Puerto Rico Journey, Uncategorized

Won’t you be my neighbor?

It’s always nice when people ask me when I’m going to post my next update. “They like me, they really like me.”

Today, I am blogging from the same Mexican restaurant that welcomed me on my very first day in San Juan, almost two weeks ago. I tend not to repeat places when I travel but this spot serves warm salsa and it’s delicious. Ironically, the only other place that I’ve repeated is next door — the Italian grampa spot.

Although I haven’t been going to many of the same places, I’ve definitely been staying in a pretty tight perimeter. Not because I’m afraid to go elsewhere or am too cheap to Uber places (well, I am pretty cheap) but mostly, it’s because there are enough places in my little neighborhood to keep me happy. And I love being able to walk to dinner and back to my apartment.

Because I’ve stayed in the same little area, I have started recognizing people. There’s the elderly man with long hair and a longer beard. He sits in the second row at church and usually has his backpack with him when I see him walking on the street. I don’t think he’s homeless, probably just an old surfer that believes scruffiness is next to Godliness.

Then, there’s the woman that begs for money across from the CVS. She has her lawn chair hidden behind a construction fence and usually is humming to herself. Today, I saw her looking more pulled together and walking on a different part of the beach sans chair and sans cup. I know some folks might say, “She probably makes $100,000 a year off sucker tourists.” Yeah? If so, so what? Everybody has to make their way somehow.

There’s also the guy with his dog in front of Walgreens. He splits the location with another woman — I never see them together but they both use the same sign. I wish I had the cajones to sit down and ask each of them their story but I just muster a slight smile and “God Bless.” Maybe we can get the people behind Humans of New York to come south. With today’s announcement of the increased Maria death toll count, there must be thousands of stories to share. God Bless, indeed.

One of my favorite people is the animated waiter at the crepe cafe downstairs from my apartment whose sing-song voice is pure delight and has worked every day that I’ve been here. I like to think he’s going to make it into the chorus for Hamilton when Lin Manuel Miranda does the San Juan tour in January.

Finally, the three individuals that rotate the front desk of my apartment. I wonder if, in the same way that I concoct stories for all the people I’m passively encountering, if they’ve created a narrative about the single, white girl that always smiles and says ‘Hola’ with a terrible Spanish accent. If only they would spot me sitting on my balcony in my pajamas rocking my Time-Life operator work headset. That would add some interesting texture to their story.

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