I'm spiritually renewed after 15 days on Isla - the place where "if it happens today, it is a blessing; and if it happens next week, at least it happened!"
My friends from the island met me with an arrangement of flowers and helped with my luggage. I felt very special. And I definitely had a great deal of luggage since I brought items by request to satisfy the cravings of Zina, Rick and Inge plus donations for Maggie's school!
I was invited to six fiestas as soon as I got to the island. However, my Spanish was even more limited than usual after being away for eight months. I only went to Maggie's goodbye party since I knew there would be some English spoken there! It was great to talk to Maggie about the progress on her non-profit English school - she needs to go back to Wisconsin to rest. I will take her used clothes again when I come in July - many clothes, since my son and grandson will allow me to use their suitcase allotment. There was a great deal of food at the party, but the biggest surprise was to be served venison! I never thought I would have that on Isla. Apparently, it is a Mayan delicacy, and only a few honored guests were given some. I'm not very fond of venison but tasted it. Then I wondered what to do with the rest in order to seem appreciative. Maggie's husband, Tom, came to my rescue and cleaned up my plate. What a relief - thanks Tom!!
I stayed at Zina's new studio apartment for four days. It is an extremely spacious, lovely place in the "hood", and a very reasonable price. I only moved because I had friends arriving who wanted to stay downtown. We stayed at Los Arcos and found it to be very noisy. The doors that change one room into a suite of two are not soundproof and contribute to the noise echoing down the halls. It is a good location, but I won't stay there again.
I visited with the bead ladies at the Taller. They are staying busy and doing well. While I was there, they were teasing me that I looked like Barbie. I thought that wasn't too bad with me being a grandmother and all. Then they clarified that meant that I was too skinny! I had to laugh. Then I told them that they too could be skinny like me if they wanted to go on my special "pain" diet (from breaking my hip). They thought they were just fine the way they were! And, I realized that is so true for the people on Isla. I would go into homes, and they didn't worry about picking up or what food they had to offer. They were okay with the way they were and happy to have company.
One of my friends received an e-mail to call home immediately. We found Chris' Diga Me service, and I have to say that it is cheap, easy, and wonderful. I have spent many hours on Isla trying to call with non-working phones and/or phone cards with a problem. Yeah, Chris!
One of my best moments was connecting with Dr. Greta! She is chipping away at her community service and still planning on returning to Isla. I was delighted to hear that she'll be back. She is a great doctor and a fantastic connection for donations. She passes on to the most needy all that she can't use. Many people miss her presence.
The regatta from Florida came in while I was there. Ships had been hit by lightening, at least one mast was lost, sails were shredded, and navigational equipment was disabled by storms. They were exhausted for the first day. By the second, however, there were conga lines in Jax and happy faces. They brought a real energy to the island! It was really fun to be around when there was so much activity.
I noticed an increase in traffic since my last visit in August. And, a word of caution here, I saw two accidents involving golf carts. Both had people taken away in an ambulance.
I only managed to see Angelica twice during my visit. I usually was on the beach earlier than she starts to work. One day, I was surprised to see her in the morning. She said she needed money for food. The next time I saw her was my last night on the island. She said through an interpreter that she is struggling more this year. Several vendors, who had successful stands in the past, are now selling on the beach instead with jewelry similar to hers. She is still as sweet as ever. I really respect that she is keeping her three boys in school even though it has to be hard for her to pay their expenses. She said Maria at almost 2 1/2 wants to go to school now that all her brothers are going!
It was wonderful to meet friends that I had corresponded with on the internet and reconnect with friends from previous visits. The feeling of community was so strong that it was like being home.
Of course, I can't finish without mentioning food! My favorite breakfast place was Elements of the Island - talk about yummy. Picus had the best fish I ate. Amigos was consistently good for all meals. I meant to get to Angelo's; but so many restaurants, so little time. I'm sure I'll get there in July. The son who doesn't like fish (what a concept!) will be with me then. I always end up at different restaurants when he is along.
I know July will be hot, but the water will be warm. And, my island friends will still be there! I'm excited to be going back. I already booked in the new section of Posada del Mar. My grandson loves the swimming pool, my son wants to be downtown, and I just want to be on Isla!