When most people think of life on a Caribbean island, they usually conjure up images of beautiful beaches, warm weather, and crystal clear waters. They think of a calm and slower pace of life and that everyone is relaxed and set to “island time”. I’ve been living in the BVI for the last year and I can assure you that this is all true. It is amazingly beautiful and everywhere you look, the scenery is postcard perfect. It is perpetual summertime and I love it. But the thing is, I am exhausted…as in, perhaps I have a vitamin deficiency or actual illness, kind-of-exhausted. But I’m not sick or rundown, I’m just seriously sleep deprived all because I have this inherent resistance to sleeping in on a sunny day, which happens to be almost every day when you’re living in the Caribbean. Any time I try to sleep-in, I suffer a severe self-induced guilt-trip for not being outside soaking up the sunshine.
I moved to the BVI last year from Ireland, which isn’t exactly known for its amazing weather. Most days are quite grey and it rains all of the time. And the rain isn’t like a Caribbean shower where it will rain for a few minutes or an hour and then, voila!, it is beautiful and sunny again. In Ireland, it could easily rain all day and night for several days. I didn’t even see what the big deal was when I experienced my first tropical storm here in the islands last year. Far from threatening, it reminded me of a normal rainy and windy day in Ireland. In my eyes, it wasn’t what I would consider a legit storm or borderline hurricane. I actually quite enjoy a tropical storm. I sleep really well and like being tucked up in bed listening to the howling wind and rain drops falling on the roof. I find it quite comforting, as it reminds me of home.
My sleeping patterns have always been linked to the weather. Prior to moving to the BVI, a sunny day was rare for me and was considered a reasonable excuse to leave work early or not to go work at all. It felt like the end of the world if it was nice out and I had to stay in the office and miss out on the sunshine. Warm and sunny days in Ireland are like gold dust and there is a mass exodus to the nearest beach or park to soak up the limited-time only rays. Everyone is red raw with sunburn and yet they still stay out in the sun and sizzle some more because it may be the only glimpse of summer most people will get. Sunburn, an eruption of freckles, dehydration…these are the things that make up some of Ireland’s best days of the year.
I vividly recall my last sunny day in Ireland. It was almost two years ago and my mom ran into my bedroom to wake up me and ordered me to run outside straight away because it was so nice out. While this may come as a shock to people who have grown up in the Caribbean, I’m sure that a lot of people who have spent time further North will know my pain. I stayed outside that day until the sun went down. My legs were scalded and emitted heat like a radiator for days. I was a human tomato and I couldn’t care less. A sunburn didn’t matter because it’s not like I saw enough of the sun to worry about skin damage – I was more concerned about developing a vitamin-D deficiency due to a serious lack of sunlight.
So, due to being pretty much sunshine-deprived my entire life, I am left with an urgency to jump out of bed in the morning, no matter how tired I am, and make the most of any signs of a clear blue sky. But while I love the sunshine, I am now in serious mourning for the days of staying in bed on a Saturday or having a lazy day catching up on a box set or watching a movie. Now that I’m in the perpetually sunny Caribbean, it doesn’t matter whether I go to bed at 9pm or 2am, I will still wake up at sunrise the next day and begrudgingly get out of bed.
I find myself reminiscing about the times in my life when I had an ability to sleep-in and even bypass the AM hours altogether. My life now consists of a pretty geriatric sleeping pattern – a case of early to bed, early to rise. When lack of sleep catches up with me, I don’t make plans to sleep in late, but instead, try to catch up by falling asleep at an embarrassingly early hour like 7pm. There are some days that I will even hop into bed at 6pm and watch a movie, unable to stay awake long enough to see the end. Sadly, though I’m decades too soon, I would fit in really well in a nursing home at this point in my life. And heaven forbid my phone rings past 8pm on a weeknight. I’m actually shocked as to who would ring so late and wake me up – don’t they know the unrelenting Caribbean sun is waking me up at 5am against my will?
I now find myself fantasizing about what my life would be like if I was well rested. I would probably be happier and better looking. My skin would be radiant, my hair would be super shiny, and I would have boundless energy. People would stop and ask where I get all of my pep, rather than asking if I am anemic and recommending that I get my iron levels checked. To me, sleep is a one-size fits all solution to all of life’s problems. Who knew that a move to the islands would deprive me of this?
So until I overcome this psychological barrier to sleeping in while it’s sunny out, all I can do is pray to the weather gods for some rain or, even better, a tropical storm for the weekend. Saturday is only a few days away and, fingers crossed, let’s hope it’s a wet one!
