It was a normal night on the west coast, the air had cleared from the afternoon tropical thunderstorm that rolled in like clockwork each day. The mosquitos had not formed over the pooled stagnant water yet and it was the perfect time to grab my water housing, camera, our boards and run through the soggy ground to the water. Our beach was vacant as it often was after a rain. The mud and god knows what else ran into the ocean from the interior of the island through the two river mouths that book-ended our beach and made the visibility zero and the water the color of milk chocolate. The trick is to paddle offshore beyond the out sweeping current. Out there it is crystal clear, out there is the reason to live in a place like this, to put up with the power outages, the mosquitos, and the crumbling infrastructure, out there is freedom, out there is clarity and the deep blue. As we paddled the sun sank in the sky, a bright orange, perfect circle popping and rippling in our vision as it made its way back to the sea. There is nothing like being offshore on a stand up paddle board watching the day end as the evenings rollers push toward shore and create that rocking motion that stays with you all night. Each time you close your eyes that motion that is the embodiment of the living ocean reminds you that you live a good a life and that there is peace in nature no matter what she is capable of. As the sun vanished over the horizon and the coquis came to life, serenading us with their ubiquitous song that is now inextricably linked in me to Puerto Rico, we headed in. Deep paddle strokes from the deep blue back into the chocolatey brown water until we could jump down to the smooth rock bottom that bordered the sand. We grabbed the handles of our boards and walked up the beach to the bank of grass and palm trees, past the homemade thatched hut that our neighbor Ryan built out of palm fronds, bamboo, and drift wood. We scaled the bank as the last vestiges of sunlight gave up the ghost to the night. We headed back to our villa to the songs of the coqui, the humming of insects, and the sounds of laughter and conversation from our neighbors, warm lights beginning to illuminate some of the windows on the path to our home. Another day spent living a life that makes sense to us.
Living in Puerto Rico was a life defining two years for me. It taught me what I valued, gave me a passion for the ocean, and introduced me to a lot of really awesome people living life by their own rules. It introduced me to island time and took a lot of stress out of my life. The images coming out of Puerto Rico since hurricane Maria made landfall and tore through the island are heartbreaking. There is a long road of reconstruction ahead for Puerto Rico but the island will rebuild as will the community. I was at an AA meeting the other day and someone shared that they hated when things like hurricanes and natural disasters hit our communities but they loved the opportunity that these huge life altering events give us to come together as people and work for a common good. If nothing else these things show us that we are all in this together. It is our planet and our home and we need to take action where we can to help people out.
Amy and I donated to the Waves for Water Caribbean Hurricane Relief Initiative. I find it hard to choose a charity but one thing we can all agree on is that every single living human needs access to safe, clean, drinking water. The team from Waves for Water rode out Maria in San Juan and St. Croix so that they could be of service as soon as the storm let up. They are working to get quality filtration into the poorest hardest hit areas. This is a good cause and one that we are proud to support. They have a video on their page that speaks directly about the Caribbean Hurricane Relief Initiative, check it out. They are also updating their progress on their Facebook page.