Working With Adventure (A Trip To The Bahamas)
Vickie Parker and Tiffany
Living the opportunity of our Life in the Bahamas, Vickie Parker's story

I was working as a dental hygienist in a little town in the northeastern corner of Washington.  Our son had just graduated from college and we were transitioning into being empty nesters. Our home was paid for and we were wondering what was next in our life.  I had a friend who was also a dental hygienist in this small town and I heard she was going to the Bahamas. I called her to wish her a good trip.  To my surprise, she told me she was not going there for a vacation, but she was going there to work and asked why didn't I go with her.  Impulsively, I said,  "That sounds like fun, tell me what I need to do". She then gave me the name of the agency that would help me connect with dentists in the Bahamas that needed a dental hygienist.

I did, and two weeks later we were on a plane to the Bahamas for some interviews. I was hired by a female general dentist.  We came back home, I quit my job, we put our things in storage and rented our house.  I could not go until I received my work permit from the government and what I did not know is it could take at least 3 months.  Like all government agencies, they move slowly. The dentist that hired me had some connections and so the process was expedited and I was approved in about 4 weeks.  We had a Golden Retriever (Tiffany) and they allowed dogs to come into the country, so on an early spring morning we left our home in Washington in our little 1985 MX Mazda loaded to the hilt with Tiffany and what we thought we needed to survive in a foreign country for the next year of our life.

It took us 3 days to get to Florida.  We had arranged for a barge to take our car to the island, so we dropped our car off, took a taxi to our motel and the next morning the airport shuttle took us to the airport. We had Tiffany crated and we all boarded the plane for our new adventure. It was exciting,but also scary. We both were totally out of our comfort zone and we had no idea what to expect.  We just took one moment at a time.

We had found a furnished apartment about 2 blocks from where I was going to be working.  When we arrived we had no transportation, because it took time for our car to get to Nassau and it also had to go through customs. We spent the entire day cleaning our apartment and when the louvered closet doors disintegrated when we washed them because of termites, we had to laugh and say to each other, "This is going to be an interesting year, we better be prepared for the unexpected".

We tried to immerse ourselves in the culture and learn all that we could.  The people were delightful, but so different from our own culture in the U.S. Their attitude was, "If I do not get it done today, I can do it next year". My income was dependent on people showing up to get their teeth cleaned and just because they had an appointment did not mean that they would show up.  Most of the time they did not.

Living in the Bahamas is very expensive so we had to be very wise with our money.  Just the electric bill alone in the summer was $600.  They had no faucets outside to hook a water hose too so we could wash our car, so we bought 2 buckets and adjusted to washing our car with only 2 buckets of water.  We went to the beach almost every day with Tiffany and found a private beach down from Atlantis (an amazing tourist hotel) and the beauty of the beaches and water was breathtaking.  We would mingle with the tourist on the beach and when we told them we lived there, they were amazed at our adventurous spirit.

We joined a church and even taught a Sunday School class on parenting.  It was an incredible experience. Everything was so different.  We even found a Geico lizard in our refrigerator when we first moved in our apartment.  We would run almost every morning before work with Tiffany to Paradise Island and back.  We only wore shoes maybe a half dozen times.  The rest of the time we wore sandals. 

Tiffany loved the beach and she learned to negotiate the waves and know when to go into the water.  She got to where she would swim out to my air mattress and I would pull her up with me and she would stay for a while and just float with us.  She got a lot of attention from tourist.

On September 11, 2001, while I was working in the dental office, I saw the Twin Towers come down on the television. It was scary being so far away from home when everything seemed to be falling apart. Thousands of hotel workers were laid off because tourism pretty much stopped after the attacks.  Then in October we had a hurricane hit Nassau head on and we saw the island stripped of vegetation and giant trees came down every where.  We were without power for almost a week.

About a month before we were scheduled to leave the Bahamas, Tiffany started having seizures.  She was 12 years old and we knew she was dying.  The vet gave us some medicine to help control the seizures so we could get her back home. It was a very hard time for us.  Leaving was bitter sweet.  We were ready to come home, but we had made some wonderful friends.  The islands and beaches were so beautiful.  We had become so spoiled to what we had discovered on the islands.

We had to repeat the process of getting our car back to the states and then drive back home.  Tiffany made the trip OK and 4 weeks later she passed away.  We have so many wonderful memories of our time in the Bahamas.  Living in another country and working and adapting to another way is life changing.  If you ever have an opportunity to do something like this, it is a way to find out what you are really made of.  It will either break you or make you. My husband and I grew so close, because at times it seemed like all we had was each other.

I would encourage anyone that wants an adventure to look into working outside of the U.S. I would not have done it alone, but with my husband we did it together. Be sure and do the research and I recommend that you not be as impulsive as I was.  We made the best of our stay there, but it would have been helpful to find out a little more about the working environment and what to expect. Talk to as many people who have done the same thing, so you can make informed decisions.  Once you get there and get your work permit you are committed and the ethical thing to do is stay no matter how uncomfortable it gets.

Author Bio;
Vickie Parker, LMFT is a marriage and family licensed therapist, open and inspired by the world around her. She cherishes the outdoors, and enjoy running, swimming, and biking with her husband. She  believes life is not easy, but is a challenging adventure filled with difficult situations, excitement, relationships, joy, and lots of hard work. You can check her and her work at vickiemft.com
Working With Adventure (A Trip To The Bahamas)

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