It’s Vacation Time!

I’m getting excited as I pack sunscreen, bikinis and surfboards. I’m watching the forecast for my family’s winter trip to Puerto Rico – daytime highs in the 80’s overnight lows in the upper 70’s.

Winter on Hatteras has a lot of great points but surfing and adventure in a tropical place excites me. As I prepare I can’t help but think about why I love Puerto Rico so much but also why when the time inevitably comes to return home to Hatteras Island I don’t mind it so much. Traveling can be a transformative experience that broadens your horizons, exposes you to new cultures, and creates lasting memories. However, amidst the excitement of exploring new places, there’s a profound realization that often occurs – the deep appreciation for home.

I love traveling to the Northwest region of Puerto Rico for its similarities to home. Sure home may not have a reef teeming with tropical fish but the quiet sleepy feel of people doing what they love is pure comfort to me. Surfing, Kiteboarding, fishing and beach going are all things they have in common, as well as horseback riding and 4x4ing. Long walks on the beach picking up sea glass and other treasures is so relaxing it makes you forget your troubles and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. While there’s not a lot of nightlife in either place, I like it just that way and so do so many others.

One of the biggest similarities is the locals. We all know a town based on tourism grows weary of tourists from time to time but we also love and appreciate them so much. And when you, as a vacationer, feel accepted by the locals (especially when they become lifelong friends), it helps to build a deep connection with the area.

I have been traveling to Puerto Rico for over a dozen years now. I’ve been asked a number of times if I own property there…I do not. It’s scary for me to imagine having to worry about a place that is an ocean away from my fulltime home. Thankfully Hatteras is fairly accessible for looking to buy a home or investment property. Only a road and a bridge separate you from paradise.

I love and appreciate the safety of this island, our lower crime rate and smaller schools; where the teachers and principals are our neighbors and we have their phone numbers already plugged into our phones. Living on a small island does offer some challenges though. Doctors appointments can take up an entire day and require travel, online stores sometimes tell me my address doesn’t exist and I can’t stop by Target or other big box stores to browse or pick up “just a few things”. On the flipside, I do get to support local small businesses and, while I’m there, I usually run into a familiar face and get to talking about anything and everything we can come up with. It’s similar in Puerto Rico for me, when I get to the surf break, I see familiar faces and we talk about the conditions and what tomorrow might bring, or we make plans for that evening, a dinner party, or a beach bonfire maybe?

While I love going on vacation (who doesn’t?), it wouldn’t be a vacation forever. Soon the reality of life would settle in and I would have to do all the mundane tasks that home requires; paying the electric bill and standing in line at the bank. So, when the time comes and I return home from my trip, one experience always has me feeling deep gratitude for where I live, passing over the Oregon Inlet and seeing the beautiful stretch of beach that awaits me. I do not miss the tropical paradise as much because I know that in just a few months our sleepy little island is going to “wake up” and my family and I will be lounging on the beach with a board nearby ready to surf some of the best waves the East coast has to offer. And maybe, just maybe, that tropical blue water will creep its way to our shores and we can ooh and ahh over its beauty.

Maybe one day my husband and I will venture to purchase an investment property there but for now, I’m happy to have our space in Buxton just steps from the beach. Traveling acts as a lens through which you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the place you call home. It’s a journey that not only takes you to distant lands, but also brings you back with a newfound gratitude for the comfort and familiarity that home provides.

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