In the past few days, when I know my mother wants to read more, and people are messaging me telling me they are following this story, I feel resistance to write. My journal sits open, but I’m clearly too busy, or don’t want to finish this story. My friends are probably tired of my wide eyed stories that start with, “When I was on Saba,…”
All of the blog posts live on the blog (the last five?) , and you can scroll back. I wanted a vacation with beaches. Once I knew there were no beaches, (not one? NONE?) I tried to convince myself that I was going to love the iguanas and hammocks at my cottage. That the view would be worth it. (It was)
Here it is. The end of this story.
It’s Valentine’s Day. There is a woman diver on the boat the day before, who asks me to join her for dinner at Scout’s Place, because it’s her birthday. And, her friend, a strict vegan won’t eat in restaurants. I agree to join her.
However, that day. Something magical. My friend J. and I meet with the Dutch Mental Health nurse in town. A meeting she has planned for awhile. I just so happened to be on the island. We have a very long meeting with two of them, while we explain that the anonymous program cannot be connected with their mental health, but that we do cooperate with professionals. The upshot of it is, that next Wednesday, March 1, there will be a meeting on this island again. Oh, how I wish I could tell you how big my God is. She kept saying, God sent you to me, but she has no idea that it’s the other way around.
I walk up to Scout’s Place, and see another diver, and my friend K. D. is a radiologist from Austin, who told me the day before that Saba is the ultimate bucket list of diving. They have ordered salads, and I order one, while we all three share. And just for a moment, I’m transported to a time when people sit on their porches, and weave tales. No one is on their phone; we don’t Instagram the meal. We talk for three hours. I ask them if we should order entrees, and he says, “Why don’t we simply enjoy our salads?” This is a suggestion I embrace, as this is my last night on the island. We eat a magnificent Greek salad, and he turns to me later to ask if I would like to split a burger. (It’s phenomenal.)
K, the woman diver, is a photographer from Missouri. Me, from California, D. from Texas. We watch the sun set, and the sky turn orange, then black. She has decompression sickness, and had to go to a clinic that morning. We walk her home. He walks me home, all the way up the road to El Momo. I asked him what about a taxi to the Queen’s Garden, where he is is staying, and is quite the hike from Windwardside. He says he enjoys walking. He walked here, and he will walk back. The three of us share a goodbye, this moment on the Caribbean Sea, that can never be replicated. Again, I turn, and I will never see these friends again.
That night, I meet Joan. Joan and J. are friends, and she has been painting the murals in Saba. She is there from the states. She tells me about how she fell in love and married on this island, that she has a daughter who was born in St. Maarten. I have seen her work, and it is lovely. You can tell that she is in love with this place.
February 15: I wake. To pack. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand from the 3am torture and the Gift From the Sea, to the eventual falling in love with this place. The people. The Sea. The cottage that makes my legs scream with 70 steps to the sky, then 30 more to my Kokopelli Cottage. I go see Jo, a Glass Blower on Saba. We have made a quick friendship, and she lets me get the bead I’ve blown a few days ago. I have spent so much time with her. We vow to stay in contact.
The taxi driver comes to get me. Joan gets in the car. The night before, she laughed at how I found this place. By googling “Beaches For Women”, and by the end of the conversation, it is clear that I did not get to Saba by accident. That somehow, that night in December, I was supposed to go here.
And she hands me this print of hers. She writes:
For Linda with love and beaches in your future. ~Joan Bourque
I pack it gently as I head to St. Maarten. I never saw an iguana. There were no hammocks. But oh. This island. It seeped into my heart, and as we drive to the airport, I feel a familiar tug in my chest. I look back to see Windwardside, but I am on The Road. There is nothing for me to see. Saba, it’s people, it’s fauna and flora, seem to be whispering to me. I can’t tell what it is, but I won’t hear it until I get to St. Maarten.