This is the first of a five-part blog post that recounts our pre-Irma trip this past June. I thought long and hard about whether to post it. On the one hand, the possibility that photos of me and Angel enjoying bars, restaurants, and hotels that were damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Irma would serve as a painful reminder of all that was lost -- particularly for the owners of those establishments -- was always at the forefront of my mind.
On the other hand, it occurred to me that those happy memories might be welcome. What better motivation to rebuild than to know that so many love you and miss you and are eagerly awaiting your return? Those memories can never be erased, with or without the photos; rather, they are precisely what allow us to look forward even when the future seems bleak or uncertain.
In the end, I realized that each of us has a role to play in Anguilla's recovery, whether that involves donating money or supplies or providing hands-on rebuilding skills. Me, I'm not too good with a hammer, and I'm downright terrifying with power tools. But what I hopefully can do, through words and photos, is encourage you to return to Anguilla. Many places, including Fountain Residences where we stayed on this visit, are open and ready to welcome you. I can potentially inspire those who have never been to the island to give it a chance, despite what they may have seen on TV or read in the papers. And I can remind everyone who reads these posts that while many of Anguilla's buildings have been damaged or destroyed, the reason why we visit -- the warmth, beauty, and kindness of her resilient people -- can never be destroyed by any storm, no matter how big.