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.)

corollaflattireenhancedblogedit

8th one in a year.

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.

houselizardenhancedblogedit

House Lizard

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.)

Caribbean Customs

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.

Flora Teefin' Accomplice

Flora Teefin’ Accomplice

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.

Drunkard’s Paradise

The cup holders in your vehicle contain a rotating selection of empty beer vessels.

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Sophisticated palette, indeed.

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.

Written By:

Ashley Ladlie

Current Rock of Residence:

St. John, USVI

Island Girl Since:

2009

Originally Hails From:

Minnesota

Ashley lives on St. John in the US Virgin Islands where she can be found drenched in sweat while communing with the hermit crabs who live in her yard. The irony of living in a shac-teau on the most remote part of a tiny secondary island in the Caribbean while spending the majority of her time with a creature named after people who prefer solitude is not lost on her.

Despite constant inquiry as to how long she’ll be on St. John, Ashley has learned in her three decades on this planet that setting one’s life plans in stone is the best way to ensure their futility. For now she remains enchanted with the beautiful absurdity on her rock of residence, which is colorful in far more ways than one.

You can hire her to write and design for you at Bad Ash Babe Creative.

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

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