A tale of travel, inspiration, and beautiful clothes.

I get contacted almost daily by people who want to write guest posts or sponsored posts for this site. In all honesty I am pretty picky – this blog isn’t a way for me to make money but to spread the message about expat life and to tell people about my book. But sometimes people contact me who I think would be a good fit and Kim was one such person. I love her inspiring story of travel and adventure, experience which eventually led her to setting up her own clothing line. It helps that I also love her clothes and can definitely see myself wearing a tunic such as the one pictured at the bottom of this blog. So please enjoy Kim’s tale of how she travelled the world, met her husband, sailed to the Caribbean and eventually set up a company called West Indies Resort Wear.

I left my home in Australia to travel the world at the ripe old age of 24.  I had graduated fashion school, and had a few years industry experience before I left, but my main goal was to work and see the world.  I didn’t want to do bar work, or fruit picking, or nannying, I wanted to find garment industry type jobs.

My first job was as a pattern maker in London, but after a few months, and with winter fast approaching that just didn’t seem interesting enough, so I started applying for jobs in the fashion industry in 3rd world countries.

It didn’t take long to land a job in Alexandria, Egypt, where I spent a year working for an enormous clothing manufacturer who was supplying cute ladies tee’s and knits to British high street stores like Top Shop.

This was my first experience of real “expat life” as the lifestyle in Egypt was so different to home, that the expat community really sought each other out for company.  There were suburbs where most of the expats lived, and there were stores, bars & restaurants targeted towards the expat community.  There was even a little supermarket in my neighborhood that catered to the expats.  I was so excited to occasionally find New Zealand cheddar cheese there.  The smallest tastes of home could get you through a whole week.

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Expat life in Egypt was great in terms of earning hard currency and having very little expenses, so I saved a lot of money for my future travels, but it was not an easy life.  As a young single woman, in a Muslim country harassment was a part of my daily life.  Even at work I was stared and jeered at.  After my year there, I was desperate to leave.  Looking back I think that I could have lasted longer, if I had have gone away more regularly to get my western world sanity back.

After Egypt I travelled for a while again, and then found myself as Head Designer at Billabong in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.  This was another world entirely, but way more similar to Australia.  As South Africa had been such a closed world for so many years of apartheid, the biggest initial adjustment was just trying to understand what people were saying.  I was not familiar with the South African accent at all, so for the first 2 weeks I barely understood what anyone was saying.  Yes, they were speaking English, but there were so many Afrikaans words and slang mixed in, that I really battled to understand.

I ended up meeting my future husband and living in South Africa for 5 years.  I loved my job at Billabong, which was so challenging, and gave me a lot of opportunities to travel.  Here I am in China, where they sent me to visit factories…

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After my husband & I met, we started to look for some sort of adventure to do together.  We were camping one weekend, and one of us had bought an adventure magazine with us.  In it was a story about a young couple who bought a boat and went sailing to the Caribbean.  As I had done a lot of sailing with my family as a child, and I read a lot of books about amazing solo sailors, I had always thought I would LOVE to go sailing but knew it wasn’t something I would do alone.  When my then boyfriend read the article, put the magazine down and said “lets buy a boat and go sailing to the Caribbean” my jaw hit the tent floor !  We hurriedly packed up our campsite and rushed back to “town” to see if we could find a boating magazine and see how much boats cost !

2 years later, we were halfway across the Atlantic Ocean.  We had saved our money, bought a boat, learnt how to sail, learnt how to navigate, done some boat deliveries with other people to get experience, provisioned our boat and set sail on the biggest adventure of our lives.  Here we are on our tiny boat mid-Atlantic…

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It took a total of 55 days at sea to get to the Caribbean, and when we finally dropped anchor off the island of Tobago we were exhausted.  We stayed put for 6 months!  Eventually the hurricane season ended and we headed north to the more developed islands, we got jobs, got married, saved money again and had dreams of sailing the Pacific.  However I got pregnant and we had our first daughter.  That changed everything.  I couldn’t go get a job, as I didn’t want to leave our child in Caribbean daycare so young, so I started looking for things to buy and sell.  I imported some beautiful baskets from Africa, and I started making beaded jewelry on the boat, which I sold to different resort boutiques as we sailed around.  Eventually my good friend who had been the Production manager at Billabong when I was there said, “when are you going to stop fiddling around making jewelry and start your own label?”.

