When I started this journey in San Juan, I wasn’t sure what I was seeking nor what I needed. I hardly even knew how to answer people when they asked, “Why Puerto Rico?” Now, 30 days later, I still don’t have a ‘good’ answer to any of those questions but I’m not sure that I care. I feel quite confident I found what I was seeking, got what I needed, and have no doubt Puerto Rico was the perfect place to find my way back home to me.
It was divine timing that I had so much alone space before the back-to-back visit of Carolyn and my mamacita. After the deep cleanse on my spirit, I doused my soul’s house with joy and laughter.
I have to give my mom props for coming. First, because she hates flying by herself. Second, because the day before she was to get on the plane, weather forecasts were saying that Hurricane Isaac had a decent likelihood of smacking the island. Not to mention the fearsome reports of Florence up north. I told her that I understood if she wanted to sit out the trip. Her response? “Well. If a hurricane hits I am going to be worried about you so I might as well be worried next to you.” Yep, that must be where I get it from.
As I’ve mentioned already, Carolyn and I are chatterboxes. I also have a reputation for increasing my decibel level in direct proportion to my level of happiness. So, perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when a neighbor politely opened his balcony door at midnight to yell down to our balcony, “Ladies, it’s a work night. Please, and thank you.” Ah, the number of times we heard the same message from our parents in high school. It was a fitting way to close out my time with Carolyn and transition into my Mom’s arrival.
At this point, Hurricane Isaac had shifted south and we felt confident the storm would not directly impact us. However, the waves didn’t get the memo. They were fierce and successive and beautiful — from afar. We bobbed in the pool and soaked up the sun. I think I/we went through 3 large spray canisters of sunscreen during this trip. Yet, my tan is still pretty impressive given my usual ghostly hue.
Mom is my number one blog fan — Aunt Jean and Craig, you follow close behind. As she and I discussed my renewed interest in writing, she kept saying, “You have a book in you, Josie. Not only your blog but a real book.” While my heart says she is right, my head is scared to write. I hope I channel the ‘steel balls’ necklace my waitress in Vieques wears and face my fears head-on.
With each of my visitors also came a visit to Old San Juan. And yet, each time felt new and different. It is such a charming area with its narrow, winding, blue-cobblestoned streets, its hills, and the bright pops of color behind classic rod iron balconies. My mom joined me at Taverna Lupelo, a place that I hadn’t found in a tour book but rather had walked past on my very first visit and always felt drawn to return. I am so pleased I followed my gut; I loved it.
They had quirky artwork including a 3-D elephant head with a beer bottle held by its trunk. There was the gnome wallpaper. They also had coasters from KC’s brewery, Boulevard, like a little postcard from home. We wanted a snack so ordered their Queso Frito — fried cheese. I am not sure what kind of cheese it was but it was heavenly. The outer texture reminded me so much of a toasted marshmallow. I am convinced there was somebody in the kitchen hand-toasting each cheese cube. Plus, it was served with a guava dipping sauce. Basically a stringy, marmalade-y, jammy, deliciousness. I kick myself for not having gone into the bar the very first time I walked by and proceeding to eat fried cheese with guava dip every day for the rest of the trip.
Sun, sea, sand (in moderation), solitude, running in the rain, speaking Spanish, entertaining visitors. Falling back in love with myself. Falling forward into writing. Spending hours on my balcony watching the world go by.
This, I’ll miss… until next time.