100×35 Journey Upon A Volunteered Mission The Longest Mile

100×35 Journey Upon A Volunteered Mission The Longest Mile. May /15/2020

Pandemic Bujull Story of Puerto Rico

That is No Bull! This is dedicated to friends and well wishers from across the globe that followed my Facebook-live feed, whom prayed and wished us all well on that grimed afternoon, May 2020, as I fought to try and save the lives of those nine children whom ended up trapped with me on that beach wall in Patillas, Puerto Rico.

If a picture tells a thousand words, then I hope these video clips would help to tell the complete story. As my wife, Rev. Dr. Damaris Whittaker, puts it best, when she described it as being, “the worst, yet the best pandemic story to share in years to come.”

Although, I would rather describe it as a question to the Atheists of “how either God, or the universe placed me there, at that exact point and time, on that unsuspecting day?” In my heart I would rather chose to believe that it was God’s work at its best, which led me to save those nine young children from under an attack by a craze bull and how we managed to remain sheltered by a historic sunken wall, and the wide open sea. Keep in mind that each of these young children, were under the age of 10. As a full grown, veteran merchant marine of 16 different ships, a career in law enforcement and a trained retired mental health professional with over 20 years experience of working on various psychiatric, criminal insane hospitals… let me remind you that I was scared, not only scared and concerned, but hopeless! This was one of the scariest days of my life.

As Damaris and I would again leave Puerto Rico on February 9, 2020, following our successful last medical humanitarian mission, I would return again a few weeks later on March 3rd, prepared to receive our furnitures that had been shipped down from Connecticut to our finally completed newly renovated house, and to await for more medical supplies, which was being shipped, as well to travel back up in the mountains to Maricao, meet with some town officials, where I could further assess the immediate need, in a more settled way from on the ground, then communicated back to Damaris in New York City, and together help to better assist Las Brigadas Salubristas  out in the field of Maricao and proceed with the possibility of finding ways of raising the funds to start rebuilding some of these severely damaged homes.

My other ongoing plans, was  to also establish contacts for a possible research re: my long awaited humanitarian missions to Honduras, Haiti and the planned book donations, visit and lecture at the Nelson Mandela School in Guinea, Africa, later during that year, all of which had long been placed on hold. Those were my 2020, New Year’s resolution to complete, but 10 days later, the entire country and rest of the world would completely shut down, due yo the global pandemic. And the world completely changed.

Fortunately for me, being back in Puerto Rico, we had received our furnitures one week earlier than expected. Arriving a week before the global pandemic, else? We he left our washer and dryer back in Connecticut, i hopes of purchasing a new one down here. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even received the washing machine, we’d bought and paid for, while awaiting delivery from our local  Homedepot. I would spend the earlier weeks of the pandemic doing laundry by hand, and hanging to dry in the hot sun… although this wasn’t really a problem, the problem, was that my hands that were being torn to shreds by the harshness of the laundry detergent, meanwhile, I was using those same aching hands to toil the land as I continued moving forward with my echo psychology, agricultural research study project.

I would later approached one of my neighbors, whom had previously mentioned to me about his washing machine repair, as a side hustle. I then asked him to keep us in mind, if a used machine had became available for sale and he did. 2 days later a fully rebuild, new tub, new motor, large machine appeared at the $200.00 price tag and it was perfect… a total bargain!

The truth being that I had not thought about this adventurous episode, which took part in my life during the global pandemic, in quite a while. It wasn’t until a recent morning, when a dear Facebook friend, referred to me as a “Sea God,” following a post, when it came to mind. Of course, at first I was rather humbled, perplexed, since no one had ever given me such high spiritual compliment prior, not during my days as  seaman, nor throughout my entire life. Of course, at first I humbly thanked my friend for seeing the God and the goodness of God that lives within me. I then thought to myself, “I’m gonna take this beautiful, powerful, yet spiritually uplifting name in a meaning and use it as much as I could, for the greater good, as much and for as long as possible.” “Sea God, uhm?! Loved it!” I thought.

