“I think so..all I remember is taking a picture of you by the fire and throwing the camera back into my bag, but I scoured the beach for it all morning. I even asked all the hotels by there to see if someone might have seen it and so far nothing.”
“Well, I will make sure to keep an eye out for it and let the others know as well. Hopefully it will turn up and we can mail it to you!” He says smiling.
“That would be beautiful.” I say cheering up a bit.
“I have something to show you.” Johnny hands me a banana that I hungrily accept. He guides me out of the reception area of the hostel. “I want you to see what me and some friends have been working on.”
We walk down the sandy road and pass the peaceful dogs who have dug into the sand on the shady part of the street to keep cool. We pass the colorful shops and the drivers in their golf carts. I look over at Johnny and think to myself: God, am I really leaving paradise? I tune into the sound of the ocean and think about how much I will miss this place; the relaxed vibe everyone has, watching the fisherman bring in their bounty every morning, drinking fresh carrot juice and never looking at clocks. I look at Johnny again. I will miss my new friends.
Johnny leads me to a vacant terrain half all dirt and half all wild vegetation. Some women are filling wheel barrels with the weeds and vegetation and some teenagers are working the soil separating the plants with old hardened coconut shells as decor.
“We started a community garden,” he said proudly.
I was wondering why he hadn´t let me throw away our banana peels and insisted on carrying them. He held them up before dropping them into a pile, “compost.” He announced smiling.
“We are trying to educate everyone about it. So the kids can learn to plant fruit, vegetables and to recycle.”
A tall woman brisks past me. “What types of seeds are those? We have to make sure they are not Monsanto seeds. We are boycotting, remember that documentary I showed you?” She says to one of the girls who was digging into the soil.
“So you´re in charge of this place?” I asked, approaching her with a smile.
“Actually, I am just learning. My expertise are animals. I run the animal sanctuary next door – have you seen it?”
She leads me through the fence. “I started the garden for the community and it is absolutely dependent on their partcicipation and involvement. Without them, it will fail.” I stopped to pet the raccoon through the fence. It grabbed my ring and held onto my thumb. “They like silver,” she said.
It was getting late and I couldn´t afford to miss the last boat off the island. I thanked her and said goodbye returning to Johnny. “We´ll keep in touch,” I promised.
“Of course we will and I will keep an eye out for your camera,” he replied. I kissed him goodbye and hugged him hard.
I walked back to my hostel excited for the development of the island. I thought about what I would contribute if I were to come back again someday.
I boarded the boat, missing my camera and part of my heart. I headed back to solid ground.