lunes, 14 de noviembre de 2011

Blogs, frogs, dogs, planes and buses...and chickens = Brave New World

OK, now, the blog is easier to find at  So, if one came to San Juan to write, I suppose one must write, or the whole adventure is wasted.  Thus, it shall not be.  In an effort to hit the "reset" button, it became apparent that 11:11:11am on 11/11/11 was a moment that should not go to waste.  Fortunately, my dear friend, Andrea Hildebrand, answered this question, "what will you be doing at 11:11:11 am on 11/11/11?" with this answer - PRAYING!  I was struck by the simplicity and the magnitude of her answer and decided that was an excellent idea.  As God should have it, my version of that was neck deep in the Atlantic Ocean, completely immersed in His creation. 

Nothing can be verblized for that, other than the internal cleansing that it provided. It was (no pun intended) too deep. If I had wondered about all the chances and perceptions that walking on the highwire with no net had provided, they were pretty much set aside at that point.  There are so many people that I care about and so many reponsibilities that matter deeply to me.  I am still a little amazed that I had to take such drastic steps to be able to do right things, but I am now more certain than ever that doing the first right thing, getting on that plane, was indeed "the first right thing".

At any rate, my view is from the 16th story of a condo on Calle De Diego.  Today, I learned (way more than I had planned) about the train and bus system in San Juan.  Cancel your fears - it's CLEAN, it's FAST and it's ON TIME!  And for $7.50, you can go every place you want to go for a week!  I have never had the chance to be a train/bus person, and I will readily admit that doing so in a 2nd language presented its challenges, but I DID IT!  The system works, people are nice, and I don't mind walking out of the way when I'm too dense to follow or understand directions.

So that's trains and buses.  Frogs, as the Coqui has been discussed, continue to provide a sweet song from dusk until the wee morning hours.  Being on AST (Atlantic Standard Time) my clock is somewhat out of sync.  I finally saw the sunrise this morning, but it was before 6!  By 7 at night fuhgeddaboutit, it's dark!  But the Coqui is a nice indicator that you are indeed in the right neighborhood and on the right path.

Dogs.  Damn, but if everybody doesn't have one.  Had I known, I'd have made Dixie my carry-on.  One lady, as I may have mentioned before, brought her Pomeranian in a baby carrier on the flight from Miami to SJ, which was all cool until we descended.  Note:  teach your dog to chew gum or its little ears will pop and it will express itself in a most unpleasant matter (diplomatic enough?)

Chickens.  Damn, but if everybody doesn't have one.  I have NEVER been in a city as cosmopolitan as San Juan.  Millions of people, the 5:15 train was full of life, medical professionals, university students arguing over test questions...but from 3 in the morning until noon (and it's best to sleep with the windows open), you hear rooster after rooster after rooster.  Even in this 19 story condo, there are chickens in the courtyard.  CHICKENS!  It rains at eye level.  Airplane passenger can wave at us.  I can see Lake San Juan and the Atlantic Ocean and TALL buildings as far as the eye can see and there are CHICKENS!

And, despite all doubts, I did manage to find a radio station to get some studio work done.  Wonderful people, Manuel, Jorge, Edil and Ofeila with  Ismael gets the credit for that; having run by the station downtown and literally saying "there's one!".  And thus, the studio career continues and keeps the little ship-of-state going.

I'm reasonaby certain few are reading this, which is A-OK.  Lisa taught me that the creation of the art is the art.  Its observation is merely lagniappe.  Blessings on your heads (which Dana Keith is helping me work on in Spanish).  Love to you all!

jueves, 10 de noviembre de 2011

The Shoe is on the other foot...

So, for all the noise about immigration in the United States, a question to ponder:  what if, all of a sudden, you found yourself in what you would consider to be exactly the opposite position?  What if you found yourself surrounded by "exotic" surroundings, foods, smells, architecture, languages, culture?  What would it be like if you woke up one morning and nearly everything you had packed away as "the way things are" had suddenly been yanked out of the forefront of your reality into the background?  Five days into that experience (without proper photos, I regret), I begin sharing that right about...NOW.

I'm staying at the most laconic spot in all of Isla Verde, Villamar, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Barefoot in the lobby is cool.  The high temperature is 87...every day...without deviance.  Conspiracy theorists about weather control...tighten your tinfoil hats!  Some days it rains with the most delicious can look at the radar and see a huge blotch of green cover the entire Island.  They don't do a flash flood warning..,.it's an Aviso de Inundaciones...yep, your roads are about to be inundated by a big ol' bunch of water!  There's a local frog here, the Coqui, named for its sound (ko-KEE!).  It's rather high pitched and sounds like a Bobwhite kinda.  Which oddly enough, I had been thinking about in the weeks prior to my departure.  (When's the last time I head one?  Can't recall...).  So now, the Coqui calls at night with almost the same fervor as tree frogs in Louisiana, without the insistence.  The Coqui has a sweet song, not a song that just reminds you of how hot it is.

So, back to the shoe on the other foot.  I guess when a Latino comes to the United States, it must be pretty hard.  You speak Spanish...a little English...and everyone around you speaks some kind of English, but virtually NO Spanish.  Here, almost EVERYONE speaks pretty darn good English, especially in Isla Verde, cuz it's kinda tourist-y.  I've met maybe...3...people who don't really speak much English.  So the American version of "bilingual" (which I had quite the rep for) is LAME compared to the Puertorriqueno version.  Makes it a little tough on the job front for me...but every day I wake up is a chance to fight another day.  So far, so good.

Oddly enough, the other language I run into (and thought I had FORGOTTEN) is French.  I've had to use it more times than I would've thought, particularly with newcomers to the hotel.  Once I can stutter my way past thinking in Spanish, I actually remember the stuff; even walked a family to the closest restaurant, because no one else could tell them anything!

Here we are on AST time.  When you hear 9, 8 central...that means it will be on TV here at 10.  So when it's 10 here, it's 9 EST, 8 CST and 7 MST.  And they NEVER change the clock an hour forward or an hour back.  I've tried to get up to see the sunrise, but it's already in the office by 6:00am.  It's dark by 6 too, which makes my diurnal clock start to fade around 9.  Not exactly the life of the party.

I did better last night.  Went to La Plazarita in Santurce with Ismael, Cari, Gian, Rafa, Genesis and Natasha.  She just came in from Slovenia and hadn't even been on the island 20 hours...and off to the restaurant with her!  Young people get all the breaks.  The first day I was here, Wendell wanted to go to the beach, but it was like "Take the T-5 and then make a transfer until you get to the train station Parada Corazon and then we'll txt you on how to get here".  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

OK - enough for the moment.  Lisa told me to blog about the whole thing and, true to my nature, I'm late getting started.  But LOOK, I DID IT!  And so now I'll keep up with it.  Great suggestion!  More later.  Luvs and bye.