Puerto Rico is a tiny pueblo. Home to just one independent restaurant and a few high-end hosterias, there is little here to offer the bucket list-ticking tourist.
But Puerto Rico does have a lot to offer me. A lot of mental space. A haven to work, sleep, and relax. A front seat to the best show in the world, the sun dipping below the horizon every evening.
We approach a tienda, looking for super glue to fix my $3 flip flops (again). The curious faces of local children peer out from around every doorway and window at the rare sight of tourists that have strayed from the beach. The woman attending us smiles with a special kind of awe which tells me it’s a rarity for extranjeros to visit her store.
As we continue walking, a few kids respond to our greetings with “hola” and “hi” while others retreat into the dark in shyness. You don’t get this kind of novelty everywhere.
The waves are rough here. Hardcore surfers often come up for the day in a 4×4 driven by one of Montanita‘s surf instructors. The olas are much too intimidating for me, so I stick to land. The beach is not especially attractive, but I still appreciate the seaside scene. I’m happy to eat my lunch at the only local restaurant under a thatched roof hut and stare off into space, listening to the constant crashing on the shore.
I lounge in my plastic chair, letting my food digest. Then the waves stopped. There was a three-second pause in which noise and thought ceased to exist. It
was a gaping opening, a silence that revealed another world. An absence of sound and mental activity that refused to be ignored. A supreme moment of peace.
For an instant, I felt what could be achieved if I put effort into my half-hearted meditation attempts. Could I extend the moment of peace for longer spurts of time? Five seconds? Three minutes?
As I lay in bed that night, after taking preventative measures to discourage mosquitoes from eating me alive while I sleep, my mind drifts back to the perfect moment of silence. I wonder if I would take it as a hint from the universe and put more energy into my spiritual practices or let it slip into the cracks of my memory like a new toy that’s been discarded.