There are no pretentious people here. I mean that. I have yet to see one person in a suit and tie, high heels, or carrying a brand name purse. It is refreshing. There doesn’t seem to be a “rat race” and no one is chasing “the next best thing”. I have never been around a culture that didn’t value something materialistically, but I have spent the last month trying to determine what it is that they value here. So far, I can tell you two things: Toyota’s and speed humps. I have never seen so many Toyota vehicles in my life (and speed humps). Anything and everything else is related to family. They set up early on the beaches and spend entire days together. From what I can tell, they value working less and living more (that is obvious in the employment benefits that are offered here, as well). Where else can you get 21 paid vacation days, 21 paid sick days, and 14 holidays per year (not where I am from, that’s for sure).
We visited a green sand beach this past week. There are only four green sand beaches in the world, and one of them happens to be here. It was not easy to get to. We had to hike in for 3 miles to get there (on a hot, windy, sandy trail). Once we got there, we realized that we would have to descend a steep rock ledge to get to the sand/water. I could tell that the water was turbulent and I was content to stay at the top and take pictures of my husband down below, but he convinced me to attempt the descent. While standing on the beach, a surge of water came in that hit me with such force that my legs buckled and I could feel the water trying to take me out to sea. I don’t know how (he attributes it to an adrenaline dump, one of my favorite sympathetic nervous system actions), but my husband was able to grab my arm and hold on to me while I felt like I was being torn in two. When the water had receded, I was certain that I had lost my swim suit, but I was grateful when I realized that it was still there (it wasn’t covering any of the right places, but it was still there).
It scared us to death and I suddenly remembered the conversation that I had with the human resource lady on my first day of on-boarding. She had informed me that day to be careful and respect the water. She said that they had lost a travel nurse in the past and they didn’t want that to happen again. She gave me tips and advice about the island and available adventures (all quite different from any other travel assignment). I now understand the need for these conversations.
I purchased a stand-up paddle board and took it out for the first time today. I was not confident enough to stand up, so I used it as a kayak instead. I plan to take it out again tomorrow and as many times as it takes to conquer it.