Two days ago, we left our landlocked hilltop casita to find water. We drive down the main road while I pull out my Google Maps app. Jim tells me to put it away. Of course he already knows where he is going and navigates with confidence and ease.
Soon, we find ourselves at Esperanza, the other town on the island. This is where the ex-pats and tourists mostly stay. I spy a white face here and there. There is hardly any people out and about.
It definitely appears like a tourist destination in the off season. Thanks, COVID. Signs for scuba and boat tours flap in the wind. We pass a souvenir shop with bars on the windows.
The large and foreboding concrete face of El Blok hotel catches my eye. The only restaurant open on the island is quiet, no diners to be seen on the outdoor patio.
We continue down route 997, one of the main roads connecting the North side of the island that touches the Atlantic with the South side, where waves of the Caribbean meet the shore.
Passing a sign for Oro, an art gallery, we make a stop. The husband of the couple we are housesitting for is a featured artist at this gallery and I’d like to see his work. Nobody is at the gallery when I knock so we head to nearby Playa Negra, Black Sand Beach.
It takes us about 7 minutes to walk in from the road. It is a nice and easy path through the woods, shady and cool, passing many crabs that scuttle and curl into their shells as we tread by. Some are teeny and others are quite large.
We hear the ocean first and when I see it, I let out a big, deep breath. I’ve never felt such unexpected joy from seeing the sea. The sound of the ocean, too, was like watching the chest of the earth rise and fall with each breath.
The sand here is black from volcanic formations on the island. So of course we ended up slathering ourselves in the sand, exfoliating our feet, legs, arms, faces, and laughing hysterically before jumping into the ocean. Who needs the spa when you have nature?
Nobody else was there. For all I knew, we could have been the only people on the entire island. I think of the movie, Red Turtle, by Studio Ghibli as I drift lazily in the water. Two dogs run up to investigate, a beautiful Great Dane, and his friend before darting back down the beach from where they came.
I lie on my back in the water, feeling its soothing elements. It is warm and saline, embryonic fluid of the earth. I feel myself deionizing in the sun.
I’ve never had a more pleasant beach experience.
Growing up, we never relaxed at the beach. There was always an agenda. We had to be “doing” something always, visiting a tourist attraction, learning about the history of the place, and on to the next activity. Relaxing at the beach was too much of doing nothing.
This day, I find myself melting into the water in a way I hadn’t before. Letting go into the waves.
Before we left, I took a video of Jim buoyed by the ocean on his back. I wanted to capture the tranquility of the moment. It was everything to me.
The setting sun. The faraway palm trees framing the shot. The glittering water. The silence of the waves. The silt cascading like silken scarves at the bottom of the ocean. The silhouette of a loved one bobbing in the water.