What is it like to live + work in paradise?
Updated: Mar 26
It was mid January 2016 when I was sitting on my couch with my sister, talking - for the umpteenth time - about what the heck we were doing with our lives.
We had to move out in a month, in the dead middle of winter, and had no clue where to go.
I was 28, working at a sports bar whilst juggling ad-hoc boring government contracts, and getting turned down or ignored for every "real" job I applied for. I had a Master's degree in Public & International Affairs and had graduated with honours.
But no one wanted to hire me. And frankly, I didn't even want any of the jobs I was so aggressively trying to land.
I didn't know what I wanted to do.
And neither did my sister.
But we both knew that something had to change.
Out of nowhere Jess said, "Why don't we just move to Utila and open a juice bar?"
<Back story - Jess had been to Utila 2 years before, and her friends had left her with a standing offer to come back and open a small juice bar inside of their restaurant.>
Once we agreed to give it a shot, I had to rehearse this line over and over in my head before I actually said it out loud to anyone. Because come on, it sounded like a joke.
Once I said it out loud, "I'm moving to an island called Utila to open a juice bar", and had been able to convince my barback that I wasn't joking, I felt more confident in my decision.
After all, it's a pretty cool (and kinda crazy) life choice. Especially right at the age where I should have been starting some kind of "career".
So, I skipped over to my beloved ladyboss, and said the same thing to her, "Amy, remember that time a few months ago when you were super stressed and you told me that one day all you'll want to manage is a small tiki hut on a tropical island somewhere, instead of this corporate beast of a sports bar? Well I'm moving to a small Caribbean island to open a juice bar. And I'm leaving in a month."
Fast forward to our arrival, and the house we were going to stay in was a shit hole, the restaurant we were going to work in was also a shit hole, and we began to quickly run out of our little bit of savings... FAST.
We cried a lot.
And then we got to work.
We found a house.
We found a kitchen.
We built a brand and an safe space for people to come and hang.
And then eventually we found our people.
Despite what that photo above represents, I really hate the phrase "living the dream".
The two years we ran our juice bar on Utila were the most tiring years of my life.
But the limitless amounts of creativity that we had in our kitchen sparked a sense of entrepreneurship in me that I would have never tapped into working as a Policy Analyst in the government.
It was during those two years that I realized I got to decide how I wanted to live my life.