Tuesday, March 18, 2008

From El Yunque, P.R.: arrival

Monday morning. I need to zip back up to Tampa. I have a series of flights.

Still, the Venice Island beach is just a few minutes down the road…

We head for the sea.

They fish for shells and fossiled sharks’ teeth here, I’m told. Wading in the shallow waters of the beach that meanders and dips and finally disappears into the blue nothingness of the horizon.


Time is irrelevant.

Ah, to be forever mellow…

My pals shake me into awareness. Time is not irrelevant. I pack my bag and throw it into the little blue Chevy and head north.

A flight to Atlanta, a layover, a flight to San Juan. Ed waits at the gate with his battered old duffle bag.

We head just a little toward San Juan. It’s after 9 and we need food. Endless chains: America gave Puerto Rico handfuls of fast food. We keep driving. Finally, in a strip mall we see something local. We sit at a table and sip a Puerto Rican beer and watch a mother feed her baby, held in the biggest baby seat I have ever seen. The waiter brings us a plate of shrimp, beans and rice. And fried plantains.

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And then it’s back to the road. We follow my printed directions, but it’s dark and we miss the turns several times. The last stretch of road takes us right into the El Yunque rainforest. And there it is – the two unit Rainforest Inn (but really not an Inn at all), surrounded by thick greenery – at least I imagine it is green. Who can tell among the night shadows of the banana trees, the dense shrubs and hanging vines.

It’s dark. Our very Zen host shows us the small apartment. Ed cautions me not to step on the scorpion. Let’s put him back in the forest where he belongs. I’m used to this side of Ed. Even as I am less used to being greeted by scorpions.

The warm air comes in through all the open windows. The noise of the forest even now, at midnight, is intense. They say that people in tropical climates stay up late. So do birds. And crickets.

In the morning, I look outside. It is truly a “behold, the jungle!” moment.

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A hearty breakfast of eggs & potato, papaya, with cinamon apples on peanut butter and bread. Rain comes on and off (how fitting). A coconut thumps down from a tree. The birds are screech and twitter. We're off to explore.

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