My Escape: Island Living in the Dutch Caribbean

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the experiences we’ve had on this little island over the last 16 months. With only 14 days left until we leave I’m such a mix of emotions about going home. On the one hand I’m beyond excited! Excited to see our families, excited to walk into a grocery store where I can buy all the bananas I want and yogurt cups for less than $1.50 each! How cool will that be!?
I’m also a bit sad to leave this pretty place where we’ve created so many special family memories. Sure, there are things I’m not going to miss for a second –  the ants currently invading my kitchen come to mind – but our time here has been such an incredible experience, one that we’re going to treasure for years and I guess it’s only natural to feel some sadness at seeing this adventure come to an end.

I’m also feeling a touch of nervousness about going home, which I didn’t really anticipate. I’m nervous for the kids and how they’re going to transition back into school in Canada. I’m nervous that we’re going to freeze {it dipped down to 26 degrees Celsius last night and I was putting on a sweater!? What is that?} I’m nervous about the plane trip with a two year old and I’m just feeling nervous about heading back to reality in general.  
Living here has been a bit of an escape for me and I’m reluctant to dive right back into the life I was living before we came to Statia. Leaving behind thoughts of the medical issues I’d been dealing with, taking a break from all the doctors appointments and putting aside my fears of the unknown, has done so much for my health and I feel like I’m in a much better place now to deal with whatever might come way in the future.  
Leaving my photography business and taking some time to just do my own thing has been so freeing and I’ve fallen in love with photography all over again during our time here. Without the stress of client deadlines and the expectation of perfect photos, I’ve felt my creativity behind the lens come back to me and taking pictures feels fun again!
Having four kids still keeps me busy, but I’m not functioning at the same crazy pace I was back home before we left and I’m determined to do all I can to maintain the simpler way of life that we’ve embraced here. I’m not too sure how I’m going to do that. It’s probably going to require a few “no’s” on my part and a whole lot of discipline when it comes to collecting “stuff” again. I haven’t done any REAL shopping in 16 months and I’ve already been fighting the urge to make up for lost time. 😉
So many blessings have come into my life as a result of our time here and the changes we’ve experienced over the past 16 months. Even though I’m nervous for what’s to come, I’m also excited to be moving on to the next step in this journey and to take the lessons we’ve learned here home with us.
I’m putting together a post summing up our experiences in the Dutch Caribbean and wondered if you have any questions you’ve been dying to ask me re: life here. If you do, feel free to email me or leave a your question in the comments and I’d be happy to answer what I can.
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Rebecca Cooper is a 38-year-old wife and mother of four from Alberta, Canada. As a photographer, crafter, author, and blogger, she finds joy and fulfillment in celebrating everyday moments. She loves to read and eat chocolate, and is a firm believer in afternoon naps. Rebecca shares her family’s adventures, photo tips, simple craft projects + more right here at Simple as That.

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  1. says

    I can’t imagine what a shock it will be to go back to a busier lifestyle, but I do think you can have peace and simplicity wherever you live. I love the calmness that your blog radiates and it comes from you, not where you live. I would accept that you’ll want to do things you have not been able to do in your little island and just allow a little shopping frenzy or whatever it is, and then bring things back to the way you want them to be. I wish you the best in this transition.

  2. Kim says

    Good luck with the adventure of returning home! I think experiences like yours allow you to step back and look at what is really important. It sounds like you have everything under control 😉 All the best and enjoy every beach day before you come home to snow!!!

  3. says

    your thoughts about busy-ness reminds me of some advice a friend gave me. i was pregnant with #5 and having to do bedrest… she said something like, “it is easier to say no to things when something inside is saying yes to more important things.” i liked that. Now I’m attempting to live that advice even more since i was called to be r.s. president when my babe was 6 weeks old. aaak! :) I’ve loved seeing your experience on the island. Your family is most darling. Best wishes with airplane rides and life transitions. You can do it! :)

  4. Lorrie Everitt Studio says

    Rebecca I almost cried when I read your post this morning. I’m sure that your to-do lists are very long at this point and you are feeling a little unsure able the changes (for everyone in the family). Remember your word this year – Strength. Believe in yourself … everything will be more than okay. I live in Toronto, Canada … the weather is cooler but it’s still “mild”. Christmas is just around the corner and what could be more fun than spending the holidays with family (and hopefully a little snow!!). I hope that you take time off from work/blogging whatever and just spend these last days on the island with your family. You don’t get to “re-do” this time so keep it stress free and make some memories!!

  5. The Gambrel Family says

    I am wishing you and your family the best during this time. I hope that your last few days are filled with joy, love and lots of sun!

    Your pictures of Statia are beyond, they make me smile and wish there was some way that I could transport myself there. What a wonderful experience to live in such a place of beauty.

    Wishing you all the best.

  6. says

    Rebecca, I really connected to your post because as you are ending your island journey, my family will be beginning ours on Dec. 27th. We are moving from the midwest US (it is cold here right now) and moving to Singapore for 2 years. I am really excited but am nervous and trying not to focus on the things that I will miss here rather on what lies ahead for us. Good luck to you as you transition home. I hope that you can take some of that island slow pace and incorporate it into your new life back home.