Caveat: For those of you who read the title above and found yourself hoping to attain some sort of Mr. Miyagi-esque sagacity from this post, I feel compelled to provide full disclosure – the aforementioned wax is not the karate skill-inspiring car polishing variety, but rather, this post is about bikini wax.
Many of the basic services people take for granted out there in the real world are the little things I often long for. From dry cleaning, to a good tailor, to a cobbler (both the kind made of peaches and the man who fixes your shoes), to food delivery options (seriously – nothing fancy – I would dance in the streets if I could get a pizza delivered) are all on the list. But no matter how much I yearn for a proper bakery and the like, I would stop whining about it all if only I could have a good bikini waxer.
Once upon a time in my past life in The Land of Convenience, I used to get fantastic bikini waxes on a regular basis. And while I realize “fantastic” may seem like a bizarre word choice to describe the procedure of having scalding hot liquid poured on your lady parts and ripped off whilst attached to your hairs by the root, I now know just how fantastic my experience truly was. Each month, I would visit my favorite chamomile-scented day spa and see an efficient French woman named Françoise. Not only was she quick, she skillfully minimized the pain in what can be a torturous enterprise and I left there with skin so smooth and hair-free, if I wasn’t 5’3″ (and, you know, womanly) you’d think I’d just been born.
Having lived in the islands now for close to 8 years, I am disappointed to report that I still do not have a waxologist who I can trust. It is a cruel injustice to live in a place where you wear bikinis year-round and not be able to get a good bikini wax. In my fruitless search for The One, I have been burned, ripped, and pulled in ways that still make me shudder. Commiserating with my fellow women on rocks, the tales of disappointment in waxdom abound – one friend even had the top layer of her skin inadvertently pulled off. Down there. It bled for days. I wish I was exaggerating this in some way, but I am not.
And it’s not just that these so-called estheticians lack an aptitude for depilatory treatments, but I have yet to even find one that actually uses the appropriate type of wax. Why is it me telling them, the “professionals”, that they’re using the wrong wax? They look at me with the same feigned patience I would give some random patron telling me they could do my job better, but really – I could do their job better. It’s my sensitive lady skin that is being punished here and I feel like this is not one of those situations where you can just grin and bear it. Let me just tell you – there is NOTHING like a bad bikini wax.
Life on a rock often motivates you to start taking matters into your own hands. I have become much more resourceful living down here; when something I desperately want is unavailable, I have been known to try to fill the void on my own. I have learned how to make all sorts of shit I would never have attempted if it were readily available – I make my own whole-grain bread, veggie burgers, sorbet…hell, I even made my own hair serum. I’m not quite sure why it has taken me so long to decide to start doing my own bikini waxes, but in a fit of frustration after my most recent waxing debacle, I finally made the decision to go at it on my own.
I decided that if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. I researched and shipped in the right kind of wax and even got myself a salon-quality wax heater. I figured it was best to not complicate things by adding the microwave into the equation.
On the day of my waxing appointment with myself, I was already smug before I had heated the wax. I imagined that I would emerge from my first self-bikini wax with the same victory I experienced when I realized I could make my own almond butter. It’s so easy! And cheap! I can’t believe I’ve been paying $27 a jar for it all these years! Spoiler alert: doing your own bikini wax is nothing like making almond butter.
Conducting a self-bikini wax is quite literally a sticky situation. Gravity is working against you and despite your best intentions, you end up dripping a considerable amount of wax on inopportune places – in between your toes, for example. And sadly, the “Wax Removing Lotion” you lavishly purchased along with your Easy Bake Waxer does not, in fact, remove wax. It is also safe to say that I am now in need of a new set of bath towels, as the ones I sagely used to protect the floor are crusted in what looks like a honey explosion.
I will not go into the specific details of my bikini wax endeavor, not because I am shy, mind you, but more due to the fact that my brother reads this. I will say it wasn’t a total fail, but the ease I had so arrogantly anticipated was illusory. An experience that typically takes around 20 minutes at the spa consumed 2 1/2 hours of my Saturday and it was nowhere near complete; it turns out, I am not as bend-y as I like to believe. Another unpleasant side effect was the unrelenting crick in my neck that lingered for 3 days following due to all of my below-the-navel gazing.
Alas, bikini waxing remains a service I still wish I could pay somebody else to do. I suspect I will improve as a self-waxer with time, but it’s a lot tougher than I presumed and there’s only so much you can do with one set of hands. Until I can work up the courage to try someone new again, I may just have to make it more of a festive affair by adding music and copious amounts of wine to my self-waxing Saturdays. But I would like to send out this S.O.S. – if you live in the big world and are an adept esthetician looking for an island adventure, pack your bags, friend, and head for the tropics. You can stay at my house. The wax is already warm.