Living With Kids: Meghann Halfmoon, Part Two

By Gabrielle.

When we last visited Meghann in Amsterdam, I made her promise to show us around her new home once she moved to Saba. (Quick geography primer: Saba is a Caribbean island and the smallest special municipality of the Netherlands. It consists largely of the potentially active volcano, Mount Scenery, which at 2,910 feet, is the highest point within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. There is no crime, little traffic, and a close-knit local community. It sounds like Heaven, doesn’t it?)

I couldn’t wait to hear all about how they adjusted, get a first-hand peek into what homes look like on the island, and how it feels to live on a volcano! With 2,000 other people! (Are the city dwellers out there choking right now?! Hah!)

I’m so excited to share Meghann with you all again. Welcome, Meghann!

Except for my family — my husband, Koen, and our kids Tipp and Loula — just about everything has changed from my last appearance on Design Mom!

We went from city living in a densely populated, super flat country where there were more bikes than people and where sweaters are worn for more than half the year, to a sparsely populated volcano in the Caribbean particularly known for diving in its underwater world. Everything in life feels pretty new right now.

Even before we got married, we’d always thought we’d move abroad for our jobs for some time. We had travelled a lot, both before we met, together as a couple and also with our kids. In 2012, we even had the opportunity to live abroad for my job for six months. While I was starting to think that maybe I was fine just staying in Amsterdam for the rest of our lives, Koen was starting to get the itch to go. He was also ready for a new professional challenge.

At the time we were seriously starting to outgrow our little apartment, public health positions opened up in the Dutch Caribbean. I specifically mentioned to him at some point about a year ago, “We’ll never go to Saba, not even on holiday, so don’t bother applying there,” due to my fear of flying. But Koen got a call requesting that he apply to the Saba position. After a few days of discussing if I’d dare fly onto the island and what it might be like to live on a five square mile volcano with around 2,000 other people for three years, we decided he should go for it.

Why? Because we figured you don’t get these opportunities all the time. You don’t say no to this kind of thing. You try it, and go home early if it doesn’t work out. At least, that’s how we looked at it.

So, Saba now has a Public Health Department: Koen! Of course public health activities had been taking place on the island already, but there was not yet an actual department to coordinate those activities, to prioritize prevention, and to monitor and evaluate outbreaks, etc.

Koen no longer commutes 90 minutes each way to work. Instead, he has a scenic five-minute drive to drop the kids at school, and then another five minutes to work in The Bottom (which, you guessed it, is at the bottom of the island). It turned out to be kind of a dream job for my husband!

You’d be hard pressed to find something more opposite to Amsterdam than this place! Actually, Saba is different to any place I’ve ever been. It’s not at all what I think most people imagine when they think about Caribbean islands: white sand beaches, palm trees swaying, cocktails at beach shacks…

Saba is literally a volcano shooting out of the Caribbean sea. There is hardly a flat space to be found, save for the airport, which has the shortest commercial landing strip in the world! While we do have a lovely little beach with a nice playground and public restrooms, it is man-made. The only natural beach on the island only shows itself a few months out of the year, and this has not yet happened since I’ve been here.

The island, with its many eco-zones, is very green and speckled with white houses with green shutters and red roofs. I hear that Saba is even more beautiful underwater, but I’ve not yet had the chance – or dared! – to go diving to explore yet. As small as it is, I can be down at the beach on a hot day, watching a grey cloud come and engulf the upper part of the island, where it may be windy and raining. While the island has been inhabited off and on since around 1175 BC, and the first European settlers have been here since around 1640, the landscape is so mountainous and steep that engineers said it was not possible to build a road to connect the four villages. So up until the late 1950s, there was no road to connect the villages and everything had to be transported by foot and donkey. The first airplane arrived soon after.

Life is generally more relaxed here, mainly because of how small it is. Things move slowly, for better or for worse. Sabans are known for their friendliness. With only around 2,000 inhabitants, people’s faces quickly become familiar and crime is nearly nonexistent. You wave at everybody you pass in the car. We seem to have gotten used to this really quickly: when we were in St. Maarten for a bit of off-island time, we instinctively waved at everyone we passed! I won’t get into how completely different these islands are from each other, but it’s safe to say it’s not habit to wave there.

