Executive decision time: I have given Princess a birthday present..... the last three days of our 'vacation' will be spent at an expensive beach resort. An air conditioned room, a bed that's clean and comfortable, a big pool, a well stocked bar, a four star restaurant, $%#@!&$ wireless, and a beach out of a paradise recruiting brochure..... yup, this I have given her.
I get to go too.
Not that there haven't been good moments since we've arrived in PR, but I need some R+R from the R+R. A few days not driving Puerto Rican roads in Puerto Rican traffic... that alone will bring back a measure of calm sanity. Where we have been staying up till now is friendly, in a well worn family way, but just enough outside my comfort zone to trigger facets I never knew I had. Seeing someone throw trash on the ground grates me. Seeing a lot of people do it every day... causes an internal earth shattering kaboom. I have found Marvins missing widget.
Not speaking Spanish, and not having any of the conversations translated, I have been forced to stay removed from social interplays. I get to sit back and watch, and that is a spectator sport at which I am an old hand. people here are different than home.... which seems a silly thing to write. Of course they are!
There must be a side of the population here I have not seen yet. While everyone I have met is open and friendly in far greater depth than we stuck up Lancastrians are used to, there is still an undercurrant. When no one is right there... the house is locked. The gate stays closed unless someone is right there... and every house has a gate. The mention of leaving a purse locked in a car brings a darkened visage and a quick shake of the head... "No". Everything has a lock. Each bedroom door has it's own... and they are used in this house. The fridge out in the carport shed... has two padlocks, left open only because we are here off and on during the day.
I've met nobody dangerous so far, outside of some wandering Jehovian witnessians, whom I declined to debate over the garden gate. On the other hand, my obviously expensive camera rig has brought some attention at touristy places that had me wrapping the strap securely around my arm, and cradling the long lens like a baby. Internally, I described the stare of 'want' radiating from a few young men as 'Rabid'.
One thought that's occured to me, as I see this island for the first time. How can anyone here go hungry.. ever? Food grows everywhere, often wild. Fruit trees appear at every turn of the road, and the plantings around homes can be incredible. Avacado, banana, pineapple, papaya, orange, apple, plantain, mango..... anything that will grow in a tropical climate can, will, and does grow wild here. Unclaimed chickens roam in numbers bordering on nuisance. Even though the waters just off shore are as likely as not polluted, people still fish them. Every day I see people pull off the road and begin harvesting meals from the roadside.... how could anyone here go hungry.
A side trip to an art museum in Ponce. There, treated to.... artwork. Oh My.... such grand old works, scattered amongst newer pieces, with a scant littering of tribal work as well. All within touching range, guarded only by the careful eyes of an army of docents. I was able to go nose to nose with the subject of an El Greco. Should I have dared, I could have reached out and stroked the image of a 18th century beauty laying in her repose. Lighting, presentation, and quality of the collection was astounding.
Now, I think it's time to go in search of a morning cup of coffee. Our American custom of large cups filled to the brim with coffee confusing strength with quality.... is unknown here. A 'Grande' cup with 'Leche' will be 12 ounces, and have a head of frothed cream.... and it will likely be as good as the fresh ground I make each day at home.
Yup.... coffee time.