Although, as a writer, I must get you back to the beginning and relate the circumstances about how I actually got there on that beach head on that closely dreadful afternoon.

And so, as I later reflect upon her uplifting compliment that came in a form of a blessing, I realized that just one year earlier when the picture that lead to my uncovering the origin of the historic colonial period wall was taken, I would return in May of 2020, at approximately that same spot to single-handedly save the lives of 9 children under the age of 10, less than 15 feet away from where I stood to snap that selfie of my wife and I.

Thinking once again quietly to myself that “this could only have been accomplished through the greater will of God and the work of God being manifested throughout my humble being.

As I rewind back to nearly 4 years prior, to reflect up the fact that it was on May 15, 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Puerto  Rico and the rest of the world had been shut down, paralyzed, and stopped in it’s tracks, while people all around the world were dying by the thousands, day after day. It was also a political year and the pressure had been mounting for governor Wanda Vasquez to reopen the island, following two straight months of inactivity, slumping economy and dismal future throughout.

While the business community argued loss of income, their livelihood and a way of life, her implemented and well organized coronavirus task force, strategically held their ground steadfast and fought hard to maintain the struggle to keep us and everyone on the island safe and alive.

The pressure continued mounting and it was her re-election year. She therefore found herself forced to open the beaches, with some very strict guidelines in place and major restrictions for all to follow. A) they indicated that we could go to the beach, but couldn’t sit around, couldn’t drink, have a cookout or even hang a hammock, as most Puertoricans are accustomed to do throughout their lifetime. So, many found the more secluded beaches, where they could relax and be themselves without any police interference.

A year earlier in 2019, almost to date, my wife and I had stumbled upon this very secluded and remote beach, near the Airbnb we’d rented in bajo Patillas. I had became rather curious with a rock formation found under water, while snorkeling and was rather curious about it being a man made type of structure, but whom would build such a structure in this remote area that had never been inhabited nor developed at the southern part of the island, I wondered to myself and to my wife? I thought it look some sort of outer space formation, as I examined it closer, I then thought of the breaking of the tectonic plates, and since Puerto Rico being part of that historic scientific studies. Although the construction materials used appeared to be rather earthly, but it was far from modern. Anyway, I was puzzled.

As I researched and further investigate, i found out, it was an antique cement mortar or concrete structure mixed with small river like pebbles about the size of and average adult thumb print, in an almost uniform size. It was the type of structures build during the 16 century, “but why and by whom?” I continued wondering as the curious historic oriented trained part of my brain kicked into its investigative gear.

In my amazement, I had methodically and with curiosity  snorkeled and investigated that entire long, wide structure, of what appeared as of it being about a mile or more in length and several feet wide. In some areas it went deep into the ocean, while in others it surfaced almost above the water, as the tide dropped, and disappeared as it rose, of course, this only served to further confused my curiosity. Well our trip was about to end, I took a bunch of pictures and wondered to myself, as to whom of my friends in academia, I could present these findings? Among my friends, who’d be as curious as to return with me to investigate , without thinking that I’m delusional on some kinda craze trip? Well as our trip came to a close, it was interrupted by the approaching hurricane Dorian that was as crazy as one would’ve ever imagined.

It was at first heading to land fall on the southern part of the island, we moved out of our rented Airbnb, and headed up north to seek safety in a Sheraton Hotel in Old San Juan. We later heard it was heading to St Thomas, then back to the western side of the island of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Dorian was an extremely powerful and catastrophic Category 5 Atlantic hurricane, which became the most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas. Unfortunately, it was that same storm that travelled way up north and 4 or 5 days later slammed into Freeport Bahamas, leveling almost the entire island to the ground.

