“Kirst, you’re driving on the wrong side of the road.”
Evan calmly instructed me as I turned the little white Colt (incorrectly) into the right lane.
It seems as though everything is presently a challenge. Everything is slightly to completely uncomfortable. The days are cognitively taxing. It’s exciting. It’s thrilling, it’s an adrenaline rush, but it’s also difficult to remain emotionally stable when there are so many ups and downs - so many “firsts” and newness in each day.
You will look at my pictures and you might think, “Lucky biatch!” And, yes, we are very lucky to have this opportunity. This is truly an experience of a lifetime; but, I don’t want to mislead you with, “I love my life” facebook fassaud (you know, where people only post awesomeness on facebook to portray the perfect life). Although we are settling in, and have met some really awesome people, there are moments when I feel sad, lonely, and wish I was “home” where, in my mind, everything seems easier and more comfortable to me.
First off, we got a car. A good, reliable car is not easy to come by here on the island. There’s a website, like our version of Kijiji, where people post items for sale, so basically, Evan called anyone who had a vehicle in our price range ($5000 US for anything decent around 7-10 years old). Knock on wood, I think we found a great car. We ended up buying a Mitsubishi Colt. It’s a little (Read: very little) white car that was shipped from Japan by its previous owner. It speaks Japanese. Literally. The GPS lady only speaks Japanese. In addition, when you pull up a map on the GPS screen, it displays a map of Tokyo. Just Tokyo. Super helpful. But I like it. When I’m flying around the round-abouts (no traffic lights here, just the British round-abouts), I feel fast…and am furiously self-directing, “stay left, stay left.” Evan has named the vehicle “Edo Japan” after his favorite fast food Japanese restaurant. Haha. I’m starting to find my way around the island, although I was really intimidated to drive initially. There is quite a bit of traffic during rush hour, and no one seems to signal or make anyone else aware which lane they are intending to be in. In addition, you must watch for iguanas and chickens. No lie. I actually stopped to let a hen cross with her babes today and chuckled to myself as I thought, “why did the chicken cross the road?” bahaha. Things you don’t see back home.
|morning tea on my patio - watching the cruise ships floating by|
We’ve moved into our place. It was a bit of a struggle with a delay to move in, but we’re in, and I really love it. We decided on the beautiful oceanfront place in West Bay. I was hesitant to choose this place based on its location. It’s way at the north end up the island – if you squint really hard, you can see Cuba (you can’t actually), but it’s definitely as far north on this island that one can travel. West Bay seems to have a “rough” reputation, but I feel safe here and one of the schools I will be frequenting is a 3 minute drive away. When I watch the cruise ships float by in the morning or the sunset at dinner time, I’m reassured that we made the right choice. This is why we came to the island! Also, I am always travelling against traffic so I don’t anticipate I’ll ever be stuck in the bumper-to-bumper crap.
|Our bedroom - ocean view from toilet too. Sweet.|
It’s extremely hot here right now. Apparently yesterday was one of the hottest days of the year at 111 degrees Fahrenheit with the humidity. That’s hot. I’m all for hot, but this is a different kind of hot. When I leave for work in the am, by the time I walk 10 steps to get into Edo Japan, my makeup has melted off my face. Literally. Melted. It reminds me of my “clubbing” days. I recall getting all dolled up to dance it up at a nightclub (back in my heyday), only to see my reflection in the bathroom mirror post drinking and dancing to discover that my face had fallen off. It’s the same. Except it is 8am and I’m not drinking or at a club, I’m on my way to work to convince my colleagues that I am a respectable professional. How can do this when my face is running down my face? I will need to adopt a new makeup routine ASAP.
The best thing about my experience so far is definitely the people whom I’ve met. I can’t believe how friendly and helpful everyone is. We’ve lived in many different places over the years, and I’ve often found it difficult to break into a social group. This feels like University all over again – United Nations University for professionals! Everyone is looking for friends, inviting you out to activities and events, and trying to help ease you into island life. A co-worker's family cared for the pets for a day when we were homeless. My neighbor whom I just met immediately offered up her password so I could access her internet signal (picture me holding my laptop above my head, wandering the grounds trying to get a signal). I believe that making new friends is definitely an art form. Although I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in the area, our 18 moves have definitely provided me with tons of experience. Number one, if you can find 1 single thing to connect you to someone within 5 minutes of meeting him/her, you are well on your way to forming a relationship. Our secret weapon is the random locations in which we’ve lived around the world. I have been able to form a geographical tie with almost every single person we’ve met. For example, I found out that one new friend was wandering St. Andrews, Scotland looking for Prince William the same year that I was doing the same (obviously, that didn't work out for us. Your loss, Will!) One friend has a brother in McAllen, Texas, where we lived in 2005. Another friend was dodging the sniper in Virginia the same year as us. It’s such a small world! Making friends in your mid 30’s is exciting and rewarding; however, sometimes it’s exhausting. You try to present yourself as the “nicest” version of yourself. Smile! Ask lots of questions! Remember the person’s name and repeat it back (people love the sound of their own name). Always appear interested! Sometimes, when my face is melting off my face, I’ve just worked a full day, and was recently lost somewhere near the cruise terminal after dodging iguanas on the road – I just want my friends - the ones who know me and love me and will accept me no matter what my mood. The friends I trust and love. But making new friends here will be a huge contributer to my happiness, so I will smile through the madness and keep going, celebrating each and every small victory, knowing that it will take some time to settle in.