That was an “aha” moment for me, and the beginning of West Indies Wear.  I flew to India where I found the most amazing pure cotton fabrics, and I designed the first collection on an overnight train to Delhi.  Once the samples arrived with me back in the Caribbean, my husband, daughter & I would dinghy all around the island looking for good places for the photo shoot.  Here we are in the dinghy….

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We sailed between the islands, visiting resorts and introducing the collection to the different buyers.  12 years on, and West Indies Wear is still going strong.  We have moved back home to Australia now, had 2 more babies, built our own little house with an adorable design studio and we are back to dreaming of our next boat, and next adventure.

West Indies Wear is inspired by tropical island travel, so we use vibrant Caribbean colors and feature beachy, on-trend prints like sea stars, coral, palm trees, pineapples and tropical flowers.  Here is a photo of my little sister Amy wearing our number one seller… the Starfish Tunic.

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Kim Van Loo is an Australian fashion designer, who started West Indies Resort Wear, whilst sailing the Caribbean islands. She currently lives at home in Australia with her husband and three children, but travels several times a year to USA to show her new collections at trade shows and catch up with all of her buyers.

 

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People Who Live in Small Places #10: Roatan

I am so glad I started this series because I am finding out about so many interesting and beautiful places – and have so many people I can now look up if I ever decide to visit! The latest Small Place is a teeny sland off the coast of Honduras. Known as a holiday and diving destination extraordinaire, it’s certainly on my list of places to get to one day. Contributer Deb blogs at Mermaid on a Raft and has this to say about herself:
I am a 60 something retired banker. I used to wear fancy clothes and high heels every day. I used to do my job work at home because there wasn’t enough time in the day. When our kids were grown and on their own, we flew the coop and moved to a small island. We came here for vacation for 7 years, then finally made the move. It’s not always dolphins and gorgeous sunrises but it’s pretty damn good. Life on a rock is always different and interesting.
By the way, I wear as few clothes as possible now, no more fancy bras (only wear one in public because I must) and no high heels, ever again. Most days you can find me in flip flops (I have 7 pairs) a short cotton skirt and the loosest shirt I can find. I often only wear a handful of clothes for weeks on end..Life has changed.
I’ve wanted to be Ariel the mermaid since I can remember, so living here and being able to fulfill my “mermaid fascination with the sea” on a whim is pure magic for me.
Rock life is not for everyone BUT it may be for you..
So now we know a bit about Deb, let’s hear about her island:

First of all, can you tell me a bit about your “small place.”

We have lived on the island of Roatan Honduras since October of 2013. The island itself is approximately 40 miles off the coast of Central America and it is about 35 miles long and 5 miles wide at the widest point. The island is surrounded by the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world, the Meso-American reef, which makes Roatan a divers paradise. There are well over 80,000 people living on this rock. There are no chain stores, except Ace Hardware, no chain restaurants and the shopping is mainly tourist related items as we have 2 cruise ship docks. During the winter months there are often 5 cruise ships here on one day, adding 10-15,000+ more people A DAY. Cruise ships are a huge part of the islands economy.

And what are the good and not so good things about living there?
The good things about living here are the slower pace of life, the gorgeous sea and reef that surrounds us, the nice island people and the simpler lifestyle. It’s so different from living in the states where everyone dresses to impress, drives big flashy cars and spends more money than they make. Living here, the only place we spend a lot of money is buying groceries and dog food. The bad things about living here are the slower pace of life (yes I said it was a good thing but not when you are trying to get someone to finish a job for you), the limited items in the grocery stores, fresh peaches, yummy strawberries, never..Often times it is very difficult to find the simplest things, and when you do find them they are 4 times the price that they were in the states. Overall, the good outweighs the bad. You learn to make do or do without.

 
What do you find to do to occupy yourself in your spare time?

I have very little spare time; to begin with I have 3 four month old puppies, a 9 month old puppy, an almost 3 year old dog and another dog that has 3 legs, maybe 3-4 years old and is the mother of the puppies (she had 7 but I found homes for 4). She was pregnant when I rescued her, had to have her leg amputated then she blessed us with the pups. All of my dogs are rescues. I also have a cat. I spend a lot of time cleaning up dog poop and feeding and cleaning up after the dogs.

I am also very involved in a group here on the island called Because We Care. We provide food and Christmas gifts for over 1500 families during the holidays, we fit over 9000 pairs of TOMS shoes this year so far to needy school children, we give out school supplies and back packs and we also raise money for school desks. The government does not do anything for the schools, many kids have to stand for classes or sit on big bags of beans or rice. Today we are delivering more desks to a school and passing out flip flops to the kids.