As the governor partially opened the beaches, albeit with rather strict guidelines, I thought it to be the perfect opportunity, I’d long awaited to go down and collect sargassum some dry sea drift, scraps of palm trees, leaves, dried branches, seashells and other material to help reinvigorate my organic agricultural projects for my eco psychology research that was already on the way. And since all of the nurseries and agricultural stores had closed down abruptly in Puerto Rico, and we were only allowed to purchase food, even at the super Walmart stores.

Although our house sat right across from the beach and we could actually walk right across the road to the sea, and take a swim that wasn’t the point. We didn’t want to be among the crowds of people, besides, sargassum, didn’t really wash up on our nearby beach. So we thought to have planed it right. I packed three 25 gallon size plastic storage bins, with their respective covers, a pitch fork, a shovel, my machete, a pair of gloves, etc and headed out to this remote beach, where I’d snorkeled before, thinking it was safe, believing no one else to be there, except for us.

As we arrived to our surprise, apparently everyone had the same idea to hit that same secluded beach. and of course, all of the locals, obviously knew about the best places on the island they could venture in order to avoid being run off by the cops. We slowly drove down this long, narrow road where in most cases barely a single car could fit through, trying to find a more secluded, none crowded spot, until we found a nice clearance of a big enough beach area, where we could be at least 10,  to 15’ away from others and collect the sargassum, etc

While my wife dipped her feet in the water and talked with her friend on the phone, I went straight to work, grabbing my pitch fork and filling up each individual container with sargassum, covering their lids tight and storing them in the back of our rented SUV. I then proceeded to chopping up the palm tree leaves, limbs and swiftly accommodating my newly acquired agricultural organic, experimental matter in the rear of the car that I may now take a break and sit on the beach near my wife to relax and enjoy a little well deserved, pandemic pause, with my toes in the sand.

When I’m engaged into a task, I’m extremely focus until completion, and I wanted to accomplish my task before the police or someone else would come and interrupt my process. So, I was moving very fast, I didn’t even pay any attention to the younger couple and their other extended family members, whom sat on the beach almost in the water, watching their children and other family members swim and play around in the water.

As I completed my task, locked the car and headed towards, my wife Damaris, still sitting on the beach facing the ocean and still on the phone; I then heard some yelling behind me, as I turned around for a quick curious glance and saw what appeared to be a bunch of kids, yelling pointing, screaming. “Mister, el toro, el toro! Ese toro ya le dio a tu guagua.” (Guagua being when talking about most any car or truck, in Puertorican lexicon). “That bull just rammed your car!”  I realized that they were actually yelling at me, and trying to alert me… As I then looked closer, to see this huge, crazed bull, running full speed heading right in the direction toward Damaris.


Not sure how I managed to get her attention, although it’s a running joke between us that she blocks me out, whenever she’s on the phone. However, not this time… managing to capture her attention and we both ran into the water to escape being trampled by the bull. Once the speeding bull realized that Damaris and I were out of reach, he shifted his focused and immediately got fixed on these children that had now gotten separated from their parents and guardians.

As the bull ran towards the children, I immediately remember that I had the car keys in my pocket, and realized I could now open the car door remotely and swiftly used electronic remote in my pocket as I was in a close enough range to to do so. This gave Damaris a chance to run and lock herself in the car, where she’ll remain safe. Meanwhile, as he headed toward the children, my quick thinking merchant marine security, emergency training must have kicked in, and I was  able to distract him with the car alarm. This allowed myself and all 8 or 9 children to follow me into the water snd climbed atop that prehistoric wall that I’d previously been extremely curious about studying, less than a year ago.

The children appear to be between ages, 4 through 9. They’d been playing together, and had gotten separated from their parents and older siblings, as the bull made a run for them, their parents scramble in fear of their own lives to hide for safety in their cars.

Meanwhile as you could see in these videos, this bull had already rammed the bumper of our rental car, he’d tore up everything on the beach, and was bound and determined that he was going to hurt one of those children. And I was adamen that this would not happen on my watch. Or in this case, “not over my dead body.”

