06 December, 2014

84 Days Later

After the bleak highways of Florida I was ready for some fun, and Puerto Rico was certainly that. I've only got a few Spanish words in me but it turns out I needn't have worried as the vast majority of Puertoricans, and all the youth, are bilingual.

I rocked up at the bus stop outside the airport and immediately made a friend - Dexter from Hong Kong. It turns out we were waiting for the same bus, changing at the same stop, staying at the same hostel and sleeping in the same room! We stopped short of sharing a bed. The 'Island Time' hostel was in a word, epic. Cheap as chips and about as much fun (and people) as you can cram in a three storey building.

I won't name names, what happens in PR stays in PR, but what ensued was basically two or three (the finer details escape me, ok!) raucous nights of rum and giggles and ridiculous dancing. Them locals can dance but don't worry, I bought them crashing down to earth with my air lasso and hearty renditions of 'the canoe'. For Queen and country!

Aaaaanyway, I spent the next few weeks marginally more civilly (perhaps!) with a fantastic friend of mine who came to visit. Breakfasts were eaten, coffee supped, streets strolled and islands hopped. Old San Juan was very pretty and quaint and there was some brilliant art in the 'ghetto'. We camped on the beach in Fajardo which was extremely beautiful, watching suns rise and set along with several thousand glutinous mosquitos.

Days were spent exploring land and sea, nights exploring sparkling skies, lying on sandy beaches enjoying the nigh on orgasmic sensations of scratching that malarial itch. Hiring a moped on Vieques island was a personal highlight, buzzing about looking gay (or European? A classic holiday game) for twenty four hours. We blitzed the poor gal up hill and down dale, off road, broke the ignition briefly and lost the keys on a huge sandy beach. All in a days work for Captains Calamity & Catastrophe!

Onto the US Virgin Islands now via the most rickety flying vehicle of my life (and I once tried to fly from a low tree using plywood wings). It was a ten seater and I was about 70cm away from the pilot who was extremely relaxed, to the point of spending most of the flight writing a shopping list and doing a crossword. He said he was logging the flight path information but I know his game!

375 year old Ceiba tree.

The view was heavenly (see what I did there?), in no way justified by these pictures, and made me want to get a pilots license. Being suspended in a hundred shades of blue and gold, not knowing where the sea ends and the sky begins, in the belly of a metal eagle - it was special. 

So I'm here now, in my little shared cottage with rainforest sounds at the window and mosquito netting my sky. I'm doing some gardening work and general help to cover my board and in the meantime sweating around by foot or bike, seeing what's to be seen. So far - Rastafari, trees, horizon, beach bars, coral, aggressive barracuda, hillocks, tortoises, a new born turtle running for salty safety (best day ever, he made it!) and much more.

Chrismukkah is going to be a jolly bizarre affair here and I'll be sure to take plenty of snaps of me sunning myself on the beach.

Have fun... Planet Earth!

05 November, 2014

For richer or poorer...

As a brief introduction I want to mention two absolute dudes I met yesterday outside the airport, the two Robins (no Batman). I was crossing the flyover and spotted them camped out on some grass, shoes off, eating and fiddling about with a trumpet. They were two German jazz musicians who'd been travelling about and busking in New Orleans and are now heading to the Amazon Rainforest! 

They shared their oats with bacon, coffee and whiskey and we merrily swapped stories for an hour, sitting next to the airport terminal with taxis streaming past. It was such a pleasure! We parted with handshakes and grins all round.

Arriving into one of the world's richest nations straight from one of it's poorest yesterday was a shock. I'm couchsurfing with a great guy, Mark, who speaks five languages and is a fascinating man, until Friday. His place is exquisite and he is so generous! Anyway, he asked me what were the differences and yesterday I could n't immediately tell him. Today I've spent my time wandering through some of the wealthiest streets I've ever seen, brimming with lanes of supercars and SUVs and canals of superyachts. 

The money on show is frankly crass and jolly un-British! I find it quite laughable. I've stepped from the land of frugality where even water is rationed because you only have one bucket and using more would mean walking a few miles to collect and carry it on your head. To the land of excess where your drink is refilled relentlessly without question and you better drink it because more is better! 

Everywhere you see status cars and life improvement purchases - this yacht will make you happy, this house is what you need, get a bigger pickup truck than your neighbour. But I've also noticed something... For all this expenditure in the name of fun no one seems to be having any. Since I've been in the US I've heard perhaps a couple of people laugh and share a smile, that's it! 

Haiti, stricken with poverty and in need of aid is a bubbling pot of chiding and bantering and grins. I think happiness is having a smile on your face every day for whatever reasons, silly or childish, and all this 'stuff' isn't working. I don't buy it! 

Maybe it's time that 'rich' society took a lesson in having a laugh from our un-moneyed cousins.