In Search of Chupacabras and Dino Flagellates in Puerto Rico (and Discovering Entropic Quantum Chaos in its Place)

July 2, 004Ė San Juan, Puerto Rico

We ended up having Friday off instead of Monday, but no matter, I ended up running errands and taking Jess's camera down to Union Square to get it fixed even thought it was already fixed. Packed when I got back and then walked over to Jess's office in midtown around noon. It was hot and tromping around with a backpack I already felt like I was on vacation. You could be a tourist anywhere if you set your mind to it. Got Jess, and walked down to Grand Central where we caught a bus to JFK.

We were early of course so sat and drank in some sports bar and watched snippets of Wimbledon but never figured out who won what. When we got on the plane we realized that Marlon Brando died but never really heard any more details. Thatís what he gets for thumbing his nose at Hollywood. Good for him.

It was our first time flying JetBlue, and probably our last. What a load of hype. First off, what's the big deal about DirectTV? You can watch TV at home. And once we were out over the ocean it didn't even come in so then we had nothing to occupy our time except the kids behind us kicking our seats and pulling our hair every time they jumped up (they let 2 adults and 3 kids in the row behind us). The service sucked, they brought us drinks and didn't come by to clean up the glasses until the end of the flight. And their campy wanna-be Southwest tone comes of as plain scary in this day and age.

Landed in San Juan and got a cab. The woman cab driver had a TV on the front seat and she was more interested in the soap opera going on then the road. When she wasn't watching the TV, she was fiddling around with the antennae to get better reception (as we veered off into other lanes or onto the shoulder). The roads and surrounding snarl of strip malls and fast food joints felt like we could be anywhere in the U.S. We got to the hotel (La Galeria Inn) and couldn't figure out how to get in the place. Finally just called them on the cell so they could open the door. Pretty cool hotel, built by this artist woman Jan something or other (Espisoto?), basically a museum to herself, with all her artwork everywhere, but definitely unique and full of parrots, a crusty flea-bitten dog, secret courtyards and pianos and hidden passages leading through damp and musty rooms full of her bizarre personal effects. Felt like an incarnation of Allende's House of the Spirits.

We walked around old town looking for a place to eat. I was fighting a cold (that I guess I fought) and had a headache and was dehydrated, and was cranky and just wanted to eat at Taco Bell. There were all these nouveau sort of places that felt like we were back in Manhattan, with prices like Manhattan... why the hell would we want to eat Burmese-Polish-Palestinian fusion in Puerto Rico with blaring techno music and cigarette smoke soaked air-conditioning? We can get that back at home. After meandering through all the alleys of old town, we ended up this place Baru, which was sort of Puerto Rican tapas, but the tapas were big enough to be a meal and had enough fat and salt to last an Eskimo for a winter. The first bite or two tasted good, but it was just too heavy to eat more than that. Everyone was very nice though, kind of a shock to our system coming from NY.

Went back to our room and it was so cold that I was shivering uncontrollably even once under the blankets, and there was no way we could turn down the air-conditioner so we had to block the vents and open the windows. I had strange lucid dreams throughout the night that language was this cesspool of words that was being all jumbled and rearranged and forming new words and combinations of words that I didnít recognize at first, then they would get all jumbled up again every time I woke up.

[NEXT - July 3 -Vieques]


(c) 2004 Text and Photos by Derek White and Jessica Fanzo