When my husband decided to go to medical school in his last semester of college, I never dreamed he would decide to go to a school on an island in the middle of the ocean. Jonathan changed his major late in the game and after much research discovered he could move forward with his dream much faster if he chose to go to an international school. His school accepted students 3 times a year instead of just once.
After a lot of research, he discovered there were 4 reputable medical schools in the Caribbean. He applied to 2 of them. In my mind, I was still thinking we would never move there. I must have been really naïve because he didn’t even apply to any in the states. He was accepted to both medical schools in the Caribbean. AUC on the the island of St. Maarten, and Saba University School of Medicine on the island of Saba. After much thought and prayer we accepted the invitation to go to Saba. We had about 8 months to prepare; and I think all along I believed we would never really go. Then one day I was on a boat crossing the ocean; and I had to accept reality.
You see, I had never lived away from home before. Home was Utah, and I had never lived out side of it. It wasn’t as if I was moving to Idaho or Arizona for my first adventure outside my home state. My first adventure was going to take place in the middle of the ocean.
I have thought several times about my parents and the faith they had to have to let us go. As a mother, I don’t know if I could have let my children move to an island in the Caribbean. We were adults, and both our parents were very supportive of us. Not to mention that when we moved, we took an 18 month old Jex and I was 5 months pregnant with our second child; Stella. These were my parents only grandchildren. How worried they must have been. They never ever let on that they were.
I think all the time about how lucky we were that we were both young and naïve when we moved. I think it helped with our faith. We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to, so we just pressed forward with faith. Our decision to move to Saba was very much led by prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It also proved to be the best decision we ever made.
I will forever be thankful for the lessons and experiences gained from those 2 years in the middle of the ocean.
I wanted to share a little bit about the island that we moved to.
Saba is an extinct volcano in the middle of the ocean; named Mt. Scenery. It is five square miles big, and is home to about 1,800 people including the 300 medical students that inhabit the island when school is in session which is pretty much year round.(wow if there ever was a run-on sentence that was one) The island is owned by the Netherlands with the main languages being English and Dutch.
It is a very steep and mountainous island.
Which makes the roads steep and windy. This means that all vehicles are stick shift; which meant I had to learn to drive one. One of those lessons of stepping out of my comfort zone. The road on Saba was hand built by the locals in the 1960’s. I can only imagine how hard it was to build this road.
Saba is known for its different eco systems. When you are up on Mt. Scenery you are deep in the rainforest. It truly is a sight to see. You can feel the misty air on your skin.
You can also go down to it’s lowest point and find the lava rock formations with cacti growing there.
There are also tidal pools to be found near the lava rock.
They are full of all sorts of sea creatures.
Saba also has a beach, but it is a wandering beach. It comes and goes with the tide. It happened to be there most of the 2 years that we lived there. You can see in this picture the rocks lined up against the cliff. When the tide takes the sand away, those rocks move back out to the ocean and the sand is gone. It is actually quite strange.
Saba is also known for it’s diving. If you are a scuba diver; Saba is a must see. I never have gotten scuba certified, but I will tell you that I have snorkeled in many a ocean and nothing compares to what I have seen on Saba. One particular time, Jonathan brought this little guy back with him:
Saba has the smallest commercial runway in the world. This was built in 1963 on the flattest part of the island. Only small airplanes are allowed to land here; about 19 seats. Each pilot is highly trained as there is not much of a landing strip. Each end of the runway is cliff that drops off to the ocean. The airport does not have lights so all flights are scheduled during daylight hours.
All of the homes on the island look very similar. White houses, green or red shutters and red roofs. We had two homes while on the island that we rented from locals; not at the same time. Our first home was hard for me. It was a big change from what I was used to. We were blessed to find another home that suited our family better at the beginning of second semester. It was newly remodeled. It was a great house for our family. This is the outside of our Saban home:
Each home has a cistern behind it. A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding water. Ours was a cement building in our backyard, while some are built under houses. our gutters were attached to pipes that ran into the cistern.(you can see a pipe that runs around the house on the front right side of this picture above) Then this water was filtered and pumped in to our house for drinking and all other purposes. When there wasn’t rain, we didn’t have water. Needless to say we had to be very careful with our water usage. This made laundry and showers very interesting; more about this later.
The main transportation on the island when we lived there was hitch hiking. Because we only had one car, Jonathan would usually “hitch” a ride to school. He would wait by the side of the road and another medical student or local would pick him up and take him to school.
Saba is a very safe place to live.
Saba is named the unspoiled queen. It is so true. They keep the island so beautiful and clean.
I miss you Saba.
Stay tuned for more about our Saban life.
If you missed yesterday’s post about our last Saba vacation, you can read more about it here. I am dedicating this week to life on Saba.