Riding the Guerrillla Highway

Riding the Guerrillla Highway
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Puerto Rico Project Waiting for my ship to come in...

Waiting for my ship to come in.

Culebra is a tiny island, but it possesses a marvelous sea inlet that just looks like a sailor’s paradise. The harbor is bound by rolling verdant hills which lead down to mangroves and coral covered beaches then it twists out to the open sea. Of course The many sailboats anchored in this harbor don’t sail. They just function as cramped floating condos. But two sailboats just cleated on the town dock must be on the move I decide. I dedicate a yoga practice on the dock to sailing with one of these two potentials, the stiff trade wind blows excitement through my body as well. ‘Leave a note on this here boat,’ the wind seems to tell me. So I do. I leave a bilingual note with my phone number and dream of whisking away to St. Thomas as soon as tomorrow. Dream big, right?
Watching Docked sailboats from my best private beach camp...a bed of vines on playa melones

I continue my search for sailor’s at the bar. Asking around I find out that the only guy that sails is a rum-infused sea captain know as the Nightrider. ‘He’s right over there just go ask him,’ a happy couple insures me.  They invite me to play music at their Christmas party as well, of course I won’t be around then, but its another manifestation achieved.
“They call me the Nightrider, cause I only go at night. I’m the night-sailor that’s my thing, my little boat ‘ll do 30 knots across the inlet.”
The Nightrider says he’ll give me a tour on his trimaran sometime when the time is right. I wait. The band finishes and the Nightrider gets cut off. Hmmm time to sail? I approach him but another gringo guy busts right ahead of me asking the Nightrider to take him out to one of the sailboats in the harbor where he’s left his wallet. “And where do you got to get to?” He turns to me queerly.  “I can go anywhere, I got all of my stuff right here, I can camp anywhere,” I tell him.
“So you don’t even have a destination?” He toils.
“Well uhh no…but that doesn’t matter, I just want to go sailing.”
“You know it’s kind of rough out there, and this guy here well, he’s got somewhere to go you know.”
I stumble over my words, and kind of realize how silly my whole desire to sail with the drunken captain at night sounds anyway.
“We’ll go another time,” he assures me. I humbly depart and go find a random getto ninja camp spot round back of an abandoned pharmaceutical factory. Sporatic yet powerful night and early morning rains make for a restless night.
The next morning I run into the same gringo kid.
“How was your voyage with the Nightrider?”
“Yea we crashed right off the dock, and had to be rescued.”
“What? What happened?”
“We un-cleated the boat and a wind caught us and just blew us right into the bridge before we could even get going.”
“Dam and you had to be rescued.”
            “Yea it was a shitshow, bet you’re glad you didn’t go.”
           So I continue hope that I’ll get a call from one of the leave a note on a boat attempts, but that soon fizzles after I meet one of the captains and he tells me that his boat hasn’t moved from the spot on the town dock in over a year. The clouds never really clear today, but I still enjoy some time wandering the quite island and swimming in the surf on playa flamenco. I find a great campsite on a vine covered hill just a few feet above my own private snorkeling lagoon. And great snorkeling it is. I rent gear for $14 and explore the underwater world of the crystal clear Caribe. Fan coral the size of pizza boxes, withering underwater cactus coral, and giant brain coral abound. Iridescent tropical fishes flutter about. Some of the best snorkeling I’ve done.  Definitely the most exceptional coral beds I ever seen was at Playa Melones. I snorkel again the next morning before taking the 1pm ferry off the now practically tourist-free isla Culebra.  Its Monday, and everyone seems to have moved on.
I’m ready too, but I can’t decide where to go? I hadn’t met anyone cool to tag along with, or even been inspired enough by anyone to set a goal for a particular place. I forage ahead plan-less. Surfing beaches in Rincon on the west side of PR, Then rainforest preserve, El Yunque, or some giant caves I’ve heard of in the center of the island. Ponce? Isla Vieques? or back to old san Juan. I get caught up on the ferry with work calls and emails back to Colorado, no time for deciding. None of the taxi options seem to take me anywhere cool or far enough for 20 or 30 dollars so I just go back to the same muelle where I wrote Pescadero Amorero and ponder. I call Neri and ask her about bus options to get to the west side. Everything seems so complicated and busy busses and taxis just don’t appeal after 3 days on quite culebra. Do what’s easy I remind myself. So I do and for an easy $2 I catch another ferry to Vieques island from the same port. I manage another yoga practice on the muelle while I wait for the 4pm ferry. Easy simple another isla tranquillo. Another un-crowded ferry another new yet similar place. Its dark when I arrive and I hop in a combined taxi with a Chinese couple.
            “You can just camp on the beach for free right here,” the taxista tells me pointing to a little beach where fishing boats are anchored right near the one strip of restaurants in Esperanza, the tourist town of the isla. Its easy enough so I camp and remain there for the next 3 nights unbothered. I swim, run, read, explore, and amble about the tiny town. One night I rent a stand up paddle board and cruise around the outside of a barrier island under the light of the half moon. The eerie experience  of paddling against wind and over 4 foot swells naked in the moonlight is feeling I will never forget. I play music to the sea on the pier and endure the muggy nights in my now stale smelling tent. At some point I’m almost wishing I’m back in Colorado but I dare not, for I’m not bored, and I know the sub-zero temps wouldn’t suit. Still Vieques seems to lack the Puro Puerto Rican cultural experience as in Culebra. At least during this quiet midweek time period the pulse just isn’t there. I don’t really have the budget for other options though. I’d never make it on $30 a day in San Juan or any other city. Would I be able to camp safely on the main island anyway? So three days on vieques and I’m back on the ferry still with no plan. But this time I need to make my way back to san Juan to catch my 2;30 flight home tomorrow…
            Let me meet some cool people and get an easy ride back to san Juan. Cool people, keep it easy…I send out my prayer to the open ocean…

 Sunset view from camp by fishing boats on vieques
 Green grassy fields where horses roam overlooking turquoise blue.
playas desconocidas
Singing to the Sea

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