Vacation Note: Paradise


Just so you know what paradise looks like.

This is our last full day here. Tomorrow evening, we fly to San Juan. (That’s the current plan, anyway; our vacation endgames are notoriously open to rearrangement.) There, we will spend the night in one of the big hotels in Isla Verde, on the Atlantic, only minutes from the airport. On Saturday, we’ll return to New York. (That’s the plan, anyway.)  

It has been a very simple vacation — or so I think of it. It has been simple for us. A battalion of housemaids, gardeners, cooks and servers has made simplicity possible. We’ve had to do little more than show up for meals. Kathleen has alternated needlework with a rather comprehensive history of the West Indies (full of treaties and other diplomatic complications). I have read several books and re-read two others (taking notes in the latter case). If I haven’t spent as much time studying Nederlands as I might have done, I’ve been very thorough about my lessons. We have walked most days, either along Beauregard Beach or out on the headlands. In the early days, we watched a few DVDs, but for the most part we have spent evenings quietly and gone to sleep early.

Kathleen never made it into Christiansted, and I haven’t written any postcards.

In our room above the beach, the pounding of the surf has been audible at all times, even with the door shut and over the air-conditioning’s low groan. I’ve spent a positively boyish amount of time watching the waves wash grains of sand and small rocks back and forth across the strand, trying to grasp the millennia during which all this beauty transpired without anybody to see it. Then I think of how long it took human beings to see the beauty in it.

And I’ve thought of all the messages that I have tucked in bottles, just like the one that you are reading, even before the InterSea was discovered! I think of all of everyone’s messages, bobbing about out there — and of the many more that have sunk forever to the bottom, as unlikely to be retrieved as if they’d fallen into the Mindanao Trench. Is it not amazing that any are ever read!