Maria and especially sad to see the island struggling to get back on it's feet following that disaster. When the opportunity to provide disaster relief work and apply my abilities (such as they are) presented itself, I leapt at the chance to give something back to a place that has given me and my kids so many memories.
It's perhaps understandable that some believe that far off places don't deserve their attention, preferring to focus locally. But I'm surprised how often traveling brings me "home" in unexpected ways. On this trip, I met a new friend that drives past my house at least once a week (now he'll stop and say "Hi"). Still, a more memorable link home was quite literally on the ground in front of me.
I instantly loved the design of the water valve covers used around the island when I first came in 2012, I think the shape and style combined with their ubiquity on the sidewalks of old San Juan adds to the charm of its blue brick streets. (Also it's a Spanish word I know...) Still, I was surprised when I discovered that many of these cast covers were made by a company in the same small industrial city I've spent much of my working life. I suspect these are 1940's or before and I can imagine the very people involved in this work and how their jobs helped shape their families and the nearby towns I've lived. Humble to be sure, but without such things "where I come from" could be vastly different.
Many times, it feels like the problems this world faces are too big, and "those people" too different, yet if we see these connections, we remember our neighbors aren't just those in earshot, that our work can reach into the corners of the earth, and that just because it's not in our backyard, doesn't mean we shouldn't lend a hand. And regardless, waffles are always a good idea.