I Googled, “Beaches for Women”. This is how it started. I wanted just one place to sit on the Caribbean Sea. Add coconut oil, drinks, sand, and relaxation. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but at that very moment, seemingly, I got an email from AARP giving me this great deal to an island called Saba. The back story is here.
I really write this blog for my mother. I emailed my parents for two days from Saba, then sort of fell off the map, and she is dying to hear about it. Moms are great like that. They make you feel like your travels, thoughts, and words are so important. I have learned so much from her.
On the first day of this trip, I took a redeye out of San Francisco. The BART was weird-a guy was flicking his lighter on and off, and I decided that perhaps the convenience of BART to SFO has lost its charm. I was scared. I started to wonder what I was doing. I am in my 50s. No. My LATE 50s. Some of this series of posts will come from my writing. And practially the first sentence I wrote was this:
What am I doing?
I landed in St. Maarten, and started to write, as I had a two hour layover. I met a man who told me, listen. You’re going to Saba. Put your phone in your room. Disconnect completely. I was getting excited, because, you know. St. Maarten. The music, the famous airport. Everyone sitting around said how lucky I was to be going to Saba. I didn’t feel lucky. I wanted to stay in St. Maarten. With people. I felt underwhelmed. I felt foolish-as if I imagined that this would be some big eye opening experience, and it probably wouldn’t be…I would simply be a weary traveler.
I looked around. Everyone was a couple, and everyone was on their phones and iPads. They weren’t engaged, but they didn’t seem alone. I was alone. I was going to a place with no one, no one meeting me, and not knowing one soul. The flight was cramped, and I felt dejected. I met wonderful people on the plane, but of course, you turn, and you never see them again.
The flight to Saba is billed as being one of the most exciting on the planet. It felt this way. The cliffs on both sides, the two young pilots, the breathtaking scenery. However, coming up to the island, I just felt scared. The island looming in the airplane window just freaked me out. This is a familiar feeling that I would battle all week. Eddie the taxi driver picked me up, and drove me to my cottage… to my little eco cottage in the sky. From the street, there are 70 stairs to the office. Then, my lodge was 30 more stairs.
I was dropped off at El Momo Cottages. Cute, eco-friendly. I watched my first sunset with my feet on the railing, and suddenly realized I was hungry. It was 5:00 pm, and I knew it would be getting darker. There was no place to eat, and I knew no one. I also knew the steep hill would be unpleasant coming back. I walked down to the only place I saw. A place called Guido’s. A young local, named Wilson, made me a salad, and after a really long time, I said, you know I should probably get it in a box, because I have to walk home. He said not to worry-he would take me home. That everyone on the island hitchhikes, and it was just up the street. I thought to myself, well. You certainly aren’t in California anymore.
It’s the first night. I was home, and it was so quiet, it was deafening. It hurt my ears. The silence was almost painful, and I started writing. I also started counting. I was counting how long I would have to stay on this island in the Caribbean.
I finally fell asleep to the sound of chickens, frogs, and this gnat. This one gnat.
(Coming…these four sentiments would be the ultimate lesson for the week)