Arriving with a most rudimentary knowledge of the language, over the course of these seven years I have learned to speak Spanish. I continue to learn new words almost every day and there are still moments of confusion, but they are quickly resolved.
I learned to surf from a wonderful teacher. I met committed and some famous surfers and surfboard shapers. I got six stitches in my head and xrays of my back. I found a wonderful chiropractor who helped straighten it all out.
I learned when to walk away and when to stick it out. I learned that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your best efforts are not enough. I learned that trusting souls can be trusted and the converse is also true.
I learned that wachinango (red snapper) is my favorite fish and that oysters are best eaten right on the beach where you purchased them from the friendly ostioneros (the oyster fishermen).
I learned there are too many dogs here that need a home for me to adopt them all. I learned that it is not wise to have someone’s dog fixed without making sure it’s really their dog.
I saw pink pigs swimming in the sea and digging on the beach for crabs. I befriended a one-eyed donkey who wore Marti Gras beads. I saw a dead colt eaten completely by vultures in less than one day.
I saw a moon that made a golden trail across the sea and more stars than I can count. I lived through at least three hurricanes and many more tropical storms. I survived the dengue hemorrhagic fever that kept me down for months and covered my body in tiny blood blisters. I attended three funerals and many memorial services. I learned that lo siento has a double meaning, “I am sorry” and “I feel it” to express that you understand their pain.
I wondered at the destruction as the shrimp trawlers chugged by and was dismayed at the death of a whale caught in a drift net. I photographed and reported the decimation of a large track of pristine desert by greedy, ignorant developers and was saddened by the fencing of once wild and open land.
I planted a garden. I felt the warm sun. I swam in the vast sea. I watched the day fade into shades of purple and pink.
I rediscovered my passion.