When Steve and I bought our dream home in Nevis, we knew it was our one big chance to justify filling a shipping container. We spent months making lists of everything we thought we would eventually need – and then we bought two of each. I felt like one of those “preppers” working towards securing our survival in the event of socio-economic collapse – or, you know, island life. I was going to be ready for the apocalypse, damn it! By the time the container arrived, our stateside garage was filled, floor-to-ceiling.

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Like Noah filling the ark two by two, everything was loaded, and we felt like we’d be set for many years to come. If only we had known that by the time we finally needed to pull out all of those spare towels and sheets we packed, they would have already fallen victim to the harsh climate of rock living – simply by existing in a drawer!

We were in pretty good shape for the first year or so, but inevitably, we became like most other islanders and began weighting our luggage down with necessities each trip we made to Florida. Between what we needed for ourselves and what our friends added to our list, our packs could rival that of Sherpas tackling Everest. We have hauled Jeep parts, solar lights, 4 shocks for a Toyota – you name it and we have probably hauled it through a TSA checkpoint.

Then one day, it happened: we needed something we were completely unprepared for and we needed it NOW. Our pool guy/friend called my husband Steve (who was in Florida at the time) and informed him that we needed a part and we needed it quickly if we didn’t want a science experiment in our backyard. Steve immediately left work as if our first born’s life depended on it, acquired the aforementioned part, and overnighted it to Nevis via FedEx. Though it cost us a pretty penny (FedEx to the rock is anything but reasonable), we relaxed that night knowing that our crisis had been averted – or so we thought.

Two days later, our pool guy/friend called Steve and asked him if he wanted the good news or the bad. Always one for optimism (I say denial), Steve chose the good news, to which our friend reported, “It’s a beautiful day in Nevis!”

The bad news?

“The plane with your FedEx package crashed between Statia and Saba.”

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Not to worry – the pilot was fine. Our pool part, however, sank to the bottom of the sea. Our first international shopping experience proved more dramatic than anticipated, though our latest debacle has been even more frustrating for me…

The time for a new dining room rug had arrived. As a family, we work with an animal rescue organization on the island, foster dogs when we’re here, and then fly them to new furever homes in the States whenever we make a return trip. While this is extremely rewarding work, each of the dogs that have passed through our home have left his/her mark on our old rug.

Like the spoiled American girl that I am, I turned to the Interwebs to hopefully solve my rug problem as quickly as possible. I found a website that not only had a lovely rug available for $350, but it also offered to collect duty and tax ahead of time so that I could skip Customs on my end. For any rock dweller, the promise of not having to face Customs is like saying you can eat whatever you want and still look good in that bikini. Sure, it sounded too good to be true, but I couldn’t resist – SIGN ME UP! In total, the rug, including shipping, duty, and tax came to $750, which felt like a great deal to me, all things considered.

By the time the rug finally arrived, I was bursting was excitement. I drove my little 2-door Jeep to the airport where – you guessed it – Customs had no idea what I was talking about when it came to pre-payment and I had to pay duty all over again. Sigh. My $350 rug had now turned into $950, but… c’est la vie! I could settle with the rug company later. The rug was here and I couldn’t wait to see it.

I loaded it into my Jeep and drove VERY slowly home. I was the only one around at the time, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I dragged the rug upstairs on my own, step by agonizing step, and into my dining room. As I slowly unwrapped it, my mind began to tilt. Things just weren’t registering properly. My eyes had to be telling my brain lies. This could NOT be true…

They sent me the WRONG DAMN RUG!

The next couple of days were a bit of a blur (rage —> therapy —> wine —> repeat) but from what I can recall, I FaceTimed my husband who called the company and after a game of telephone tag, they insisted we ship the wrong rug back before they would agree to send the correct rug in its place.

After all was said and done, we did receive the right rug, though I have yet to see it and confirm it with my own eyes. In our absence, our house manager put it in the garage to await our return next month. The closer we get to our trip back, the more frequent the nightmares: I arrive, peel back the wrapping, and find… the wrong damn rug. Again.

The good news? It’s a beautiful day in Nevis!

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Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:


Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:

All over the US and Panama (Dad was a Green Beret)

Shay and her husband Steve decided that when the kids left for college, they wanted to live on an island. They didn’t know which one but after renewing their vows for their 20th anniversary on Nevis, they decided that they had found their home. Now, if the kids would just stop ruining their lives and go to college already, they would be there full time (1 1/2 more years…!!). Until then, Shay goes back and forth 4-5 times a year while Steve pays for it!

Part of what feeds her family’s soul is working with the local animal rescue group. She’s not sure if she saves them or they save her. Each trip to Nevis, she goes on social media and begs anyone who knows her to take a dog, which they have affectionately named, “Nevisian Mango Hounds”. She then flies them back to the states and sometimes drives them for 14 hours. Each time, she vows “never again” and then she sees another pup.

After three years of hopping between Florida and Nevis, the honeymoon has begun to wear off and the reality of rock living has set in. It doesn’t make her want to be there any less but it has given her some interesting writing material. She has learned a few things like, “If the locals aren’t taking the ferry, don’t take the ferry” after almost dying when Steve HAD to get to the airport during a hurricane. Lesson learned!

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

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