Up until now, there has apparently not been a need for addresses. I recently received a letter saying that everybody will receive an official address this year and street names will start going up. But, for the locals, I live in “Melanie’s house (or sometimes it’s called Benny’s house) up above Swinging Doors.”

Although the houses do have indoor plumbing, we do not have a public water system. All houses therefore have a cistern to collect rainwater, and our sewage goes into a sceptic tank. This means that water shortages are part of life, and it’s important to quickly get used to short showers where you only turn on the water to get wet and to rinse off. We’re in a drought this year, so we’ve had to purchase desalinated water a couple of times, which is brought on a truck with a huge tank in the bed and is pumped into the cistern. We now get excited to drink water from the faucet and take full five-minute showers when we’re off island. Party!

Being an island, everything has to be imported, making groceries super expensive. Wednesday – the day the main cargo ship arrives – is the busiest day of the week in the commercial center of Windwardside, and an important day for stocking up at the supermarket. If you can’t find something on Wednesday afternoon, it probably won’t be there for at least another week.

All in all, I think we’ve done a pretty good job acclimating. But, I must admit that it’s been quite a bit harder on me than I ever imagined. The nearly constant sea view and permanent warm weather are huge perks! But I also very dearly miss the life of the city, the multitude options of where to go (or to go nowhere at all), things to do and see, anonymity and, of course, my bike.

My husband has had an incredibly easy time! We moved here for his career. He works full time and he’s got a fabulous opportunity and challenge, so it makes sense that he’s not had any trouble adjusting. My daughter, Loula, is now five and has also had a pretty easy time adjusting. She seems to have perspective beyond her years. She also had only been in school for half a year before we moved and so had not yet built a real group of friends.

My son, Tipp, and I, on the other hand, have had a much more difficult time adjusting. I think that we’re both more sentimental in general. But we also both had stronger attachments to Amsterdam before we left. Although he’s only six years old, he already had a real steady group of friends in our neighborhood. And their moms had become my friends. You get the point.

The method of teaching is far more traditional here, and school finishes a couple hours earlier than in the Netherlands. My role has therefore become far more that of a stay-at-home mom who happens to have a small business rather than the other way around. I feel like I’m constantly being pulled different ways. While this often feels busy and unpleasant, I am thankful that I’ve been able to be there for my kids when they get home from school, particularly on the days that they’ve been homesick and need some extra hugs and a shoulder to cry on.

Luckily, we have met some really good people here and made some friends. We’ve created a set beach-day with a friend and her kids who are the same age as mine, which is something I look forward to every week. If I’m ever feeling down, those afternoons at the beach – snorkeling, watching the kids play in the water or dig in the sand – always perk me up.

My first friend followed my son’s school bus home one afternoon. No joke! Her son and my son are in the same class and wanted to play. She didn’t have my phone number, so she just followed the school bus home and knocked on the door. Ha!

I think it’s also been important for us to simply allow ourselves to miss our old home in Amsterdam. Yes, Saba is full of amazing beauty! But so is Amsterdam. I’ve kind of decided that it’s okay to grieve the loss of my beloved city, and that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the opportunity to live here.

What I absolutely love about this home is that we have a yard! And fruit! Our yard fully encircles our house. The kids have so much fun playing outside with their friends. We often have six to eight children running around, inside and outside of the house, over the cistern, along the cement wall. The best pineapple I’ve ever had came from my front yard, we’ve got a million bananas, and tons of mangos just waiting to be ripe enough for us to devour them. We’ve also got a few different herbs growing along one side of our house, as well as some beautiful flowers.

I love the vaulted ceilings throughout the majority of our home. My very favourite room in our house is our bedroom, with my workspace coming in at a close second. Our room is such a sanctuary of light and rest. There is nothing fancy to it. Just simple peace.

We will be able to stay in this home for the full three years of my husbands’ contract. It’s refreshing to know that you can stay put or change homes based on what suits us. I do sometimes catch myself thinking, “Do I really live here?” It’s light years away from anywhere I ever thought I’d live. But daily life definitely keeps me in check.

