I haven’t written in awhile. That’s not because of laziness. Just me taking some time out to myself and spending some quality time with family before my next few months on the go again living out of a suitcase.
I basically hibernated in Trinidad this Winter – a first for me. I survived four months on an island I would previously run from spending too much time on since I was so accustomed to living abroad in some fast paced city and always had itchy feet to jet off to somewhere new. Over the last four years since leaving an international corporate life, I’ve spent time in Trinidad only to recover from long trips and plan my next ones. My foreign friends could never understand this – especially in Winter when I should be basking in humidity and enjoying Carnival while they would be shovelling snow to no end and praying for Spring weather. They still think I’m from paradise – jungle and picture perfect beaches. They do know I pick fresh fruits from the trees around my house and am a quick drive to the beach so to them my island life should be a dream come true.
But to me it was difficult calling it home again – temporarily yes, permanently no. Lately though, Trinidad has slowly been growing on me and I find myself wanting to spend more time there rather than running off on some long term adventure around the world. So much so I feel like I’ve been finding my island.
Sometimes it takes one friend to open your eyes to what’s around you. One friend to ask “what are you running from?” and bring you back to reality. I wasn’t really running but it did make me see life in Trinidad differently during my hibernation. And suddenly my eyes were opened.
I started to see the positives hidden in the challenges of a returning resident like me to a much slower paced island life. That it is not isolating. It’s easy to think life on an island is limited but there is much to discover outside of city life. Afterall I’m a seasoned traveller who has been all over the world and I get to be a tourist in the country I grew up in as a child; discovering along the way the natural beauty and hidden treasures that makes Trinidad so unique and beautiful.
I’ve been channelling my creative side too and using local flavours to cook. Yes I did do the happy dance when I finally found plain Greek yogurt at the supermarket two years ago. And when kale started being imported and recently again when avocados were being imported from the Dominican Republic and I no longer had to stuff myself full when it was in season. Honestly, what I’ve learnt is that when things are difficult to acquire it makes you question how much do you really need. The answer usually is not much and get creative with what you have! Less is the new more right?
I finally went turtle watching. I’m ashamed to admit I never did this as a child but what amazing creatures these endangered leatherback turtles are. Exploring Trinidad’s North Coast is worth the adventure and I’m looking forward to spending more time on roadtrips through some of these unspoilt remote areas. I’ve learnt to put the phone down (and sometimes the camera) and bask in the moment and beauty around me.
When electricity goes (it’s become rare now but it does happen), I’ve learnt to not stress that the air-condition, internet and lights have gone. But to light my scented candles at night and enjoy the perfect views of the stars outside or open the windows and feel some fresh tropical breezes. Social media will always be there when electricity returns. Island time really forces you to reflect and relax, a concept I appreciate more since leaving my hectic corporate life.
I forgot what it was like living in a community where everyone knows each other. It’s a good feeling to know they have your back! Family get togethers – and I mean extended families which could seem like the whole country sometimes – I look forward too again. And yes there are bugs that bite but they eventually accept you as a local and leave you alone.
All in all, after four years on the road I’m looking at setting up some permanent roots (and a base to travel more of South/Central America). I may be used to stepping outside of my comfort zone on my travels but Trinidad has always been a different story. This time, it just hit me out of nowhere when that friend opened my eyes. The last few months have energised me to focus on my writing and forced me to learn more about me. I have learnt to laugh at myself and embrace change easier too. And that’s difficult for Aquarian me to admit but it is possible.
Many people will not truly know what island life is like, some may always wish for it (especially in Winter), Trinis may not always appreciate what they have but the experienced traveller in me can truly say I’ve finally found my island. And it’s the place I have always called home.
What’s that saying…when one door closes, another opens? Guess this door never closed on me…I just kept ignoring it and now I’m opening it again and admiring the view. And what a spectacular view it is. I can’t wait to share it.