City Girl, Meet Island Life. Island Life, Change City Girl

I wouldn’t want to stay and work here, island life is nice for a little while but not long-term. It’s just like a small town feel. Lame.”


That’s part of the email I wrote to my brother just after arriving in Roatan, Honduras. Lame, huh? But that’s what you get when you take a girl who’s used to living in a city and drop her onto a small island in a town with only one road. Alas, here I am 19 months after writing that email thinking, “Island life is incredible. It’s such a small town feel. Amazing!”

I moved to the little island of Roatan accidentally, thinking it would only be a stop on my travels around Honduras and Guatemala. A five-day vacation turned into an entirely different plan after I met my Irish-Colombian on the beach my first day here. When the five days were up and it was supposed to be time to move on, I opted to stay.

My criticisms of the island transformed into smile-inducing observations of intricately painted sunsets, the natural melodies of a jungle-meets-beach setting, and the incredibly quick connections people make here without hesitation or trepidation. What seemed such an overly simplistic way of life ended up surprising me by drawing me in. Its simplicity became endearing, enticing, and even entertaining.

My former city life had taught me to put blinders on, keep my eyes down and my headphones in. I learned to walk quickly and efficiently. I filled my calendar with talks, performances, happy hours, baseball games, work, exercise, girls’ nights, game nights, wine nights, and more. Every minute had a plan – even if that plan was to rest. It was accounted for to ensure not a single moment was wasted. Because that’s the whole point, right?

Don’t waste a single minute of your time because you’ll never get it back. Don’t wait to be happy – go out and seek it yourself.

And that’s what I was doing: seeking happiness. All those social events and educational experiences did make me happy. I loved taking advantage of living in the city with so many amazing opportunities presenting themselves to me daily. It was exciting and invigorating. But what I never realized is that I kept running so much I never paused to breathe or to absorb all that I was experiencing.

Moving to Roatan has taught me to be. It has taught me to embrace a moment and enjoy every sense it stimulates without occupying my mind with future thoughts and plans. It has taught me to walk with my head up to say hello to the next friend coming down the street toward me. It has taught me to leave time for whatever might need it – whether it’s an unexpected night out with friends or simply the fact that things run on island time and therefore need space to expand in the schedule.

Island life has enhanced my senses beyond the basic look, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Living on a small island has instead taught me to actually see the silent breeze blow through the palm trees, to listen to the jungle awaken each morning with the first rays of sunlight, to feel the tiniest bits of coral wash up on the beach over my bare feet, to savor an icy cold beer while the sun dips into the sea and the day begins to cool, and to inhale until my lungs are bursting with salt air and mangoes.

No, I don’t regret my city life for a second. It was wonderful and enlightening. But island life has granted me the time and space to be. That is an incredible gift. It took me moving to an island to find that capability, but it can be done anywhere. You just need to embrace simplicity, encourage the senses, and be.

Sometimes you need to just be. On a dock. With the soft lapping of waves on the beach. And your dog lying next to you. And friends nearby. And the gorgeous breeze blowing over you with nothing else to worry about but breathing.

Sometimes you need to just be. On a dock. With the soft lapping of waves on the beach. And your dog lying next to you. And friends nearby. And the gorgeous breeze blowing over you with nothing else to worry about except breathing…

5 thoughts on “City Girl, Meet Island Life. Island Life, Change City Girl

  1. Nice. I did not live on an island but when I moved from hectic London to slow paced Oman I felt the same. I loved the simplicity of life. It makes you appreciate the things that count. Now I have moved on to another sprawling and heavily populated metropolis (Seoul) and I am finding it hard to adjust.
    I miss nature. So much. Treasure every moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure it’s much more difficult to adjust to the chaos after the quiet life – hang in there! There are many wonderful aspects of city life, too. I’ll enjoy the silence and the trees for you if you go enjoy a street festival and an amazing restaurant for me 😉

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  2. Love this!!! It reminds me so much of why I love living in Colorado and Boulder in particular- part of the expectation in living here is that you stop and enjoy the beauty of where we live. I’ve never been more content to snuggle up with a good book at the base of a mountain- life is so much more enjoyable when it’s not rushed and is simply enjoyed.

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    • I completely agree – you should never feel guilty about taking time to just be. It’s so ingrained in us to keep moving and being productive that we don’t even realize how many wonderful things are passing by. Go enjoy your book and enjoy those beautiful mountains 🙂

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  3. Pingback: HuffPost: 7 Life-Changing Lessons I’ve Learned Living on a Caribbean Island | AWalk on the Run

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