Every year over the kids' Christmas break from school we take a family vacation. Which is more of an international, off the beaten path adventure. My husband voted that we take a break this year and stay home. Because how we travel is anything but relaxing. But, I pleaded with him that this may be the last year that we're all together as our boys are now adults. Technically, according to the law anyhow. It was after we found cheap air fare that he (reluctantly) acquiesced. Cheap tickets to Puerto Rico. We don't even need passports! And hurricane season is over in December! This is going to be the easiest vacation ever! (Yes, I actually said that.) Of course, the next week after we bought those tickets, Hurricane Maria obliterated the island. Putting us in a tropical depression.
Turns out, we were more delusional than we were depressed. Because we sat on those tickets for two months. Maybe they'd have electricity and clean water by December. They still have gorgeous beaches we could visit and spend money which would (indistinguishably) help their economy. Or maybe we could go and volunteer our time in the relief effort. We didn't want to abandon Puerto Rico, especially when Trump already had. But, short of us arriving at the San Juan airport bearing federal aid, there wasn't much we could do.
The final decision came after my husband spoke with someone with family in Puerto Rico. Not only is there still not electricity and clean water on most of island, but the beaches are contaminated with waste. The hotels are full of people left homeless by the hurricane and relief workers who flew in to help them. Many restaurants are only open during the day, because evenings without electricity lend themselves to crime. And debris and garbage line the streets making it's a breeding ground for disease. It doesn't get more depressing for the people of Puerto Rico. And that's when we made the decision to change our travel plans. After making donations to World Central Kitchen and UNICEF, which would help more people there then we ever could.
In the wake of all the suffering in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the world, I feel guilty that our tropical depression story has a happy ending. Or at least I think it does. Because we're still in the midst of planning our trip to Cancun and then on to Cuba. (And no, we won't be staying in a resort. But, we may be renting a VW van.) That is of course, if Trump doesn't reinstate the ban on Americans traveling to Cuba as he's threatening to do. Which, with this administration, could happen at any day at any time.
How does the story end?
Will this tropical depression be lifted?
In the meantime:Check out the good work done by World Central Kitchen and consider making a donation to help feed the hungry people in Puerto Rico (and elsewhere around the world) here.