By Contributing Mama Alecia Kintner
Ever think about chucking your current life and heading for the beach in the Caribbean?
Not just for winter break, I mean, but permanently?
That’s exactly what my husband Mike and I did, along with our 10-month-old twins.
We sold our house in Connecticut, quit our jobs, let go of health insurance, said goodbye to shopping malls and fast food, and moved to the tropical island of Roatan. Lock, stock and barrel. Actually, our barrel was a 40-foot container: trucked to Newark, hauled by rail to Miami, and shipped by sea to the waiting arms of Honduran customs officials – who promptly slapped a 30% duty on all its contents before releasing it.
We arrived in paradise during rainy season. There was no way to haul this massive (and massively expensive) container over the dirt mountain road from the south shore to our north shore home. I’ll admit I hadn’t entirely thought this through when I argued for taking all the comforts of home with us. I shudder to think about how we’ll ever move this stuff back.
Mike made 18 trips in a pick-up, in the rain, leading a caravan of larger pick-ups. Our worldly goods were unpacked and slowly transported from the French Harbor dock to Palmetto Bay Plantation. It took two days.
Our move-in wasn’t just hampered by rain – on Day 1, as darkness came unexpectedly quickly, the fact that our new construction didn’t yet have electricity meant that the trucks simply threw boxes over the side and hoped they hit the foyer. Forget about directing traffic with a flashlight; I was just lucky to see our boatload of inappropriate New England antiques and unnecessary cold-weather clothing make it under a roof.
That was nearly two years ago. Delaney and Hayden, our twins, are now 27 months old.
It took a while to settle in and get the hang of island life. Somehow the new house absorbed the antiques and they look great mixed with rattan and sisal. We enrolled the babies in a darling international preschool early, at 18 months, giving us all a focus to our days. They’re talking now, with a mix of English and Spanish, and their friends are from all over the world.
Still, we live with frequent power outages, well-water shortages, limited fresh vegetables, pesky sand flies, the fear of malaria, and unbelievably bumpy dirt roads. Ocean breezes, drop-dead sunsets, lush flowers, and the lulling sound of the surf at night. We struggle to earn a living but we live very differently.
Think it sounds great?
Until you realize you have a laundry list of things you need from Target, you’ve run out of your favorite Clinique lip gloss, you’re dying for a new pair of shoes other than counterfeit Old Navy flip flops, or you want something more stimulating to do with your kids than picking guavas or playing I Spy a Monkey La La.
Every once in a while even paradise needs shaking up.
So where do you think we’re going this summer? Back to New England. To a family summer camp, where we’ll get our fill of group games and organic salads. When we arrive, we’ll even be met by our own “family helper” who will usher the twins back and forth from their age-appropriate activities so that Mike and I can play tennis or go to a yoga class, or make an illicit escape to Target.
Of course, that assumes I haven’t managed to get us uninvited to the Tyler Place Resort by telling a little white lie about Delaney and Hayden’s age, just so they would get into the best play group for them. Ouch. This is not like me.
I’m generally so up-front that I actually warned Mike on our second date that the relationship would never work; I wanted to have children. He was equally blunt and said “no big deal, I want to live on an island.” And here we are.
Clearly, I need a vacation from this vacation.
You can read more about Alecia’s crazy island life at Twins on an Island.