March 24, 2013

Puerto Rico Journal Day 3

March 11:
We had our first breakfast at Cafe Mallorca. As predicted we ate mallorca. Breakfast was perfect, fresh squeezed orange juice and great cafe con leche. Mallorca is two slices of a sweet brioche, cheese and ham, grilled then sprinkled with powdered sugar. Eaten with a knife and fork.  

On our way the 1/2 block back to the hotel we decide to get more coffee and sit in an alley at a table we can call down to from our hotel window. For an hour we write, talk and sip coffee, the day is warm and new.
With our bags gathered we walked to the cruise ship terminal. We call the rental company and they come pick us up. The cobbles clack under the car tires and the early light dances between the palm leaves. The air is calm and smells like the tropics.  (Sunscreen, salt water and a floral perfume)
We rent a Yaris for a week. ($455 YIKES!) We get directions and take off towards the airport in Cieba. I meant to give us a lot of time, enough to get lost, but we’re almost three hours early. We decide to stop in the tiny fishing village of Las Croabas. We walked along the boardwalk under the hot sun, watching the little boats bob in the harbor. We enjoy being by ourselves at the corner of this ocean. We eat bacchalau stew with rice and beans and a tostone for lunch at one of the many shacks along the water. It tasted so darn good, we were officially in love with Puerto Rican food.  
There was only one argument as we tried to get back to the highway through traffic clogged streets. The locals were out for lunch in the hundreds, emerging from whatever dark air conditioned spot the occupied into the gloriously bright and colourful streets.  The streets are so narrow as they are, pedestrians and traffic made it treacherous. 
When I get to the check-in counter the desk person informs me I’ve managed to book twice, so we had four seats reserved on an nine seat plane. The airport is one big room, and our plane is late. An airline person (one of three) sits in a golf car with his feet up, waiting for our plane to land. He looks to be napping.
We were supposed to sit in the front of the plane, it is divided by weight. But a girl who is supposed to sit in the back kicks up a huge fuss, so we get switched around. We’re in the back, she and her boyfriends are in the front. Not-so-fabulous pictures. The flight was cool, you can feel the air, you are in the sky. This is actual flying.  
We took a public bus to our guesthouse. (Unfortunately the fit throwing girl and her boyfriend were staying here too, and took the same van. Small island.) It’s a gorgeous guesthouse, with only half a dozen rooms. Our small room is big enough for a bed, a desk and a water closet, but it’s perfect for what it does and it makes me grateful my bathroom, small as it may be, at least has a proper door. The shutters open to the outdoors, the sound of horses clopping and rooster squawking fill every minute of the day, it’s wonderful. A strong breeze flows around the house, and the patio is the place to be with it’s lush seating in the pleasant shade and a little dog we named Max, who comes begging for attention all the time.  

We head down the street, towards the ocean. Bougellvallias bloom in all sorts of colours and orchids grow off palm trees. Coconuts lay cracked and dry on the ground, wild horses whinny and run through the fields. There is a corner store (the only type of store on this side of the island) a few minutes towards town. We stop and buy our first bottle of rum on the trip, it’s a big bottle and it costs less than the price of two drinks at home.
The medallas are $1.50 at Bananas, we drink 3, 4, 5. Time ticks by slowly and the sun descends. We munch on tostone and wings. We’re sitting on the dock watching the sun slip behind the mountains, while the sky glows red and pink. Island time is slow, the pace is wonderful. With the sun gone the air cools quickly. Our tour guide shows up in a van for our trip to the biobay.  

Shane and I sit in a two person kayak and slowly paddle into the lake. The moon is new, the stars are bright on such a black sky. Maybe more stars than I’ve ever seen. Our paddles dip into the water and glow like an underwater light. I cup the water and it sparkles in my hands like the stars in the sky. The biobay is the reason we came to Puerto Rico, the water glows where the fish move about.

All around us are gasps and giggles, the effect is mesmerizing. We watch the trails of other kayaks that leave paths of light, like shooting stars. I’m captivated by the light. We dip our feet in, we can’t help ourselves. It’s an effect that can’t be seen in pictures (we tried) or expressed in words (I’m trying), it’s an out-of-this-world experience.

The van drops us off on the Malecon at nine. We grab a table at the ever busy Duffy’s for dinner. Shane has tacos, I eat pork pastele (a steamed savory cake wrapped in a banana leaf), I’m unsure whether I like it or not. A rum and coke on the patio puts us right to sleep. 

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