Caribbean living is not for the faint of heart. To be successful (e.g. no fleeing back from whence one came, spiraling into addiction, or simply living in a constant state of agitation), one must adapt. I’ve found myself handling situations in ways my loved ones and I would have told you were impossible during my first quarter-century on the planet. Chances are, if you can relate to several of the following, you’ve probably become an island girl too.
Farewell, Fragile. Hello, Hardy!
You pick up ticks, dead flies, mosquitoes, and gecko droppings with your bare hands.
DEET is your new fragrance.
Steep hills are more comfortably walked in flip flops than tennis shoes.
Steep hills are comfortably walked.
Your legs are shapely—chiseled, even—a perfect complement to your burgeoning beer belly. (See below.)
You’ve had multiple flat tires in one week.
You’ve learned how to change a flat tire…from You Tube.
Your bras all have mold stains, even though they’re sparsely worn.
You can no longer be bothered with toenail polish.
Your entire wardrobe consists of cotton tank tops, sundresses, flip flops, and jean shorts.
Checking a cistern, lighting a pilot, or priming a pump are no longer intimidating prospects.
Your reaction to noticing a frog in your boudoir at bedtime is to mention the novelty on FB to shock your stateside friends, turn off the light, and fall peacefully asleep.
You’ve grown to rather enjoy a navy shower.
Upon discovering dead tarantulas and scorpions under your bed, you unceremoniously sweep them up and throw them away.
Your 8oz container of lotion lasts for several years.
You now find it preferable to share your home with lizards, as they’re unobtrusive and earn their keep eating mosquitoes.
You have but a vague memory of an contraption called a dishwasher that you once bemoaned having to empty.
You’ve learned to appreciate the Grecian beauty of strappy flats. (Heels and islands do not a friendly pair make.)
Not only can you suck teeth with the best of them, but chupsing/shtoopsing has become part of your vocabulary.
You’d prefer driving away from a minor to moderate car accident than to bother dealing with the cops or insurance company.
You justify having a smart phone so you can multitask by paying bills and returning emails while standing in long lines at the bank/post office/BMV/Grocery Store.
You think nothing of describing yourself as a skinny white girl to locals over the phone, knowing it will help them identify you.
You describe people by the specific hue and tone of their skin as a practical matter without worrying you’ll be perceived as “racist.”
You are as disgusted with tourists going into non-beach establishments half-dressed as the people who were bahn he’eh.
You now find the ocean water far too cold for comfort from January to June. Which is just as well since the beaches are swamped with vacationers anyway.
You “thin out” ground cover and other vegetation from neighboring roadsides/gardens to plant in your own yard.
Your body image insecurities have transferred themselves from your wee skinny white girl tits to your flat skinny white girl ass.
You no longer consider it strange to store open boxes of crackers and pasta in the fridge.
You are an ambidextrous driver.
It’s now harder to remember to flush when appropriate than to let the yellow mellow.
You’ve adopted a pit bull and/or chihuahua mix. Or a pit bull/chihuahua mix.
Your first response to tourists who ask, after sundown, “What’s that loud noise?” is, “What loud noise?” before you realize they’re referring to the same tree frogs that used to keep you awake at night.
The cup holders in your vehicle contain a rotating selection of empty beer vessels.
You’ve learned to open a beer bottle with a lighter.
You’re a highly-skilled drunk driver.
When dining out, you now prefer sitting at the bar over a table.
You regularly, and without guilt, enjoy lunch beers.
When ordering a cocktail off island, you find yourself needing to request a double.
There is a corkscrew/bottle opener in your center console at all times. More consistently, in fact, than there is proof of insurance in your glove compartment.
You know what “elevenses” means. In the Caribbean sense.
You’ve celebrated at least one major holiday in a bar full of strangers.