My family recently visited my rock for their vacation. Since I am still “fresh off the boat,” with less than two years of rock-living under my belt, some of this visit was spent explaining my island life choices and how things (don’t) work here to my family and, as it turns out, to myself.
As I sit here with an iced rum cocktail in hand, I thought it would be best to record these explanations, as the lazy part of island life means I really, really don’t want to have to explain this stuff again…
Why do you have so many pets now?
We moved to our rock with an 11- year old Labrador mutt. That’s it, just one pet. The newest addition to our family is an island cat, adopted 7 months ago. And by adopted, I mean that he found our back patio and decided to adopt us. He’s since trained us to feed him, play with him, and repeatedly reassure him that he has a very handsome tail. Which, no lie – he does!
The other cats hanging around our place seem to be his invited guests, whom we’re expected to feed whenever they stop by for a meal. They are definitely not our pets. Pets have collars. I cannot get close enough to any of them to strap on a collar, much less transport them to the vet for a check-up or sterilization. Our latest guest is a foster dog. I swear she is not mine either. She is just living here temporarily until we find her a good forever home.
In short, there are a lot of critters who need homes on my rock. They seem to find me. But “pets” is not quite the word for them.
Is the power going to keep going off?
The electricity here, as it seems to be on most rocks, is unreliable and will cut out at unexpected times. We had 4 power outages in the last 5 days, which is not too bad, considering. One of the days was the dreaded trifecta: power, water, and internet outages all taking turns throughout the day. Most of our electronics are now on surge protectors, and the computers have over-sized battery back-ups. Thanks to reliably unpredictable power, our oven clock always displays the exact time elapsed since the last time power was restored. (It’s fine, we don’t need to keep track of time here, right?)
I was a Girl Scout, so this power outage thing just requires one more step in preparation for unscheduled domestic camping. The Girl Scout motto is “Be prepared.” I earned a badge in this. We stock up on candles, spare batteries for the flashlights, booze (lots and lots of booze), and plenty of charcoal for the grill. Though every time the power is out for more than a few hours, I do end up wasting some battery power to look up duel fuel generators on Amazon, I must admit.
So yes, dear family, the power most definitely will keep going off. That much is certain.
Will the mosquitoes ever stop biting us?
Rainy season, warm season, humid season – it doesn’t matter the season, my tasty blood is always in high demand. For me, the biggest downside to island life is definitely the blood-thirsty mosquitoes. The locals say that the mosquitoes are “sweet” for me. Nothing keeps those greedy bitches away. I have tried every method possible, from holistic natural remedies to biological weapons. The mosquitoes on my rock laugh as they lick their little mosquito lips before going in for the sweet nectar hidden just below the surface of my skin, no matter how much DEET it’s coated in.
Moral of the story? If they’re biting you now, they will always be biting you still. You’re just that delicious. Just like me.
How do you figure out how to get anywhere around here?
Few of the buildings and attractions on my rock have actual street addresses. We were told about the local farmer’s market on Calle Francisco Vega, apparently located just behind the town square. It sounded simple enough. But what it really required was some hard time being totally lost and an extra U-turn to locate. Specific street numbers are for wimps, right? We had the city and street name, which is usually more than enough information to find anything on this island. Asking locals for an actual address will result in a head tilt and look of confusion. There is no address, it is located near the gomera (the roads are bad, so you need a tire shop on every corner), behind the green house. Why is it always behind the green house?
I say, challenge accepted. Island life is nothing but a real-life treasure hunt full of dead-ends, back-tracking, and thoughts of “is this even a road?”
Who’s up for some exploring with me?
Much as I try, I really cannot explain this one. Driving on my rock defies words; it is something that you just have to experience firsthand. I have no reasonable explanation for why the speed limit is displayed in miles per hour, while the road signs are displayed in kilometers. Yes, that van is missing a wheel, weaving between the lanes, and driving 20 miles an hour under the speed limit. Yes, other drivers are passing on the right, the shoulder, and into the oncoming traffic, dodging potholes and splitting lanes.
What can I say, anything goes here! I recently heard someone describe driving here as “irregular.” Yes. That.
When is the best time to visit?
This has become my new favorite question. My normal response usually breaks this down into a simple 25-part explanation, based on a combination of planned activities, crowds, and cost considerations. Want to avoid crowds? Late summer is best! Want to explore the bio bay? Come during the new moon. Want calm waters for snorkeling? Make your reservations for early spring. Trying to avoid the humidity? A non-issue, as your hotel has climate control year-round (if the power stays on, that is).
There are so many variables as to what defines the BEST time to visit – there is not a single answer that applies to everyone. Friends and family get so frustrated with me because they want a block of the six days of BEST, but nothing is that predictable on my island, certainly not the weather!
When are you moving home?
I usually respond with, “I AM HOME,” and point to the gorgeous beach or lush tropical forest in front of me. This question is generally asked in varying tones of disapproval, phrased slightly different each time – though the meaning remains the same. I have been accused of running away from something, moving to avoid taxes, deliberately punishing my Mother-in-Law, and a couple hundred other unflattering accusations.
Seriously – why is it so hard to believe that living a slower life on a tropical island is not a sufficient enough reason to make this place my home? My life on the lam combined with torturing my MIL is just the added bonus of this life choice, obviously!
– – –
What are visitors to your rock always asking you to explain to them?