So, we’ve been here only a few days and there is so much to take in. As I lay here in my bed, I can hear the sounds of the festival going on down at the beach. There’s some seriously jammin’ reggae music playing and I can only imagine what kind of wild party is going on down there. The culture down here is really rich. The people that live here are so happy and easy going. They’re so welcoming and friendly. We caught a ride from a public bus (I’ve heard them called reggae buses on other islands, so that’s what I’ll refer to them here as. Not to mention, there’s always reggae music playing inside!) just the other day on our way to the grocery store for the first time. The way you catch a reggae bus is to walk down the street looking like you might need a ride. They honk AT you, and you either wave them off or flag them down. So our first reggae bus experience was quite inspiring I must say. When we got in, the guy says “Dis is a have it your way bus ride, mon. It tis $2 each person and I take you anywhere you wan go. Are you a Ross studan?” Of course we answered yes. That we had just arrived Monday. He says, “Das whad I tot. So I’m gonna take you down dis street up here to show you whad you have to look forwad to, mon.” So we drive up this street which can only be described as Millionaire Rowe. These houses are right on the beach (some with their own private stretches) and they are MASSIVE! Absolutely gorgeous and over the top. This bus driver is describing them and telling us how much they cost (one was $25 million!!) and he starts saying “Ya know, ya have da dream big, mon. Ya know whad I’m sayin’? If ya don dream big, ya never go anywhere. If Alexander Graham Bell did na dream big, would ya be talkin’ on dat cell phone? If Michael Dell did na dream big, would ya be usin’ dat computa? You have such a big opportunity here mon, so don waste it, eh? I wish I woulda done some tings different in my life, bud if I’m gonna drive de bus, mon, I’m gonna tell as many people as I can to dream big. Ya neva know where ya might find yaself!”
So true. And aren’t we dreaming big?? At 27 and 29 years old, we are basically taking the bull by the horns and doing something which might seem “unconventional” because we have a dream. And we aren’t afraid to pursue it no matter what the cost. And believe you me, there are PLENTY of costs. For instance:
-Giving up all means of transportation other than your own two feet.
-Going from a beautifully decorated home to a one bedroom apartment.
-Having to sleep under a mosquito net to avoid the mutant bugs that lurk around at night.
Etc., etc., etc. But as a wise Caribbean native said once while Jonathan and I were on our honeymoon in Jamaica 5 years ago “I am rich!”. I am living in paradise. A short walk from a place some people NEVER get to see in person. Wonderful people, beautiful scenery, everything I need and not much else, my family, and an incredible opportunity for Jonathan which really is once in a lifetime.
There are so many things I could write about tonight, but I been wanting to sort of list a few things. So I guess that’s what I’ll do tonight. Maybe I’ll expand on them a little later.
What I Wish I Had Packed More Of:
-Swimsuits-I am not the kind of girl who really enjoys wearing swimsuits. They never fit me right. Not to mention, I’ve been on the chunkier side in the past 5-6 years so I feel uncomfortable in them even if they do fit right. But I’ve lost a lot of weight in the last 6 months and none of my suits fit me correctly anymore and I did not venture out to shop for new ones. I hate swimsuit shopping! But it is looking like swimsuits may be my outfit of choice around here. I was disappointed today because we walked a long way up “our beach” to this GORGEOUS stretch of beach and I REALLY wanted to go swimming. Unfortunately, though, I had opted out of one of my ill fitting swimsuits for a sundress instead. Sad face..
-Lotion-Who would have thought with all this humidity that I would need lotion? It’s just all the salty water and air and of course the sand. I’ve already gone through almost half a bottle and we’ve only been here a few days. I’m anticipating running out of that pretty darn quickly.
