As our final days in the BVI approach, I’ve been thinking about all we’ve experienced here. These two years have been some of the best times of our lives. We’ve learned so much about ourselves, about one-another, and about living internationally. There are so many things we’ll take away with us, that I thought I should share a few of them, as well as some updates to old pictures.
1. Lots of fabulous memories: We’ve hiked through lush rain forest and desolate waste land (all in the same hike, in the case of the Boiling Lake trek). We’ve lounged with friends at the base of waterfalls and eaten home-made meals in the jungle. We’ve sailed on half million dollar catamaran and monohull boats. We’ve tried food and met people from all over the world. We’ve spent countless hours on beaches, playing volleyball, reading, chatting, SUPing, and even camping! Tony’s walked on hot coals and scuba-dived in some of the clearest water in the world. We’ve done all of this with amazing friends, many with whom I hope we’ll keep in touch.
We’ve also had fantastic times with those who have come to visit us! We know it’s not an easy (or inexpensive) trip to make, and we’re so grateful to those who have come out.
2. A closer marriage: Moving away from my family and hometown was very difficult, but it truly has been a unifying experience. Part of it, I’m sure, is also that we’ve been doing this marriage thing longer. However, we’ll both say we’ve been much happier here as a couple than we were in Kansas.
Tony hates it when I take his picture, but sometimes a good wife just doesn’t listen. Looking at these always makes me laugh!
3. A (healthy??) skepticism of people: Not all lessons in life can be good ones, and we’ve learned some hard lessons here as well. People we thought had become life-long friends have hurt us deeply and intentionally, and I know those experiences will affect us for years to come. We’ve also learned the importance of choosing friends carefully. While we’ve truly enjoyed our time with people from Cedar, working with all of our friends made things difficult at times. We’ve already discussed strategies to employ in the future to ensure we make friends outside of the school in order to prevent some of those uncomfortable experiences from repeating themselves.
4. The love of a game: That’s right, we love Settlers of Catan, and we’re not afraid to admit it! Many thanks to Matt and Stacy for sharing this game with us. We’ve been able to share it with many others as well!
5. A love of blogging I wasn’t sure how this whole blog thing would go. I’d never been able to keep up with a journal before. Cleaning out boxes of my childhood belongings invariably involved stumbling upon 2-3 diaries with an entry or two and a lot of empty pages. There’s something though about sharing this one publicly that has helped hold me accountable, and I know I’ll always treasure having this record of our time here. Thank you all for your support! Your comments on the blog and comments about it when I’ve seen you in person have really motivated me to keep it going.
I can also tell you some things we won’t be taking away with us.
1. Debt: We’ve been at it for years, but we finally paid off all our student loan debt! That’s over $60,000! Of course, now Tony’ll probably start looking into other degrees he could pursue. For years I’ve been able to say, “Not until we’ve paid off the first two degrees!” Now I’ll have to find a different excuse! : ).
2. Many of the clothes we came here with!: Two years of washings at a launderette that required filling the washer with a hose and a dryer literally powered by FIRE combined with the ever-present sun, salt, sand, and rust have taken their toll on our shoes and clothing. This summer will be a great chance to regroup and replenish.
3. Regrets: Our time here is ending very differently than we expected, but looking back, we’re both satisfied. There are still places in the Caribbean we’d like to see and things we’d like to do, we’ve made mistakes, and we’ve faced challenges. However, we’ve also made the most of our time here. We travelled, ate, drank, laughed, SUPed, and photographed our way through the last two years. We stood by our principles when we felt called to, even when it was difficult, and we’ve grown as individuals, as a couple. We’ve learned a tremendous amount about the world, this little corner of it, and the people who inhabit it.