Puerto Rico was the trip that wasn’t supposed to happen.
Really, I was supposed to head to Jamaica with a boyfriend. As life (and drama) goes, we broke up, and I was stuck with a ticket to a country I now had no interest in visiting. Of course, an international airline ticket change meant I was going to lose money, but I did not care. Heartbreak will do that to you.
Thus, I. Was. Not. Heading. To. Jamaica.
Costa Rica and Belize both enticed me, but then I decided to ask my mom to come along (she was passportless at the time; due to a convoluted and imperialistic US history, my mom and I didn’t need a passport to get to Puerto Rico since we had American citizenship).
And this is why I love my Momma.
She’s not big on traveling, but she is big on love for her children. I realize now that she could sense from thousands of miles away that I was hurting. Thus, a few months after a traumatic break-up my mom and I were walking around Old San Juan, Puerto Rico taking in the sites.
We attempted canoeing at night to see the bioluminescent flagella (we did see them), but ended up getting towed by another canoe because we were hitting more mangroves with our paddles than we were water (the burgeoning environmentalist in me was ‘shamed).
We sat in plazas and people watched as pigeons stepped around us; stumbled upon a poetry night at a local, independent book store; laughed over a pitcher of sangria and plates of mofongo relleno at the restaurant Raices; hiked in El Yunque, the rainforest; stopped at a random house near a plaza and had limbers (just like the guide book said); and just were.
2/3rds of The Girlfriends’ Club (as the women in my family have named ourselves) strolled from our hotel to the forts and allowed ourselves to enjoy the sea breeze that cooled our path and heightened our senses.
One day my mom decided to relax in the hotel, and I walked back up to the forts. They were my magnet. As I strolled past the jelly bean-colored houses, I meditated. When the sound of the ocean kissing the shore surrounds you, a breeze slides across your bare skin with an inviting touch, and bright colors proclaim to you that life is beautiful, you can’t help but fall into a meditation.
Thus, as my steps led me up the incline to a fort, I smiled at a small church youth group that was singing praise and worship songs as the waves crashed around us. I smiled at the couples and families enjoying what was nothing short of miraculous weather, and I just smiled to myself.
And at Puerto Rico.
I smiled at Puerto Rico.
Amongst the golden glow of sunlight and the brilliant blue water of the sea I saw Puerto Rico smile.
And it was smiling back at me and my broken heart that was now beginning to heal.