We’ve been in Anguilla for a little over two weeks, and now that the initial vacation halo has begun to evaporate, I’m gaining a bit more insight into the real changes we’re going to experience having moved here from a fairly bustling city. Here’s what I’ve discovered after moving to the Caribbean.
Electricity is a blessed luxury
There’s electricity here, of course, but it’s the reliability of electricity that I’ve come to cherish. For the past week, we’ve had outages almost every night, plus some mornings. Having to bathe using scant water and a washcloth isn’t quite as glam as one might imagine. Needless to say, I’ve come to appreciate uninterrupted electricity.
Target doesn’t exist
When you’re looking to grab some quickie house supplies, a Luna bar, or an inexpensive bathing suit cover-up, there’s no one-stop shop to get stuff done. Rather there are many small shops that specialize in different areas. If you have a shopping list with items to check off, there are likely a number of shops in your circuit to hit all of your bases.
Starbucks doesn’t exist, either
There’s no ‘fast food’ at all for that matter. I’m not one for typical fast food, mind you, but I do appreciate being able to grab a quick bite from a Starbucks drive-thru or a nearby Trader Joe’s. Even a ‘quick stop’ will take 15+ minutes (and that’s a really quick stop).
California grocery shopping spoils you
This is partly third-world grocery shopping, and partly being spoiled by an incredible array of Californian produce. Grocery shopping here is an experience, if not a bit of a feat. An experienced expat warned that we’d have to visit a number of grocery stores to actually purchase all of the things we were looking for, and that’s a wholly accurate statement. I’ve found quite a few of my favorite products here (thank goodness!): almond milk, a fair array of fruits and veggies, veggie burgers, Kashi cereal, Popchips and the occasional Greek yogurt, but I have not found all of those things in one place. To actually purchase everything we’d need to make a proper meal, we’d have to hit up 3 grocery stores. All the better to support more local businesses?
Your idea of a ‘nice car’ shifts
I have never looked at a Toyota Yaris with so much admiration before. We’re equipped with an old Hyundai. We’ve already had it looked at once when it decided to overheat. I’m fairly certain one of the wheels is going to fall off and the passenger door doesn’t open from the inside (see broken handle above). Still, I feel zero embarrassment driving around in this gem. Yes, I look at Hyundai Elantras and all Toyotas with an unprecedented excitement, but the fact that most people are driving some form of practical island car reinforces the fact that functionality reigns supreme.
Budget shopping is a thing of the past
The deal monger inside of me has died a thousand deaths since setting foot on the island. There’s no Safeway card to load up with deals, there’s no Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale to scout and no sales rack to peruse. Generally, the price you see is really the price you get. Add to that the fact that many things have to be imported, there’s a hefty shipping fee + 30% duty that gets added to all imports. I have a newfound appreciation for buying goods Stateside.
All of that being said, I generally find that it’s all part of the experience. So many people complain about relatively minute details while vacationing here and I can’t help but question their expectations. Yes, you’re on a luxe vacation in the Caribbean, but you’re also in a developing nation. When you’re electricity goes out for a few (or more) minutes or your Wi-fi doesn’t have the strongest connection, isn’t it time to look around and realize where you are? I’m sure my patience will wear thinner as time goes on (though I hope that’s not the case), but for now I’ll wait 20 minutes for my quick lunch, I’ll bathe with a wash cloth and I’ll pay $7 for my almond milk. At the end of the day, this is where we live. And you know what? It’s worth the trade off.
xoxo from Anguilla,