A Mayami

Last week I was in Florida. To make a long story short, I had to go to leave Guatemala to get a Visa extension, had a great friend and her family vacationing in FL, and found a cheap ticket. Conveniently, the dates fell in the middle of Joel’s 2.5 week trip to Haiti and the DR, so I also had a few less days as a single lady in Guatemala.

During those few relaxing days, I was able to see one of the most impacting things I can remember. Nikki and I woke up early Thursday morning to watch the sunrise. It rose. We were cold and tired, so we went back to bed. Around 9am, Nikki’s dad called and woke us up saying, “you have to come down to the beach. A boat hit land from Cuba last night.” We immediately got up and ran down to the boat. I was hoping the people would be there so I could talk to them about how exactly they survived that trip, but they’d landed around 4am and ran. Due to the manhunt in Boston getting all the press coverage, we couldn’t find anything in the local news about these people.

The boat, along with some of the leftover supplies.
The boat, along with some of the leftover supplies.

What impacted me most was the boat. Pieced together wood with a base of styrofoam. Handmade oars. A bedsheet sail. IV fluid needles in case of dehydration. Rice. Beans. Crackers. Water. Maritime maps. The ingenuity and foresight it took to gather those supplies, make the boat, and get off the island is unbelievable. Not to mention, surviving days at sea on a raft. According to the plastic container tied to the front of the boat, their end goal was Miami, but they landed in Jensen Beach – 113 miles north.

I feel privileged to have seen this boat, to witness firsthand what we read about in the news and in textbooks. I can’t imagine how bad life has to be for this to be the best option. I hope and pray this family – or whomever was on the boat – can start over, rebuild, and find what they’re looking for.

And, I must add, I was very impressed by people’s response – not a single person (that I heard) made a comment about immigration – everyone was impressed by the will to survive and resourcefulness of whomever came on that boat.


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