I also am a volunteer for Helping Paws Across Borders. They are vets and vet techs from all over the US, Belize and the Bahamas who come here and do free shots, spay and neuter, flea and tick and mange management and treat all other type of medical situations for animals. This last trip they even neutered a pig! They left their meds here so a friend and I have been setting up shop weekly and we do shots, clean ears, remove ticks, de-worm and treat for fleas and mange and ringworm. The vets were here in Feb., July and are coming in November again. I also volunteer on art days at a school called Cattleya. It is for mentally challenged or physically handicapped kids. They have downs, autism, some can’t walk well or talk, it’s a great school. They even take them to Zumba classes, so much fun. And last but not least I volunteer for the Bay Islands Visitors Association as a greeter at the International airport. I work two, sometimes 3 Saturdays a month and am the first person people see when they enter our immigration building. It’s great fun getting to meet people from all over the world. When I do have spare time I am kayaking, snorkeling and am waiting for some extra spare time for my dive refresher course so I can start diving again.

How easy is it to “get away” and where do you escape to? Do you feel the need to escape?

I have been back to the states only 3 times in 2 years, to see my elderly parents. We actually are very limited to where we can go because of the animals. Either my husband or I have to be here to take care of them, so escaping is not something we do. At this point in the game, we don’t feel the need to escape, it’s pretty serene here. That could change in a few years but if we have had a hectic week or two we go to the beach with some beers and chill.

What is the local community like? Have you felt welcomed?

There is a huge, well connected ex-pat community on this island. We have friends from the west end to the east end. (we are middle islanders) There are several ex-pat hang outs and everyone is welcomed. The east-enders have Mondays Don’t Suck days at a beach, Fridays it BJ’s where the Banditos play music and people dance and enjoy each others company. There is a lot to do, but we are usually too busy to do all the partying stuff. We have also found the islanders to be fabulous people and are very close to many of them. They are warm, kind, happy people who live very simple lives but would still give you the shirt off of their back if you needed it. We are very proud to be able to call some islanders our best friends, people we totally trust. The woman who runs Because We Care is an islander and one of the most incredible women I have ever met, I adore her.

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What advice would you give to someone thinking about moving to your small place or somewhere similar?

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. We have several friends that built or bought homes on one end of the island but they prefer the lifestyle on the other end of the island so they spend a couple hours each day driving to where they would rather be. Visit the island for a few weeks, stay in resorts in different locations, talk to people, go to the ex-pat hangouts, look at the different areas of the island and what they offer. Island living is certainly not for everyone, many think it is paradise but after a few years are disillusioned, unhappy and they leave. It is what it is.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself and why/how you came to be living in your small place?

After out 2 sons were grown and on their own my husband and I began traveling to different islands for a few years. Once we were PADI certified for diving we traveled more, to Mexico, the Caribbean and the South Pacific for several years. We considered a few places in Mexico but the difficulty in actually owning land there was an issue. I have always wanted to live on an island, I love everything about being near the water. In 2007 on a whim we came to Roatan.

I had been reading and researching the island for a long time and was interested in retiring there. We contacted a reputable realtor, met him the second day here and traveled up and down this island looking for land or a house. He took us to a piece of land and we fell in love with the view. After seeing more properties and homes we kept coming back to this one piece of land. We made an offer and it was accepted before we went home.

My husband and I both had very stressful jobs in corporate America, working 45-50 hours a week was normal. Fast forward to November 2012, I had hand surgery and was no longer able to do my job so I retired and I moved to Roatan alone with my cat for 4 months to get a feel for the island. We were at the point of starting to build our home so the groundwork began. After 4 months on the island, I went back to the US with my cat and a dog I had rescued down here. We sold our home on 30 acres, our cars, dump truck, tractor, airplane, most of my husbands tools and all of our furniture. My husband made 10 crates filled with the things we wanted to bring, clothes, artwork, tools, things that meant something to us and we shipped that down by boat from Texas right before we were leaving.