The most important things we brought with us are probably the items that hang on our walls, like paintings and special photos. I spent a good three or four days cleaning, unpacking, and arranging when we moved into this house. The kids were so excited when they saw all our photos and art hanging on our wall again! Funnily enough, they were also thrilled to see some super simple things, like mundane water glasses. “Look, mom! Our glasses are here! And our bowls! Wow!” Having their toys again, after about two months of only a backpack full of toys, was also quite a thrill.

These same things really helped me to feel at home as well. In addition to, of course, all of the furniture in my workspace. That’s the only room that we furnished completely ourselves. We knew that homes are rented furnished in Saba, so we didn’t bring everything. But we did still bring enough to make sure that the essence of our home in Amsterdam would shine through here. So if you’re thinking you’ve seen this home before, great! That’s exactly what we’re going for!

We made sure to move here on a weekend so that the kids would go to school soon after we arrived. We didn’t want to be here too long and have the excitement build up so much before starting school. So we arrived on a Saturday, Monday happened to be a day off, and they started school, uniforms and all, on Tuesday. Luckily school went well from day one! The homesickness only started after a week or two.

On such a small island, word gets around quickly that there are new people in town. And at the same time, because we have four villages, it feels bigger than it is and there are plenty of people I’ve not yet seen or met.

Living on Saba has hugely improved my children’s English. While I have always spoken English to my children, they have always responded in Dutch. Oddly, they continue to speak to me in Dutch, but the local language is English. From listening to the kids speak with Shirley, our kitten, it seems she speaks English, too.

The population is also really diverse and mixed here. My children are no longer part of the majority race in their classroom. We have talked about and exposed our children to different cultures, races, and religious beliefs, and their school in Amsterdam was pretty mixed, so it’s not actually something they notice themselves, and I don’t have a specific lesson I hope they learn from that. But I do think it’s a good thing to not always be in the majority.

Resource-wise, the importance and scarcity of water is something they feel and live with every day. We have talked about this a lot in the past, mainly because of the area of work I was in (international development), but they’ve never had to worry about whether the water might literally dry up. Here, we do. Which is crazy for a child, particularly when they see that they are surrounded by water! But they’re doing a really good job of conserving.

While we miss our bikes, the parks and museums, and everything Amsterdam had to offer, there is also a plus-side to having very little external entertainment possibilities. There is more time for general discovery, gardening, hiking, fishing, trying out new recipes together, or hanging out at the beach, without feeling like you’re missing out on anything.

All in all, I hope this change helps my children to understand that discomfort can be a good thing, that we learn when we remove ourselves from our comfort zone. That’s not to say that we should never become comfortable, or that we should seek out discomfort, but that it’s not inherently bad and it can help us to become more confident in ourselves

Creating a new work structure has been a real challenge. Accepting that has also been a challenge! It strikes me as so odd that a new balance is so hard to find when the daily motions really are quite the same: get up, eat breakfast, shower, do the morning routine, kids to school, husband gone, sit down and work. Should be simple. But it just isn’t for me.

It’s taken some work for me to allow that of myself. I think I finally have. So while my business is doing really well on the one hand, I’ve definitely not been able to grow it in the way I think I could have had we not moved. And now we’re into summer holiday, which means that time to work is at an all time low.

However, there are new possibilities that are starting to show up that would probably not have been available to me in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam I was a small fish in a big pond. Here on Saba, it’s less likely to be lost in the masses. I’m starting to toy with the idea of working in a space outside of my home, perhaps one that could act as a bit of a shop. I feel like this would be a good place to test those waters.

I do think that a whole year to fully transition is probably what it will take. Now that I write that, I realize that we actually discussed that before we came. My lack of patience crept up on me and made me believe that I had to have everything completely under control. Happily, I’ve started to remember again that everything will never be completely under control; the chaos must simply be well managed.

The one thing that has surprised me most about myself and my family during this massive change is that we actually live here! That this is our life. In good moments and bad, I find it absolutely wild that I live here.

Also…what a team we are! I know it sounds super corny, but together we are strong and can support each other through difficult moments. This was not a surprise to me, but confirmation of what I already believed. There have been many moments filled with tears and missing friends and family, but we do all realize, particularly in our moments of doubt, that wherever we are together is home.

