day 1, vieques. the first time woken in the night, horses banging on pots and huffing. second time, light filling the sky and boom boom like never before the thunder of the caribean. james was more scared than me. actually, he says, “i wasn’t scared about thunder, i was scared about dengue.” we are alone here, with some beer and instant rice and lots of loose-leaf tea (and the sneaky mosquitos). and the wind. this doesn’t have to be anything important, thats what i like about it. just writing. define “doing nothing”, i said. james worries about doing nothing. i typically would too. but there are so many books along the top of the wall, and this little typewriter, and even a boggle set.
you can go up on the roof, where the water catcher is. seems like a good spot to do yoga if i wasn’t so white that the sun would take advantage of me there.
we have no power, so headlamps were a good idea. the candles were romantic, sticking to the sheets with sweat not as much. cuddling must be a cooler climate thing. think, bears. you get used to the cockroaches quickly.
so much wind.
A new day. day 2.
A new day. Or is it? Tucked into the bedsheets, the dawn and our discarded fears. Rising, ducking out from under the mosquito net, they stick to us, as a second skin- though, the first that meets the world. What kind of questions should we be asking ourselves? As if questions could heal; as if healing could free us and loosen the dead skin, the fear-suit we wear most days. His arm is a battlefield of bites, and they hit the nerve. He is awake and crying on the front porch, watching the Caribean sea miserably afraid of the diseases everywhere spread by mosquitos. His delicious blood. I wake and shake my arms to the sky, mimicking the wind. I don’t have as many reasons for my fear, it just rumbles in my belly like a tropical thunderstorm, shaking the windows and causing the children to hide in their beds. You could say fear is endemic to him, to us. What about the old happy days? Not that I wasn’t anxious before, or that he didn’t live in fear, but that it was never holding the reins like today.
so i am trying not to fear the sun. trying not to fear everything. day 5 and tired of rice and beans. tired of walking into town everyday, down the hot hill with all the horse shit, and still the nice strangers, friends of the mountain, pick us up or don’t pick us up. its the lizards who rustle the banana trea leaves and the roadside bushes. its the heat that makes us bicker, or its the bickering that makes us hot. Either way, here we are. On a strange island feeling best with the yerba mate morning brew. And how hand-washing our sweaty clothes and my shirt (shat on by a white bird) felt good. Ward off insanity by doing chores.
Last night we walked into town, had dinner and watched a free play in the town plaza. So many people were there! Families, all dressed up (you should see the heels in Puerto Rico- even on 6 year olds!)- old folks, toddlers, teens with skateboards, young’uns happily scooting around on their little scooters, flirting (or I imagine them flirting- dressing up, telling their friends- I hope Jorge is there tonight!) and the pre-teen girls on parade, way too high-heels, long skinny legs and short shorts, circling the plaza, their hair done, imagining they are mature (they aren’t). The older men pay them no attention (thank god). 2 fat police men come to lurk with their batons out; telling kids to get down off benches and shit like that. Meanwhile, the toga’d actors come out and speak in a language we can’t understand (probably the only two there who couldn’t) and the young men ride around and around on horses (with uncomfortable faces- their balls must be getting hammered) and the drug dealers with their loud, du, da-du-dah, du, da-du-dah beats, wasted, cruising ominously, exerting their power over the plaza and everyone in it.
I think that lizards remember being dinosaurs. And long for their former power. Smugly gnawing on cockroach heads, leaping to catch mosquitos, they refuse to watch the sky for bird predators. Insulting, that other former dinosaurs, the ones they used to make a game (strangely akin to basketball come to think of it) of catching and tossing, and ultimately eating the wings of like chips and blood salsa- would be a threat to them now. This little brown lizard here, with the lightning streak down its back, watches me carefully. Or I watch him carefully. We have a tenuous relationship, though I respect him and recognize our complimentary goals- we cannot communicate. Finally I realize that more than wanting to become my “friend”, he came over the my stool, eying my little toes because the mosquitos were swarming my ankles and he was hungry and strategic. Leaping little ally.
I wonder what the ants think as their morcel is swept away. What is a broom to an ant? Those tiny ants and their gigantic treat, moving under heavy bristles and- wheooosh- out the door. Maybe they feel like a family as their home is blown away in a hurricane? But its different than that.
Peppo, the handyman, sat on the porch (the one not blown away with hurricane irene) with us for many hours. He says, hurricanes are not only bad. They are nature’s spring cleaning. They clear out the stagnant water, pests and diseases that would otherwise sit and multiply. The heat and sun, all year, need hurricanes. The people need huriccanes, in a way.
I want to be a swallow. Have you ever seen a more ecstatic creature? Swooping, swirling, you can imagine them giddy, feeling the wind on their face, little mouths open to easily catch their dinner. And how suave, how graceful they are in their ecstacy! Like a gentleman, or gentlewoman, dressed impeccably in white with a black velvet cape. They move like flamenco dancers, the sky their ballroom. The sky giving them everything they need- wind, food, grace. I want to be a swallow.
Later, walk to Mambo’s to get canned corn and beans so to have at least some form of vegetable. Its around 4 oclock, and how sweet that time can feel. A few hours before sunset…. everything wants to be purple or silver-gold, and my heart just felt open and glowing from my chest. Down, down the mountain road, curving, hello beautiful horse you have nothing to fear. Hello beautiful flowers, wow, swirling pink and folding my eye into the ever spinning center; then the dangling yellow bliss balls. I actually got so distracted by the magenta flowering bush that I went the wrong way, happily continuing the way the bush directed me. Oh the artist in me, the dreamer, the happy hippy. Thats one thing about this trip- I’ve got my laughter back.
This is a moment of historical importance: let it be known that on October 12th, 7 moons were seen in the sky above the Ecological Reserve on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. They varied in translucence and position in the sky. But let it be known that it was spectacular. In fact, the more we moved our heads around, the more or less moons there would be. Amazing. When we first saw the second moon, we reflected how maybe in our lifetimes we would be old people on another planet with 2 moons. James piped in that in fact, Mars has two moons and earlier that day he’d felt excited about the possibility of living there one day.
Dreams now seem like grand recyclers, bits and morcels from days gone by (people, places, things) all floating around, flotsam-like, propelled up and sinking down, like in a lava lamp. And somewhere there is a weaver, a spider perhaps, sitting at the top and choosing bits from the flotsam to weave into a dream tapestry for that night. So your ex-boss is at your childhood home and needs you to interview Jude Law who apparently secretely has a bipolar son- “for the movement”. And in the morning you wake, your dream weave stuck in your hair, your eyes foggy and barely remembering. A black horse? Where was I? Why was that woman so angry?