On October 26, 2013 we packed up 2 dogs and a cat, 5 checked bags, 4 carry-ons, drove to Seattle, boarded a plane and moved to the island. We rented right next to where we were building and in March of 2014, we moved into the first floor of the house and July of 2014 we moved upstairs, there are  much better views of both sides of the island from the second floor. We also have a rooftop deck with amazing views of sunrise and sunset. The lower level is a guest condo. The house is a work in progress, still have some kitchen shelves to build, we are building a workshop for my husbands tools and a pool for me to do my mermaid thing in. I also blog at www.mermaidonaraft.com. My blog is filled with my take on our island life. As the saying on the rock goes, “You can’t make this s*it up”.
Thank you Deb for another fantastic contribution to my series about people who live in small places. If you want to read more in this series then do click on the tag below. And if you live somewhere small (an island, a village, a rock…) and would like to feature on this blog, then do get in touch 🙂

People Who Live in Small Places #9: St Croix

Following my previous Caribbean-related Small Places post (about the tiny island of Virgin Gorda), I was contacted by several other Caribbean-island dwellers keen to tell their own stories. To date, only one has come up with the goods – although I am still hopeful I will eventually hear back from the others; I just assume they’re all working on “island time”. So today’s post comes from Marina, who lives on the enigmatically-named St Croix in the US Virgin islands. Marina has her own blog – St Croix Beach Bum; but if that hasn’t sated your appetite for finding out more about this intrepid adventurer, she was also featured in the local island rag. In the meantime, over to Marina to tell us more about life in her Small Place:

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First of all, can you tell me a bit about your ‘small place’
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands is 28 miles by 7 miles and it is actually the biggest of the US Virgin Islands. With 50,000 people who live here, the island is warm, breezy, beautiful and very friendly. Owned by seven different nations, the Danes owned the US Virgin Islands for almost 200 years right before it was sold to the United States in 1916, so there is a lot of Danish history here as well.

And what are the good, and not so good, things about living there?
The people of St. Croix are warm and very friendly so making friends is very easy. It’s hard to walk down the street without having a full conversation with a stranger or seeing at least a few people that you just met. The sun is always shining and the beaches are always beautiful and the water is always clear.

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I’s hard to think about things that aren’t so good but we don’t have a lot of stores so if you need to have a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts in the morning, that’s not happening here because these stores just don’t exist on the island. The same goes for most clothing chain stores and chain restaurants. But there are plenty of local bakeries and local clothing stores.

What to you find to do to occupy yourself in your spare time?
There is so much to do here that sometimes living here is exhausting. There is always a new beach to explore and snorkelling to do. There are also a lot of ruins on the island so I discover new ruins that I haven’t seen before daily. And there is also horseback riding, animals that just stroll on the side of the road and tons of crafting and street fairs going on weekly. Locals and tourists alike think of watching the sunrise (at the Eastern most point of the United States) and watching the sunset on the west side of the island an activity in itself (I do it weekly).

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How easy is it to “get away” and where do you escape to? Do you feel the need to escape?
My move here was my escape so I just want to stay here and I never feel like I need to get away. But when I want to be awed, I go watch the sunset on the west side of the island and then I watch hundreds of stars shine in a sky not touched by city light.

What is the local community like? Have you felt welcomed?
The locals are extremely welcoming and happy to invite visitors and new residents alike to see the island through their eyes. Even the new locals try very hard to make everyone feel comfortable and happy to be on island. It’s hard not to enjoy island life when the locals are so friendly and helpful.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about moving to your (small place – eg island, village etc), or somewhere similar?

Enjoy your new home for what it is and don’t try to make it into a better version of what you left behind. It’s really important to accept the culture and surroundings of the new place because if you can’t do that, the whole experience will become really frustrating quickly. I accept the quirks of this island and I laugh them off because there are so many great things about living here and I can’t imagine not having this experience.

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Can you tell me a bit about yourself (and your family if you have one with you) and why/how you came to be living in your small place?
I was living in Illinois and working as an attorney when I felt a strong need to change my life. Once I started researching, I felt a pull for a better quality of life and St. Croix came up as one of the first candidates in my search. When I came to this island to visit, I knew that I belonged here and I have been having the time of life ever since.

Thanks Marina for this insight into your life on a small island. I hope you continue to enjoy your life – it’ll be interesting to see how things go for you in the coming months and maybe even years! Do come back and check in with us again at some point 🙂

Please let me know if you live in a Small Place and would like to feature in this series. In the meantime, use the People Who Live in Small Places tag to find out how other people live in their Small Place.

