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“Is that water safe to drink?”

“What are these coins…what am I supposed to do with them?”

“Is it safe to live here…how do you deal with the violence?”

“How could you not sell Michelob Ultra Light?”

“What time is it in the States?”

And, of course…”How did you get here?!?!”

These are some of the many questions that I am asked on a daily basis here by the many Americans who travel here on vacation…either to dive for a week or just to drink here for a day while on a cruise.  I try not to be too sarcastic with my responses…

“Why would I give you something to drink that would make you sick?  How much business sense does that make?”

“Tell me, dude, why would I sell Michelob Ultra Light?!?!” 

“How did I get here?  By plane!” 

But then I love to educate people about how amazing Cozumel really is…the world’s best kept secret.  It’s like sleep away camp for divers…we have no crime on this island.  The violence they are afraid of is as far away from us as Chicago is from NYC…like telling someone in New York to stay home because someone in Chicago was attacked!  I explain how simple life can be…with so many fewer stresses than there are in the States…granted a lot of it lands on deaf ears, but I try.

Most conversations do get pretty deep though…many people are so intrigued by my “journey”…some ask if I’m running from the law (or the mob…I am from Brooklyn after all) or a husband or boyfriend.  No one can imagine that I just picked up because I was bored to start a new life as a dive instructor in a strange country…and then, regardless of the obstacles I met, (Immigration, a new language, having to tend bar AGAIN, etc.), I still stuck with it because I felt as though there was some purpose or calling that I just had not realized yet.

After having lived here only 6 months, I did have 4 jobs!  Every day I’d get up and either go diving or to the bar for my day shift, then on Thursday, Friday & Saturday nites, I’d go to another bar for my nite shifts to make extra money.  This was on top of my having to pay the bills for the multi-dwelling I lived in which I had committed myself to managing for the American owner who had also returned to the states.  I had very little free time for me to stop and think about what I wanted..to ask myself whether or not I had forgotten my goal or objective?  I spent a lot of time reading…and napping…but most of my time I spent working.  Fortunately, I enjoy what I do.  If I got out of any of my day jobs early, and didn’t have anything to do that nite, I would put on my iPod and take a bike ride up the coast to the golf course and then watch the sunset on my way back.  That is beautiful…but, seriously, is it enough?

My favorite comment coming from people who come here from the States is, “So you came here to dive and then just never looked back…Wow, I wish I could do that.”  What everyone needs to understand is that they can!  If someone is unhappy with some aspect of their life (spouse, job, location, etc), it’s up to them to change it.  I’m not saying that doing something as extreme as picking up and moving to the Caribbean is for everyone…just changing shampoos I hear is a huge commitment!  But I do explain to everyone that it really is easier than they think.  Like any decision you’ve decided to make in life, you should paint a picture in your head of what you want the result to be and you use that as your guide.  How do you see yourself?  What will make you feel whole?  When I moved here, I thought that it was just for me to become a Dive Instructor…I did that within 3 months of my living here.  Clearly there was to be more than that.  I realize now that in order for me to feel most fulfilled by my experience is that I have to use it to teach the hundreds of people I serve everyday how easy it can be to break out of that shell they’ve created for themselves…what their society has dictated they need to fit into.  And how do you feel?  Are you angry?  Then be angry!  Are you frustrated?  Do you feel smothered?  Are you bored with what little your life has to challenge you?  Then do something about it!!

I wasn’t unhappy in my life in NYC…but I definitely knew there had to be more to life.  There had to be some way to give my life meaning.  I always used to think that my path was to have a child who I could teach all the things I’ve learned  throughout my life…to recreate an image of myself but try to make them learn the things I learned later on in life at an earlier age.  But maybe that’s too limiting.  Instead, I now use other forums to communicate…So I tell you, walk away from that job!  Leave that tiny apartment in cold weather…and just live…and feel however you want to feel!  The worst that could happen is that you try it out and you decide you don’t like it anymore and then you can just return to your old life…no questions asked.  That’s what I used to tell my friends before I left NYC…but that was normally followed by me stating that should I return to the life I had, then my journey was a failure.

“Life is defined as the sum of all experiences.”  -Me

“Live the Life you Love and Love the Life you Live” -Carlos ‘n Charlie’s

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