June 2, 2007
Riding the bus to the airport was a surreal event. Having been up late the night before finishing final group projects, I was wiped, buzzed with the raw static of only a couple of hours of sleep rudely interrupted. I was hot, sweaty, and sticky from the humidity of that morning.
a night out with some of our ladies in Old San Juan
Heaven had opened up the night before and let fall a real torrent of rain. “Hot vapors come after the rain,” Robert Rabin had said the day before. He was our last tour guide, and though I had the sense that he was a bit of a hack, he had with certainty been right about that one thing – it was hot and humid after the rain.
I sat on the bus and thought back over time spent in Puerto Rico. It was a blur. I know – cleverly trite statement there.
Since I was a little boy, I have always tried to put for a second a recent experience out of my mind. I sit back and imagine the trip has not begun. I simply am, and try to put myself in the frame of mind that I was in before the experience even began. Then I look around and think to myself: “It’s over.”
It’s a weird, weird feeling that comes over me – it feels as though I’ve just traveled through time from before the trip to the end – sort of like when I run and dive into my pool back home. I jump head first, shifting my weight forward so that I flip under water. It disorients my body, and for a moment I feel weightless.
That’s the way it feels when I zone out and come back. I do both of these activities over and over. This trip is especially effective.
We saw so, so much, but when I think back on it, it happened in such a brief, intense time that it defies description; it overwhelms perception, and befuddles my capacity to remember it.
Dianne poses in front of some bushes representative of the stunning flora of Puerto Rico
What I do know is this: that in that time, however short, I forged intense personal relationships, and that from strangers, I found great friends.
There’s a song that Elvis Presley sang in his later, darker years, it goes “Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind…” That’s sort of how I see this trip. The vivid imagery is there, made more vibrant, indeed pressed as flowers between pages of a book by the emotional reality of the experience.
The picture of the experience in my mind is as a blur now like a video recorded with too few frames, or more exactly, action which takes place between the frames, and defies our ability to record it.
One of those final mornings, after a rain and before the new day, I stood on the roof of our hotel, Casa Alta Vista and watched the sun rise. It was a moment of intense beauty which I will always remember colored by my feelings, of the isolation of our group within that culture, and of the communion that sprang there-from.
This is a scattered and disorganized piece, and I have no excuse for it, save that it is the way of things, an account, a try to explain, to take someone along on an experience, a slice of life; a disorienting, jarring, blurred, but beautiful thing.
sunrise from the roof of the Casa Alta Vista in Vieques, Puerto Rico