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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

25 Things I Learned on an 11-Day Vacation to a Rustic Island

I've loved every trip I've ever taken...even road-trips one town over...but most times I don't have the desire to go back to the same spot twice. I'm always anxious to see new places. But something grabbed hold of us when we visited Vieques in March, and we weren't quite ready to let it go. It felt almost like unfinished business. So Mr. SP and I decided to forgo our annual kid-free trip this year, in favor of returning to the rustic little island in Puerto Rico, as a family.

In all the years of traveling with Mr. Sugarplum, most of our trips have been between four and seven nights. When we travel to Europe, we do stay a little longer, just to make it worth the travel time, distance and expense. But since this trip required four tickets, we booked the absolute cheapest days...which meant we'd be gone 11 days!

I was a little concerned if it would be too long...Vieques and our rental house is pretty far off the grid...no air-conditioning, no fast food, no street lights, no television. There are only two gas stations, and they run out regularly. There are a handful of tiny groceries, and the main source of fresh food is a weekly farmer's market.

But it was absolute heaven on earth! Most vacations, by the time you start to relax and unwind, it's almost time to head home. But with this many days, the laid-back pace became a way of life. We all easily adapted to the simple ways and fewer options. I learned a few things on this trip and thought it'd be fun to share them in lieu of my typical Trip Report. Don't worry, it's mostly shallow and trivial little nuggets. #whatelse

{25 Things I Learned on an 11-Day Rustic Island Vacation}

* I'm fine going 10 days without makeup, a hair dryer, curling or flat iron. In fact, I loved it. As long as I was wearing a hat and/or sunglasses. And avoided looking in the mirror.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR


* However, it's not advised I go 10 days without tweezers. A fact I wasn't aware of until we got home, due to that whole no-mirror policy.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* I can go 10 days with no TV, cable or movies, but I can only go 2 hours days without checking InstaGram. Max.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* Renting a house on vacation is kind of like being at home...you're still doing laundry, washing dishes and feeding little people. Except your attitude about it is better.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR


* As much as I love fashion, it was so freeing to only have a handful of swimsuits and a couple of coverups to choose from each day. And you saw how I made one dress work for the rest of the time.


* And speaking of swimsuits, after about the 5th day, I stopped caring if my bathing suit top and bottom coordinated. As long as my lady bits were mostly covered, all was good.


* There is nothing better than a tattered paperback, a hammock, and a cool trade wind. Well, maybe throw in a cold beer or glass of wine.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* I can also live without air-conditioning, as long as said trade winds are blowing. Once you've given up fashion and presentable hairdos, humidity doesn't seem to hold the same negative power.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* I read several books, and really loved Tina Fey's 'Bossypants.' I'm convinced she and I should be best friends. It was also a relief to know I'm still capable of reading books not sold exclusively in the smut department.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* As addicted to the Keurig and Nespresso machines as we've become, there was something meditative about the process of making french press coffee each morning. However, it's not recommended that I drink more than 1 cup of the delectable Puerto Rican French Press coffee.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* My patience-level with the kids is directly related to the length of my to do list. The fewer things on my plate, the more patience I have with them. Also, when they have my undivided attention for a span of time, they are more likely to enjoy time alone, as well. #profound

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* For me to actually do nothing, I have to remove all opportunities to do something. #busybody

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* I will never again question Pamela Anderson's acting abilities, because running with style and grace in to the ocean takes real skill. I never managed to do it without tripping and face-planting once the water was more than ankle-deep.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* Mr. SP will talk to anyone. For an extended period of time. I don't know if it's because he's truly interested in others, or if he was just desperate for conversation with someone other than us.


Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* Puerto Ricans are the kindest, most universally-attractive people of any we've encountered on our travels.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* I'm not bothered by large cockroaches. As long as they are dead and laying feet-up.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* Nail polish can fade and bleach out. By the end of our trip, my pink nails looked like I'd added a top coat of Liquid Paper.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* To live a minimalistic, simple life on a rustic, rough-around-the-edges, Caribbean island, you still need a big pot of money.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* Ripe plantains grilled in butter are life-changing. And people are super-impressed when you serve them.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* If losing your top every time you body surf were an Olympic sport, I'd have the gold medal wrapped up.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* When I get to heaven, after rejoicing with Jesus and all the loved ones that arrived before me, I'm going to ask God why he created no-see-ums. And mosquitoes. And why they loved my son so much.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* Okay, so 10 days with no TV was a bit of an exaggeration. #Impronetoit Mr. SP and I caved on day 8 and huddled around the laptop after the kids went to bed, and marathon-watched The Killing on Netflix. Wowza, that's a good show!

