My favorite thing about Puerto Rico was no schedule, no to-do list, no sadness (or at least not much). I dreamt a lot about Shawn, cried once, but mostly felt connected with life and all it has to offer. The cloudless powder-blue sky along with the canary yellow sun wraps itself around me like a blanket on a crisp autumn night back in Minnesota, making everything feel comfortable.
I didn't come here to do a lot of activities. I came here to be. Be with my kids. Be with my sister, my mom and friend Kayla, who came to help us for part of our travels. Be present. Be grateful. Be real. Be myself.
I only booked one excursion during our trip for an eco-kayaking tour the first night my sister Cindy was on the island. My adventurous friend, Ericka, had recommended it as a must see. I agree. It's now added to my list of top ten most astonishing things to experience.
The two hour ride through the bay of Las Croabas, a fishing village, to view its bioluminescent sights can only be enjoyed during the dark night when the water is charcoal black and the sun has completely faded. The bio-bay is home to millions of concentrated microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates, which release energy in the form of light when moved by a boat, a paddle or a passing fish–similar to the defense mechanism in fireflies.
The illuminations are spectacular, referred to as underwater fireworks. Christopher Columbus called it blue fire, believing it to be a real fire in the lagoon. The natives of Puerto Rico claimed the special water to be a place to receive powers or a version of the fountain of youth.
We were encouraged to leave anything that could get wet in our cars. Still a handful of tourists insisted on bringing cameras. Later we heard one man express disappointment, “All the photos turn out black.”
My sister whispered to me, “Sometimes it’s nice to do something that can only be captured by experiencing it.”
My guide told me to sit back and relax, that I didn't even have to paddle if I didn't want. But, I felt like I should put forth some effort and try to help if even a little (or make it appear like I was helping.) Soon the guide gently instructed, "Really, it's okay…you don't need to paddle. In fact, and this isn't your fault, it's because of the wind…but everytime you paddle you are throwing water in my face."
Decidedly, I stopped paddling and allowed myself to enjoy the ride.
As our guides took us through the canal we could see the streaks of light with each paddle stroke, like sheets of glowing flags waving in the waves. Coming to a stop we dangled our feet over the side of the kayaks, our feet shimmering as we swayed them back and forth. Cupping some water in my palm, the microorganisms glittered like tiny dots of sequins. The fish swimming beneath us made lines of beaming light like Fourth of July sparklers.
Gliding back through the mangroves, I took note of the peaceful calm surrounding me. Staring at the hanging vines, I asked our tour guide if there were monkeys in the trees. He said sometimes and then made monkey noises to amuse me.
Nothing else mattered. I vowed to remember this tranquility.
On shore I looked at my sister who had a dreamy expression covering her face.
“You look…you look,” I paused.
“Like I’m in love?” she asked.
“Yes! Exactly,” I laughed. “You look like you are in love.”
“Probably because I am,” she said. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m in love with my kayak tour guide.”
I couldn’t help feeling pleased that she had escaped the pressures of work life back home and entered total relaxation land.
“I’m serious, Jen. That was better than a massage. It was so peaceful. I’m so glad we signed up to do this.”
So was I.
“My tour guide has five children and is happily married,” she confessed. “But, he told me to be patient and wait—someday I will find the right love because I’m beautiful.”
“Wow. That is better than a massage,” I told her.
“It was exhilarating…to put your feet in the water even though you are a little scared of what may be in there. So, you just trust and it feels warm, like everything will be alright. And when you see your feet glowing you never want to take them out.”
Driving back to our villa I had a similar feeling. One that encourages a glimmer of trust and promises everything will be alright.