I would have to say the number one question I get asked when I say I live on a Caribbean island is “that sounds amazing… what’s it like?”
For me, it is everything I dreamed my life would be. So I’d like to share what my typical day looks like.
A Typical Morning
I like to start the day in a relaxing way. A long walk along the shorefront starts the day out nicely. The amazing Caribbean waters are a sight you never tire of. Avenida Rafael. E. Melgar—the main street along the waterfront here on Cozumel—runs the length of San Miguel de Cozumel township.
Wide flat sidewalks make it an easy stroll or a great place to pick up the pace if you’d like a brisk walk or jog. Painted pristine white it breaks every couple of hundred meters with stairs leading right down into the ocean. Just in case you’d care to stop and take a swim.
Being an ocean lover, a couple of times a week instead of a morning stroll I swim with the mermaids. Real ones. It’s an ocean swimming club full of fun-loving expats who swim most days. You can go as fast or as slow as you like and is a nice gentle way to start the day. We’re not setting any world records here in the Caribbean. It’s all about the relaxed island vibe.
After all, it’s warm year-round in the Caribbean so even in the heart of winter when people are sending me photos of snow-covered everything, the warm Caribbean water beckons you to jump in.
There’s nothing like a morning swim or leisurely snorkel accompanied by eagle rays, swaying sea fans, and vibrant tropical fish to start your day outright. Now and then on a special day, a big old granddaddy sea turtle makes an appearance and our hearts soar.
This is the perfect way for me to get in a bit of exercise. See, I hate the gym. Before living my Caribbean dream life I was in the Royal Australian Navy. As you can imagine that meant daily gym time to maintain the required fitness standards.
Now I get to swim with sea turtles and eagle rays instead of doing laps in a pool. Or, overlooking those glorious Caribbean waters on my morning walk. It is a lot nicer way of getting some relaxing happy exercise rather than sweating it out on a treadmill!
After the morning stroll or swim it’s time to get to work.
This is what a typical day looks like for me as a travel writer.
Work From Anywhere
These have to be my three favorite words. To me, they mean freedom. The type of freedom that says I can live anywhere in the world I want, run my days how I want, and work as much or as little as I want.
Plus, a lot of times my ‘research’ is so much fun it doesn’t feel like work at all. My office is flexible and anywhere I want it to be.
Being a freelance travel writer means not being tethered to an office. I can work anywhere on the island. In an air-conditioned café sipping iced tea or lazing under giant trees in the park. Laptops are light and portable so if I feel like getting out of the house, it’s easy to do.
One day I may decide to join friends at a beach club and work from a lush padded lounge right on the pristine white sand. Wouldn’t you prefer this to be your office?
With mandatory swim and snorkel breaks of course, that goes without saying.
This is one of the things I love most. More than once an article has been written on a beach lounge or day bed like this enjoying a beach day with friends.
Because the cost of living is so low and there is such great food available, lunch is always fun for me. Whether I am trying a new recipe at home, eating at a beach restaurant, or meeting friends at a place that’s just re-opened, the quality of food is amazing.
Plus, because my monthly expenses are much lower, eating out more often is doable. Or spending that extra money to enjoy little adventures around the island.
Afternoons are for finishing off articles, doing research, or delving into delightful ideas for an article.
This generally means exploring around the island participating in fun activities or immersing myself in the Mexican and Maya cultures.
To give you examples, it’s fun little adventures like visiting the Maya Bee Sanctuary to learn about the special relationship the Maya have had with a little stingless bee whose potent jungle honey, mixed with drinking cacao, fueled their armies.
Or, seeing nesting sea turtles. Perhaps visit one of the islands ec0-parks or exploring Maya ruins. Did you know the Maya built in a hurricane warning system with conch shells on the roof?
Things like that make for interesting articles. Plus, learning about a culture is one of the most exciting things about living abroad.
I believe in a balanced life so sometimes I lose myself in the holistic side of the Mexican culture by participating in a Temazcal. A traditional Mexican sweat lodge.
That is the best part of living abroad. Of living an expat life. Because you live there, you have all the time in the world to explore and enjoy another culture. It enriches your life.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still all the comforts of home. Because Mexico is so close to the U.S., you can get a lot of your favorite things. If not, there’s always Amazon!
Lastly, I also like to finish off my work day in a relaxing way. The same way I started it.
When I say relaxing that could mean anything.
Sitting in the garden of my favorite Italian restaurant giggling with the staff as I wait for friends to arrive. It gives me a chance to practice my Spanish, albeit badly. They love that I try, have the patience of saints and the added bonus is that it’s a free Spanish lesson with locals.
Speaking Spanish is not a necessity here. You can easily get by speaking English but becoming fluent in Spanish is a personal goal of mine so it’s fun to practice with them.
They bring me a chilled glass of wine while I work and finish off an article or write down all of my notes of the day’s exploits. It’s a relaxing end to the work day while waiting for friends to share a pizza and a couple of glasses of wine.
That’s what I mean about living an enriched expat life. It’s more than a dining-out experience. It’s the community, friendship, and genuine warmth on both sides.
If I don’t feel like going out sometimes I just sit out on my balcony and read. It’s cooler out there and lovely as people walking by usually wave with a melodious buenos noches as they pass by.
Mexicans are very polite. When someone looks up and sees you they automatically wave and wish you a good evening. It’s one of the little niceties of the culture. No matter what time of day.
The other day in the space of a one-minute walk to take out my garbage, I was met with a hearty and smiling good morning in three languages. A buenos diás (Spanish) from Jorge the buildings maintenance man. A beaming Buongiorno (Italian) from Luka my neighbor who speaks less Spanish than I do although he’s lived here for over 10 years, and lastly a good morning from Poli my Israeli English-speaking neighbor.
That’s how I like to start my day. With a chorus of friendly smiling expats from all over the world. It added a little spring in my step. That’s the beauty of the Caribbean. It attracts like-minded people from all over the world.
People you want to get to know.
This is why I chose the Caribbean life. The people. The freedom of spending my days and nights how I want—surrounded by wonderful people.
Whether it be staring at the stars in the Planetarium or meeting friends for a round of golf. Enjoying dinner at one of the hundreds of restaurants or having a romantic date night with cocktails watching a Caribbean sunset, it’s possible to live the life you always wanted. For a fraction of the cost.
The Mexican Caribbean ticks all of the boxes for me. It’s safe, stunningly beautiful, and allows me to live the creative laidback life I’d always dreamed of.
Although I have to work, my days are spent with a better work/life balance and I’m happier and healthier than ever before.