Since I don’t write, I often think in imaginary conversations that work like writing. On our last drive through Culebra, I imagined a co-worker asking me if I missed Culebra and how I would be able to say “no.”
Culebra is for tourists and for locals and for perma-tourists living their strange half-life. It’s not New York or Barcelona or Colombo where you can be a traveler, a stranger for a lifetime. In three days, we saw as much of Culebra as allowed to us, and it was exactly enough. Already on that last drive from Zoni Beach, Culebra was drifting away from me. Like all tourists obsessed with freezing trips on film, I photograph everything — but the worst photos, the ones that aren’t here, were the best moments. I don’t have a photo of my/your/everyone’s first glimpse of Flamenco Beach — that magic slip of blue-green-blue past a grey lagoon as you make your way over a rise. I can’t take photos to match the full moon rising over Dakiti Beach at the end of a long sun-sea day, looking down at my feet through the mirrored waters of Culebrita and seeing a silver-white fish marked with an orange dot dart between my legs, the way the sea turtles off of Luis Pena Reserve move through the water on perpetual island time, sitting outside our casita as the slow dawn rises over the bay, Bembi, the neighborhood pig trundling down the streets in the evening and my man-friend-for-life saying “There goes Bembi,” his arm around my shoulder as he drives our golf cart (the island small enough you can travel all of it by golf cart) down a hill after late-night fish tacos.
What I already know I will miss, is time. One more day in Culebra and I would have been bored, and with that gift, I would write. I write this as a note on my phone on the floor of San Juan airport waiting for our connecting flight to NYC, knowing this won’t seem worth publishing tomorrow, Culebra already blurring and folding away into hazy blue dreams.
Calle Loiza, San Juan
Flamenco Beach, Culebra
Punta de Soldado & Melones Beach, Culebra
Culebrita Lighthouse, Culebrita
Zoni Beach, Culebra
Coca Falls & Yokahu Tower, El Yunque