What I Learned from Living in the Caribbean and Slowing Down

Nora Julet

When you think Caribbean island, I’m sure words like freedom, tropical sunshine, relaxation, and joy come to mind. You’re not wrong.

But visiting a Caribbean island for a few days versus moving there for two years it’s a totally different experience. The island absorbs you in all its glory and transfers its wisdom every day.

It’s an understatement to say that it changed my life. My perspective on nature, capitalism, and self has completely shifted.

Image via Unsplash

Slow Living in the Caribbean

I’m sure it’s more exciting to say that I packed my bags, quit my job, and pursued a quest to fulfil my Caribbean island dream.

As much as I would love putting that here, it’s not my story.

I was a 16-year-old high school girl living in the heart of Silicon Valley. Always trying to look my best; loved shopping; had a Starbucks ritual; obsessed with fashion bloggers; and overall, performing a role about who I thought wanted to be and what the system was shaping me to be.

Because of my dad’s work, we had the blessing to move a lot. And so on the 4th of July, as American flags were waving us goodbye, we arrived in Turks and Caicos.

Arrival To My New Caribbean Island Home

When I got off the plane, the first thing I noticed was the atmosphere it gave off. It was silent and hypnotizing.

No big buildings, no Silicon Valley tech, no stoplights, and no fashion trends. Everything looked like a painting. You couldn’t escape the mesmerizing blues of the beach. And the noise was nonexistent.

All you could ever hear was music.

It was either reggae or the magical sounds of the palm trees and ocean waves. I felt like a soul standing in infinity. No escape. No distractions to run to. Here’s what I learned.

You and nature are one and the same

At Turks and Caicos, my life was mandated by how I felt and not by what I had. I started making friends with things I deemed crazy before. I could recognize specific trees, corals, turtles, and fishes.

You see, I was intertwined with my surroundings and thus started to understand myself even better. If I damaged it, I could damage myself. My wellbeing relied on my connection to nature.

Not doing anything is healthy

Think about it. Dogs and cats, which are some of the closest animals we have, lie down, enjoy the sun, and do nothing for a while. So do other animals. Why can’t we slow down?

In the USA, I was on automatic. The system was always whispering me to buy, buy, and buy. There’s this constant bombardment of visuals and sounds telling us how to feel and how to live. I’m sure you know this feeling.

On the island, I would take the whole weekend to lie on the beach. Doing absolutely nothing. Except visiting my turtle pals. It’s a lifestyle to know that not doing anything is healthy, normal, and necessary.

Your success has nothing to do with what the system is telling you

Small events like putting my warm body in the cold ocean, breathing to the rhythm of a palm’s movement, listening to reggae music, seeing how peaceful the rays and turtles coexisted, and playing cards with my family on Fridays were the Holy Grail to me. I wasn’t worried if that was society’s definition of fun, success, or coolness. It was what it was. And so much more.

Listen. Your surroundings are talking to you. Souls all around you are hungry for conversations. Stop distracting yourself all the time

There’s no pressure to speak, and no necessity either. There’s no rush to think. Just listen.

I would find myself overhearing conversations between nature’s manifestations. It sounds crazy but it’s the truth. Stop reading this for a moment. Take off anything on top of your ears. What do you hear? What do you see around you? Go outside if you have a garden. How are the plants communicating with the environment around them? On the island, I started listening to nature’s demands, needs, and desires. And they became mine.

One single piece of plastic at the beach, and then you felt overwhelmed because nature felt overwhelmed. Snorkelling and visiting your turtle pals may turn into an angry dispute over how this piece of plastic trash got there in the first place. I wasn’t cleaning the beach or the ocean, I was also detoxing myself. You listen to nature’s concerns and as a friend would do to another friend, you defend it and love it.

Time Is Relative

Fact is you can’t control time. The key to life—and I’m probably being corny—is to appreciate the small things. When you do this, time flows gracefully.

Time on the island was just… I have no words for it. There was no need to rush, to do things. All you had to do was live. There was no lacking but no excess at the same time. There was no oh, do I have time for this? If something happens, it’s meant to happen. However simple or complicated, it was all valuable.

Nora Julet

Nora is a feminist, writer and content creator for her Mexican-based fashion podcast called Recóndito Universo de la Moda, where she shares innovative, inclusive, and sustainable Latinx fashion brands.