Riding the Guerrillla Highway

Riding the Guerrillla Highway
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Puerto Rico Project, OLD SAN Juan and Conclusion


            The ferry back to Puerto Rico is late so I go buy an ice cream and chill out alongside the bay. Random delays are a great excuse for treats, and I’m always quick to splurge at such opportunities while traveling. I joke with an Aussie guy and his new Michigan wife while in line for the ferry. Soon I find myself in deep spiritual conversation with this new upbeat couple. They are more than willing to drive me to the heart of San Juan in their rental car. EASY. Cool people great! Jonathan excitedly squeezes in an excursion to the old colonial fort in San Juan before their flight. We wisk through the cobble stone corridors and around the massive thick stone walls of the fort. I am always amazed in the effort shown through Spanish colonial architecture in massive amounts of stone and mortar moved and erected by hand.
            They receive my last free, signed book graciously and drop me off in the heart of old San Juan. I twist up some tight stairs to the happening hostel ‘posada san fransisco’ in the heart of the colonial city.
a cemetery next to the old fort

“La unica opcion que tenemos es una habitacion para $50.” I have $65 left out of the $350 I started with 9 days before. I grumble and offer them $40, explaining that I have to save $20 for a taxi to the airport tomorrow. No! My smooth spoken Spanish gets me nowhere and I descend the 6 floors of fun young travelers to the busy street below. My web research had already shown me that there’s no other cheap places to stay in old San Juan, and I moan along knowing that my budget is crushed and I may have no place to stay on my last night. Well that’s how I should feel but somehow I don’t let getting denied at the hostel or having only $65 left bring me down in the least. I’m convinced that it will work out easy as it has been in accordance with other manifestations of the trip thus far. I walk down the narrow streets towards the sunset. I pass a few small hotels including and alternative mentioned by the woman working the hostel, but they all just look too nice, so I don’t even bother asking. I pass by a restaurant-bar that just reminds me of Granada Spain, the sign outside stating ‘mejor paella de San Juan’ draws me in. I sit at the bar next to an older couple from Chicago drinking whine. I order a water and ask for a menu, Having not really eaten since the ice cream on Vieques, I sort of give in to temptation. Sure I’ll have the paella, I tell the waiter after he assures me that it’s really good, comparable to Andalucía. It was the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time with perfectly cooked fish and mariscos, a jumbo shrimp center piece and a side of fried plantains to boot. I get to talking about my plight in finding a place to stay with the bar staff and they direct me towards a nearby bar where I could ask for some hole-in-the wall hotel that seems to exist. I pay the tab…$25…ouch, and set out with my backpack in the darkness. Now down to $40, I wonder only slightly if I’ll be screwed and sleeping on a sketchy beach or the in some cubby of the old fort or the port. Round the corner a street side tout snaps to me and leads me around to a barred gate with a small sign that reads ‘hotel.’ The senor lets me in and leads me up a dark stairwell to a ‘habatacion bien barrato.’ I Thank the vagabond tout and gift him my last two tortillas. The ‘hotel’ is all too reminiscent of places my sister and I stayed in along the guerrilla highway in Colombia. Narrow dim corridors with exposed pipes and rooms with padlocked doors and a shared bathroom down the hall. However the solid marble staircase leads me to believe that this place was once a proper hotel, circa 1892. The senor shows me to an 8x 8 foot room with a clean single bed, a fan, and a flickering lamp. For $16, I’m charmed. YES! After over a week of muggy camping the bed feels great. I take a nice hot shower and settle into the evening. I sit out on a balcony and play music to the cobblestone street below. Salsa music competes from a bar down below, but I still get a couple smiles up from passersby on the street. I talk slightly with an older latino man staying there. I’m charmed, way better than the white-bread experience I’d have in a shared dormroom for dudes a few blocks away. Even before this trip I’d decided at this point in my life I can’t really do the shared dorm thing anyway.
