Written by: Myrthe Visser-Wind
Sometimes people ask me, “Are there any downsides to living on a beautiful tropical island?” Even in the asking, you can tell they’re thinking it’s impossible for there to be anything that could make all the white sand beaches not worth it. But of course there are trade-offs, just like anywhere else. Though I could list out the mosquitoes, the empty supermarkets, the crappy internet, and the holes and cracks in the road I have to dodge on my way to my favorite beach club (and there are A LOT, it’s practically an obstacle course), today, I’ve got one particular trade-off in mind. While all of those things sure do make living on an island slightly less comfortable, I’ve gotten used to them. For me, the biggest downside is something completely different.
For most of us, living on a rock means the temperatures are a lot higher than they were back home where we grew up (and if that’s not the case, then you were one hell of a lucky girl to begin with). I know I certainly don’t miss the typical Dutch weather I was accustomed to – the type of rain that will make a five minute bike ride to the train station seem like an hour and will soak your jeans just enough so that they will stick to your legs for the rest of the day. And that’s not just for a few months during the rainy season because in Holland, rainy season lasts all year. Thanks, but no thanks, I’ll take the Caribbean climate over that any time!
What this climate does, however, is completely take away my perception of time. There are moments when I really truly have no idea what month of the year it is, as it’s basically summer is all year round on our little corner of paradise. Which is a good thing, of course. It’s why many of us moved here and not something that fully merits being considered a “downside.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining! It just messes with my head a bit. The fact that I’m wearing a bikini most of the time probably isn’t helping much.
Which brings me to the next part of my “problem”: With the change of seasons normally comes a change of wardrobe, but not around here – it’s far too hot to switch to anything beyond the usual island girl uniform. My black skinny biker jeans (of course, every girl needs a pair of biker jeans), my beautiful leather boots, my favorite coat, and my big warm super soft fluffy scarf are all safely in a storage unit somewhere back in Holland. In the past few months here on the island, I think I have worn “real” shoes only twice, the rest of the time I live by my new mantra, Life is better in flip-flops! (or barefoot).
With the lack of colder days, winter coats, falling leaves, and hot chocolate, comes the lack of Christmas spirit. Though I’m starting to wonder if this just effects me, as my island colleagues don’t appear fazed in any way, shape, or form. They’ve been listening to songs like Jingle Bells since the middle of October, dancing and jumping around with the kids. When I pointed out that Christmas was still a good two months away, they looked at me like I was the crazy one. “Don’t you feel it, don’t you feel the Christmas spirit?” Nope, sorry. It’s at least 85 degrees out here, the only thing I feel is sweat dripping down my forehead (among other places).
When I was wandering around the touristy souvenir shops in the center of town the other day (something I do regularly even though I’m not a tourist to quench my thirst for shopping), I spotted some very cute Christmas ornaments, little Santas made of driftwood. There they were, hanging next to the brightly colored sarongs and right across from the flip-flops and little picture frames with seashells on them. Not really a typical scene to boost my Christmas spirit or get me in the mood to buy ornaments. But, for now on this tropical rock, I guess I’ll just have to make it work. Maybe in the absence of a real Christmas tree, decorating one of the palm trees in our yard will do the trick. Maybe we’ll even put out some fake snow, because there will be no White Christmas for us this year – at least not with real snow or ice. For me, I need to come to terms with the fact that the only thing that will be frozen is the piña colada I’ll be drinking on a stunningly white sand beach. And you know, when I think about it that way, maybe we will be the ones having the best kind of White Christmas after all.