–-

It was so lovely to hear from you, Meghann! I know you’re right: moves help us realize that wherever we are together is home sweet home. Also, the way you’ve described the island makes me and probably a few other readers want to visit, so maybe you’ll have more friends to someday add to that 2,000 population!

For those of you who’ve made a drastic move to a location completely opposite to your usual living setting, did this interview bring back some memories? Whether you went city to country, heavily-populated to just a few, I’d sure love to hear your stories!

P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me knowWe love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

34 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Meghann Halfmoon, Part Two”

  1. This is amazing! What a beautiful place! I’d never heard of Saba before, but I always watch House Hunters International and think longingly of moving to a Caribbean island and being surrounded by beauty. LOL I hope you settle in soon. I know a little of what it’s like to move to a completely new place and have no family or friends. It does take a while to shake off the strangeness and loneliness. Good luck to you and your family.

  2. What a great story! I love that you are embracing the change, yet still allowing yourself to grieve for Amsterdam. I hope that life in Saba keeps getting better and better for you and your family! Cheers!

  3. I take delight in my tuesday ‘Living with Kids’ fix. But wowwwwwwwwww, tonight I was so moved by Meghanns story – it made me cry! What a brave lady to overcome a fear of flying and move somewhere so completely different. She was so honest about how she feels to have moved, I could really feel the good and the difficult – it sounds such a complete change from her previous lifestyle and she is so positive! What a brave lady. Inspirational story and has made me determined to take more strides into this beautiful world with my four little ones.

    1. Oh, Amy! This brings a tear to my eye!
      The funny thing about a fear of flying is that it is really quite irrational. So, as it turns out, I’m less afraid of the crazy little airplane and our little landing strip because I have the feeling that I could probably swim somewhere if we crash. I definitely do not have that feeling in a large Boeing! So, in the end, I’m totally cool about flying onto Saba! Still a bit weary about the large international flights:) Unfortunately, those are a necessary evil in a life of international relationships and a great desire to see the world.

      1. Valium helped me overcome my very very bad fear of flying. I rarely take it now, since I had to stop when I was pregnant & nursing, but every once in a while, if I’m flying alone, I will. It just takes the edge off, and knowing that I have it as an option makes me less anxious ahead of time. I usually take a very small dose, only 2.5 mg, and it doesn’t make me particularly groggy or out-of-it when I arrive at my destination. In case you want to try it sometime!

  4. Ah! I so needed this today. We are in the midst of completing a 9-month long move process that has had husband & kiddo in one state and me taking on a whole new career in another state. Because it’s cheaper for one person to fly than two I’ve been commuting back to them most weekends.

    We’re going from big city SoCal life to much smaller, high-desert southwest environment. All my belongings except two suitcases of things I arrived with & what I’ve purchased here are still in storage and I’m itching to have my things back and be with my family every day. Pretty much everything is different except the great team our family is and the things we’ll unpack that we are bringing with us.

    Meghann thanks for sharing your inspiration, your challenges and your faith in the process of change and all we gain from it, even from some days mourning what we’ve left. Good stuff! I hope to be settling into a new house here soon with my family and will think of you as inspiration as we continue to settle in! Best wishes on your continued adventure and journey!

    1. Oh, wow, Kalanicut! That’s a huge, brave transition living away from your family during the week! More power to you for following your dreams and finding a way to make it work!!! I wish you and your family the best of luck in settling down and finding a way to make your new location home.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story! What an amazing adventure it is! You’ve got me so curious now! Is Saba a big tourist destination? Are there hotels/resorts? How about communication – internet? television? Are they affected by inclement weather? I hope you find yourself feeling very settled very soon – we are in the process of moving again (2nd time in 6 months) and although it’s just a few miles there are those funny moments of existing in another, new space that always catch you I think. Best to you!!

