Friday, December 10, 2010

Puerto Rico. Do I Have To Go To Paradise?

Panoramic Views of lush valleys at every turn.  

I haven't been to Puerto Rico since I was thirteen years old. I wasn't interested in going back because of that teenage attitude, "Been there. Done that." But Papi and Mami are getting up there in age.  Papi will be 82 years old and Mami will be 80 in April.

The last few years my sisters have been taking turns going with them to Puerto Rico.  We were feeling a little anxious letting them go alone the last few years, so we decided that one of us should fly in with them to help get them settled.  Another sister went a week before they were to return home and help close the house and travel back with them.

I have been avoiding it, but it was my turn to take them. Sister in the Middle,  Sister After Me, and Only Brother have been there twice already.  Finally the inevitable had to happen. It was my turn.

So I went with much apprehension in leaving my business (especially my little dragons), my husband (it's hard to leave your solace and life-force), my home (not too much time left before Christmas), and my comfort zone (change is not necessarily a good thing.)

I dreaded the plane rides. (Delays, cancelled flights. It's happened so often. I also pray a lot during takeoffs, landings, any time between 11,000 to 42,000 feet and during turbulence.)
I dreaded the drive from San Juan to Añasco. (Rush hour. Wow, I didn't need to experience that.)
I didn't want to think about the drive up the steep, winding roads to my parents' home at the top of a ridge. (Horror stories from Only Brother, constantly telling me his driving mantra, "Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!)
I especially didn't want to drive it in the dark. (Damn, I had to drive it in the dark.)
I worried about the state of the house and their car. (Last year there was no running water for a week. The stove was broken, the toilet was broken, and the car wouldn't start.)

But I kept my perspective and my fears in check and decided that "no expectations" was the best expectation.  Sister After Me said, "You have to decide to be in the moment."  Because in the end, when you can't change or have control of what's going on, you have to go with it. You have to be in the moment.

I'm back, exhausted. I feel like I've been on high alert, jittery for seven days. But my sisters and brother were right. I didn't believe them, or I didn't care to listen.

But by the second day, I fell in love with Puerto Rico.  Yes because of its infinite beauty, but more, because it was the land of my forefathers. My mother was raised in these hills.  Almost every home my mother pointed was a relative, a cousin, an uncle, or an aunt. She pointed to businesses owned or once owned by relatives.  She pointed to miles of valley and hill sides that belonged to her father and uncles.  I was amazed how hard and beautiful the terrain was. I was amazed on how much family history was still here.

My father was raised in a much dryer and hotter area called Sabana Grande, lower in elevation, but just as beautiful. The terrain was flat, the flora more cactus like.  We spent an afternoon and evening there, but the breezes of the cooler hills were calling us back home.

So the next few posts will be about my days in Puerto Rico with my parents.  Time with them I would not have traded in the world.  I'm so glad I'm home, but I am equally as glad that I went.

The hardest part of the trip was leaving them behind.


unmitigated me said...

Oh, my friend, I am so happy for you! Weeks of dread probably burned a bunch of calories, and then it turned out to be a good thing!

Jim Styro said...

It sounds like you had the chance to go home - and then come home. I'm so glad you got to spend that quality time with your Mom and Dad.
Looking forward to reading more about your trip.

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