It’s easy to sometimes get nostalgic about childhood and the luxury of innocence that allowed you to have blind faith in the world around you. As a child, you could do things like ride the roller coasters at the theme park with confidence that the people operating them had been well trained and were looking out for your safety. Only years later did you discover that the employees at the helm were actually just degenerate teenagers, so high that the only thing they were looking out for was a bag of Doritos to satiate their munchies. You were given a new sense of perspective with age, you lost your ability to fully trust in the ride, and another piece of your childhood certainty slipped away.

The same is true for island life. When you first move to a rock, if you’re at all like me, you’re a pampered softie from the Land of Convenience. You approach everyday life with a sense of assurance that the basic life things will go your way, just as they always have. And just like in childhood, you grow out of this naiveté, losing your faith faster this time around, with each hard lesson the island hurls your way.

But all is not lost. Forfeiting your faith may initially feel tragic, leaving you with a sense of yearning for the “simpler times”, but in reality, it’s a necessary part of your evolution. Relinquishing your blind faith slaps you out of stupidity, protects you from a death worthy of a Darwin award, and allows you to approach your day to day with a smarter tact and with much more efficiency.

Islands make you tough.

Islands make you tough.

In the interest of saving time, I compiled a handy little list for any newbies out there or for any islanders somehow still living in a bubble. Island veterans – please add anything I missed to the list in the comments below.

Things Never to Trust on an Island:

  • Anything metal. Sea air and salt water corrode everything, and rusty things snap at the most unexpected (read: dangerous) moments.
  • Operating hours. Whatever a business lists as the times they will be open, consider it more best laid plans than a definitive decree. Always call ahead.
  • Brakes. Your island is one big mountain; change your brake pads and fluid more often than you consider sane.
  • Internet connection. Save your work at every turn, or you will inevitably pay for it later.
  • The completion of hired out jobs.  Contractors here are notorious for their unfinished work. Before you let them leave, check and double check that things are in fact fixed and that everything is back where it should be.
  • Cab drivers. They will not always take you the full way to your destination; if something more interesting pops up, be prepared to be kicked out mid-trip – and still have to pay.
  • ATM machines. They run out of money here. While this doesn’t sound plausible, I assure you, it is.

*click for image credit

  • The reliability of people. “Island time” is a vortex that sucks people in and convinces even the most ambitious that laziness is an acceptable option. Have back-ups.
  • Water and power. These things run out here. It makes life difficult and inconvenient.
  • Customer service. You will not always be treated like a valued customer. The business/patron relationship roles often get reversed here. Just go with it.
  • The dark. Creepy crawlies come out in higher abundance at night. Unless you wish to step on a scorpion at 3 am en route to the bathroom, carry a flashlight.
  • The postal service. You will save yourself a lot of disappointment if you don’t expect things to arrive a) on time, b) in tact, or c) at all.
Island rats ate my mail

Island rats ate my mail

  • Public restrooms. Grab some cocktail napkins from the bar and carry your own hand sanitizer. You will not regret this.
  • Anonymity. Gone are the days when you could make a quick run to the store in your PJs with bed head and not see anyone you know. Welcome to Mayberry.
  • The permanence of your abode. Forget the big bad wolf – here, it’s hurricanes that will huff and puff and blow your house down.
  • Cellular phone signals. ‘Nuff said.
  • Meal pricing in correlation to value. It is expensive for businesses to get stuff here, thus eating out is costly. The $42 island entree rarely lives up to the expectations set by its price tag.
  • Scheduling. Errands will take longer than expected without fail. The best plan is a flexible one.
  • Screens. Seemingly a foolproof way to keep mosquitoes outside, their efficacy rate is decidedly unreliable.
  • The government’s organizational skills. You’d think they’d be the ones to trust with your most important documents, but you’d be wrong. Make copies of everything before handing it over. And if you must turn in your passport, make sure it’s months away from when you will need to travel somewhere in case you need to order a replacement.
  • The permanence of people. It’s a transitory place to live. The sad part is watching beloved friends go. The silver lining is that your foes often move away too.

–  –  –

What has the island taught you not to trust? Add what I missed to the list in the comments below or share your stories on our Facebook page!

Written By:

Chrissann Nickel

Current Rock of Residence:

Virgin Gorda, BVI

Island Girl Since:

2006

Originally Hails From:

California

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the tropics, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps but these days, any activities that require a bra and shoes go under careful, is-this-even-worth-it consideration. If island life has taught her anything at all, it’s that few things are more rewarding than time spent in the pool with a cocktail in hand.

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends her days working from home with her blue-eyed sidekick, Island Dog Diego, writing, editing, and cultivating content in the hopes of bringing some laughter and lightness to her fellow island souls. She recently published her first children’s book, When You’re a Baby Who Lives on a Rock, and is pretty pumped to share it with all of the island mamas out there. Her days off are typically spent boating, hiking, and meeting up with the neighborhood’s imperious roadside goats, who she shamelessly bribes into friendship. While normalcy was never listed as one of her special skills, Caribbean life may indeed be responsible for new levels of madness. She attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people.

If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous website or follow her daily escapades on Instagram @womanonarock.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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