What sold me on traveling to Puerto Rico was visiting the black sand beach on la Isla de Vieques. I’d been feeling a shift in my life, cultivating inside me. A rebirth was about to happen, and Vieques felt like the place to do it. Up until my trip, I was experiencing a loss, but not one you are thinking of. I lost my old self in the midst of growth, and it was tumultuous. I read the below quote on the Instagram of writer, Nikita Gill, and I resonated so deeply with every word.
They say, “Yes you will suffer.”
But they don’t say, “But you will also experience the deepest of joys. You will experience the births and deaths of the greatest of loves. And the sun warming the blood under your skin after the coldest of winter. And the rain against your window will sing you to a peaceful sleep. And you will awaken some mornings in the arms of someone who will love you most of all. There will be moments when your soul will gleam so beautifully, even the universe will bask in your happiness. Yes, you will suffer. But you will be happy beyond your wildest dreams. And that will make every second of the suffering worth it.”
They should say that. Because it is that balance that makes us beautifully and softly human.
When you are growing, it hurts, and no one tells you. It hurts because it becomes hard to let go of old ideas—you are breaking free from a frame of mind which you’ve held on to for most of your life. It hurts because when you realize you were wrong in your old ways, it might occur to you that you’ve not only done harm to yourself, but to other people. It took me a while, but I finally arrived at the point of change. My body, mind, and soul hit a wall and was forced to shed the last bits of my old self. There was a mourning period, where I grieved over the changes that had to be made. I had to stop drinking, I stopped dating, I pushed myself to be alone with my thoughts, so that I can truly listen to what my body needed. Who but you can give you what you need? When we get to know ourselves, we become our best allies, our own best friends. No one will have your back like you; to protect you from people and things that do not serve you. I became this for myself. It was about damn time.
After four days in San Juan, I left to spend a few days in Vieques. Armed with a heavy heart, I was ready to let it all go. Our first day on the island, we (my travel buddy Christine Gutierrez and I) unpacked in our room at Malecón House, and went out for some local food. Our accustomed vegan lifestyle was left behind, as meals in Vieques were not naturally sourced. So, dinner, although fresh fish, was fried and battered. For the remainder of the trip, Christine and I agreed to eat as healthy as possible. The fact remained, we sorely missed Chef Jerome’s cooking.
The following day, after a clean breakfast at our boutique hotel, we set out to la Playa Negra. I planned a prayer ritual for the black sand beach, and for this, I brought a special swimsuit. While I was planning looks for the trip, I came across a beautiful black suede one-piece that seemed very fitting for the occasion. It was fate that I would be reborn in such a gorgeous thing. The detachable multi-layer chain is what sold me. On the day of this glorious event, while I prepared for my renewal, two wild horses came strutting through the secluded beach. In a much less disturbed way, it reminded me of when Nancy Downs from The Craft received her “gifts” on the beach. All-in-all, it was a blessing from God.
Everything was so beautiful here. Even the seashells were unique and extravagant. The sand was indescribably soft, which came in handy since Christine and I forgot our blanket and towels. We laid on the warm black sand and washed up in the pristine water, like true bohemian Goddesses. I collected fragments from the beach and walked for miles along the shore. I waited for the right moment to release. And then it came. Like a Phoenix, I rose from the ashes (or black sand, if you will). As the story goes, the Phoenix is a mythical bird with fiery plumage that lives up to 100 years. Near the end of its life, it settles into its nest of twigs which then burns ferociously, reducing bird and nest to ashes. And from those ashes, a fledgling Phoenix rises—renewed and reborn.
It became apparent, after some time, that my approach was no longer working. For many years I resisted change, because doing so would shake my world. I knew when I was ready to accept it, nothing would ever be the same, and that terrified me. I wanted more in life and knew that I couldn’t reach my goals if I continued the way I was. On my knees, captured beautifully by my best friend Christine, I asked to be restored. I was given the opportunity to live differently; with love, dignity and grace. I was reborn on the black sand beach in la Isla de Vieques.
That evening, Christine and I had a fantastic dinner at El Blok Hotel, on the island. It concluded a miraculous day, and replenished my desire for farm-fresh food. We had one more day left at Malecón House, so we spent the rest of our time locally. There was a beach right across the street from our hotel, where we relaxed and took in the sun. I was able to complete the rest of my gift shopping with items made right in Vieques. I picked up two enchanting dream catchers, with such vibrant colors, for my mom and I, which I now have hung over my bed.
On our last day I saw a lizard. I took it as a farewell totem. As we set back to San Juan, I reflected and made a mental list of things and people I needed to let go of. Just like the lizard shedding its tail, I too needed to leave some things behind. I returned to The Dreamcatcher Hotel with new frame of mind, and a new brand collaboration as fate may have it. I was violently ill on the ferry back, that resulted in some spiritual purging. But, I totally believe it was necessary for what was coming. Since I’ve been home, I have grown immensely. I am beyond grateful for this trip, and for the strength to keep going. I hope those of you reading this, will take something from my experience, as I am too, grateful for you. Please let me know what you think. I appreciate your feedback.
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