San Juan’s Dorado Beach conjures up visions of lapping waves and cheerful kids frolicking in the sand. Not so much on a recent visit with my family. As we lay napping in the sun we were awoken by shrill screams as my mother leaped from her chair. She frantically pointed at two bare-chested men who were running off with her purse.
Fueled more by confused adrenaline than pent-up bravery, I found myself pursuing these youths hurtling through a palm-tree-lined enclave. As I ran through the sand, feet sinking with each step, I asked myself what I was going to do if and when I caught up to them: What undiscovered strength would I have to beckon from my inner machismo? Would I encounter a weapon? Would we have to haggle in broken Spanish? Or would the sight of a skinny but determined tourist trailed by his mother be enough to resolve the dispute?
I was gaining on them. Now within arm’s length of the purse, I secured the handle just as the thieves threw me to the ground, hurling sand into my eyes. The struggle continued until my grip succeeded and they escaped from my innocent yet determined rage. After an hour of face washing and a visit to the police station, I discovered that I had become a newfound hero. Inside the bag: my mother’s wedding ring.