Today marks four months since Husband and I arrived in Grenada. It has been four months of learning and adapting to a life that has been very different from the one we came from. In many ways it is not better or worse, just different.
We went from the US to the Caribbean, Midwest season changes to tropical climate year round, two full-time jobs to being a student and a housewife.
Since I am fortune enough to not be the one who was crazy enough to decide that attending medical school would be fun, I have had lots of time to observe how life on an island is different than life in the US.
Here are 7 things I’ve learned so far:
1. If that ’94 Suzuki Escudo gets you from Point A to Point B, it’ll do.
Never mind that it doesn’t have air conditioning, sometimes it doesn’t start, and when the windows decide to work you have to hold onto them to keep aligned as they roll up. Luxury car features like radio, automatic locks, and a decent paint job can wait. It gets us from one place to the other (most of the time) and that’s all we really need!
2. You can live in the same three outfits of workout clothes – and nobody cares.
Though the locals seem perfectly comfortable wearing long pants all the time, when the heat index is constantly in the upper 90’s, jeans are the last thing I am thinking of wearing. Most of the time I exist in one of the few pairs of yoga pants or shorts that I brought to the island and a tank top. Everyone knows that we are all existing on student loans right now, we all brought what they could fit into a suitcase or two, and the options for shopping on the island are less than exciting.
3. Honking at people while you are driving can have a ton of different meanings.
In the US, if somebody honks their car horn it usually means something along the lines of, “%*$& you, you #!@*ing $&*@.” Imagine my surprise upon realizing that honking here is much closer to a friendly “hello” than a string of expletives. I’ve learned that honking can mean, “I am a bus, do you need a ride?” or “Hello friend that I saw walking on the sidewalk,” or even “I’m coming up on a blind hill where the road is probably not wide enough for two way traffic so if you can hear this please let me through.”
4. You will never again take for granted living in a place where you don’t have to worry about bugs.
I have been very fortunate to not have many encounters with bugs so far *crosses fingers, knocks on wood*. I have, however, heard so many stories about bugs on the island. Everything from huge centipedes falling from the ceiling in campus buildings, to ants that will find any way into your apartment – and your food containers, to relentless mosquitos in apartments without window screens, to huge, flying cockroaches. It makes the droves of mosquitos in Wisconsin seem like nothing.
5. Even though the seasons may not change, you will hear Christmas music everywhere you go as soon as November 1st comes around.
I’ve learned that Grenada does Christmas big, and you will hear Christmas music everywhere from the grocery store to random houses blasting it across the valley that you live in. At least Grenada celebrates their Thanksgiving in October, so once November comes around Christmas is really the next holiday to look forward to! I distinctly remember a Christmas a few years back where I was driving around and the car thermometer put the outside temperature at -30°F. Celebrating this Christmas in a bathing suit will be just as memorable!
6. You can have a different favorite beach for different occasions.
Living in the Midwest, where most bodies of water have cold water, lots of weeds, and an odor of dead fish, it never occurred to me that some Caribbean beaches might be better than others. Anything would be better than those beaches. In Grenada, all of the beaches that I have been to have beautiful, fine sand, a gorgeous green backdrop, and turquois water that you can see all the way to the bottom through. While they are all beautiful, some are better for snorkeling, some are better for partying, and some are better because you can lay out for a long time without someone trying to sell you something.
7. Just like living anywhere else, it is easy to take for granted the unique things around you.
After being here for four months, I sometimes forget that we live within walking distance of two gorgeous beaches. I’m not surprised that there are multiple fresh produce stands around, even though it is December. I can walk down the beach now without gawking at the scenery. We will be here for two years, and though parts of island life are second nature now, I remain committed to experiencing as much of the island as I can in the relatively short time that we are here!
The first four months in Grenada have flown by and I look forward to the new insights that I will have as I continue journeying through life in the Caribbean!