The Ceiba Tree
Myrna Pagan is a spiritual figurehead on Vieques. On a warm afternoon, we sat in the shade of a ceiba tree, several hundred years old, and felt as much as we heard Myrna’s unrequited love for the island’s natural world and this tree, its longest-standing resident.
In her own words:
La Ceiba is present for you to meditate and to become one with nature. It's a unique opportunity. I think, just the fact of sitting within this tree because it's such a calming, calming, spiritual feeling. La Ceiba. It's interesting. The tree is male, but this specific tree is La Ceiba; it’s female.
All of Vieques is unique. In a strange way, history has provided a separation and lack of industrial development that has created for us a Shangri-La, a place where you can just be yourself, find yourself, and enjoy yourself in the simplest of ways and drawing from what nature is providing.
I wasn't born in Vieques, but I was born in Puerto Rico and there is lore in my family that our ancestors came over from the Canary Islands. They crossed the Atlantic and landed here in Vieques. And this would have been in the mid-18th century.
Since the very first time I visited Vieques 50 years ago, I have been growing and loving it more and more. It has been one of the biggest gifts in my life to come here. And I was brought here actually by an American, from Connecticut, called Charlie Connolly. At the time I was singing and he was working with the San Juan Daily Star and we both just wanted to leave.
So, we dropped out and came here to enjoy the simple life. I can hear his voice telling me, “I'm taking you to a little bit of paradise where you will become a fish wife and you will learn how to clean fish and we will write a new history for ourselves.” Well, it was enchanting. I'm still enchanted.
Vieques is a jewel. The beaches, I mean. I believe our entire coastline is a scallop of Vieques beaches, magnificent, gentle, and you can be there alone. You can enjoy privacy in the total, total outdoors. For me, to swim here and find myself the only person in a place like Sun Bay Beach and look from one side to the other and there's nobody there, it's heaven.
It is a very special island that we hope special people will continue to be attracted to. When I say special, I mean a sensitivity towards nature, a sensitivity towards the culture of the place that you are visiting.
La Ceiba, sits here in this open space, which has given her the opportunity to just stretch in any direction she wants. What happens with this canopy of insanity is that you get all kinds of creatures popping out of different nooks and crannies, which adds very much to the feeling of a very spiritual being. At La Ceiba, there are little pools for tadpoles and a rooster that lives here in this tree as well. It’s an honor to gather here.