When you decide to move to an island, it’s important to your happiness – and therefore, survival – that you become accustomed to some less than desirable aspects of daily life.

Here are just a few potential obstacles to your island serenity that you will need to overcome:

 

You will have to be able to kill your own bugs.

I have been afraid of spiders and creepy crawlies for as long as I can remember. Fortunately, before I moved to my rock, I had lived alone for several years and learned how to kill the bugs myself. I have a rule when it comes to bugs: If I don’t see you, you get to live. If I see you, you must die – and I will be the one to do it. The other evening, I was sitting in my little house with all the windows and doors shut. All of a sudden, a creature that I initially thought was a hummingbird (reference for size) was flying around the room. My first thought was, How the f^*k did a hummingbird get in my house??? Then it came to me. Ohhhhh nooooo – it’s a flying cockroach . Bug poison spray is great for these situations – always have it at the ready! The article, In the Land of Roaches, sums up how to keep the evil creatures at bay as best you can, although as she mentions, no matter how much you clean, the little suckers will manage to find their way back into your space. In the islands, you will never be free of the bugs. The sooner you accept that, the better.

 

 

You will have to live without the basics at times.

If you expect things like electricity, cable, internet, and water (let alone HOT water) to be automatic and available all the time, you will disappointed. And speaking of HOT water, I have learned that the definition of “HOT” is subjective. For me, hot water means there is a device which heats the water to scalding and I can temper it to my pleasing with the cold water. Some island homes disagree with this concept. They have large, black “Rotoplast” water holding tanks which sit in the sun so when the afternoon comes, the water has been “heated” by the sun and you can get a lukewarm shower if you’re lucky. And other times, the hot water heater works periodically and may require some “tweaking” from time to time in order to start the actual heating process again. Of course in the summer heat, a cold shower isn’t the worst thing ever. As far as other utilities are concerned, just plan that electricity, cable, internet, and running water will go out from time to time for unspecified stretches of time. Being able to survive without these basics for a few hours or more will become commonplace in your life as an island girl.

 

You will have to cheat death whenever you get behind the wheel.

Traffic on island is better than any death-defying ride at your favorite amusement park. Well, “better” if you really enjoy that adrenaline rush that takes your breath away and leaves your heart pounding at an alarming rate. We have a couple of main roads on my rock and they are typically pothole-ridden to the point of it being a real possibility of vehicles getting lost inside them. As a result, you have drivers (especially the taxis) who are swerving into the opposite lane of oncoming traffic, passing on curves and while going up blind hills. If you are enjoying the service of a taxi during this ride, now is the time I recommend the “close your eyes and pray” technique. If you are driving your own vehicle, do not employ the taxi technique. I used to use the “drive like an old woman at very slow speeds” technique. I have had three different cars while living on my rock, but now have none so I use the “taxi prayer” technique pretty regularly. My prayer life has increased to far more active than ever before.

 

 

You will need to roll with inconsistencies.

This applies to stores, restaurants, utility companies, government offices, and more. Just because you went to a particular store and got what you needed last week with no problems, don’t expect it to be the same this week. A friend here on my rock shared a story that when she went to get a chip for her phone, they refused to sell her a SIM card chip because she was not native born to this country. Mind you, she has legal residency and has for years but all of a sudden, not being born here meant she couldn’t buy a $5 chip. And we have ALL bought phones and SIM card chips over the years and there has never even been a question of residency, let alone birth in the country. This is when you remember that there is more than one way to “skin a cat” so to speak – and that sometimes you should just give it a try another day. You simply can’t predict what sort of service you will receive on a rock, as these things appear to change by the day and be more situational that you may be used to elsewhere.

 

You will need to get over your fear of germs.

Germophobes may have a difficult time adjusting to the “lax” standards of sanitary conditions on a rock. Please don’t misunderstand. This is not the case for EVERY restaurant or food store on the island, but there are some which are not terribly strict with the whole “let’s be able to eat off the floor” way of things. In fact, some floors are dirt or sand. While most kitchens in the restaurants do have sinks, some have a sink in the back and bring out a bucket with water and disinfectant to wipe down the bar and tables – which may or may not get changed regularly. And when you’re finished in the bathroom, if you have toilet paper, you might not have a sink to wash your hands in. I recommend to everyone that you keep a travel-sized hand sanitizer with you, if you can.

Fortunately, I have never had the germophobe problem myself. In fact, I’m a big fan of the 5 second rule and will admit that when I dropped my vitamin into the dog bowl the other day, it was still swallowed right down by yours truly. However, I am a little more strict with where my food comes from (store or restaurant), and so I have learned where I feel confident the establishments are up to my standards and where they are not (standards which are still lower than other germophobes I know, I might add). So all that to say, if you’re going to freak out when you see a dirt floor in a kitchen, learn where the “fancy” wood or even “fancier” concrete floors are and eat there instead. Still no guarantee on their sanitary standards though…

 

–   –   –

 

I would never try to discourage someone from following their dreams to live on an island, so I hope that’s not what you take away from this. I do want to share info that may give you a better perspective on what to expect. Some of these things I knew before I moved to my rock, some not. However, most I have had the “joy” of learning all by myself through firsthand experience. Sometimes it is just a good ol’ belly laugh when you figure out a new lesson. Other times it is a big ol’ eye roll (my signature expression) when you see what the surprise of the day is. Best thing to do is to always take it in stride, roll with the flow, and step back while trying to find some humor in it all.

And always remember: it’s not snowing here!

 

Tori Chriestenson

Current Rock of Residence:

Roatan

Island Girl Since:

2010

Originally Hails From:

Colorado, USA

Tori moved to Roatan because she had grown tired of the regular old grind and all the turmoil going on in the USA. She knew she wanted to move out of the states. Not to mention the fact that she hates snow and has lived with snow her whole life (she even has a “no snow” tattoo). So she knew she wanted to move south – as in Central America-ish south. She wasn’t sure where, but she knew there had to be a beach, palm trees, and NO SNOW.

Tori had a few friends who had been SCUBA diving in Roatan before and so she thought she would check it out. (Note – Tori is not a diver nor does she care to be one. Snorkeling is great!) So in July 2009, she visited Roatan for a one week vacation. At that time, it had been only one month after some serious government upheaval in Honduras. There were State Department warnings about traveling to Honduras but Tori wasn’t worried. She knew it was the island and surely that’s much different than the mainland. Sure enough, the island was tranquillo and it was nice because there were almost no tourists. While in Roatan, she visited with islanders and expats and decided, “Yep – this’ll do.”

So after vacationing in Roatan, Tori put her sights on a move to the island. She figured, if it didn’t work out, she could always go back. So February 27, 2010, Tori moved to Roatan and hasn’t looked back. Of course she does go back and visits her family in Colorado, but her heart and home is in Roatan.

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