There was a morning when one of the big hens was standing outside of the glass door that led to the back patio, five steps up from the pool, which was further out towards the back yard. The chicken came from a fenced coop off the house just thirty feet or so. There were eight maybe ten, hens and roosters, that lived with the house and were cared for by a man and woman who lived in a part of the house we didn’t much see. There was a door and a carport halfway up the steep driveway which we figured belonged to the caretakers. I saw them once, in the morning, after it rained and they told me in partial English that I could have eggs from the chicken for our family. The man brought me five, stained with mud and the proximity of source, I think, is why I put them in a large cup and left them in the refrigerator for the week.
The morning the big hen stood at the door was about three days into our trip. Puerto Rico had many types of weather, all in one day and, because of it, nobody seemed to care much to change what they were doing when it clouded up and rained hard. While the hen and I looked at each other the sun was drying the patio tiles from the morning storm that woke me up early and I curled my legs up to my chest and covered my ears with the pillow while I counted the seconds between the flash I could see through my eye lids and the thunder, big and acute. It was this day I felt patient enough to stand there and share a moment with fowl, which is humorous on it own. But it was at that point that I remember as one of the breakdown points of my weeklong stay in southeast Puerto Rico.
There was the sun that I heard about, the warmth, the smell of tropical air. I explored small parts of a rainforest and scratched chips off a 230-year-old wall of the fort Castillo de San Cristobal and ate daily a local food made from mashed plantains. These were the unique things to do on a trip, what’s local, what’s given to you in a pamphlet, what’s suggested on an itinerary. And they were good things, things one ought to do when visiting a new place, a new culture. These are the things that help create good memories.
It was really the times of dress down, though; it was the times when I felt removed enough from the at-home debris, the thought-stuff that clouds one’s authenticity. To share long, genuine moments with my family, myself…it’s a backwards position to not so much take a vacation away as it is to take a vacation towards, a routing introspectively, to experience your core distillate, or, at least, a better seat to observe it from.
My daily hope is to clear my soul from my throat, shake it from my fingertips, to cultivate and advance it. To wipe away the debris. To share long, genuine moments. To route inward, then forward.