living on a tropical island
Most of us are conditioned to associate palm trees and water with vacations. But, the joys of working remotely means that for me it is just another day at the “office”. Just with a much (MUCH!) nicer background.
Here is what my typical day looks like.
I wake up between 4.30am and 5.30am (without an alarm! who the hell IS this person?). It remains dark until 6am, so I work or read in my room until it starts to get light out, or head down to the beach (which is about 20 steps away) to watch the sunrise. Hens and dogs keep me company. By the time the sun comes up, it’s about 6.15am.
I go back to my room. I can count the items in the room on one hand – bed, table, chair, waste basket, and a fan. Spartan living, anyone? Other modern luxuries (in addition to a fan) include one electrical outlet. It’s loose, and does not actually support my laptop charger’s weight, so I use a little velcro strap to hold up the charger, as I charge my laptop overnight. The windows are cut into the stone, and do not have glass, just thick wooden doors that mostly stay shut – otherwise, bugs fly in – and keep out daylight.
I head out for a run along the road that hugs the island. The lake stays mere steps to my left (or my right, if I run in the opposite direction) the entire time. Other days, I do a strength workout on the beach. I return 30 to 45 minutes later, sweaty, but satisfied. It is starting to get hot.
I jump in the shower (or the lake!). The shower is a glorified name for an outhouse that has a toilet and a tap with cold water. [Well, 70% of the time it has cold water. 30% of the time, it does not have water of any kind. But there is always the lake.] On the island, you only get hot water in “fancy” hotels. Cold shower actually feels pretty amazing after a run. Yes, yes – I sound like a convert. But apparently cold shower HAS to come with +30C temperatures, or I’m out.
I change, guzzle some water, get my work bag, and head over to a cafe nearby that has an internet connection. Breakfast is usually eggs and gallo pinto – a local mixture of red beans and rice, and coffee.
Other days, I throw something together in an outdoor kitchen hut on the property where I live. There is no fridge, so anything that requires refrigeration is out of question. However, there is a gas stove and a wood stove inside, as well as a cutting board a knife or two, few plates and utensils. There is even a rusty grater. And it turns out that boiling water in a frying pan is not as awkward as it sounds, and that Starbucks VIA instant coffee is better that most coffee you can get on the island.
I work until lunch time, then head home to put together a meal.
Lunch is often local tomatoes (one of the few vegetables available locally) and some sort of canned fish for protein. The latter you can buy in purperia (local little food kiosk) for about $1.20 a can. It’s overpriced, as I can get it for less than a $1 in Canada, but it works in a pinch as a cheap meal. I try to make at least one meal a day by myself to save a bit on eating out. Some snacks and essentials I brought from Canada – a biggish ziploc with mixed nuts, BCAAs, few Clif bars, hemp seeds and Starbucks instant coffee packs.
After lunch, I work offline for few hours. Surprisingly, a lot of work can (and probably should) be done off-line. I can respond to emails and reach out to clients offline, with just enough planning, and simply send everything off once I have an internet connection.
It starts to cool off at about 4pm. I have another 1.5 hours of solid sunlight. This is a great time to get some more movement in. While here on the island, I realized that I actually feel much better if I move more than once a day, not just sit in front of a computer all day and have one workout at the end of the day – which is what I would usually do home in Canada.
My “gym” consists of three resistance bands and a lacrosse ball. And all the rocks I want. Everything I need for a strength routine. The lake – for swimming, the beach – for yoga. So. Many. Options.
After the workout, change (if I swim, I do not bother with the shower), and head out to have dinner. Here I can send off any emails or any work that I completed off line, post a blog post for the next day, and connect with family and friends.
I head back home around 8 or 9pm, and fall asleep by 10pm after reading 15 pages or so from Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
Yes, the book about living in the middle of the forest and minimalism. Yes, I know. The irony is intentional.
Buenos noches, amigos.
YOUR TURN: Did the above sound like paradise? Or hell on earth?