            So manifestation, faith and good intentions come through for me again. Around 9:00 I go out, planning to spend the rest of my money on cheap beer. The cheapest bar is appropriately located just below the hostel posada. Its near deserted but I order two Heinekens for $5. The local beer Medalla is piss water I can’t justify more than one. I meet a tattooed up British guy with his kid and hot Puerto Rican wife and we talk about life in San Juan. It really seems like a cool city and I wish I had the time and money to enjoy it more. Vibrant and cultural, it feels like the NYC of the Caribbean. Oh to catch it on a weekend would be quite the scene! Its Thursday, there’s got to be something going on? I wander around but no place seems to draw me, so I return to my room thinking I’ll wait till prime time to hit the streets again around 11PM. Three beers, up since dawn, walking around with a backpack, and the newfound comfort of a real bed are too much for my body to overcome and I pass out. I wake at 2AM shunning myself. I just blew my only opportunity to go out in what seems to be one of the coolest cities of the Caribbean.  I go out to the little balcony and still hear music but I can’t bring myself to rally. FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out has overcome me.
            I sleep in and join the morning shuffle around 9. I decide to go for one last run along the outter edge of the old city. I run through the famous oceanside ghetto, la Pearla, and along the bluffs overlooking the rocky coast. I cruise around past a couple of pocket beaches and city beach parks. Hugging the coast I’m stopped by a big stone wall and a rip rap jetti dividing the public beach from what looks to be a private resort. I stash my shirt and shoes among the rocks and dive into the ocean lagoon. I come up and I’m at the Hilton resort San Juan surrounded by beautiful gringos. I sit in the hot tub and feel good. Then I lie in a hammock in the warm breeze and feel really good. Then I lie on a memory foam bed under palm trees and feel really, really good. Why does my plane leave in just a few hours, I sigh. I swim  back across the lagoon to the real world. I run 3 miles back to The port of old San Juan where I notice a lively street scene. They’re filming a movie ’22 jump street,’ 
It’s supposed to be a scene of ‘spring break in Mexico.’ There’s hot Puerto Rican girls in bikinis everywhere! I can’t help but wander past the barricades for a closer glimpse. I’m overwhelmed by smiling ladies, just standing around waiting for ‘Action!’ I’m bombarded by movie crew people, half of them are telling me to get off of the set while half are asking me to sign paperwork to be a paid extra in the movie. I’m leaving in just a couple of hours, I can’t participate! If only I had another day! I call Delta with a fish story for a flight change. But its no use, I have to go home. My last $20 covers my taxi and I speed away.
My Credit card keeps me fed that last day but other than that I stayed true to my strict budget, $35 per day. I decide that if I did another trip I must allow $450 for a week. This would be much more reasonable. In JFK airport, I do a full Vinyassa practice during my 2 hr layover completing my goal of doing yoga every day of my trip. I Completed all of my other goals aside from my sailing dream and got a tighter grasp and a firmer belief in the power of my own intentions.  I am completely convinced that this is something completely real. Pure intentions and manifesting energy are forces equally as powerful and useful as logical thinking, active ambition, and reason. I re-examine the goals and intentions I set forth before I flew to this island:
·       Take time to do yoga and play music every day. Teach yoga at least once, write a song.
·       Swim in several beautiful places, be warm!
·       Take time to write at least 3 good sessions.
·       Dance with Puerto Ricans
·       Get invited to a party
·       Go sailing or fishing for free
·       Buy food for someone and also receive a free meal.
·       Get shown to a really cool place that I would not have found on my own.
·       Speak Spanish, stay out of trouble.
Many more smaller intentions came true and made the trip as beautiful and easy as it was.

All of my clear set intentions and goals came easy…well except for the sailboat, but the one I almost got on, crashed, so maybe not meant to be! I will continue to try to set pure intentions and hone in on the hidden energy currents of my surroundings. I look forward to continued focus in writing my novel, Love and Magic in Neverland, which provides even greater insight into the harnessing the hidden energy and magical manifestations in the spiritual world and beyond.

Thanks to all who took the time to read this!
 Viva la Magica Y PURA VIDA!

 Newly wed friends Jonathan and Lori tour the fort
 Riding the canon
 Christopher colombus, with the hostel posada san francisco in the background
spring break movie set 

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