Rose was pretty adamant on Easter morning: There will be no taking of photos during Mass.
That is why you will not see pictures of the 12 burly men of San Pedro dressed as the Apostles, or the little girls of the choir in their white gowns and heels, or the many devout abuelas.
In a way, I didn’t mind.
I’d gotten up at 5 a.m. to photograph the sunrise and found myself transfixed in a state somewhere between deep meditation and awe as the fledgling sun fought its way through a rough bunch of clouds for supremacy of the sky. Tooth and nail, the sun scraped its way upward, emitting glorious golden rays like those seen on the heads of saints and martyrs in Renaissance paintings.
The sun was throwing light in shades of pink and red and gold against everything and everything until it emerged supreme above the head of the last cloud, sending a wave of heat across the island that stayed with us for the rest of the day.
You’d think I’d never witnessed a sunrise before.
And, in a way, that is how it felt.
I think my life, my eyes, my breathing, my consciousness are slowing down — now that I have left my old world behind — to where I am present in the moment, filled with the mindfulness that I so often heard Thich Nhat Hanh speak of, but always found just beyond my grasp.
Watching the sun rise with no other place to go, no other person to be, no past nor present to confront — this is an unanticipated gift of Paradise. And to happen on Easter Sunday gives fresh new weight to “He is risen”
So, yeah. No pictures during Mass.
I can live with that.
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For breakfast, we decided to bicycle up to the Aji Tapas Bar & Restaurant, less than a couple miles north of our home. It is a beautiful ride up the shore past the Palapa Bar, Ak’bol Yoga Resort, the Grand Caribe and numerous stately homes and guesthouses.
You won’t find a more charming or romantic setting on the island, I’m pretty sure of that. Nor do I think breakfast is its strong suit. Not pricey, not bad but not the equal of its setting.
Still, I could have sat there under the leaf and palm cover all morning, gazing out at the blue sea and down at the friendliest little iguana I’ve ever seen and making small talk with Rose over fresh coffee.
Remarkably and from nowhere, it started to drizzle. Just a spritz but enough for us to run for cover under the palapa bar where we finished our breakfast.
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A very hard lesson about disappointment was learned on Sunday: Never go hunting for sand castles in the afternoon.
No need to teach this to your children. They already know it all too well.
We decided to bicycle down to a place called Caribbean Villas where a sand castle building contest was among numerous events planned for the day. Cheap beer, music and barbecue were some of the others.
Alas, by 4 p.m. the sand castles looked like they’d been thoroughly stomped into submission by the feet of little children. In fact, even as we gazed out trying to imagine the architectural wonders they might have been earlier in the day, several children walking up the beach broke away from their parents and began stomping on the already well-stomped piles of sand.
What is it with kids and stomping on sand castles?
At least the cold beer was cheap, the music was lively and the shade was welcoming. Most of the folks sitting around looked as thoroughly stomped as the sand castles. It has been a very long weekend of celebration in San Pedro.
Before leaving we spent some quality time watching this kiteboarder cut through the air.
He would skim back and forth over the water, then soar up high, flipping and rolling before sticking it with a beautiful landing. When he angled toward shore, the kiter made a sharp turn in front of some little kids, sending a high swath of spray over their heads.
Clearly a well-practiced routine which the kids fully expected to be part of the kiter’s repertoire.
Damn, this looks like fun.
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On the way home, up a still very crowded beach, we had the good fortune to come in at the tail end of a — sorry about that — bikini contest.
The final four contestants were in the last desperate moments of bumping, teasing and titillating the lads. Tip: Let your sunglasses fall off your head. Then slowly, very slowly, reach down from your waist, back to the crowd, to pick them up. Also, very important: Turn and wink at the front row of drooling fools while still bent over.
Mind you, I picked all this knowledge up in less than the two minutes remaining in the contest.
It was enough to put the young lady from Idaho over the top. It also enabled the MC to toss in a couple of potato jokes, though he squandered the opportunity, I thought.
Most notable about this whole scenario was that one of the young ladies popped off the stage with a 12-pack of beer (her prize) in one hand and gave me a high-five with the other.
Not a beer. Just a high-five.
Why, I don’t know.
As in church, I declined to take pictures. With my darling Rose on the bike next to me, I didn’t need to be told this time.
I’m no fool.
Not a complete one, anyway.
So, after this vignette, who can guess where we went for ice cream? I had a mango cone. Rose had coconut. The most popular flavor among locals, the owner told us, is soursop.
Next time, for sure.
Here’s a hint: