“Capusan” is a Cuyonon word which means “endpoint”. There is a place here in Cuyo called Capusan Beach, on the western tip of the island, so named because it is where the last long, graceful stretch of sand extends to the sea before finally surrendering to the waves. It has captured my imagination.
The name fits. Geographical location aside, Capusan Beach, it seems to me, is where old boats come to the end of the line. One big outrigger fishing boat lies stranded on the intertidal zone day after day. The high tide gives it the appearance of still being in use, but when the waters recede, it tilts drunkenly to the side, unmistakably abandoned. Closer to the shore, the skeleton of a banca lies half-submerged in the shallow waters, and farther ahead the bare ribs of another stick out of the sand, reminiscent of an elephant graveyard. The places of honor, however, belong to two old wooden ferries, stranded on the beach, slowly succumbing to the elements. With their chipped paint and rotting wood, they look like decrepit old royalty — obsolete, but somehow still regal.
It should have been tragic, seeing these sea craft that once mastered the waves now beached and forgotten. Yet somehow, they seem to me hauntingly beautiful, like old men contentedly sitting on a park bench, lost in reminiscence. What we call their “decline” is actually an evolution into another kind of beauty — nostalgic, wise, and incredibly poignant.
While the presence of these dilapidated boats evokes mortality and endings, it does nothing to negate the incredible vitality of Capusan Beach. Birds of all kinds abound, foraging in the shallows, wheeling across the sky, or sweeping low over the waves. Their calls blend with the crashing of the waves, some loud and shrill and harsh, others high, sweet, and melodic. In tidal pools, fish dart around in clear water, while crabs scurry across the shore. Where the sand ends and grass takes over, there are grasshoppers, ladybugs, and butterflies playing peek-a-boo among the wildflowers. This place is undeniably, vibrantly, gloriously alive.
I come here every morning, to watch the sun rise and the world wake up. There’s poetry in starting my day here, amidst the contrast of nature’s vitality and the strangely beautiful decay of these boats. And as my time on the island goes on, I find that it isn’t such a contrast after all, but perhaps a continuity, a connection. In Capusan Beach, endings and beginnings are two old friends nestled against each other in comfortable intimacy.
Perhaps it is here in Capusan Beach where I will finally learn to let go of the girl I was and claim the woman I have become. I know now that that is what I have come here on the island to do. There is no moving forward until I shed the safe but ill-fitting shell of my younger self’s idea of who I should have been, and start growing into the skin I have — flawed, vulnerable, but not without redemption, and not without strength. The change, if it comes, will not happen in one day, and may not even be completed in Cuyo, but hopefully it can start here. This seems to be a place where a girl can bury old hurts and disappointments in the sand, then rise up to greet the sun.