Life on the island
Follow the hashtag #islandlife on Instagram and you will find almost ten million posts that represent the image of the perfect life surrounded by sun, sea, sand and light blue skies (and probably a beautiful girl perfectly placed in a designer bikini). There are sunsets and days by boat and old towns and beaches; there are cocktails and dreams; There are no worries in the world. Life on the island is simple, uncomplicated and you don’t need material things to be happy (apart from your phone to use the hashtag mentioned above).
Except, as most of us have realized, Instagram is not real life, and as such #islandlife is not #realislandlife (a hashtag that has not yet reached 500 posts). Real-life on the island, like real life anywhere in the world, comes with its own trials, tribulations and triumphs that are not always worthy of Instagram, but which in fact are a large part of the island’s life In day today. I think life on the island teaches you patience. Don’t even make me start with the concept of “island time”. Combine that with the Spanish mentality tomorrow (which I can assure you is very real) and spend half your time wondering if your meetings or appointments are real or the product of your imagination.
People are undoubtedly one of the best aspects of life on the island in my opinion. Ibiza is a small island and, as such, has a small-town syndrome: everyone knows everyone, which means everyone knows each other’s businesses. This can be a good thing, for example, if you are looking for contacts or friends with like-minded ideas, but it can be a bad thing if you are looking for anonymity (as some people who retire to an island want to do). Just this morning I met my new neighbor: she smiled, greeted, introduced herself and immediately invited me for a glass of wine (yes! In the morning! I already love her). Now, I don’t remember experiencing such warmth or friendship anywhere else in the world in my life. Here, people are open. They are happy to meet their neighbors, no matter what kind of life they come from.
Speaking of neighbors, I live in an area populated by gypsies, and when we say gypsy here, it is not a derogatory term. These are large local families, who live on the same street (and have done so for generations), who basically spend the whole summer outdoors (often in pajamas), making barbecues and parties and celebrations in summer. One of my favorite things, a real #realislandlife moment for me, is when it’s very, very hot, the potatoes that live behind me break the water pipes in the street and create a water fountain for your little ones to swim and to play. Sure, it’s very illegal, but the joy on children’s faces proves it is worth it.
Ibiza is really a melting pot of cultures: there are Ibiza families with hundreds of years of heritage; there are expatriates from all over the world who have adopted the island as their home; there are the guiri-cencos that are born from an Ibizan father and a foreigner (a guiri) and then, over time, there is their own offspring (Is there terminology for that?). There are temporary workers and there are those who relocate here permanently and there are those who are here for a fleeting amount of vacations every year. And you know what I love most? Everyone has a story. Life on the island, for me, is listening to all these stories. Who needs a library when you have all these amazing stories to tell?
Well, that brings me to the next point. In fact, culture is a bit limited on an island: if you are looking for art cinema, art exhibitions, design, haute couture, literature, even trendy street food, well, you might want to take a vacation and visit a city. Now, this can make you lazy or it can make you feel curious. We have Internet at your fingertips, literally, and instead of feeling frustrated, look and find. Life on the island is designed to enjoy the things of the island: the weather is beautiful and the beach is just around the corner (although many of those who live here will tell you that #realislandlife means you cannot visit the beach as often as you like). And anyway, who needs high fashion on an island? It is so hot a bikini and a summer dress will be enough in most situations and for anything else, you can order online (or take advantage of the unique creations of the island’s brands, or Zara, possibly both).
That said, the inefficiency of the island’s postal service really requires some time to get used to. No matter what the sender has paid to your local post office in the country of origin for us to send you a package within X days, it doesn’t matter if you pay Amazon Prime, no matter how fast and high-tech, the new one looks Renovated post office in the city of Ibiza: once said package arrives in Ibiza, it will sit on a shelf in Correos for at least a week before someone tries to deliver it to your home. Try to be the key word: rarely does a package REALLY arrive directly at your door, instead, your friendly neighborhood or postal courier (mine is very charming and quite cute, actually) cannot blame you for the inadequacy of the Post Office ) Simply bring a receipt with your name that directs you to the nearest post office to pick up the package yourself.
Then, you should walk painfully to the post office or to the 34-degree courier service store (because there is no parking in the area) and should line up for approximately 45 minutes to an hour just to sign your package. Half of the time they cannot find it, which means you wait even more and do what you do, DO NOT forget your legally recognized form of identification because a bank card or driver’s license from another country is not enough and then you must repeat the All again . On the subject of queues, nobody does it here on the island. There is a completely strange system of people standing and sitting all over the place (be it a bank, the post office or the hospital) without any sense of logic. The trick is to simply ask ‘the last one?’ When you enter, so you can identify who the person is before you, then you can join wrestling for everyone.
