The day had come; For the first time in eight years I was not going to sail out to various exotic islands. No, I was not going to be able to leave my cabin and devour anything I pleased. I was not going on a cruise. The reason? The financial crisis bug that had been spreading into an epidemic had infected my family as well. The solution? Our summer vacation would be the place where elders frolic to retire: Bonita Springs, FL.
The two hour car ride began on July 25, 2009. My parents, celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary, were beaming with joy to return to the beach where my sister and I had apparently learned to walk. I was bitter and the one thing I was looking forward to was the stop at Sonics that we would make to refuel our stomachs. Alas! we were parking, and as I exited the car I saw a line of vultures surrounding the Sonics dumpster. I believed it was a premonition of the dreary week I had ahead. Indeed it was a low point, and the rather pricey small portions that were supposed to settle the groans of my abdomen did not help at all.
A couple of more minutes and we arrived at the unknown West Wind South Duplex, where I would have to sleep on a creaky and lumpy sofa bed for the upcoming week. The place was pleasant and my worries were about to ease until I decided it was time to step outside and join my loud Cuban family. The beach was called “Bonita Beach” which translates to “beautiful beach,” and at the time seemed to me as anything but beautiful. The walk to the water had what my sister and I referred to as the “walk of death” due to the numerous broken and painful shells that you had to persevere in order to enter the water; only the strong would be the privileged. I succumbed and entered the murky green water, wondering what lay ahead.
Regardless of my rather melancholy tone up unto this point, this vacation opened my eyes to the denotation of “beauty.” My epiphany occurred when my outrageous uncle Tony, who despite his rather intimidating look is the nicest person I have ever met, took me on a ride on his boat. The scenery began transforming in my eyes into the paradises I recollected from my previous vacations. Looking out into the ocean all I saw was endless waves. Dolphins were jumping around us and I felt weightless. I was actually beginning to like this desolated beach.
Being just two hours away from home, seemed to me like another world. My fortune was being to change. It was incomprehensible how nice the habitants were. Every time I crossed the street, they would politely stop rather than yell and call me a blind idiot. I went to dinner at Buca Di Beppo on what was apparently “National Lasagna Day,” and received a free slice. I appreciated having this little hidden paradise to myself, contrasting from the overcrowded South Beaches in Miami.
It became clear to me the concept that everyone has their own idea of beauty. My new idea of perfection was a walk of death, looking out into the green ocean and feeling as if you are alone, substituting perfume for insect repellent, greeting strangers without inhibitions, having a sore back from a poor bed, and most importantly spending time with family you never see. My footprints will perpetually be stamped with love on the rather rough sand of Bonita Beach.
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