Work. Stay. Love.

I’m home and almost settled after three weeks at the finca. Three weeks of lots of work, and lots of wonder; of being overwhelmed for days on end by loss and joy, both.

I don’t know if I’ve ever returned from a trip — anywhere — with so many folks asking to hear about how my trip went and how Puerto Rico is doing. Everyone seems to want the direct connection; they want clarity around Puerto Rico and all that is all so unclear in the media; unsure what sources to trust. They want good news. They want it to be better than the news reports, or our pictures indicated. An overarching genuine care, sadness and frustration is clear across the board.

I wish I could report that it’s all okay now; that the media or the photos exaggerate the negative. The the fact is, though, it’s still tough going — in many ways — for many; for whole communities. My heart breaks for those as damaged as the finca was, without other resources, or other homes and lives to grab hold of elsewhere. Despite our losses, I know we are among the lucky ones. I am writing from my sweet cabin on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. We have electricity, a working hospital, a reliable police force.

I stand in awe and deep respect for everyone on both islands, Puerto Rico, and Vieques, who refuse to give up; who give and give of themselves in the rebuilding. Island wide efforts help restore homes and neighborhoods. Businesses and restaurants are re-opening. The community is slowly coming alive. So, the very shortest answer is, as usual, yes! Go!

If you want to help out physically, there’s plenty of volunteer work. If you just want a vacation, that helps too. The island needs visitors — like never before. And interestingly, our “finca-style” sort of traveler is exactly the sort to be able to laugh off the bumps in the road; whether its the gift shop that can’t take credit cards, or the smaller offering’s on the menus. Big damn deal. Go!

If you want all the trimmings, come down and and stay elsewhere — Hix House, Hacienda Tamarindo, Casa Amistad, on Vieques or the Dreamcatcher House in Ocean Park (on the main island, on your way). But, if you can rough it a bit, like a bit of adventure, the finca, or more specifically, our new smaller sized “finquita” is officially open, in a less than official way… but whole-heartedly waiting for you.

Right now, instead of renting out any accommodations we’re only offering work/trade stays, where you “pay” for your stay by helping to repair and clean up around the place. As sweet as we’ve gotten the houses and cabins, it doesn’t seem right to charge anyone yet…not while you still have to look out over the debris field that used to be the main house. If you’re interested, there’s info on our site, lafinca.com.

Either way, through work parties now, or hopefully, “regular” rentals next winter, we can house up to 15 folks (based on double occupancy per room). Our caretaker, Jahwit, is usually around to point you to the morning’s priority projects and tools for the job; or later play some awesome reggae jam under the stars. Because the stars, the frogs, the beaches…they are all still there.

Yep. The finca still has its magic beauty and peace; its way of bringing wonderful people together. And this past stay, without electricity (refrigeration, hot water, fans) was no exception. Total strangers become friends when working long hard days together to help rebuild, repair, remember and re-think. I did a lot of the latter.

Just what, and how, am I going to deal with all this? I really don’t know yet, but it’s step by step, poco a poco. I don’t know what Puerto Rico’s, Vieques’ or the finca’s future looks like. Not sure what I’m going to do with that manuscript of mine. What do you do with a book about a place that only half exists anymore? I don’t hold on to future plans too much nowadays.

I do know that our place will be built on love; family, and friends, old and new. That much hasn’t changed. And thanks to you all, love is easier to find, and more reliable than most other building materials in Puerto Rico these days. You’re welcome to come be apart of it, corky

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