    1. I’m so glad you liked my story, Yvonne! Saba is not a big tourist destination, but there definitely are tourists. I think I read somewhere that there are about 11,000 per year, which seems pretty considerable to me since there are only 2,000 people. One thing I didn’t mention is that there is a medical school here. There’s a whole network of Caribbean medical schools, and it turns out that Saba is one of the best! At least, that’s what I hear. There are some very nice hotels, and a decent amount of restaurants relative to inhabitants (no more than 10, I think, but still…). We have internet, but it’s pretty expensive. Television is also available, but we’ve decided just to use Netflix so that we don’t add to fixed costs. Hurricane season has started, but that really just means that hurricanes are possible, not necessarily expected. We’ve not had any crazy weather yet, and we hope it’ll remain that way:)
      Good luck with your move! Hope it’s that last one for a while!

      1. That does seem like a lot of tourists for such a tiny place! And you even answered the question I wanted to ask but forgot – hospitals! I was wondering what happens when someone has an appendicitis or needs care – I’m guessing with the medical school there is a hospital too. I can’t stress how brave I think you are, and how proud you should be for the wonderful experience you are giving to your kids – imagine, they will remember it all their lives thanks to you! Good luck to you with the adventure, the business and the acclimation – I hope it helps to know all these ladies are thinking of and wishing great things for you from all over the world! XO

        1. The hospital is in fact not linked to the med school. The med students do their 20 months of theoretical courses here, then go to the US (and maybe Canada sometimes?) for their clinical rotations. Our hospital has two doctors, and they can do quite a lot! But for specialist care patients are transferred to St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, Colombia, the Netherlands, depending on where the best care for a decent price can be found. And, yes, this is covered by our insurance here.

          What you said about all the ladies in the world wishing great things….YES! That’s quite an amazing feeling. I’m so touched!!!

  6. I’m glad I read this today as it helped me gain perspective. We’re in the middle of moving from my home in Colorado to the city of Edinburgh. My kids have tried to grasp where their dad is from in England, and we’re all trying to grasp what life in a city in Scotland will be like. While waiting for word on my spouse visa, we have spent 3 months living with my parents. Our schedule is off, and we have packed and unpacked several times. I keep saying that life will get better when we settle into our new house. Yet really, we have much more transition time and many adjustments ahead. And reality is that I need to just take things one day at a time and give us grace to go through this as best we can. Thanks for being honest and for sharing that a big adjustment probably requires a year. That’s a good reminder for me.

    1. You sound very strong, Micah! Waiting in limbo like that must be very frustrating at times. But how exciting to be moving to Edinburgh! I’ve never been, but have heard wonderful things about that city!
      Indeed, one day at a time is best. Although, I have to remind myself of this multiple times each day. Before leaving the states for my first experience abroad, somebody said: “remember, it’s not bad, just different”. Again, something I often have to remind myself:) But it has been my experience that, once you can get past all the “different” things that can be so frustrating and irritating at some moments, you start to understand, enjoy and adapt.
      Now I’ll go and remind myself of all these bits of wisdom:)

  7. Sarah in Georgia

    Your comments about taking a year to settle in are very wise. We’ve moved twice in the past two years, and even though each home was only 20 minutes from the last, I have had to be patient with the process of settling in and making a new space home for me and my family. Thank you for your thoughts and example.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Sarah! I sometimes think that smaller moves and changes in life can take just as much time to adjust to as larger changes. We expect the smaller changes to be easier, so they can catch us off guard; whereas we are often at least mentally prepared for the bigger changes.

  8. Hi Meghann! What a very inspiring story. Thank you so much and written so well.
    We live in Patagonia, Argentina in a smallish touristic town that is isolated and surrounded by the large snow covered Andes mountains. My children aged 5 and 8 were both born in Sydney and I was born in Buenos Aires. My partner also from Australia is now back working in Sydney and wants to relocate there. We have been here nearly 3 years and I have a full time job as a scientist studying very cute animals. So it is very hard to decide what to do. Sydney is an amazing city full of so much culture and yummy food and the beaches. I also have a lot of friends in Sydney, I grew up there. Where we live now there is a ski resort 12 km, we have two puppies, my kids go to a bilingual school and now know Spanish and english and my parents also live in this town. We also do not have many friends here. I think that the winter is pretty bad and people can get depressed and stay indoors all day. I tell my partner how many good things we have going but he has not adapted so it is a bit sad and we still do not know what the solution is. At least you allowed yourself to go and seek out this adventure and be there for your husband. What will you do after the three years Meghann? Your house is beautiful too. Is that all your furniture or was it in the house originally? How did you bring everything over?
    thanks and I would love another follow up to your story too.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Yamila. I hope you and your husband will soon find a solution you are both happy with.
      Personally, it helps me to know that we’ll be here for three years. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up never leaving! But I like that there is a set period so that we know when it’s time to re-evaluate life and think about what we should do next. We don’t have the feeling that we have to “end up” somewhere in particular. Really, nothing has tk be permanent.
      Most of the furniture came with the house. A few of the big things are ours. We were able to move some of our things when we came here, they just arrive about a month late:)

