Island life is not for everyone.

I was born and raised on an island. Then, I spent some years in a city only to move back to an even smaller island. I fit in with both locals and expats. I understand the arguments from both sides – talk about a life of confusion. The locals here love to beat on their chests and boast that “they born here.” I understand their nationalistic pride and their love for their country, because I feel the same. I feel more at home here than in both the city and the island that I left behind. Having said that, I also understand the views from those who, like me, decided to move here to call this place home. Their arguments sometimes are my arguments… emphasis on sometimes.

I have attended my share of “going away” parties, and I’ve waved goodbye to quite a few friends as they’ve left the island for good. Some left because their contracts were up, some because of better opportunities elsewhere, and others because, well, island life simply did not suit them. It happens. It is, after all, like I said – not for everyone. Though occasionally, you have those that tell you they’re leaving the rock for some of the most ridiculous reasons. I’ve heard them justify their decisions to move back to wherever they came from and at times, their justifications left me no choice but to laugh – and then laugh some more.

Picture: Chloe Gunning @wanderlustchloe

Here are 5 of the most ridiculous excuses I’ve heard for quitting island life:

“There is no Target here.”

Substitute Target for Walmart, Marshall’s, Macy’s, Hema, or any other large department found on the mainland; the main reason/excuse remains the same. No, we don’t have a Target or a Hema (Dutch department store) here, but we do have the coconut man down the road and the fisherman selling fresh fish at the market on Saturdays. Besides, there is this little thing called Amazon. I’ve heard they deliver virtually anywhere, probably even to the tiny island you inhabit. You may not have a department store, but you can get your basic needs met here.

“The island is turning me into an alcoholic.”

I can’t. I just can’t. Allow me to pause here for a moment. Last time I checked, the island did not drag your ass into the car, drive you to the nearest bar, put you on an empty bar stool, and shoot tequila shot after tequila shot down your throat, night after night. We all love a little bar time and yes, it is a part of island life, but it doesn’t mean we are all running around here drunk all the time. The island is not causing you to drink, that much is certain.

“The locals don’t accept me.” 

This is a touchy one. I actually experienced this too when I first moved here. I was not black enough, not island enough, not Caribbean enough. Basically, the locals did not know which box to put me in. But if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. The key is to be nice to everyone you meet here. Smile even when nobody is smiling back. Be kind even when nobody is kind to you, and always, always give compliments. Before you know it, you’ll be the well-liked foreigner. Make local friends. It changes your perception of the island.

“The island is corrupt.”

Really? Do you want to go there? Before you utter these words, just make sure that wherever you’re from is the cleanest, most well-organized, honest, and uncorrupted place in the world. Yeah, I thought so.

“The island is so expensive.”

Duh! Of course it is. Those nice berries you like so much are actually imported. That means they were sent down to the islands on an airplane and crossed an ocean to finally sit pretty in your supermarket of choice on the island. Instead of complaining that the berries and herbs are not of the best quality and are more expensive than a gram of uranium, realize that in most first world countries, they’re saying the same thing about red snapper and coconuts. It’s all relative, people. Stop complaining about what you don’t have and start enjoying what you do.

“The island is so uncivilized.”

Yes, the internet is slow, red tape here is torturous, and the lines at government institutions are long. But, I can also sit with my laptop on the beach with a cold beer in the middle of January. Rushing around everyday to a 9 to 5 job on the highway at 7:30 am in sub-zero weather and total darkness only to wake up the next day and do it all over again – now that is uncivilized.

–   –   –

Bottom line: don’t blame the island. It was never at fault. Stand behind your decision. Take pride in the new experiences you allowed yourself to have by moving here, no matter how short your stay ends up being. Moving anywhere is not easy. Moving to an island when you are used to calling a big country home is just insane. But people embark on this insanity everyday. Some stick it out for awhile, some stick it out for life, and others can’t get off the island fast enough.

To the last group, I ask: Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps it’s not the island that doesn’t fit your life, but your life that doesn’t fit the island?

Riselle Celestina

Current Rock of Residence:

St. Maarten

Island Girl Since:

Birth

Originally Hails From:

Curaçao

Riselle is a happy-go-lucky island girl from Curaçao living the island life on the beautiful yet tiny island of St. Maarten/St. Martin. She has a passion for travel and adventure and not long ago decided to follow her heart wherever it may lead her.

Her days are now spent being a pet-mom to her 6 dogs and 3 cats and a wife to her husband of 4 years, James. Until recently, she was a full time planner and designer at her own event planning company but a sudden revelation in February of 2015 made her put her business on hold and change career paths. New career: unknown. In an attempt to find herself, she decided to take up blogging, which to her is one of the few occupations where you don’t need to wear much, flip flops are always in season, and tattoos are not frowned upon.

Impulsive, a true people person, happy, friendly, always willing to help, and determined are just some of the words that describe her best. Of course she can also be headstrong, bossy, spoiled, slow to forgive, short-tempered, irrational, and at times grumpy, but this can easily be fixed with coffee or wine. Preferably wine.

Travel is her one true passion besides her love of animals. Any time she is not able to travel far, she is content with exploring her little piece of paradise.

You can read more about her travels, island life, and adventures on her website, The Traveling Island Girl.

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

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