CHALLENGES OF ISLAND LIFE
Life is full of challenges every day. It doesn’t matter your age, your income, or where you live. For most of us, we have and/or had extensive support networks in the US to rely on when we met specific challenges. We also, throughout our lives, learned ways to approach situations. Interestingly, though, at least for me and many of my friends, we came to expect certain things, took other things for granted, and developed questionable frustration tolerance. Therein lies the issue for this blog.
Moving to any island is an adventure in so many ways. We arrive feeling excited about what lies ahead and the beauty of our new life. And it IS exciting and beautiful! However, it is important to understand that life here is nothing like life in your home country; for me that would be the US. You have to adapt to a new culture and a new attitude. Very little gets done the way you think it would (or “should” based on your previous experiences). So, here are some things you learn.
ONE: Grocery shopping in and of itself is an adventure. You aren’t going to go to a single store and get everything on your list; not even close usually. For us, it is often three stops – Sam’s Club, Mega/Soriana, and Chedraui. Even then, no guarantees. Many of the products you want simply are not to be found here. You have to remember two things. First, everything must be shipped to the island. That places limits on what you’ll find. Second, it seems that lime and or chili must be included in almost every product. It took me forever to find mayonnaise without lime in it, but Sam’s finally came to the rescue. I’d kill for a bag of plain old Fritos Scoops. Not going to happen except on incredibly rare occasions, which is when I stock up! Interesting that they are in Cancun, but not here. The message here is that you learn to enjoy other products and make substitutions. Or you can always load up your suitcases with items in the US hoping that Customs doesn’t take them away! LOL
TWO: Repair work can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. First, there is often a language barrier, which is why it’s important to learn some Spanish for conversational purposes if nothing else. Let’s say you get past that. How do you know you can trust a specific repair person? Recommendations are key! There is a Service Provider spreadsheet on the Cozumel Life webpage to help get you started, but we don’t all agree on who is the best or most reasonable. Then you have scheduling. As noted in a previous blog post, the time scheduled isn’t a guarantee by any means. I think one of the most important qualities to develop if you are going to truly enjoy life here is this – patience. It is a virtue after all! Getting worked up and stressed out because your needs aren’t immediately met or met within the timeframe you think they “should” be met simply isn’t worth it.
THREE: Taxes and license renewals. Well, it’s not really anything new that these must be taken care of annually. However, you need to understand that lines and waiting are a way of life. In time, or after talking to those of us who have been here a while, you will learn there are better times than others to go to the offices to renew. You also learn what to take with you so you don’t wait only to find out you’ll have to come back! Of course, you can always find someone who will do this for you for a minimal fee, but you really can do this yourself!
FOUR: Many who move here are accustomed to readily available and fast internet. Some of us still conduct business via the internet back in our home country. Will you be able to do that? Sure! Just don’t expect your service to be consistent 24/7/365. Speeds vary from place to place on the island. Personally, my husband and I (who do conduct some business in the US via the internet) are ecstatic to get 10Mg! Our neighbor one floor below us gets an average of 25. Go figure! And don’t even get my husband started on a conversation regarding TV service! We use either the Media Cube (which is becoming more and more useless) or DirecTV Now with the Amazon Firestick. Yes, we want our US TV channels. Obviously, both options are affected by internet speed.
FIVE: Mosquitos! Oh. My. God. I know I’m in the tropics. I love being here. Unfortunately, mosquitos love ME! There is not a single over-the-counter product available on this island that will keep them off of me. Of course, they ignore my husband, which is a source of endless annoyance for me. I have tried almost everything available in the US. I have settled on two things. A product that contains at least 40% Deet, which I hate because it’s oily and burns generally speaking. The sprays and lotions here might contain at most 25%. Recently, I found an insect repellant scarf on Amazon.com. It’s a miracle! I try to remember to take it with me everywhere, especially right now. I really don’t want to contract Dengue, Zika, or Chikungunya!!!!
There are other things to deal with, but these are the things that leap to my mind. What is the takeaway? Well, I think there are two things. If you really want to live on the island and enjoy life, you need to be adaptable. You need to be able to “go with the flow” and not freak out when things don’t necessarily go your way. After all, a challenge is really an opportunity for learning and growth.
Beyond that, I would strongly recommend eliminating one word from your vocabulary. What is that? The word “should.” The only “should” that exists is in our brains. It comes from previous experience and the way things have happened throughout our lives. But, you have to remember, that was your previous life! You have chosen to embark on a new life, which means new ways of doing things and new expectations in a new culture. We cannot impose our expectations from the past on a culture that knows nothing of them. We are the foreigners here, and it’s our responsibility to become a part of this new life. To expect the culture to bend to our former ways of life is unreasonable.
So, enjoy the life you have chosen! If you aren’t sure that it’s really for you, try it out for 6 months or a year. Talk to people who have been here for a few years. If it’s not for you, it won’t take long to figure it out. Oh! And one last thing! If anyone can get some Velveeta through Customs, I will be forever in your debt! This Texas girl misses her queso (the dipping kind – with Scoops)! Sure, I can get the little 1-lb bricks sometimes. But, I don’t miss my queso so much that I’m going to pay $7 USD for that little thing! LOL