"I can walk alone at night without trouble. It's safe here. I have no worries," says Erin, the wife of my husband's good friend Leo, whom I've just met at the Gecko Gazebo Bar. The bartender brings me another Island Hoppin', the local beer and I take a sip. I don't get it. Her revelation shakes my hard knock life mentality, since I'm from one of the most violent islands in the Caribbean. I could never walk alone at night in a rural area of Puerto Rico. Never. But as we keep talking, her insights about the island enlighten me and I start to see why she feels so safe. She lives in a place where the pollution of modernity has not wreck havoc and most residents see no use in attacking others. Money, status and power are less important here.
We leave the Gecko Gazebo and start walking towards the bay. On our way, I hear bachata tunes and a conversation in Spanish coming from a bar on a corner. It all sounds eerily like home. As we move closer towards the water, vessels appear -- ferries docked and sailboats anchored adorn the bay. I hear the murmur of happy people, of people drinking in a bar.
We move even closer to the water now and I’m walking on sand. Flip flops go off, I let my hair down -- I stay right beside Erin and Leo, as if I was their child. They are showing me their world. Where they were married, where the carnival takes place, and they show me the local poet who wanders the streets talking to tourists, gifting them his distilled words, his unification of truths and pleasures. He should be published.
Lights beam on the beach and as I look through the palm trees, I see the name of the bar we're heading to. Pretty simple really: The Beach Bar. We arrive and sit down, I order another Island Hoppin’ and think about the trip ahead of me. Island hoppin’ is what I see -- how appropriate and timing can life be. We talk about simplicity and contentment. We cheer to the night and to our new adventure. Life is good here in St. John. Life is really good.