Of course, the police had been called repeatedly to no avail. As I look back I could feel the tide behind me rising and the sun beginning to grow darker and the water getting colder, as the evening began to set in. It was by now about 4:30 pm, the bull wouldn’t leave that beach and the help called for repeatedly, which obviously expected, would neither arrived. The minutes turned hour and the fear among these children rapidly increased. Amid my frustrations, I paused to say a quick prayer. I looked around, and by now, the little girls, whom appeared between 4, and the other might be more like 6, began shivering, bathing suits, their little lips trembling, turning blue and chills were now taking over their little bodies, as they shook uncontrollably in their little swim suits.

Meanwhile the craze bull decided to eat one of the little 8\9 year old boy’s colorful shirt he found laying on the beach, as he reveged through their belongings, “like a bull in a china shop.” By now my training and my survival juices shifted in to full gear. And perhaps the spiritual inspiration gained by my recent prayer, a flash beneath my quick thinking cap must have light up. All this, while I’m trying my best to keep these children together, right at the center of the wall, because I’m thinking it might be our only way for survival… as im trying to get this bull to come straight after us, where it was about 4’ deep down bellow, believing he’d loose balance and strength that I might be able to jump on his neck stuck my car Jets and fingers in his nostrils, while using his horns as leverage until he drowns.

However, once the kid sees the bull eating his shirt, he decides to walk toward the shallowness of the wall to go fight for his shirt. Fortunately for me, I am fully in tune with the Puertorican cultural celebration and faith. As I proceeded to lighten the horrible situation by adding a little humor, as I’m yelling to the kid, “don’t you worry about the shirt, I’ll tell your parents to have Santa Claus bring you another, a much prettier one.” Then, I immediately remembered that Puertorican children celebrations are far more in tune with Three Kings, than Santa Clause, which is rooted within their cultural faith, 3 kings day or epiphany, is a rather bigger on the island than Christmas Day, although their Christmas celebration is the longest in the world. Hence, I immediately changed gears to remind him thank him for listening to me, as I reassured him that “I’ll definitely make sure the Reyes Magos, 3 kings brings him a very fine pretty shirt.”

While trying to calm him down, I asked that he hugs his little sisters, whom are now their lips are turning bluer by the minute. Still yet no police, and no rescue in sight.

However, a flashlight must have also gone off in the children’s fathers mind… his being a horseman and a quick thinking, propelled his drive, as he decided to head deep into the bushes and began making  strange noises. He kept it going long, long enough and loud enough, that the bull gradually began to pay attention and started following in the direction of the noises. This allowed me sufficient time to quickly get those children off that wall, out of that water and onto that beach to deliver them to their mother, auntie, brothers, etc. I’m not quite sure if I had 2, 3 or 4 of them on my back, and neck. I never played basketball, but my 37.5 inch extra long, long arms, came in handy to help wrap them around  me and bring them all to safety. My wife whom at all this time, was still sheltering in the car, said I looked like an octopus, “seemed as if you’d grown extra arms the way you had those children wrapped around you.”

Years later, and I still cry, as I finally sat to try and share this story in a more serious matter without the jokes by all those, whom almost saw me recorded my own death on Facebook live. Not just the end of my life or perhaps that of one of those 8 or 9 little children.

Today I realized that my purpose, was that perhaps god had purposely sent me there that day to Bajo Patillas, near that conservancy area to save the children.

As I continued researching, I found out that such structure uncovered while snorkeling a year earlier, was indeed a historic protective wall, alike the one surrounding Old San Juan, built by our enslaved African, native and y Taino ancestors to defend Spanish interest in the island.

However I felt rather blessed that day, when my friend referred to me that morning as a Sea God, equality or perhaps even more today. Thank you very much. May God continúe to bless you and your beautiful family. Much love, my sweet beautiful friend. Gods blessings always follows me and he always places me at the right place to do for those most in need.


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