My Island Return: The Readjustment Diaries

I recently returned to my adopted rock of Tortola after living and working in Ireland for the last five months. I’ve only been back on island for two weeks and the readjustment process has ranged from wonderful and amazing to frustrating and annoying.

For starters, I’m ridiculously happy to have returned to the sunshine. After five months of cold and rainy Irish weather, I was more than ready to feel the sun on my skin and heat in my bones. It’s been a welcome change to swap my thermals for a bikini, and I’m now certain that I never want to put myself in a position to experience a sunshine drought to that extent again.

Waking up in the morning and looking out the window to see a blue sky and the sun shining has put me in a perpetually good mood. For the twenty weeks I was in Ireland, I think the sun only reared its head for two non-consecutive weeks. I was just about ready to diagnose myself with Seasonal Affective Disorder and begin a course of light therapy and Prozac in an effort to stave off winter’s depression. I clearly got out just in time!

Over the last two weeks I have found myself falling in love with this island all over again. I always have a camera in tow and can’t stop taking pictures of beaches I have visited hundreds of times. Before I went away, I never understood why tourists chose to return to the Caribbean every year instead of travelling to other parts of the world. Now I can identify with their dedication to this special place and truly appreciate all the BVI has to offer.

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Though despite my sunshine-induced happiness, my return hasn’t been all roses. As a self-confessed internet addict, it has been particularly difficult getting reacquainted with the shoddy connection available on island. Even though I’ve already paid for internet installation, I’m still living without wifi access. Apparently in Tortola they find it acceptable to charge you $200 for internet installation, even in situations where it’s not possible to even have an internet connection set up. I’ve been told by the provider that I will be connected at some point, but they just don’t know when. There are no available ports in the area and I’m pretty much on standby until one of my neighbour’s cancels their subscription. On particularly dramatic days, I feel as if I can almost relate to people living in Calcutta.

As a result, I spend a lot of my free time scouring the island for wifi just to be able to send emails and touch base with everyone at home. Even though its been a few short weeks since I’ve been back on island, the lack of internet time has made me feel like I’m missing out on eons of news and updates from friends and family. I get jealous every time I hear someone’s phone beep, wishing it was me checking my email account or Facebook notifications.

My other island life pitfall has been readjusting to Tortola’s roads. I work myself into a tizzy every time I get behind the wheel of my car. After five months of public transportation and an organised road system, my fear of island driving has re-surfaced. I don’t mind driving on flat roads, but if I have to drive up mountainous ones, I’m afraid I may actually suffer a full blown panic attack. My driving anxiety is so severe that my decision of whether or not to attend any given social event is solely based on its location. There are so many people I have yet to catch up with or see simply because they surpass my elevation above sea level cut off point.

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I worry that if I don’t get internet access or overcome my fear of driving uphill, there is a strong possibility my island return will result in me becoming a hermit. I will only be able to see the few people on island who actually live on the flat and my lack of internet access will put me completely out of touch with everyone at home. At least the bad roads and internet connection don’t interfere with my favourite part of island life: the sunshine. So in the mean time, my only choice is to literally focus on the bright side of life until the readjustment process runs its course.

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Maura McBride

About Maura McBride

Maura came to the British Virgin Islands on vacation last year and never left. A self-proclaimed sun worshipper, she dreads the day when the “real world” will beckon and she will have to migrate North once again. Island life is still a novelty and Maura gets alarmingly excited when she bumps into a friend unexpectedly – an occurrence that happens at least 5 times a day when you’re living on a 12-mile island. In a former life, high heels were a second skin and makeup was a staple of daily living. Nowadays, if she tries to wear anything other than flip flops, her feet will swell up and erupt into a thousand blisters. The wandering PR pro and freelance writer was born in New York and spent the last 15 years in Ireland so she is very excited to be warming her bones in the BVI after a lifetime of being cold.

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One thought on “My Island Return: The Readjustment Diaries

  1. Hi Maura,
    Good to know that you’re back on Tortola. I really enjoy reading about your life there. I’d like to visit you there and/or you visit here.
    Love,
    Ann

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