In December, 2019 I arrived in Puerto Rico and on the 20th of the month, my tiny house and I arrived on the land I grew up on. Since August, my friend and neighbor Elio Ríos had been working to clear enough trees out of the way to allow bulldozers in and in the first weeks of December the municipal bulldozer came to open up a road and clear space for both my casita and the house my brother and sister-in-law plan to build. The house arrived with considerable damage done to it.
On December 28, Puerto experienced the start of a devastating swarm of earthquakes, culminating in a 6.4 quake on January 7, but with thousands of quakes, of which as many as several dozen a day were big enough to shake our houses. While the shaking has not stopped along the southwest coast, up here in the mountains we things calmed down by early February. Just in time for the ramping up of the pandemic. My nephew arrived February 6, on what was to have been a nearly four month stay, but went home on March 20 to be with his family and avoid being stranded.
It's certainly been a rough reentry, bu bit by bit, far more slowly than I had expected, things are coming into place. I don't yet have running water but my gardens are flourishing. I'm still waiting for my shipping container to arrive with most of my belongings, and it will take some doing to get a concrete pad built and my tiny house moved onto and safely anchored before hurricane season, but I am hopeful.
All my travel plans have of course been cancelled, but I am actively teaching and speaking online. Most of my blogging is now taking place on Patreon, where you can subscribe to my writing for a small monthly fee. I will continue to post seasonal updates here.
If you're a member of my Patreon community or follow me on Facebook then you probably know that I am planning to move back to Puerto Rico in the late fall. I'll be moving my tiny house onto my family's farm in Maricao, and will continue to write, podcast and offer web based events from their. I also plan to visit the US twice a year on speaking tours and for consulting work. So this summer is a lot about preparation.
I've completed my book Silt, and my assistant Luz Guerra and I will focus on moving multiple books toward publication by the fall: Silt, the new edition of Getting Home Alive (which at this point could be renamed Getting Home At Last) and hopefully a new and revised edition of Remedios.
I'll also be working on the launch of Rimonim, and building my Patreon base of inner circle supporters.
All this while I enjoy my last Tomales summer, pick berries, lie int he sun, and eat really good eggs.
Bay Area residents or visitors who want to help me prepare for my big move, I'll have a series of barn-raising days to mobilize people who can help me sort, pack, clean, etcetera.
I'm planning a big Bay Area farewell bash. Details to come.
In a week I'll be leaving the flooded landscape of West Marin County and heading for the sun. I'll start out in New Orleans where I'll be a poet in residence at the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. On March 21st I'll read from and talk about my forthcoming book Silt for Climate Action Week. On the 23rd I'll lead a story workshop, Earthing/Unearthing, exploring participants connections with the lands and waters of Gulf Coast, and then take part in a salon with Another Gulf is Possible. On the 28th I'll read a poem and then take part in a panel on the arts and envisioning futures.
Then I have an opportunity to go to Puerto Rico in April with my dear friend Susan Raffo, who is able to provide the level of support I now need for such a trip. It will be my first visit to my homeland since Hurricane Maria, and will allow me to feel my way into the stories I most want to tell, to directly experience both the current impacts of colonialism and climate change and the creativity and resilience of my people, and to think deeply about what healing justice means for my country.
Then I'll return to New Orleans where I'll take part in a Passover Seder led by Jewish Voice for Peace, and premiere my new book, Medicine Stories: Essays for Radicals. Finally, I'll go to Los Angeles to read from and discuss Medicine Stories at UCLA, and then I'll come home to May in Tomales and hopefully, a long, calm summer of writing. .