a year on a remote pacific island
A year ago I decided to move from Tulum, Mexico to a country I had never heard of before in the Pacific, called the Marshall Islands. I came as an adventurer.
I first learned of the Marshall Islands when an El Salvadoran washed up in the area, after six months at sea, departing from Mexico. It was all over the media in Mexico. He was all scraggly and disoriented. I was fascinated that in this day and age someone could really get lost at sea. Also fascinating was that places where he washed up actually existed. The white sand, lush green palms, and blue sea, looking like a calendar photo, a still shot of a postcard behind him, an abandoned paradise. I was intrigued.
I wanted to run into that water, feel that sand, that sun, drink those coconuts, hear that quiet, feel that distance from the world. I wanted to adventure there. I wanted to show my daughter that life. I wanted to travel as far as humanly possible from where I was standing, just to see what that felt like. I wanted to have nothing, to feel how that felt. I wanted to star in my own anthropological film, and my own anthropological life, raising my own anthropological daughter, on breadfruit and ocean tides, feeling breezes and seeing stars that only happen, here. Away from the lights and life of the world. Away from the smells of civilization. A place that seems to barely even exist. Or has it all been a dream.
This place of coconut shell jewelry, where purses and hats are made from leaves, where the sun rises and sets over the same water, where the sky is blessed with rainbows everyday, the road is as narrow as a cruise ship, and stars in the sky glow brighter than the sun, where crabs are the size of monkeys, women dress in dresses everyday, have hair as black and long and thick as Pocahontas, and clam shells could eat you alive. It is an interesting place of sensory overload and peace, beauty, and challenge. It is mother nature in raw form, in color, feel, destruction, and blessing.
And while I learned many things during my sabbatical here of life removal and raw adventure, perhaps I learned the most about myself.
I learned about patience, simplicity, and strength. Some things that have happened here have not been easy. I entered a remote time warp, and some days the blessings of the beautiful colors surrounding and enveloping me was powerful enough to make me cry. But some days, I felt like a tiny speck. Removed from reality, on this rock of land that could disappear at any second by a big wave. Here I have felt at times impatient, bored, and frustrated. Remote island life can drive you insane. It can show you how incredible mother nature can be. It can show you how beautiful and important silence is. It can show you how strong you are, and resourceful and nonmaterialistic. Yet also, it can fill your soul with delicious tropical breezes, and conquer your dreams as if they lie in a row.
Here I learned about the ocean. As it is life. Why, I also learned about land. Because, there is none. I learned about simplicity. Both forced and desired. Frustrating and beautiful and always a hidden blessing. Coconuts: everywhere. Family: we are all one. Location: remoteness. Isolation. Import prices. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to flee. And nothing to do. Trapped. On 5 feet of land. Surrounded by millions of miles of blue. Hungry ocean when it wants to. Also turquoise bliss. I learned about Tuna: freshest in the world. And fishing: the mainstay. I learned about 50 million hues of ocean blue. And climate change. Little islands. Sensitive and miraculous atolls. Ocean tides. Remoteness. Privacy. And I learned about working hard and making things happen. I learned that I like to have nothing, so I can feel pure. I learned that I like to walk barefoot, so that I can test, and overcome, and be free. I learned that if we never feel these challenges, then we never know who we can be. I learned that my daughter is resourceful. And adaptable. And sensitive and brave. I learned that she is a mermaid, as I watched the water twinkle around her with angelic glow. I learned that we are strong and brave together, and that I can have anything I want. I learned that I am an adventurer through and through.
It is rare to have the opportunity to do what we have done. To cast away life, and go where you dream. To see these uninhabited islands, emerging from the vast Pacific in tiny, rustic, innocent bliss, waiting to be explored, overtaken, or disappear. Beautiful beyond belief, yet accompanied by the greatest demands for human strength, that I have ever felt. Disappearing to a remote Pacific island for a year will change you. As the life on that island, is not like the other. That island is a moment, a wrinkle in time, an opportunity seized, a dream fulfilled, turning a wonderer into a knower, a dreamer into a doer, a life into an island, and memories into stars, until all you have ever known disappears, and you are left with nothing but sand and distant memories of car horns and traffic, of mountains and land, and TV and fashion events. Here, it is ocean, And silence. Another time and space, yet part of the same atmosphere. Amazing, really.
Thank you Marshall Islands. For all of our year. For our secrets, they will be kept. Your power to us will never be forgotten, and your beauty will always be our standard. Thank you for the adventures, the perspective, the peace, the flowers, the solitude, the challenge, the ocean, and the rainbows. A stunningly blessed land, lost, at sea. The miraculous nature here we have lived among, has been the greatest gift. The haves and have nots, lessons on gratitude, sun kissing our faces, purple coral and coconut trees that stand majestically above. Thank you for all you are, and all that you have made us become.
Another land we leave feeling grateful for, having learned what we needed, and having felt, as we were designed. The thing about being enlightened globetrekkers, you gain from it all.
Crystal & River.