Dolce far niente: The sweetness of doing nothing (Or, “My trip to St. Kitts”)

It’s very rare for me to have a vacation where I can do nothing.

I’m used to the jam-packed Disney trips, with every moment planned. I’m used to running from one thing to the next, making FastPass times and dining reservations. I’m used to waking up and knowing exactly what I’ll be doing.

I’m an obsessive planner (which I discussed here). I’ve currently got a note open on my iPad with an exact list of everything I’ve got planned for my October Disney trip (the last one before my AP expires). Those who have gone on trips with me in the past are used to my “dramatic reading” of the day’s itinerary at breakfast.

So for me to go on a vacation where nearly nothing was planned was so different, and so wonderful.

For those of you who missed it, my sister is living on St. Kitts, going to veterinary school at Ross University (I talked about all that here). My mom, after visiting the island for ten days in the spring to move Kylie in, decided that my brother and I needed to experience it. So we set our trip for August 13 to 22, which coincided with Kylie’s semester break. 

My mom, dad, stepmom, and sister all tried to prepare me for what life on the island is like. They told stories about great food, loud music, very spotty WiFi, dark roads, cars that you can’t believe are still running, and the nicest people you’ll ever meet. After my parents returned from moving Kylie to Ross, we actually started counting how many times my mom and stepmom would mention “St. Kitts” on a daily basis. They were bit by the island bug, and I was ready to see it all for myself.

Flying to St. Kitts is not as easy as, say, Orlando. There are no direct flights from Newark to SKB; this was my first time having a connecting flight (I know, right? Crazy). We took the “early flight,” which required leaving the house at 4 AM, flying on a 6 AM to Miami, and getting into St. Kitts in the early afternoon. But we made our connection with no problems. 

When you fly into St. Kitts, it’s a small enough airport that there’s no jetway — you disembark on a staircase and walk across what I call the “plane parking lot” to the customs office. Once we were through there, we contacted my sister. We were supposed to help her move from her dorm to her new apartment, but she pretty much finished that up on her own. So we went and dropped our stuff at the hotel, which was on a beautiful cove (and where we’d only be staying for two nights before moving ourselves into Kylie’s apartment for the rest of the trip), and got ready for dinner with my sister and a bunch of her friends. And then, after dinner, we went back to the hotel and relaxed. 

That day was the first day of the trip, and the last day of jumping from one thing to the next.

When I asked my mom what our plan was for the second day, she said that we were supposed to help Kylie finish moving, get a tour of her campus, and then “whatever.” 

I had told my mom before the trip that I wanted to do a whole lot of nothing. I wanted to spend my time reading and relaxing. While we had a few quick excursions planned (including zip lining and exploring Fort Brimstone), almost every day was spent either by the pool at the Marriott or on Reggae Beach, doing nothing but relaxing.

When I first read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I was struck by the part of the book where she talked about “the sweetness of doing nothing” (in Italian, dolce far niente). Aside from on Disney trips, one of my favorite things about vacation is being able to just relax and read. Being a perpetual student, vacation is about the only time I get to read for fun. I knew the island had things to do, and that we would be doing some things, but I loaded up my Kindle and packed four print books anyway. And am I glad I did.

My mom had talked about “island time.” I’m used to the busy buzz of the suburbs of NYC, full of pushy people and fast paces. On the island, everything moves slowly. Meals could take up to two and a half hours just because. You wake up slowly, eat breakfast slowly, move slowly all day, and fall asleep slowly. You spend the day relaxing and doing nothing. And it’s a beautiful change of pace. 

The other thing about the island that got me is the state of the WiFi. While we had fairly steady WiFi in Kylie’s apartment, that was about the only place we had it. Some restaurants kind of had it. The Marriott had it, though it would cut out. Reggae Beach had it, but only sometimes. At the hotel, we ended up losing WiFi for twelve straight hours. Those of you who know me know how addicted I am to my phone, but this trip forced me to disconnect. Instagram posts would have to wait. Snapchats were sent hours after they were taken. I was limited to iMessage, and even those went through (or didn’t) without any sort of regularity. It was so different than the constant hum of technology that I’m used to.

What I’m getting at, here, is that everyone needs to disconnect at some point. Had I been home, I would have been glued to my devices, waiting for every update from the D23 expo, which went on while I was away. But because I was away, I got the highlights from a friend and then read recap posts days later. And I was okay with that. 

Now I’m back to the reality of life and my routine, but I’m still on island time. I woke up slowly, worked out slowly, and ate breakfast slowly. I’m writing this post slowly. I have to do laundry and go grocery shopping, but eh, I’ll get to it later. 

Everyone needs a change of pace, even just for a few days. If you want a really disconnected, slow-moving vacation, St. Kitts is your place; it’s a beautiful island, beautiful beyond words, with some amazing adventures and a whole lot of not much else. 

Plus it looks like this:

  
Taken at Reggae Beach

I encourage everyone reading this to shake up their change of pace sometime soon. We all need to just do nothing for a day or two, right? I get it, responsibilites get in the way of that sometimes. But even if you just take an hour or two to read something for fun, or watch TV and relax, or whatever, we all deserve the sweetness of doing nothing.

Go find your dolce far niente

I found mine on the island of St. Kitts. ๐Ÿ™‚

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