Life on the island means waking up on a random morning just to discover that you have no electricity, not because of you, it’s just that today is the day when the electricity company decided to do some work on your street. And no, they have no idea when it will be restored. The same also applies to water. Suddenly … you have none! And speaking of water, #realislandlife means you can’t drink tap water, so you’re constantly buying bottles in bulk and wondering how it will be possible to reduce your plastic waste. Those who live in villas and cottages will often have a giant water reservoir that is filled with the Drinking Water trucks that you see around the island, so for them, it is a matter of knowing when the reserves run out. Oh, and also looking for snakes in your water tank. Once one of those slippery suckers enters there, it is contaminated and, although you can still use it for a shower, you should buy bottles of water again to drink …
The beauty of visiting the store to buy water so often means that you know your local merchants. If you forget to bring your wallet once, don’t pass it! That is totally fine. You can pay them next time. The level of trust and openness on the island is really nice to see. My friend Miss L, who is also a mother, tells me that this, along with a sense of freedom, is one of the most wonderful things about raising a child on the island. His son has grown up watching the farms where he buys his vegetables and knows real animals, not in an interactive zoo. She says that the children of Ibiza are very aware of what and how they eat for this reason. And when it comes to eating, the way of the island (and Spanish) is to take your children with you anywhere, at any time, without fear of being judged. Children are in good restaurants with their parents after 8 pm (which is the city’s standard time ‘children are not allowed’) and thus learn to behave in public from an early age.
We are surrounded by nature, even in our largest ‘cities’, the beach is only a ten minute walk away. Children are encouraged to play outside instead of on an iPad; That does not mean that they do not have technological time, but they are not governed by that. This could be due in part to the fact that the Internet on the island is still so careless: God forbid you have to upload something in a hurry! However, it is fast enough to stream Netflix and I can assure you that #realislandlife includes as much compulsive observation as the beach.
Going from A to B if you don’t have a car is definitely a struggle when it comes to life on the island. We do not have Uber, our taxis are almost non-existent in the middle of summer (and they simply do not come when you call them), and the schedule of the public transport system seems to be the same as in the 70s. In order for one of my friends to arrive in the city of Ibiza at 9 in the morning, she needs to take a bus at 7 in the morning from Santa Eulalia: true story. And yet it is only a 25-minute trip. But you can’t fight it, it’s what it is, and true islanders use it as a time to catch up on their readings, emails, administrators, podcasts … just like those who travel daily for two hours to get to their jobs . in the big cities
Our supermarkets are stocked with the most limited selection of products, even the largest ones (and increasingly appear this year) still only have basic brands. They simply fill more shelf space with them! I’m constantly perplexed as to why I can’t buy Charlotte Tilbury’s makeup here in Ibiza, I mean, she grew up here! And as for electronics, well, let’s say that on August 1 of each year, all electronics stores on the island have sold fans and dehumidifiers (although previous years should have taught them to double their order) and there is no possibility of finding one until replenishment in September. And if you’re thinking of placing an order on Amazon, well, remember what I told you about the postal service. Just learn to plan ahead.
Every time I travel to a city, I feel like a country girl who is in a supermarket / department store / mall for the first time. Half the time I need excess luggage just to make up for daily purchases. But here is what I learned living on an island. You don’t need an elegant shampoo or cheeses with special flavors to be happy (although they are good). You don’t need supermarkets or restaurants open 24 hours a day that serve breakfast all day long or coffee shops specializing in long-lasting drinks that you can’t even pronounce. All you need, as the Beatles sang, is love. You just need to love the island and all its ups and downs, and you’ll love #realislandlife.
In spite of the humidity and the endless mold that it creates, despite the relentless heat and the consequent sweat on my forehead, despite the queues and the general lack of organization, despite the limited purchasing resources and the tourists that invade our cities during the middle of the year, despite the lack of decent greeting cards available, despite the unfavorable approach to life (and business!) in general, I love my #realislandlife. I would not exchange it for any other life in the world. It may not be #islandlife, but I will continue to follow the hashtag anyway. After all, it is beautiful. It is aspirational. It’s like a featured reel of all the best parts of #realislandlife and a reminder of what inspired me to move here in the first place.