Dear Sweet Grenada,
I’m sorry to have to do this, but it has come time for us to break up. I’ve seen this coming for a while now, as the end of the didactic portion of my veterinary training is coming to an end, and it’s time for me to return to the states. Although I’ve anticipated this change, it doesn’t make it any easier.
Any time that I’m going through a major life transition, I don’t really sleep. The same was true when our relationship began and I was nervous about becoming an island chick. Lately, when I’m in bed and starting to drift off to sleep, I’m jolted awake by a feeling of panic. I think about how I’m leaving my beautiful island home – no more gorgeous sunsets, walks on the beach, or plentiful, fresh pineapple (except let’s be honest, I’m lazy and hate cutting fruit so I normally resort to the canned kind). The thought that really makes me anxious is that soon I am losing the most interesting thing about me – the fact that I live on an island for the majority of the year. Pretty soon, I’ll be returning to the America that supposedly has been made “greater,” and I will be just like everybody else.
Except I know that’s not true. Living on a rock for the past three years has taught me so much, especially about how much I’ve grown when I’ve been challenged by school, by a different culture, and by being so far from the comforts of home. What I’ve slowly started to realize after several nights of laying awake thinking about my impending life change (besides what a godsend Melatonin truly is), is that while my island lifestyle is a very interesting and important part of my life, it is far from the most interesting thing about me. Although school keeps me busy, my time here has allowed me to cultivate my hobbies, namely: eating, Instragram-ing about eating, salsa dancing, and writing. When it comes to first-date conversations, although my years spent in Grenada will certainly be mentioned to try to convince my date that I’m the most interesting person they could ever possibly go out with, now I have so much more to tell them. I’m not sure that I could say the same if I never branched out and left home.
Being surrounded by so much beauty makes you appreciate beauty everywhere you go. Even when I’m back home in Indiana (which is a far cry from most people’s idea of a tourist destination), I have come to appreciate the cornfields at dusk and how the flatlands allow me to stargaze. Similarly, when I traveled to the Dakotas last summer for a veterinary surgery trip, I found myself humbled by my surroundings – despite the negative connotation of being named the “Badlands.” Had I never experienced truly gorgeous surroundings in Grenada, I’m not sure that I would have been able to appreciate the unique beauty of those landscapes as much.
Living in paradise makes you want to protect it. When I lived in the states, I recycled to protect the trees. I was obsessed with recycling every single paper I used and trying to reduce the paper I use by doing everything online. After living in Grenada, now I recycle for the ocean. I’ve learned about how much of our plastic winds up in the ocean, polluting the water and affecting the health of the animals and 2.6 billion people who rely on fish as a primary protein source. And those of us who try to eat locally and pat ourselves on the back for doing so… we’re likely consuming the plastic that winds up in our surrounding ocean since Grenada has highly limited recycling. I now try to reuse plastic as much as possible before dumping it.
Grenada is a country where opulence sits right next door to poverty. Beautiful resorts are built next to shacks that have limited electricity and water. Living in a place like that makes you rethink how important material possessions are. This was something that drew me to my school originally. When I was interviewing for vet schools, the woman who interviewed me for St. George’s was the only one who I really connected with – and it was on this topic. She told me about how her time in Grenada made her realize how little “stuff” meant to her and how she doesn’t own as many things anymore. I told her about a trip in college to El Salvador made me have the same realizations, and I wanted to go to a place that reminded me of that. Even though I feel like I’ve lived with less stuff here, I still find myself at the end of my time here donating a large portion of the stuff that I thought I needed – making my checked luggage and my soul feel much lighter.
Like the waves crashing against Grenada’s shores, causing it to constantly evolve, this island has weathered my soul in so many ways. It has given me the best tan lines, the best stories, and the best rum punch for a whopping $10EC. If you’ve ever wondered what island life might be like, I dare you to take the plunge and move to a rock. It will likely be the best decision of your life. Although in some ways Grenada has made me a bit more judgmental… when I go to supermarkets in the states now that advertise “Large Avocados” the size of my fist when I’m accustomed to avocados the size of my face, I can’t help but laugh. But above all, it has made me so much more grateful.
Thank you, sweet Grenada, for sharing your beauty with me.