It’s surreal to read where I left off last week- a week that seems like a year- a clock that is both spinning faster than the storm that hit us and frozen on September 20th- the day we emerged and were hit by a reality far scarier than the one we had just endured. So I’ll to begin there- the beginning of the end…
I’ll need to fill this story in with pieces of information that my mind has not yet totally processed, so please bare with me.
The first thing I remember is us jumping in Broc’s tank (87’ Land Cruiser) and driving the wrong way down oneway streets that were flooded with water and cut off by trees, traffic lights and other undecipherable debris. Every tree that wasn’t uprooted was leafless, as if winter had hit overnight and stripped everything bare. Winter or a nuclear explosion. Our only thought was to get to Palmas Del Mar as soon as we could, as we knew it had taken the first & hardest hit. All of our friends that hadn’t left before the storm were there and no one had heard from them. It was a race we would never finish- a location we would never be able to reach- a garden of eden we will likely never see again.
About 10 minutes out of the city my phone pinged off maybe the one working cell tower on the island and I immediately posted this message on Facebook that I knew my friends and family in the states were praying to see.
“We’re safe. It’s bad”.
I then called Melanie Eiler, Broc’s boss and best friend’s wife who had escaped with her three kids the night before Maria hit.
Today is Thursday, September 21st at 7:15 PM and we’re once again locked inside our master bedroom, this time to avoid both the salty heat pouring through our broken front windows and the wrath of the city of San Juan, which now has a mandatory 6 pm curfew. Nothing feels real anymore and despite the island-wide power outage, the lack of cell service, internet and television is what’s really keeping us in the dark. Somehow the latter is more miserable, even though the nightmare outside our door is as real as anything I’ve ever read or seen on the news. Maybe having a screen between me and the images of such mass destruction makes it easier to process, or maybe I’m still in shock. Either way, I find it difficult to think about what we just went through and will continue to survive over the next several days, months or even years…
I first have to say that Broc has been more than amazing in so many ways- I have no idea what I would be like without him here. He kept us safe, maybe even saved our lives, and was not only so calm and so strong during the storm, he’s been going non-stop ever since it passed. He’s cleaned up massive amounts of debris, traveled across the island to try and locate friends & helped our neighbors carry and secure tattered boards and shutters to the gaping holes where windows once tempted us with a glittering ocean views… Our generator has also been such a blessing for almost a month now and our only source of power and water since Irma teased us with what was to come. It’s crazy to say we were the lucky ones, but for now, at least I have a computer to type this on.
Hurricane Irma really was the start, skirting across northern Puerto Rico on Sept 7th and leaving an already weak island even weaker. While she only knocked down a few trees and flooded a few streets, most of the island was still without power when Maria was announced. Many said that our near miss with Irma was a much needed wake-up call for Puerto Ricans- causing them to be more prepared after seeing the wide-spread destruction she left across the Caribbean and Florida- which ultimately saved hundreds of lives. Or so I’ve heard. With no real news except for the occasional text or tidbit of gossip from neighbors I have no way to know how many people survived Maria. I just know we did.Continue reading “Hurricane Maria Hits Puerto Rico”
On October 9th, 2015, Broc and I said our ‘official’ i do’s in front of a small group of friends and family. It was a hot, sticky, stressful, beautiful day and despite a few annoying mishaps (like getting makeup on my dress just minutes before pics were scheduled) I don’t regret having it. Thankfully I splurged and had a video made to go along with the photography and it does a nice job of highlighting our special celebration.
I didn’t get even HALF of what I wanted- from the flowers to the food- nothing was just right. But that’s what I kinda love about it, looking back. And thankfully our family stayed the week with us in Rincon, which was amazing as always, and gave us the best wedding gift ever- their time.
Living in Puerto Rico has many challenges but the hardest is being away from friends and family. Broc and I both come from close-knit families and cherish our relationships with friends we’ve known (in some cases) most of our lives. I think a lot of people who move here want to get away from their lives back in the states- or had nothing keeping them there. But for us, it was the exact opposite.
So when good friends make the trip to visit us we drink it up like water in a desert. Patrick and Anna Matthew’s came in mid September and we had a blast. My only complaint is that they had to leave 🙁
Today Broc turned 38!!! 38 years of a life full of living; of hard working, fast-driving, loud laughing, heavy drinking, loving, whole-heartedly, always giving, putting others first, doing anything for anyone, kind of living. The kind of life any person would be happy to lead. Man I love this guy… And so do so many others. Here’s proof…
Ah the sights and sounds of living life on an island… I can’t say I’m completely used to everything yet since I was unexpectedly asked to return home (to Little Rock) for 2 weeks for work, but that’s another story in itself and doesn’t end happily… But the first week being here, and then this last weekend after getting back, were full of sunshine & beaches. We spent a weekend on the west coast of the island in Rincon, which is totally different than the southern coast. It felt a bit like Hilo (HI), or even Vieques, in it’s laid back, hippy kind of way. There were a lot more American’s around and the waves were unbelievable. In fact, Rincon is one of the top surfing destinations in the world! We also visited Coamo and its’ famous Baños de Coamo (of Coamo Thermal Baths), Puerto Rico’s only thermal springs. We had great food in both towns- in Rincon I highly recommend La Copa Llena (The Rincon Puerto Rican Film Festival was going on while we were there and it was an amazing experience!) and in Coamo, Le Ceiba Bar & Restaurant. We stopped at lots of little beaches along both routes and luckily found one of our favorites just 9 miles from home, Playa Lucia in Yabucoa, which I was quite pleased to be the first one to recommend it to Yelp!
Instead of loading this post up with pictures, I made another video to highlight some of the best parts of our trip. Enjoy!
Broc and I took our first trip (as a couple- I’ve been before) to Puerto Rico in January 2015 and fell completely in love with the place. We also got engaged, celebrated my 34th birthday, and had the most wonderful time visiting with Broc’s former coworker who is now his boss. I didn’t have a good camera with me but was thankfully able to capture some of our trip via video and put together this little clip to remember it by.