Anyone who has experienced life in this historic town knows how tough it can be. Having only lived here for a year, I’m still able to see the problems, and believe me there are many.
First of all, there’s just too much history in this old city. Who has time to learn 400+ years of history? Your kids will come home with tales of Ponce De Leon, Pedro Menendez, and Henry Flagler. And they’ll have questions. Spend enough time in town and you’ll hear so many battle and ghost stories your head will hurt.
The old cobblestone streets, quaint for some, but a big problem for women. New-comers to St. Augustine can be spotted wobbling along the uneven streets in their high heels in the early evening. Later, after they’ve given up, you’ll see them barefoot and carrying their shoes. So unless you’re willing to risk a broken ankle, you’ll have to trade the heels for flip-flops or more-forgiving sandals.
The endless sunshine is blinding at times, particularly when it reflects off of the water. Don’t expect to see anything without squinting, which is a pain when you’re trying to watch your giggling little ones play in the surf.
Distant relatives and long lost friends will suddenly want to pay you a visit. Everyone likes an excuse to travel and you just might be it. Great Aunt Erma on your mother’s side has been reliving her childhood memories of St. Augustine and would love to come back… and get together with you. Nevermind the fact she hasn’t seen you since you were a baby.
After seeing your amazing Facebook photos, former friends and colleagues will decide they too would like to “drop by,” and oh yeah they’ll be staying with you. But not to worry “I won’t get in your way” they say. “I’ll just do my own thing and occupy myself.” Don’t believe them. It never happens. You’ll spend days playing tour guide and discovering new things about St. Augustine. They’ll probably go back and tell your other friends and then they too will want to visit.
Lets not forget about the traffic- Especially when you’re running late. Inevitably you’ll find yourself stuck behind a horse and carriage. Much different than beltway traffic, for one thing if you honk the horn, rather than getting shot or flicked off as in some cities, the driver will probably slow down even more. You may not think that’s even possible, but it is. And maybe you’re not breathing in exhaust fumes, but trust me there’s still a distinct aroma.
The Bridge of Lions is also a huge problem. I’m not even sure it operates on a regular schedule. The operator must be on “St. Augustine time.” I try to cross only when it isn’t scheduled to be up, but at least half the time, there it is, straight up in the air. Being stuck on there is a nightmare. Who has the time to sit in the bay breeze and watch sailboats pass by?
Eating at home is impossible in this town. There are way too many popular restaurants, many with outdoor seating and remarkable views of the intracoastal… all within walking distance. Their food, I’m convinced, is laced with some addictive additive to keep you coming back. Once you’re hooked, standing over a stove in your own kitchen, especially in the warm weather, is out of the question.
People here are much too relaxed. Just because the sign in the window says open at 10:00, doesn’t mean its true, it could be 10:15 or 10:30, it just depends on the owners mood that day. Meetings and appointments rarely start on time and no one ever seems to care. Its essential to allow buffer time both before and after your appointments and never ever schedule them too close together. Be prepared to spend lots of time chit-chatting and admiring small children and pets that are bound to be present during at least some meetings.
Working at home is especially tough when you’re constantly bombarded with ads and Facebook messages about the continuous parades, festivals, and events happening. Focusing on work is incredibly tough when there’s so much going on (As, I sit on my front porch/office writing this, a Spanish soldier in a 1700’s outfit is driving past – on a segway. Total unnecessary distraction).
So, take my advice and stay where you are, especially if you’re up North. Find ways to appreciate your snow and ice, and bare fall trees. You’ll get much more accomplished, eat more home-cooked meals and best of all, Aunt Erma will never try to visit…
**To those of you who have lost your sense of humor or have trouble recognizing mine (I get it), making St. Augustine my home was the best thing I’ve ever done. I still can’t believe I actually live here. Makes me want to pinch myself to make sure it’s for real. Most mornings just after sunrise, I drive down the bumpy cobblestone street, drop my daughter at school, then sit on the seawall to drink my coffee as the sun comes up over the Mantanzas Bay. It’s where I do my best thinking. I wouldn’t trade life here for anything and P.S. I really do love my visitors 🙂