Friday, August 08, 2008

midwest living in the tropics

So I went to CPDD back in June in Puerto Rico, It was sort of my last Hurrah with the Columbia people before I am fully entrenched at CHEST and Hunter College. (BTW I used to go to CPDD, the college of Problems on Drug Dependence, at CHEST the big conference is SSSS, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Don't I just have a kick ass career path, all I have to do is get paid to go to south by southwest and I will have the holy triumvirate of sex, drugs and rock n' roll down). Rachel came down as well dragging the flotation device we bought in Turkey with her.

The first day we were there we took a hike to find a grocery store to buy some snakes and some beer. We waited for the bus for a while and then just walked. It was then that we first noticed a Puerto Rico phenomenon... discarded clothes. It seemed that the people were so hot in Puerto Rico that they just took their clothes off and threw them on the ground.

We also found the hotel I'd stay at if I went back... This place.

We also saw a guy who attached his wheel chair to a motorcycle... I couldn't quite run fast enough to get a good shot but here he is.

The next night we walked into old San Juan which was quite the trek. Enjoyable but quite a trek. At one point we wandered down off of the main drag into what seemed like a parking lot next to the ocean. There were a lot of local men milling about next to their cars, and we assumed it was some sort of gay make out spot. I noticed that the locals were paying close attention to the two of us as we walked through their midst's, then I noticed a cop pull in behind us and drive slowly with their lights on till they passed us and we returned to the main street. I was later told by a good source who had been to Puerto Rico that the little turn off we walked down was the one place "gringos don't go in San Juan." We finally got to Old San Juan, starving and looking for a frozen drink.
across from the scary section of town

The place we picked looked cool, but then we realized it was a lesbian bar they didn't have the frufy drinks we wanted and we (I mean I) wasn't exactly welcome. We finally ate at a crappy restaurant and headed home. On the way back we noticed some shells on the ground and I picked one up... I was shocked as the claw of the largest hermit crab I've seen shot out of the shell at me, I dropped it... the crab broke an arm and I felt a little crappy for the rest of the night. We went back into old San Juan a couple of days later and had an absolutely delicious meal and had wonderful drinks at a Jamaican bar.

I focused on the conference for a few days and then after presenting I rented a car and Rachel and I went to check out the island. We drove east out of San Juan and around the El Yunque National Rain Forrest and stayed on the back side of the forest. The place we stayed was pretty much gross, but there was this very friendly heavy set gay photographer that helped us navigate. We then went to the front side of the forest. About 20 years ago a mud slide wiped out the road that went from the north to the south of the forest and it never was rebuilt, so the front is jammed packed with tourists and the back... well there's no one there. We drove into the front part of the forest and hiked into a waterfall you can swim in. The place was crawling with Puerto Rican families having a grand ole time...

even bumped into a friend from the U of Kentucky there. We swam around a bit... took a few cute pictures then headed out because of signs we saw waring that the gates would be closed at 6. None of the locals seemed to care so I'm assuming 6 o'clock San Juan time is not the same as 6 o'clock bill time.

We headed out to a bioluminescent bay on the north east coast of the island. We kayaked in, which was easy... out not so easy as the current was flowing in. The site was quite the spectacular. These little creatures glow when you move through the water... there was a full moon and the tide was in so it was the worst time to see them but it was still amazing. They let us swim around a little
(which is illegal apparently) which was fantastic. At times when you put your paddle came out of the water it looked like you were throwing fluorescent blue paint around. The tour group was a little amateurish... but what do you expect.

On the way out we stopped at a local pizza place.. had Coors lights that were so cold they were Coors light slushies (yumm )... the pizza hit the spot, the people were friendly, and they had ice cream.

We arrived back at the place we were staying late at night and got very little sleep as we had to deal with the cockroach situation there. So early in the morning we got up and hiked into the back side of the forest. It was completely empty. It was completely beautiful. We had a waterfall to ourselves. To ourselves. Words do not do the sereneness of the place justice.
If you know me and want to laugh ask me to show you the picture of me in the waterfall... I'm not trying to be sexy... and I do not succeed being sexy... but it looks like I'm trying real fuckin hard.

On the way down the mountain we saw this dog... The owners stared at us like we were crazy when we stopped to take a picture of Cujo here.

We ended our excursion with a drive on "La
Ruta Panoramica." I'm one of those people who can just drive and drive as long as where I'm driving is pretty.... this was fantastic.

That night we celebrated my belated birthday at a fantastic restaurant who's name I can't remember. It was a little over the top on the hipster angle, but the wait staff was fantastic and the food delicious. Nothing left but the trip home.


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