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People Who Live in Small Places #7: The *tiny* island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands

I first came across Chrissann via her brilliant website, Women Who Live on Rocks. Maybe it’s something you can only really appreciate if you have been a woman who has lived on a rock (as I used to on St Lucia), but it was so reassuring to find out I wasn’t the only one living this crazy island life. Chrissann, who lives on a teeny tiny speck in the Caribbean surrounded by so few people I am guessing they all know each other pretty well by now, was happy to volunteer details of her life on such a small island. Small it may be, but they say the best things come in small packages and I am sure a few of you reading this will be dreaming of moving there right away. However, as all readers of this site know, living on a very small island – however beautiful it is – is not always a holiday! So, over to Chrissann to tell us about her island.

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Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for this series, Chrissann. First of all, could you tell me a bit about your ‘small place’

I live on the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. It is 8 square miles with a population of around 3,000.

What are the good, and not so good, things about living there?

For me, they are one and the same: it’s a very small island. On one hand, I love the small size because it’s quiet, people are generally kind to one another (my theory: in large part because everyone knows each other, or at least with one or two degrees of separation), there’s never any traffic or congestion, and you never feel smothered by the sheer degree of people you’re typically surrounded by 24/7 in cities. However, with the small size comes its downsides – lack of variety (most of the restaurants all serve a similar menu; few boutiques to shop in, mostly just tourist shops with souvenirs) and lack of “real world” activity options (no coffee shops or movie theaters or fitness studios, etc.)

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What to you find to do to occupy yourself in your spare time?

I am fortunate to have a great group of friends on island who are a blast to spend time with – whether it’s hiking, paddle boarding, yoga nights, taking turns hosting dine-arounds, boating trips, etc. I also really enjoy my alone time to read, float in the pool, or do little artsy projects. My current obsession is my mermaid tail – it is pure magic to swim in it.

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How easy is it to “get away” and where do you escape to? Do you feel the need to escape?

It’s relatively easy (though a bit pricey) to get in and out of this area. Island hopping nearby is always fun for weekend trips, with Puerto Rico being a particular fav due to it feeling more like a big city (Shopping! Great restaurants! Dancing!). For longer trips, I like to cure the “rock fever” and head to places with a greater variety of options not available on my island. I tend to seek out all the things I miss sometimes like going to the movies, the theatre, comedy clubs, etc. I just got back from a girl’s trip to NYC and it was so much fun to be able to walk everywhere and have so many activities to choose from at all hours of the day and night.

What is the local community like? Have you felt welcomed?

Overall, people are pretty friendly here. My boyfriend had lived here for years before we met and I joined him, so it was easier to make connections that he had already established. This country is pretty protective of its citizens, so working or doing anything entrepreneurial is challenging to say the least, which can be frustrating at times. But yes, I have felt welcomed mostly and I love this little community in many ways.

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What advice would you give to someone thinking about moving to your island, or somewhere similar?

Just come into it knowing that it’s not for everyone. Keep an open mind and be kind to yourself if you struggle – you won’t be a failure if you decide island life is not for you, it’s certainly not for everyone. I think the people who tend to have the most trouble adjusting here are the ones who constantly compare it to what their life was like elsewhere. If you accept this place as a unique adventure and embrace all the positives it has to offer, you’ll have a lot more fun for however long you end up staying.

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Finally, can you tell me a bit about yourself and why/how you came to be living in your small place?

I am originally from the SF Bay Area in California. I used to work in sales for Marriott hotels and had the opportunity to move to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands in 2006. I worked there for a few years then, through some mutual friends, met and fell in love with my current boyfriend, David. I moved up to the British Virgin Islands to be with him, as he operates a resort here. Check out Saba Rock – a really one-of-a-kind slice of paradise!

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I am the Creator and Editor in Chief of the humorous island life website, Women Who Live on Rocks. I am also a freelance writer and yoga instructor. My personal website is chrissannnickel.com.

Thank you so much Chrissann for agreeing to be interviewed for this series. I think this may beat all the others in terms of population, if not size. Please check out the other posts in this series – including Mayotte, Gibraltar, a small village in France, the Seychelles, a small European town in the Netherlands, and the small Scottish island of Unst. And don’t forget to let me know if you live somewhere small and would like to feature in this series!

A weekend in Martinique

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will already have come across Phoebe. An old school friend, Phoebe and I share a love of travel and a similar childhood, both daughters of British diplomats. A few weeks ago, she wrote this guest post for me, about her Memorable Journey in Mongolia. Now it’s my turn to guest blog for her.

