New home: an update from Sint Maarten

The month of November is already well underway. As I write this I have now been on Sint Maarten for almost a month. The days seem long, but they also fly by. With the upcoming months of party and celebrations, The White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation, is slowly becoming a big party decor with christmas decorations and lights, so I thought it would be fun to give you an update on how I’m doing here!

The choice to leave the Netherlands still feels good and I felt very welcome on Sint Maarten right from the start. It provides a new view of myself; who do I want to be in the field of work and what makes me happy?! I suddenly have all the time for myself and can go discover a new island!

I really enjoy the life energy that I see and feel here among the people, on and off work. Beautiful old people who swing rhythmically with a smile from ear to ear when they hear old soca/calypso music during my exercise time.

A moment when they are their “old” selves again now that they are slowly deteriorating in their dementia. But also the friendliness of everyone here on the island. A greeting on the street, a chat and a big smile; to be seen and felt everywhere.

And let me name this as well; the weather is really a great joy! The warmth, the sun, but also the wind, the sea that is all around you, the rainbows: I like tropical weather!

Because of all the hills, it can be clear blue and sunny in one place, while a little further on it comes pouring down from the sky. I arrived while they are still in the tail end of the hurricane season. A radical season in which Hurricane Irma, from 2017, is still clear in many people’s minds. Living with all the elements of nature and unfortunately also climate change, clearly applies here and that makes life here pure, open and sometimes with a postive “raw” edge. In addition, I greatly admire the resilience to make something of life, for example after natural disasters.

Now this all sounds very romantic and nice, which it is 99% of the time.

But the other 1% sometimes make me wonder: what am I doing here, all alone in a strange place?!

I found it interesting to experience that the mind sometimes pops up with critical thoughts and a sense of doubt. Even if your gut says so and every cell in your body tells you it’s okay, then sometimes your head want to disturb that feeling. Let me give an example; being new in a country, that is foreign to me, takes a lot of time and energy from me when it comes to sorting out and arranging things.

And I was in the beginning literally dependent on others to arrange things. I found that difficult because I sometimes had to let go of my control over things and had to go along with someone else’s flow and rules of the authorities involved. Which are all different and complicated.

Partly because the pace is different, but also because things are going differently. As much as I want to be independent and self-sufficient, sometimes that was not possible. Where in the Netherlands a lot of paper work is sometimes required, here you also have it in a different way. Often several parties are needed to be able to arrange just one thing. The feeling of “being sent to the box of the wall” is very present. And this is not even with bad intentions, but sometimes this felt frustrating for me and then you are on your own for a while.

Getting settled requires a lot of patience and a long breath from me. That is a very nice learning process. At those moments I say to myself: it will be fine, just trust your gut and let yourself be helped, is all right. Step by step I get there.

And if at those moments I’m just disappointed and wonder why I’m here, I soon feel the disappointment melt away.

By simply looking around me, seeing the smile of the residents I help during therapy, the warm conversations with the care staff on the work floor or other colleagues. The warm weather and the sun, the sea that I regularly try to visit. All that gives me reason to go on and laugh at myself; I have to let go of the Dutch pace and my drive to do everything well and especially completely independently. Because together you get further, together you know more. And it’s okay if sometimes I don’t know it (yet).

Every day I enjoy it to the fullest and I get to know Sint Maarten and my own mind better and better, and that feels wonderful!

I would like to close with a warm greeting and to let you know that everything is going well here and I have found my new home!

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