-An Extra Leash-Matilda has this really nice lead which we bought specifically for the airport. It’s really comfy on the hand, but it collects seaweed like crazy! Obviously not something we thought about. I’m just gonna have to “de-seaweed” it every time we come home I guess…
What I Wish I’d Packed Less Of:
-First Aid Stuff-I might recount this later, but right now I feel like we’ve got first aid stuff running out of our ears! I just don’t anticipate us needing that much of it.
-Long Dresses-Although they are cute and summery, my long sundresses may not make it out of my closet. It’s just too darn hot and I can’t walk on the beach with them…
-Shoes-I’m amazed, but I don’t think I needed as many shoes as I brought. Just a few pairs of flip flops probably would have done the trick. I really pared down what I had, but it’s still more than I probably need…
Some Things That Take Getting Used To:
-Mutant Bugs-At night these weird ant things start crawling on our walls. We’ve sprayed for them, but it doesn’t help much. They’re harmless and basically keep to themselves. But you know me! I HATE bugs! So thank God we bought this mosquito net! It makes me sleep better at night knowing I’m not gonna wake up to one dropping on my face in the middle of the night!
-Limited Groceries-There’s no snacking in our house. Why? Because groceries are SUPER expensive! There is not food at our disposal all the time. Tonight we both wanted something sweet after dinner and there was nothing. So we satisfied the craving with one TUMS a piece. Delish…
-WALKING-We have to walk everywhere. It makes us choosier about where we go since we’ll have to either pay to get there or walk there and back. It’s nice enjoying the sun and stuff, but I’ve definitely gotten more than a little cranky on occasion thinking about having to make the trek back to the apartment after a beach trip. I keep telling myself it’s just gonna make me skinny…
A Few of My Favorite Things:
-Taino Beach-Lucaya Beach is the most famous beach here in Freeport. However, our little Taino beach (which is about 3-5 miles west of Lucaya) is perfect. It’s not touristy. It’s just quaint and quiet and it’s ours. The beach is beautiful and then there is this coral reef “encroachment” a few hundred yards east up the beach where there are tide pools that have the most amazing things in them. We’ve picked up a TON of beautiful beach glass and shells and coral pieces that would blow your mind!
-No mosquitos!!-Can you believe it?? I am floored. I thought for sure I’d be fighting off mosquitos for 4 months, but I have YET to see a single one! Amazing…
-Cable!-I’ve been without for so long, and now our landlord pays for it. Woohoo! I actually got to watch Project Runway tonight which I was unhealthily excited about…
-My Tan-I am going to be seriously dark when I get back to the states. Jonathan is too. We are darkening exponentially already and we haven’t been here that long! No more pasty white Rachel (at least not for a few years…).
-The Culture-We’ve been to one of the weekly fish fries down at the beach already. They just bring in whatever fish is fresh, some chicken, and some home cooked local dishes. Of course there’s gotta be conch (which is my favorite) and music. It’s funny to be someone who’s not going back to a hotel or getting back on a cruise ship. It’s cool to get to say “I live here.” The food is REALLY good and the people are so friendly.
Matilda is adjusting well too. She is a beach pup for sure, but I also think she’d be an anything dog as long as she was with me and Jonathan. I have to make her food because a bag of dog food costs upwards of $50 at the grocery store. So she had her first home cooked meal tonight and she’s officially spoiled. As if she wasn’t already!
More later. Hopefully these pictures show up, but if they don’t I’m still working on it! Believe me, I will have LOTS of time to get this perfected. For now, I’m milking time with Jonathan for all it’s worth since I know he’s about to be Mr. Bookworm in just a very short time. We are looking forward to the other students getting in (most don’t arrive until Monday) so that we can meet everyone. We’ve already started kind of networking through Facebook and I’m just so excited to finally meet some of these people. It’s a journey I guess we’ll all be taking together in a sense!
For now, I’ll wrap things up. There’s plenty more to tell, but that’ll be for a later date! For tonight I’ll close er out and turn out the lights and sleep to the distant sounds of a Bob Marley style beach party just minutes from my new home…