After nearly eight years of my “toes in the sand” lifestyle, I’m still smitten with the adopted island I call home. Of course, not every day in paradise is idyllic. I still have work, responsibilities and a few too many first-world problems (strangely enough, bad neighbors exist everywhere…even in the tropics). So it isn’t surprising that sometimes I lose sight of the beauty of simply being here.
In an attempt to better appreciate the wonders that are literally at my feet, I’ve been spending more time practicing gratitude. And reminding myself of the things that make being on a tiny rock in the middle of the sea so special. Because whether you dream of moving here one day, have already established yourself here or simply love visiting the various rocks dotting the Caribbean basin, spending time in the tropics is good for your soul.
Here are three of my favorite – and free – reasons for loving it here.
If you have not been in the Caribbean when the Sahara dust blows through, consider yourself lucky. Each year the wind gods get cocky and send us loads of blowing red sand, straight from Africa (or wherever this stuff comes from…I’m too lazy to Google that right now). While it’s making its annual appearance, our horizons go hazy, the sunsets disappear and every surface is covered with endless amounts of fine, red dust. The shit is EVERYWHERE, even at the bottom of the pool. In mass quantities. To say it is a bit of a mess is an understatement. Horrible.
But as it turns out, all that inconvenient sand has a positive purpose. Once it finishes blowing through – and it always does – the incredible artwork that goes on display in the western skies each night down here is once again revealed. Sunset goes from simply sipping your favorite beverage in a murky haze to enjoying your libations in the middle of a spectacular, open air art gallery. Cameras come out and social media is swamped with pics of that night’s performance. The best part is seeing the same sunset from different perspectives all around the island. I suspect this same phenomenon plays out on every island throughout the Caribbean.
Wherever you are on an island, when the time comes for the sun to bid adieu for another day, you better believe most people stop what they’re doing and watch. Priceless.
Errands With A View
It may shock you to learn that we have errands down here in paradise, just like you do back home. However, our drudgery is made infinitely more tolerable by one thing – incredible views. Yes, I still have to pick up the dry cleaning. And battle the parking shortage in town on cruise ship day to buy a “can’t wait” item. And, of course, I still stand in line at various offices for various purposes. Yet none of these things can really be considered horrible when, at any moment, I can simply turn my gaze toward the sea and admire its natural beauty.
And, if I am totally honest, even after all these years, I am still guilty of stopping unexpectedly in the middle of the sidewalk to snap a pic of something wonderfully tropical that catches my eye. Palm trees set against a backdrop of blue water are a particular favorite of mine. Total tourist move, by the way. But whatever. If it makes the drudgery of errand day more pleasant, then so be it.
An Endless, Colorful Playground
However you like to spend your free time, the Caribbean delivers – in spades (well, unless skiing is your thing…then not so much). But honestly, when you have a sparkling, warm turquoise sea and towering peaks just beyond your doorstep, who is thinking about snow? Whether your cup of tea is snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, hiking, kiteboarding or enjoying a morning run along a pristine stretch of sandy beach, you can do it in the tropics.
And the colors are enough to inspire even Pantone. From the pinks, greens and yellows of exotic birds dotting the skies to the myriad blues in the ocean to the earthy colors of the hills and wild spaces, this place is bursting with visual overload. Before I even take my first sip of coffee each morning, I usually see bold orange trupials, iridescent red humming birds and flamboyant green parrots in my garden. If I walk to the front terrace, I am treated to sweeping views of a sparkling sapphire sea dotted with bright white sails of the boats that got an early start that day. All this before 7:00 am!
As it turns out, practicing gratitude is a good thing to do. Because no matter where you live, it is far too easy to become consumed with the day-to-day and lose sight of the natural beauty that is right in front of you. And when you’re in the middle of a tropical paradise? Well, ignoring all that eye candy rises to a new level of WTF.
So, if you haven’t done it lately, make it a point today to go out and find the natural beauty wherever you are. You just might discover that paradise is not as far away as the Caribbean. It could be just outside your doorstep, too – wherever you are.
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