November 16, 2017
Vieques, Puerto Rico
We said farewell to Vieques, Puerto Rico, on November 2nd.
For us, goodbye is bittersweet, especially when it means we are walking away from memories, special friends, a weeping community and an island limping toward recovery.
On this side of it all, as we now read the accounts of everything that occurred, during and after the hurricanes, we realize that not one of the news articles really captures what happened and what was really going on. The rest of the world just doesn’t “get it.”
But the extraordinary people we left behind do. They understand the struggles and anxieties that we all endured, because they continue to live in post-disaster conditions. They grind out their daily tasks, grateful for any new sliver of progress that improves their existence. They “get it.” They are our heroes.
So, even though these unpretentious people certainly would never seek praise or the spotlight, I think they deserve it.
Yep, he’s tall and he has a servant’s heart for improving Vieques. He came to our rescue when we ran out of gas the second day we were on the island, as well as when we ran out of cash three weeks after Maria. Thank you Paul.
Jose was our next door neighbor during our time on Vieques. He’s the owner of all the chickens that loved to roam into our yard. He has a very young daughter that could win any national singing contest. Even though he spoke little English, he made sure that we received any kind of relief or food delivery, when we were away from the house. He didn’t have to see after the loco gringos that lived next to him, but he did. Gracias, Jose.
Bill and Scott managed La Finca, which was one of the island’s top boutique resorts, prior to the hurricanes. Maria turned the gorgeous finca, it’s main lodge and all but one of it’s cabinas, into a pile of rubbish. A crew with chain saws and dirt movers had to rescue Bill and Scott after Maria hit, their dwelling was completely destroyed, and yet, their cheerful spirit and can-do attitude encouraged us all. Scott told me, as he hugged me before we left, that he never wanted to leave Vieques. He said that these were “his people.” Thanks for all the stories and for making us laugh. We love you guys.
Cliff and his brother run a bar and grill called Al’s Mar Azul. It’s located right next to the water, in Isabel II. After Maria, Cliff put together a list of survivors and, through a friend on a fishing boat, made sure that it got posted on Facebook. It’s the only way that our families knew we were alive right after the hurricane. Your efforts are so appreciated, Cliff. My father thanks you, our sisters thank you, our brothers thanks you…
Captain John owns a charter sailboat company called Ahoy Vieques. Prior to the disasters, he took us out sailing on the boat he calls home. I’d always been a seasick barfer when it comes to boats, but this sweet friend got me over it! We sure hope you keep your business going. We miss our dear friend and sailing buddy.
This bubbly, dynamic duo knows how to entertain! Despite their challenges of no electricity and no running water, they kept our spirits boosted with dinner parties and get-togethers that would make Martha Stewart say “Wow!” We sure miss you guys!
Larry is the owner of the house we took care of on Vieques. He knew that this was our first house sit, but was willing to take a chance with rookies. When the disasters hit, he was in communication almost daily with our loved ones, and now he’s part of our family. When our cell phones finally worked, he cheered us up with regular encouragement and gratitude. He couldn’t quit saying how sorry he was about everything (as if he controls hurricanes), but we assured him that we were happy and working on our character building, as well as cleaning up the property. He sent us a generator. When it arrived, he graduated to Super Hero status, in our books. Thanks Larry for believing in us and taking care of us. You’re our brother now!
There are people that come into your life and you just know that you will never be able to replace them. For us, this is Tom and Sue. Through everything, they went out of their way to make sure that we were okay. They provided us daily charges for our devices, when their generator was running. They provided us companionship on our daily missions to find ice. They let us borrow tools, frozen bottles of ice and gas cans. They made us giggle and made the disaster not seem so tragic. They told me I was a good writer, even when I knew my jokes were corny. They took care of us and loved us. Our lives are richer and more complete, because of Tom and Sue. You are our angels and we love you!
On November 2nd, we left behind a shattered island that Mother Nature is slowly, but surely, healing. We left behind friends that are, and will be, precious to us for the rest of our lives. We left behind an island people that continue to struggle with daily existence, recovery, and a rebuilding process that will take months or even years to complete.
We left behind a part of our hearts.
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