Phoebe’s blog is French themed. So I had to come up with something French to fit in. I have visited France, several times, but not for a long time and I can’t say any of my visits were interesting enough to make a post out of. My parents lived in Cameroon, which is half Francophile. But it wasn’t really enough. Then I remembered, when we were living in St Lucia we had visited Martinique, one of the French ‘dom toms’ – also known as French Overseas Departments and  Territories. Unlike our British overseas territories (eg Cayman Islands, Monserrat, Gibraltar), the French dom toms are actually France. The people living on them have the same rights as people living in France. They are part of the EU and they use Euros. So there was certainly something very intriguing about visiting the island.

On the ferry to Martinique

On the ferry to Martinique

Although this is a post about a beautiful Caribbean island, with golden beaches and aquamarine sea, I won’t be talking about those things. I’ll be ignoring the sound of the waves lapping gently on the sand and the tall palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze. Nope, those things aren’t for me. Instead, I’ll be discussing French cheese and the play area at the local McDonalds restaurant. I know that sounds strange, but stick with me on this. To read the rest of this post, click here.

In the meantime, Phoebe is on the lookout for anyone who has lived in or visited any of the other French dom toms to contribute to her series. Have you ever been to:

  • Guadelope
  • French Guiana
  • Reunion
  • Mayotte (although I am hoping Curtis already has this one covered!)
  • French Polynesia
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • Wallis and Futuna
  • Saint Martin
  • Saint Barthelemy
  • New Caladonia
  • Or, strangest of all, Clipperton Island.

If you have then drop Phoebe a line over at her blog, or leave me a message below and I will pass it on.

Bliss: A Moment in Time

Today’s photo101 challenge is to capture our idea of ‘bliss’. I was tempted to take a picture of a box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates because obviously that is the most blissful thing I could think of. But I came across this picture of my youngest daughter, M, on a swing in our garden in St Lucia and I love the double meaning. It’s bliss for her, swinging in the garden, mastering something she’s just seen her older sister do. But her little baby chubbiness is also blissful – you forget this stage so quickly, when you’re trying to cope with endless tantrums and fights and mounds of washing…don’t you just want to go and squeeze her?

Martha on a swing in St Lucia

She’s got it!

I’ve also just noticed her shoes are on the wrong feet!

 

 

Seychelles Mama

Have you ever dealt with an “extreme weather event”?

My column this month for the Expat Focus website talks about the weather. How very British! We love the weather in this country, I would go so far as to say it’s a national obsession. But actually it’s not something I gave a huge amount of thought to until I moved elsewhere.

In the article, I talk about how it was only when I was living and travelling in New Zealand – an “outdoorsy” place if ever there was one – that I really started to understand why it is important to figure out  the weather. Hiking, diving, even tandem-parachuting: these were all activities undertaken by me without much thought to whether the weather would be in our favour or not. But after a few close calls (we probably really shouldn’t have done that dive – or that freezing cold walk wearing just our shorts…), I started to understand that getting to know a bit about wind direction, precipitation levels and thermals (and no, I don’t mean thermal underwear) wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Fast-forward a few years and I was living in the Caribbean. Now this is one place where you really can’t avoid having at least a passing understanding of what the weather has in store for you. At least, during hurricane season. And boy did I ever learn this the hard way! First, in Jamaica, there was Hurricane Ivan (a force 5 that clipped the coast), then there was Dennis, with Emily close on it’s heels. And later still, living in St Lucia, there was Tomas.

Hurricane Ivan

Hurricane Ivan

Now we were in a much better position than a large percentage of the islanders, living as we did in solid homes with proper concrete walls. Sadly, there were a large number of deaths during these storms – Ivan in particular wrecked some of the islands completely. But it was still a terrifying thing to go through. We were stuck indoors for at least 24 hours (in the case of Ivan) and only ventured out when we were sure there wouldn’t be any more tree branches being thrown around in the wind. The devastation was awful, and the clean-up took days.

In St Lucia, our house was flooded by Tomas and the storms that came afterwards. We actually missed this one as we were in Miami at the time, but came home to find the remnants of the 6 inches of mud that had filled our kitchen.

Of course bad weather can happen everywhere – we’ve had tornadoes and terrible flooding in the UK in the last few years. But it’s only since living in the path of hurricanes that I’ve really come to appreciate the importance of understanding what it means when a small swirl on the other side of the Atlantic starts to gain in size, day-on-day, and then gets a name, then a Force number….

I intend to come back to this topic in a future post or posts and would be interested to hear your stories.  Have you lived through any bad weather events while living overseas? How did you deal with it? Have you ever had to be evacuated because of a storm or other weather-related event?

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