Julio told me putting on bug spray would be part of my morning routine – shower, dry, deodorant, bug spray. I resisted at first, but he was right. Even when I put it on, I find myself covered in bites. They're persistent too. There's no sense in wearing multiple layers, it's too hot. And these bugs are very capable of biting through a single t-shirt. So you can overdress and sweat through the tropical heat, or you can underdress and hope to avoid the bugs. I favor the bugs over the heat. For now.
Tropical life is a whole new reality. I'm not nearly so enamored with the palm trees as I was when I came here for a week 12 years ago. The ocean right out my back door is nice. But it doesn't feel like paradise, doesn't feel like vacation. It's not vacation, it's not paradise. It's life. It's work. It's permanent. And that's not a disappointment.
I haven't had an “I'm really here!” moment yet. Moving somewhere on an airplane is so abrupt.
You start in an airplane terminal in a major city. You step into a tube with wings and semi-comfortable seats and a whole bunch of other people and complimentary beverages. The tube leaves. A few hours later, it lands. You leave the tube and find your suitcase, just as you'd packed it (in theory). And then you step out into a new world. So just like that, in a matter of hours, your reality distinctly changes. There's nothing gradual about it. If you drive, you see the landscape subtly transform. Your route lets you see where you've come from and where you're going. It's gradual. And gradual is nice, it lets you take your sweet time and observe and muster your courage and test things out a bit. Gradual is safe.
But you can't drive to an island. You can't get here gradually. You have to jump in. You don't get to test things, to observe. You're confronted with things that take some getting used to.
There's spanish with a lisp - “Como ethta?” There's the constant sound of fans, as long as the power is on. The other day, the power was off because of a recent thunderstorm. Julio said he laid down on concrete floor to cool off and fell asleep and Evi, his dachshund, came and licked his fingers to make sure he was okay. I'm used to a morning routine, but here you end the day covered in sweat and bug spray and sun block, and nobody should crawl into their sheets in that condition. So now it's pm showers only. Then there's Reggaeton. I brought distaste for it with me. I sat next to a reggaeton production supervisor on the airplane. People here love it, apparently, but I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't seem to hate it.
None of this, of course, is insurmountable.