  9. “My role has therefore become far more that of a stay-at-home mom who happens to have a small business rather than the other way around. I feel like I’m constantly being pulled different ways. While this often feels busy and unpleasant, I am thankful that I’ve been able to be there for my kids when they get home from school, particularly on the days that they’ve been homesick and need some extra hugs and a shoulder to cry on.”

    Your perspective here was really wonderful for me to hear. We are an active duty military family and we have moved nine times, four times in my daughter’s life and she is only seven. We are in Germany now and my daughter attends a German immersion school. There are days she comes home and definitely needs more hugs and attention. You are right, it is a blessing to be able to be there for her. I will try to remember that on days I wish I was able to work more and feel unbalanced with my role as a stay-at-home mom. I am glad to know I am not the only one who struggles with this.

    It really takes awhile each move to feel settled and I am slowly learning to accept that. It takes even longer for everyone to find their place professionally and personally as one person moves for a job and the rest of the family readjusts. This is a constant learning cycle for me.

    Thank you for your wisdom.

  10. Oh my goodness, Cary! 9 times!?!? You must be such a rock for your children. Well done!

    Sometimes, when I’m having a super difficult time gaining perspective and only feeling the frustration, I try to remind myself that we now have to work till we’re 67 before we retire. No, this is not always a comforting thought:) But I do then realize that I’ve got a full 31 years to go! Plenty of time for my business, and possibly a few other career turns down the road:) Then I breathe deeply and try my very best to listen patiently and keep my voice at kind levels:)

    The funny thing with adjusting also is that there are days where I feel fully adjusted, and then I’ll see or hear something and feel all out of sorts again and the adjusting process goes back a step. The learning cycle:)

  11. Thank you for sharing with us, Meghann and Gabrielle! I appreciate your honesty and all the details you share with us. We just returned from a year abroad in Tel Aviv with our 2yo son. My husband had the opportunity to complete his final year of law school through an exchange program, so we packed our bags and moved from Louisiana to the Middle East (with a 6 week stay in Amman, Jordan in between)! It was a move we’ll always be grateful that we said ‘yes’ to. We definitely went through the range of emotions that happen when you move somewhere new: excited, which slowly turns into sadness/feeling homesick and then eventually getting our routine in place and starting to feel at home. I imagine it would be a harder transition with older kids like you mentioned it has been for your son. Wishing you all the best for your family in your new home!

  12. I loved reading this. I totally relate. We moved from high rise in a DC suburb to small town rural Hawaii (and now we are back in DC after 4 years) I really like what you said about it being OK to grieve your past home but sill love your current one! I feel that way! Also I really appreciated the experience my kids being one of only 2 white kids in their school class. My kindergartener found a freckle on his super pale arm and asked when it would bet bigger so he could be brown like the other kids in his class :) Glad you are enjoying your island life, make some salsa with all those mangos!

  13. Inspiring! I loved reading this. Your words spoke to me since we also just moved (not to a difft country though ) and I was surprised at how overwhelming it can be to feel settled in. Enjoy your adventure on your volcanic island!

  14. Hi Meghann!

    I commented on your previous story – I lived on St. Maarten for 5 years and have travelled to Saba, so I am familiar with where you are. :)

    I think you’re so right to allow yourself a year to adjust. It’s a big change! I came from a big city (Washington, DC) to the Caribbean so I understand what a transition it is to move from an urban world to one where time moves so much more slowly.

