Dreaming of a White Christmas

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.

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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). 

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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.

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Myrthe

About Myrthe

Long long ago, in a kingdom far far away (Holland), Myrthe got a degree in cultural anthropology. Not that she ever found a job in that field (she works in childcare now), but likes to think she finally found her fieldwork now that she's living on this little rock. Studying anthropology and being curious by nature (aren't all women?) gave her the urge to travel, see, and experience as much of the world as she can. She loves to consider herself a traveller and was lucky enough to find a husband/soulmate who feels the same.

They always knew they wouldn't stay in Holland forever, so when opportunity knocked, they kicked the door wide open. In May 2016, they got the chance to move to Bonaire with their "baby" (their cat - they weren't going anywhere without her!) and loved it the moment they got off the plane at the tiny, very pink airport. Theoretically speaking, it is Holland, but as they quickly found out, it's definitely not! Lucky for them, it didn't take long to adapt to the island philosophy of "poko poko" (take it easy).

Not a girl to just sit around, she found herself a job and a place to volunteer and learned the language. Her days are filled up, though that doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy the four S's of island life: swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, and sipping cocktails. Especially sipping cocktails...

She's a blogger who writes a weekly blog (though it's in Dutch for everyone back at home to understand, sorry!) about their day-to-day life and struggles and tries to teach her readers a little bit about the island too - facts and fun. She's also an aspiring amateur photographer who loves to enter photo contests.

Bonaire is the rock she calls home. It's big in some ways, small in others. It's their own corner of paradise! When they're done here (in about a year and half due to her husband's job contract), perhaps they'll move back to Holland, and then again, maybe they won't. Maybe they'll go somewhere else, perhaps another rock. Who knows? Life is full of surprises.

CURRENT ROCK OF RESIDENCE: Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

ISLAND GIRL SINCE: May 2016

ORIGINALLY HAILS FROM: Zaandam, the Netherlands

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10 thoughts on “Dreaming of a White Christmas

  1. If you live on Bonaire for another 5 years, look back on this article and write another one. Your perspective about Christmas on a tropical island might have changed. You can make yourself the center of a good anthropological study! Or– interview other X-pas who have lived there for many years and see how many feel differently about the snow holiday now than they did the first year they lived there. I think your results will interest all of us! ( or even a scientific journal….)

    • Thanks for your reply, I’m actually considering writing something a bit more ‘scientific’ someday 😉 We will probably only be here for two years, but maybe we’ll move to another rock after this and then I can do a comparatibe study… who knows 🙂

      • Thanks for your reply, I’m actually considering writing something a bit more ‘scientific’ someday 😉 We will probably only be here for two years, but maybe we’ll move to another rock after this and then I can do a comparative study… who knows 🙂

  2. Great Post, Myrthe!
    We can totally relate to losing track of time as the seasons pass from summer to “winter”. When we realized it was December 1st today, we looked at each other in amazement. How did we get to December already? And yes, the Christmas carols were on the radio and in the stores in October!!

    Have a great holiday!

  3. I had to go back and look through your article and biography to confirm what I already new – this is your first Christmas on your rock. Trust me, that feeling that it isn’t Christmas without snow will go away.

    For many, many years I spent every Christmas in Florida. To me, the onset of the Christmas season had me thinking of the new bathing suit and flip flops I would buy when I got to FL. Then I met a new guy who had two kids and I had to stay in Canada for Christmas. I cannot tell you how difficult it was those first couple of Christmases back there. I hate snow to start with, but in my head I could not imagine how people could actually suffer through a Christmas that did not involve a walk on the beach and a glass of wine in the lanai where a warm breeze wafted over them. How did you make lemon pie for Christmas dinner if you could not go outside and pick the lemons. And to be honest, I never did get used to Christmas in the north again. Now I split my time between Barbados, Arizona, Canada and China. (I still work.) But you can be sure that I am either in AZ or in Barbados at Christmas every year. They can keep their White Christmas. Watching the movie is enough for me.

  4. Excellent write-up, Myrthe. Growing up in New England, we always had stereotypical ‘Currier & Ives” Christmas scenes; Horse-drawn sleigh rides, a fire in the hearth, hot chocolate and cranberry bread with dinner. I couldn’t believe children in Australia ‘suffered’ through summer conditions at Christmas time. We got a toboggan and skis from Santa. I asked my Dad, “What would Santa bring a kid in Brisbane?”

    Then it hit me – a surf board, new wet suit, scuba gear! Lucky bastards. That got the wheels turning. 10 years in the BVI later, and I don’t miss it one bit… except family on those holidays.

  5. Thanks so much everybody for your replies! You’re totally right, it is my first ‘christmas on a rock’ And although I’m not sure the connection in my head between christmas and cold weather will ever completely go away (it’s all I’ve known for almost 30 years), I will get used to this.
    We love our rock, we love living here and I love the fact that I’m a ‘woman on a rock’ now. I can relate to so many things I read here.
    Have a merry christmas everyone!

  6. Hi Myrthe, I love reading your blog! I can relate to so much you write, maybe partially because I am Dutch too. It’s my first Christmas on a (very warm) rock too and I, too, lost all track of time between October and now. It takes a while to get used to this, I suppose. I’ll follow your blog, keep on writing!

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