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It's Island Time

by Carla Sarratt on 2017-03-06T08:42:23-05:00

 

By Heather Hall, Library Circulation Assistant at Main Library

 

When we hear the words “island time,” we see visions of clear blue waters, swaying palm trees, and umbrella capped Pina Coladas. MMMMMM……. The pristine, tropical isles of our dreams call to us as loudly as those girl scout cookies (it’s for charity, after all,) that you swore you wouldn’t buy this year. 

So why not take that dream island vacation? As a frequent island hopper (well, as frequent as I can afford to be),  I suggest boarding a plane as soon as possible. But, before you do so, consider this list of my personal travel tips:

  1. If you want to save money by traveling out of season, make sure that you check the rainfall charts for time of your journey. There is significant potential for precipitation in the off season. Some months are better than others, depending on the island. The Olympic- sized "endless pool" definitely runneth over at times. Most likely into your garden view villa.
     
  2. Bora Bora sounds amazing, right? But the land of Gauguin’s artistic triumphs isn't entirely what you might expect. Yes, there are Tahitian beauties and stunning vistas, but, there are also dogs. Lots of them-free range. Be OK with free range dogs, goats, cows, iguanas, donkeys and especially, chickens. Your dinner could easily have been abducted from the local park (I said could have been, not will have been....)
     
  3. If you aren't an extremely competent driver, take it easy with your rent-a-car, or better yet, rely on other forms of transport. Keep in mind that many island nations drive on the left. Or, in the case of St. Croix, USVI, you will drive on the left side of the road while sitting in the right side of the car. Seriously. I am not kidding. It is scary. 
     
  4. When problems arise, try not to worry, and expect delays. If you hear the words "oh, it is just a situation," understand that the situation could be anything from a delay in the ferry schedule (a big one,) a flat tire, a cow in the road, or an uncooperative lobster that prefers scuttling around the restaurant kitchen to being on your dinner plate. And, by the way, there is such a thing as "island time." You will come to understand this.

     

     
  5. Be prepared to eat weird stuff. This trip is an experience! Try the local foods and flavors, even if they don't sound appetizing. Goat curry, fried breadfruit, and callaloo (a green often sautéed with onions and bacon) are yummy. Try the conch, even if it looks slimy (which it does.) Suck down that cheese and corn pizza and buy the jerk chicken from the charismatic roadside vendor.
     
  6. Don’t be freaked out when a local gets in your personal space in effort to sell his or her wares. They are just trying to make a living. Jobs aren’t always plentiful on island nations. Remember that the view from your resort may be pristine, but residents of many islands live in poverty, and sometimes in outright squalor. If you don’t want to buy what they are selling, just say “thank you, but no, mon.”
     
  7. Get out of the resort! Take a taxi, book a guide, or explore on your own if you feel comfortable doing so. Take sensible precautions, such as leaving purses and other holders for money/personal possessions at the hotel. If you bring a back pack, wear it with the pockets facing in toward your body. Don’t explore alone at night, and avoid wearing flashy clothes and jewelry. Lock valuables and identification in the hotel safe. Be aware of your surroundings. Do the same things that you would do when visiting unfamiliar places closer to home.
     
  8. Remember that there are many alternatives to the typical “American/European friendly” chain resort establishments so often prevalent. There are small, friendly boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, eco-friendly establishments, condo and villa rentals, and, some even more unique choices! There is a bare bones tent camp ground on St. John, USVI, a tree house resort in the Dominican Republic, and a small Jamaican boutique hotel aptly named, “The Rock House” that rents round huts that sit atop rocky cliffs. In French Polynesia, guests sometimes see the islands via clipper ship. MANY options exist.

Explore the library's many travel resources to learn more!  We have books, eBooks, audiobooks, DVDs, film, downloadable travel magazines and much more!  Your library card can help you to prepare for an amazing, stress free journey!   BON VOYAGE!

 


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