    I would say it took me about a year to adjust as well. I think what was so surprising was that before I moved I had all these romantic ideas about what life in the Caribbean would be like. And many of them proved true once I got there. But it was also harder than I expected. (Even on St. Maarten, and I know Saba is even more so.) That was what I wasn’t prepared for. And then I had this strange sense of guilt for feeling sad or lonely, because everyone back home was constantly telling me how lucky I was and how much I should enjoy every minute. Well, it’s hard to enjoy the minutes (hours) you spend standing in line at the bank to cash your paycheck, or the days when the grocery store selection is so limited. And I also had a hard time with having so much down time, funny enough. (Although this was pre-kids for me so that might not be true for you.) I was always busy living in the city and then…I was never busy. And that was disconcerting for a while.

    But let me reassure you, once this time has passed – and it will! – life will become normal, with incredibly beautiful views! And at the end of your time there you will leave looking through life with a different lens. The experiences you have and the way of life you and your family are enjoying, will feel like home and when you go back to Amsterdam, you will look at your old life in a new way.

    Good luck. and enjoy Saba. How many Johnsons and Petersons have you met already. :)

    Katy

    p.s. While St. Maarteners may not wave as much, I remember that they honk their horns at each other when they pass friends while driving! Just a friendly, “beep!”

  15. Thank you for the update, so glad it is going well. My family and I also live on a small island. As you meet friends it will get better, but it does make your family stronger to be in it together. You’ll love when the rains come and you can take a longer shower, but just to let you know that is when the mold (and mosquitos) will come also. Your photos will take a beating. You can laminate them to protect them or you may like the “patina” they develop. (If under glass there is a good chance they will be forever stuck to the glass.)
    Make sure when you harvest those yummy mangos that you are careful with the sap (cutting them off tree before they are ready to fall off will get you a spray of the sap). My husband who can “roll in poison ivy and never get it,” had a bad reaction to the sap and it lasted a couple of weeks. Its very much like a poison oak or ivy rash. If you have soursop on your island, do try it (better as a juice than just eating in my opinion) it is a favorite of ours here. I love that we are providing our kids and a unique story and something they would never find in books. My son (6) is just figuring out that not everyone lives on an island. When he would meet new people he would ask them what island they were from. : ) Enjoy living on your island and the seeing others near by. We sometimes take for granted the beauty that surrounds us, but we are forever grateful to be here and for the priceless memories we’ve made. It is a life that so many others will only ever dream of.

  16. Lieve Meghann

    Dank voor je mooie, interessante en eerlijke verslag, zjeghsnn. Ik begrijp je gemengde gevoelens en heimwee naar Amsterdam. Maar knap dat je desondanks toch openstaat voor al het moois dat Saba te bieden heeft en voor een ander leven dan je gewend was. En ik besef opnieuw hoe verwend wij zijn met onze watervoorziening. Ik verwacht dat je later met veel voldoening op je jaren op Saba terug zult kijken en dat het leerzaam was…

  17. Meghann,

    Yay! I’m so glad you took the time to document this transitionary period in your life and to share it with the online community! Try to simultaneously savor the sweet things in Saba and mourn leaving behind your life in Amsterdam; most of all, enjoy the adventure because as you say it, home is wherever you all are together (the concept of home still remains somewhat elusive to me, but by and large, I’ve found it to be the state of being with those you love).

    I love the fresh pineapple and mango trees in your yard, your kids’ excitement levels at the beach (how cool that you will learn to snorkel very soon, and conquer those fears- I’ve done it, but with a lifevest!). I love the zen atmosphere in your bedroom, light + white, and that you have dreams of going in a new direction with your business. What a beautiful change for your family and time in your lives when you can be crazy and move to Saba! Love it, thanks for sharing Meghann!

  18. Dear Meghann,
    I have been to Saba a couple times. It is paradise ! My friend lives there.
    It is the most beautiful, peaceful, friendly place I have ever visited.
    For a small island there is a lot to do. I did do the hike up Mt. Scenery. There is so much history and culture in Dutch Museum and the Saba Museum. You are so lucky to experience life on SABA !
    Sue Shanks

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