For a moment in time, I lived in this place. Long enough for the salty air to permeate my hair and skin, but not long enough to become a citizen. Long enough to connect with my students, but not long enough to see them graduate and go on to secondary school. Long enough to learn to sail and drive a scooter, but not long enough to drum up the courage to take scuba lessons. Long enough to explore many waterfalls but not long enough to explore the whole island.
One year in this place that stole my heart and gave me so much seemed like just a brief moment, and yet I gained so much. From our rooftop, I sat with my roommate and watched more than a hundred sunsets. From the school, I taught more than twenty-five students and helped 100% of my sixth graders to pass their entrance exams to secondary school. At the Grand Anse Beach, I swam more than five miles every week in the sublime waters of the Caribbean Sea. I hiked to six different waterfalls, the top of one mountain, and visited ten new places on field trips with my students. I competed in my first triathlon, celebrated my twenty-third birthday, and created countless memories.
Most importantly, I learned that we don’t live life in numbers or spans of time. We live in our connections to nature, in our relationships to people, and in the hearts we’ve touched even if we may never see them again. For a moment in time, I lived in this place. For now and forever, this place lives in me.