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It’s like stepping on to another planet; into a dream.
The sights, the smells, the tastes, the colors, the people, the stories.
It’s a beautiful chaos, enticing you in with its exotic hand offering to hold yours.

People sweaty in the hot sun, their words almost tangible as they fly through the air, trying not to get tangled together.
Animals darting about, squeezing through the crowd, employing their perfected begging techniques.
Then me, already thinking of how to murder all mosquitoes, almost drinking the air, already in love with this strange place.

There is a man who is unknown to me but felt as familiar as the sun.
“Bienvenidos a Puerto Rico” the words he speaks are just like him, familiar but yet not.
Sounded like welcome home to me and we were whisked away.

Not everything is fast and furious though.

There’s yet another place, another world hidden in this one.
It’s a secret; forbidden to be changed, sacred to know, a sanctuary.
I hold it dear in my heart.

“Espera, la selva es peligroso” I’m cautioned by my family.
But there is no danger in this veiled world that I fear.
The rainforest calls me and I must go.

The air shines with the new rains mist, giving a gold shine to all.
I walk through a web, a jungle, a tangle of bamboo.
The tall trees that go on and on, up into the sky somewhere above.

A sound in the peace slowly reaches my ears, the water trickling down through the fountain.
The bamboo reaches out in front of me no more; I have reached my special waterfall.
Like steps, small shelves go up as the water comes down into the pool.
The misty gold light skims the clear water, sending flashes of light everywhere, to the fish hiding in the pool.

The world comes to life, a comforting hum like the sound of the ocean or the smell of rain.
The monkeys quietly gossip to each other, the Coquis sing their songs,
Flowers whispering to each other in the wind, flinging their smells this way and that.
Familiar sounds, comforting smells, a tranquil sight, beyond beauty and other earthly words
Heaven must have a place like this.

But all too soon I must leave.

It’s like being ripped away from your true love; a heavy ache seems to smother you.
Maybe I’m only 5 and I don’t understand much, but some things will touch you no matter how young or old.

I felt a small piece of me drop in the dirt as we loaded up to leave my treasured new planet.
As the car drives away, I turn and see that the dirt kicked up by the wheels settles over that small piece of me.
“I promise; I will be back” I whisper to it.

It’s been 11 years and my heart still aches.
I still yearn for the green of life emanating from the forest, for the blue the color of souls that saturated the ocean.
I crave that exotic hand that led me to seeing that new place.
I’ve been imprinted with the memories so vivid that I wake up some nights smelling the damp earth.
I wake listening for the Coquis singing, for that little piece I left behind to be reattached, but alas, tis only dreams.
I’ll never forget it.
It will always be home in my heart.

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