I just got home from a week-long vacation in the paradise known as Aruba. Aruba is tiny little Dutch island in the Carribean that is approximately 30km long from one end to another. The temperature remains virtually the same all year round, and the weather is usually hot and dry (but very windy). After our plane landed and our bus dropped us at the hotel, I stood on my balcony admiring the view of the beach and basking in the hot sun, and uttered the words “That’s it, I’m moving here.”

The beaches of paradise in Aruba
The beaches of paradise in Aruba - Photo by Leila Paugh

Maybe part of the allure was that I was coming from Ontario, in the middle of a typically -16 or so weather stretch, which had been preceded by several dumpings of snow. Maybe it was that this was my first real trip to a tropical island (with the exception of Australia, which is a GIANT island) on an all inclusive ticket. Maybe it was the beauty and friendliness of the Aruban people. Maybe it was the lush fruits and rich foods. Maybe it was a combination of all of these.

At the beginning of the week, I was in awe of the island, the people, the food, the adventure, and the free drinks from the bar. Everything was beautiful. I was relaxed. All of our adventures were fun. There was something new and amazing to see everywhere we went. I found myself considering the possibility of island life and wondering about how to become a citizen.

Along the heels of this thought came the inevitable wonder of if I could do it. Could I leave my country (which I realize, I love very much)? Would I miss relatives, friends, family… winter? What my heart told me was that anything is possible, and that home is where you lay your head. While change is scary and often overwhelming, no matter where you end up – it can become a home to you. Maybe not that “home” that you always hold in your heart… but still ‘a home.’

This conversation in my head was reinforced by the latter-half of my week in Aruba. By the 4th of 5th day, I was quite at home. I knew where to go, who to talk to, what bus to take. I was unhindered by the unknown. It’s so much easier to be less afraid when the island is so small! Much like in elementary school and high school – it doesn’t take long before you feel like you own the place. The same happens at work places and in groups of friends. My mom even made a funny statement on the 6th day when a new tour group arrived. “Oh, the new people are here – they don’t know how things work yet.” It was so true, but also so apparent that my mom felt quite at home too. We all felt more experienced in the ways of the island, even though we had only been there a handful of days.

So to answer to the question “Can home and paradise be the same place?” YES! You need to make your home a paradise! If it’s not the paradise you wanted, you have a couple of choices – either work harder to make your environment the paradise you want, move to paradise, or compromise and visit paradise once or twice a year 🙂

I had an amazing time in the paradise of Aruba. My week away felt like a month. I feel refreshed and rested. But as my good friend pointed out: by Friday, it will feel like my trip to paradise was a year ago. It’s all too true. But what an amazing feeling to dip my feet in to the pool of paradise!