  7. Heather says

  8. Brenda P says

    Rebecca, I have followed your blog for so long and feel like I have experienced this journey with you. It’s strange not to have ever met you in person, but I feel lost and hopeful, scared and excited, nervous and anxious, tears and smiles, right there with you. Living in Minnesota my whole life, I can’t give you much advice about how to adjust your life once again after this move. My only advice is to take one day at a time. This chapter has closed and it’s time to start a new one. Much luck to you and your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

  9. says

    I am nodding my head in agreement to everything you have written here, as we leave our island for home in 10 days. I am a mix of emotions as well and have the same thoughts running inside my head daily. You have been gone even longer, but I can say I understand how you are feeling and am glad to know that someone else out there is in my shoes. I look forward to hearing about your transition home and wish you guys all the very best. Soak up every last sunset until then and know that I am out there cheering you on.

  10. Claire says

    I loved your life in Statia, I wish to have this life for a moment… I’d like to have the courage to leave France for an other place for one or two years but my husband and my kids don’t want to leave… You’re lucky to have this experience! I would like to leave my crazy job and spent more time with my kids like you do…I think you will keep some simple things of the island… You look very peacefull in this end of the journey… Hope you will have a good “returning” but i’m not worry for you about that!
    You’re childs look “easy”, i think they won’t have any problems for the school in Canada sometimes it’s easier for them than for us!
    Enjoy sun and beach for me before leaving!!!
    Good luck for your come back!
    (Hpoe you’re understand my “not perfect” english!)

  11. Anonymous says

    Rebecca,what a great decision to take the kids out of school early to enjoy the last of your family adventure! You are amazing. Going back to reality will be a big adjustment for all of you, but also rediscovery and a greater appreciation of everything! Your family is in God’s hands.

  12. says

    Enjoy your last few weeks there, Rebecca! What a wonderful retreat you’ve had, even though I know it hasn’t been easy! How great to explore your photography & have that time on the island. It’ll all work out – it always does. But that doesn’t stop us from stressing over it, does it? Stay warm!

  13. smiliesar says

    While I lived in Hawaii I was having issues with ants. I found that taking a cotton ball with fingernail polish remover and following the trail they make will get rid of them. Worth a shot if you have some there to use. Good Luck on your venture home. It’s so cold in Canada right now. :-/

  14. Branson says

    Your photos, your blog, your family… all gorgeous! And this post makes me want to get to know you! I can tell I will be wandering your blog in the coming days!

  15. says

    Hi There. I just stumbled across your blog as a friend of a friend linked your snowflake advent calendar and I was curious to see it.

    Anyways, I read a bit of your entries and can empathize with you. We were in Bolivia for 3 years and returned back to Canada in July, with 4 kids in tow. Thankfully, we came back in the heat of summer! But it has been an interesting transition. Will be keeping your family in my prayers and will come back to read as you chronicle your journey.

  16. says

    What beautiful photos. I can see how you might be anxious about an exodus from such a tropical paradise. Although I do not live in such a place, I’ve had an opportunity to live at a lakehouse for just a couple months on Lake Murray in SC and we are about to be transitioning into a long term home and back to reality. Much smaller scale, but I feel as if I can relate to some of your torment as I leave the place that has brought me such peace and healing. What a blessing it has been for you and your family. Thanks for sharing this experience with us over the last 16 months. Good luck on the next chapter of your life. *hugs*

  17. Anonymous says

    Enjoy your last couple weeks in such a beautiful place, Rebecca. What a wonderful adventure your family has experienced! Thank you for sharing it with us all.

    Pam K.

  18. The Pilots Wife says

    I enjoy your blog and your writing style so much. While I was reading this post I was feeling your angst and anticipation of going home. I love your simple approach to living on an island and I know it’s hard to keep things simple back in the city. I hope you find balance and peace in returning home. As for your health, I’ve recently gone grain free and the more I read the more it seems like a huge piece of the puzzle for optimal health. It’s good for people with MS, autoimmune disorders, as well as heart disease and diabetes. I also wanted to let you know that I’ve greatly enjoyed your photography and feel that you’ve inspired me to take better photos myself and am proud to say that I know cal myself a photographer too. :) I’ll be praying for you and your family. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you and to get to know you and your life back at home. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  19. says

    First of all I want to tell you much I love your blog and I envious I was of you for leaving in such a beautiful place and how brave you were for going, I would never be able to do it :)
    Also I want to say good luck with the move back and welcome home. I hope your transition is a smooth one especially for your kids. I’m from Milton, ON and even thou I wish I could go outside and not worry about the winter jackets I feel like its too mild for December and miss the snow being LOL. Again good luck, looking forward to reading your blog of the new adventures

  20. rebecca says

    @The Pilots Wife
    Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement…I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I have some of the sweetest, most genuine blog readers and I appreciate all of your kind comments so much! your comments have brightened my day + week and helped me feel more at ease with our transition back home. thank you!

  21. Nadine says

    I’m interested to know if you ever did have to send Addie to school? Back in September you had posted about having to send her when she turned 4 – were you required to send her at all in the end?

  22. louise says

    Good luck Rebecca,

    I’ve been following your blog for two months now and have already been hugely inspired. I am sure you will make the transition a successful one,

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