT ROCK OF RESIDENCE: Jamaica

ISLAND GIRL SINCE: Forever and a day and still counting.

ORIGINALLY HAILS FROM: Jamaica

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10 thoughts on “Counting Our Island Blessings

  1. It’s the beautiful, azul ocean that I am most grateful for. It captured my heart when I first saw it in 1975.
    When things seem to get overwhelming, I seek the ocean to reset the balance of my life.

  2. I am grateful for the awesome experiences I have had since moving to Vieques 15 years ago. All who live on a rock are more adventurous than the average person who lives elsewhere. We get to meet more people from around the world and to get to know them. We become a community. This is an awesome feeling. Even though I am wanting to sell my house and move back to the states, it is only because I am older and needing things that are not available here or as easily accessed. Living on a rock has enriched my life and exposed me to so many blessings.

    • Hi Nancy, We had not even thought of this place when looking. Honestly did not know it was there. Would you mind sharing your home for sale information with us? Thanks.

  3. Thank you for sharing that…..it is those wonderful gems that you described that get me through what I have called “Island Fever”… which generally can be taken care of by plunging myself into the ocean for a swim…….it is the wonderful qualities of the island such as timelessness, feeling apart of nature and an intricate part of the environment that surrounds me, the true genuine nature of the people born and raised here, etc……these things keep the sand in my toes and the salt water breeze in my hair…..

  4. Although we say, “hafa adai” instead of “how yuh do?”, I couldn’t agree more. Another blessing I’m so grateful for as an American is that although I love my country, I feel that our family is much safer on our island of Guam than on “The Mainland.”

  5. Lovely! It’s fun to complain about the “inconveniences” of rock living, but it’s imperative to appreciate the beauty and blessings, too. Otherwise, why else would we be here? Great post!

  6. I haven’t been here long enough to take much for granted yet; I may not watch every sunset, but I do take note of the pu announcing it has happened. I think most often I forget to look mauka at the volcanoes and hills, because I am so busy looking at the ocean.

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