Before we moved to our rock, while we were still considering the idea and researching what we were actually getting ourselves into, the number one piece of advice that we kept coming across was:
Be patient and have patience.
One thing was clear: We were on our way into a new world that runs on something they all called, “Island Time.”
Throughout the process of my boyfriend getting hired with a company out here in the Bahamas, we got our first dose of island time. During the back and forth communications with his new employer, we would often receive emails that stated in the closing remarks, “You have 48 hours to respond to this email before your offer is rescinded.” I sometimes wondered if the computer was going to explode after those 48 hours, as if it were a self-destruct warning.
Of course this never happened and we always replied with ample time remaining. But then we often would wait two, three, sometimes four weeks for a response! Island time? The first phone call we received about this new adventure was in November of 2016. He didn’t relocate until July of 2017 – 9 whole moths later – and it was almost a year after that first call that I eventually followed. I had no idea if this was normal or not for the islands. In my experience, when you get a new job, you usually give the old one two weeks notice, and then promptly move on to the next.
Now that I am here, with just about 5 months of rock living under my belt, I am truly discovering what island time means:
When you are waiting to drive through an intersection but someone is crossing the road and they see a friend in another car, they may stand in the middle of the crosswalk for a bit, keeping you from getting through said intersection, for as long as they want = Island Time.
When you spend more time waiting to pay your dinner bill and receive your change than you did actually ordering and eating your dinner = Island Time.
When your hot water tank needs replacing and your contractor estimates you’ll have hot water back in a few days, but you won’t actually have hot water for a few weeks = Island Time.
Waiting in lines, waiting in lines, and waiting in lines. Whether you are at the grocery store, topping up a cell phone, or just running to the ATM… wait for it = Island Time.
These are just a few small examples and yes, I have definitely learned fast that patience IS a virtue here. However, I have discovered a dichotomy in the Island Time Experience…
As an expat, the opposite effect on time happens when it comes to relationships. You quickly begin to meet your fellow island expats and neighbors, those people very quickly become your friends, and before you know it you have yourself a tight little family unit, which I believe is essential to island life survival.
Online expat communities are also very helpful in finding people with similar situations and these friendships develop at an almost alarmingly quick rate.
In addition to the joy of finding wonderful people on your adventure, expat and island life can take those people away as quickly as you found them. In just over four short months on this beautiful, sometimes crazy, interesting rock, we have developed some very strong bonds with some very amazing people and just like that, we have had to say good bye to some of those same people as life pulls them away from this island adventure and onto their next.
I grew up with a very close group of friends, most of whom I am still very close with today. I joke to them that I am used to having friends for 31 years, not 31 days. It’s crazy to me how fast we have developed relationships with complete strangers out here, and how difficult is it to have to say, “So long.” so quickly. By April, I will have said goodbye to 8 different island friends. That’s also Island Time, for you.
Time is a funny thing on an island. It can be the most excruciatingly slow beast you’ll ever encounter and it can also be quicker than the blink of an eye.
How has time affected your island experience?
Photos via @jessicaonanisland
Want to stay connected to the Land of Coconuts?
We'll send you island mail, fresh from the tropics each week.