I’m seated in our open-air kitchen listening to “Luna Roja,” periodically swatting mosquitos and spooning frozen mango as I try to think of something insightful to say about last week. I spent 95% of it here in our hostel. The noise of the city outside, comings and goings of various people and creatures, and over eight hours of doctor’s appointments all heightened my cabin fever. After five days of a seemingly endless, simultaneously fleeting isolation, I was burning up. Then came the rain.
Last Sunday afternoon the skies emptied out over Santurce and I was refreshed. I followed the drumbeat upstairs, coaxed out of the medicine littered cave previously known as the girls’ bunkhouse. Our rooftop fauna was alive with movement – bouncing under the weight of the sky. Just a couple of blocks away, sun shone. I put down my mug of hot lemon juice and walked out barefoot into the downpour. It was warm and smelled a vaguely like dirt. It was sweet. After a week of stagnancy, I looked around and finally felt energized again.
For an hour, I basked in the rain and the after-rain. A hawk circled the apartment complex to the east, and storm clouds strolled lazily across the distant shoreline. The ungraceful landing of a particularly gigantic beetle tickled some laughter into my gut again. Within the hour – I was exhausted and retreated to my recuperation cave. It was more than a little disappointing to be refamiliarized with the feeling of illness. I concluded that there is seldom splendor in healing, but there are small glories.
The island around me is undergoing a series of concurrent healing – or at least changing – processes. Since having arrived, I have heard many Puerto Ricans name Hurricane Maria as a turning point. I have heard others point much further back into history. Regardless, this island is changing – and the people feel it. In that change, and from my limited outsider perspective, I see countless small glories. The boundless expressionism of street art, open political dialogues on the street, the construction of a new LGBTQ center for the elderly, all constitute small glories washing over the city of San Juan – along with plenty of rain.
Pictures from the hostel last rainy Sunday…