I feel as if I should be gushing with endless details of the natural beauty of this island. It is astonishingly beautiful, at times breathtaking; lush, green, covered in flowers that don't look real, with vistas that look like painted backdrops, waterfalls, sulphur springs, natural pools, black sand beaches, and rain forest-covered mountains that jut straight out of the sea.
Yesterday, my cousin Rebecca and I took a bus from Roseau to Portsmouth. When we reached the Indian River, we hired a dreadlocked guy with a boat, Stevenson, to row us up the river; peaceful, lush, thick mangroves growing from brackish water alive with fish (apparently a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed there - I haven't seen it, but I'll watch it when I get home). Then we visited David, a friend of Rebecca's and a Peace Corps worker in the vocational school where he works with teenage kids - woodworking, sewing, computers, school rooms, and a nursery for a few of the babies of the kids. We walked up to and around Fort Shirley in the hot midday sun. The three of us sat for a while marveling at the spectacular view from beneath the protective shade of a huge mango tree at the fort before we walked back down the hill to Purple Turtle Beach. I changed into my swimming trunks at the side of the road, and floated in the water. I can't explain how delightful the water felt. The beach is separated from the street by a strip of almond trees, and the water is blue, calm, and so salty that one just floats.
As I floated, thoughts of loved ones rushed over me. I often feel that because I'm on vacation, I should be carefree, and only have happy thoughts. There is, however, something about the magnitude and hypnotic cadence of a calm sea that creates a melancholy in me; the endless and timeless rhythm of the tides that evokes thoughts of those no longer here. Perhaps it's the excitement of being in a faraway and exotic land, the magical power of nature, or the vast expanse of something much more powerful than I am that resonates backward and forward into infinite time and coaxes out of me memories of lost loves, broken connections; that allows me to feel them, to love them again as if they were still here.
I lay on the shore and felt the warm sun on my body and on my face. Gentle tides washed over me, up and down, repeat and repeat. I smiled, my back and shoulders braced in the warm black sand, tears rolled down the side of my face and mingled with the salty Caribbean Sea. I was silently weeping, not dramatic, just a sensation of being simply overwhelmed with deep loss as gentle waves washed over me. I felt simultaneously fortunate to have loved so deeply; happy, trying to take time with each memory, each beloved friend, the beating of my heart, the rhythmic movement of the waves: Greg, Tom, Johhny... I was momentarily carried through time and space as the remembered essence of each held me in the cool water.
As pleasant and transportive as my experience was, I understood that I needed to pull myself out of my reverie if I were to continue to socialize. I dove from the shore back into the water, and slowly made my way up the beach, pulled my t-shirt over my wet self, and the three of us, Rebecca, David, and I, walked down Purple Turtle Beach to an open bar in the shade where I drank a sweet and refreshing, ginger Quenchi.