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* My daughter is growing into one of the bravest people I know. And that makes me so proud and excited for where that will take her, and also scares the crap out of me.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* I had some kind of preconceived notion that once our son turned 13, he'd turn into a surly, disinterested teen overnight. Now I know I underestimated him. He is thoughtful, engaged, and grateful. He also has a seriously nice head of hair. #priorities

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

* I have such a profound sense of gratitude for this life and family I've been gifted, and feel absolute contentment and happiness to be right where I am, with these precious people.

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

Okay, so I got a little sappy at the end of the list...but that's what 11-days of unplugging will do for you. I'm working on keeping some of those lessons with me now that we're back, and creating a less hectic life for us year-round, not just on vacation. Did you have any epiphanies...real or trivial..about yourself or your family this Summer? Do you think you could leave civilization behind for 11 days?

Hi Sugarplum | Vieques, PR

For more details and travel tips for traveling to Vieques and Puerto Rico, check out these posts:

16 comments:

  1. sounds amazing! what a great place to unplug and really focus on eachother. i need to plan an island vacation -- when i went to the bahamas there was a TV in our house but we only turned it on to learn more about the huge tropical depression storm we were in the first few days! oh and im terrible at falling down bc of waves and losing my top! turns out if you turn sideways you can usually stay standing -- good to know! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  2. We went to Surfside Beach, Texas a couple years ago. My family, my Dad and Step-mom, my sister's family, and my brother's family. We spent 7 days on the beach and in a beach house. By the end of our vacation we were sun burned and at each other's throats. At the time it was horrible, but now we look back at all the memories with fondness.

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  3. What a wonderful trip! Thank you so much for sharing. We took our first "long" trip (10 days) a little over a year ago. It was an error on my part when I booked our flights, but we decided to keep it. Now we never take a family vacation less than 10 days. We have found that with 10 days everyone can really relax, to do lists are left behind and we just enjoy each other and recharge as a family. Thanks again for sharing and I love your sense of style and look forward to your fashion posts. :)

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  4. Yay for Puerto Ricans! It's their passion for life that makes them so attractive. ;) Looks like such great trip. I could totally go without tv, but good gracious don't take away my phone! And you are so right about renting a house while on vacation - I smile even while doing laundry whenever we're in Kiawah!

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  5. Looks like an amazing family vacation and in paradise nonetheless! You guys are such a good looking bunch!

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  6. Oh My Word I LOVED this post so much!!!!! So many of your lessons learned were great....but your tweezer lesson made me lol! :)

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  7. yes, I absolutely could. we LOVED PR when we went, and the Rain Forest was amazing albeit scary for me with no handrails - yes I am a worry wort and borrow trouble). it is one of two places I've said I want to take cor to when he is older (ok he is older now - 9 - when did that happen??) PR and Canadian niagra falls. it's hard to hold onto those lessons when we get back into our 'old routine' but oh how they are so worth it if we can.

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  8. You guys always have THE BEST vacation pictures!!! I don't know if I could do without AC. I can without a lot of things but no AC would be my breaking point. Oh, and I figured out why that black Nordstrom dress doesn't look as good on me as it does on you - it's because your body is sa-lamming! Dang hottie!!!

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  9. We have found a private island in the Bahamas that we can rent and we've gone there twice. We've even booked our next trip already for next year. Its definitely rustic and dishes need to be done, cooking, and such. But its just so amazing. I'm sure my experience is simialar to yours. Love the photos! Esther Norine Designs

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  11. Hi Cassie. I don't remember how I found your blog but it's all so inspiring. Although I adore your humor, it's the sentiments about your family that I loved most about this post. I also have a son (14) and a daughter (11) and it's wonderful to see them blossom into amazing people isn't it? I'm loving this window of time aren't you?

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  12. Loved this one Cass.... Time away always brings new perspectives and appreciations for everyday life. And you are beautiful without the curling iron and makeup! And I bet you still looked hot face planting in the sand. :)

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  13. Oh my gosh. I am newish to your blog so just read this post through your recent link. You are so funny, hilariously self-deprecating, and inspiring - all in one package. You definitely have a gift for engaging your readers. I love your posts!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Donna! I'm thrilled you find inspiration, and a little humor, here!! xo

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Your comments are like popcorn with milk duds, I just can't quit them. Thanks for taking the time to share your positive thoughts! xoxo, cass

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