any place or condition that fulfils all one’s desires or aspirations
The Dictionary definition of what paradise is, is pretty open to interpretation and let’s be real: it gets
overused an awful lot in my opinion. Song lyrics, film & tv, magazine, even frigging chocolate bars use this word to conjure up your own personal version of paradise to sell you crap (although I bloody love a Bounty).
When it comes to travel, and travel writing specifically — using ‘paradise’ as a way of defining a place is at best lazy, and at worst presumptuous. Why does this get my goat so much I hear you cry? Well, do not fear for I am eloquently about to explain all. Put the kettle on……
Paradise is subjective.
That’s all, nothing groundbreaking here folks. The term describes your own view of what you think is divine, dreamy and desirable, be it a destination, a plate of food or even a bar (Paradise by Way of Kensal Green is a shithole for some people…….) . What I rate as an amazing place may not be on your destination richter scale and vice versa.
In my experience, this is never more true than when you visit an island.
Blame it on pop culture I guess, but for most people I will be bold and hazard a guess that paradise could be described with a few words…..turquoise sea, white sand, hot sun and maybe it even includes cold beer. Ring a bell? Yeah, me too (swap the beer for a coconut). I am definitely not a contrarian when it comes to this notion.
Having been to more tropical islands than I can count on both hands (wow, brag much) I know that the above description of my perfect paradise is a lot more complex than a few choice words usually found in a Sandals brochure. For example, both Oli and I agree that for us….less people is better, but not in the extreme. We don’t crave a castaway situation, cut off from the rest of the world with no WiFi access. For us, the word isn’t confined to the beach. There have been places that, whilst warm and with cold beers, have not been on the coast.
Another factor playing a leading role the ‘Paradise Play’? Expectation.
Far too often, Oli and I have found ourselves scratching our heads and vowing to hunt down the Lonely Planet writer who sold us stupid pipe dreams telling us that our current holiday destination was a ‘Faeces lovers paradise.” Sarcasm truly is the lowest form of wit…..What your well thumbed copy of Southeast Asia on a shoestring may not be able to tell you, is who else has read the same book and where they are heading to next. Chances are, you’re both on a collision course to Koh Wha-What and are due to crash land at the same ‘No it isn’t a pound a night you Stupid foreigner’ bungalow on ‘Paradise it Ain’t beach’ anytime soon. Maybe not. But it’s worth bearing in mind.
Having huge expectations for somewhere without reading between the lines can leave you disappointed. On the flip side you can clearly be over whelmed…..or even just whelmed. That’s fine too.
Your mood and where your head is at (emotionally speaking, naturally we all aim for our head to be attached to our bodies). You know what people say about relationships? Timing is everything! If you get to a place high as a kite with expectations and filled with regret for leaving the last place you were at ‘too soon’ then chances are, this new place is gonna have a tricky old time winning you over. In a sense, you have set it up for failure. Rude.
So, what is my paradise?
The place that Oli and I love above all places wasn’t somewhere we expected at all. Yes it’s an island and sure, the sand is powder soft, the sea azure and the sunsets INSANE but the reason we adore it is a lot more intuitive than that.
We just loved it. It just felt right and we felt happy there. That is about all I can say on the matter really because I don’t know how else to explain why we think it’s paradise. It just is paradise, for us.
I won’t tell you where…..see if you can guess? Answers on a postcard please! Or in the comments below….far easier. Please also share where your version of paradise is!